Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with California’s Wesley Preis. Together we discussed growing up with music, their influences, their short film “Growing Pains”, their most recent single “Aspen”, and so much more!

1. Mustard is thankful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you doing today?

I’m doing really well, thanks for asking. And thank you for having me, I’m really excited to be here!

2. You’re just a girl who loves piano and sparkling water. Mustard wonders which came first? What sets sparkling water apart from tap or purified water?

First of all, thank you for referencing my Bandcamp bio. I feel like we don’t talk about it enough. I wrote it when I was sixteen and the only thing that’s changed is that I took the “16 year old” part out of it because I’m not sixteen anymore. My love for piano definitely came first, though. I think I started liking sparkling water when I was in my early teens, just because for some reason I was more exposed to it. And I think what sets it apart from tap or purified water is the sparkling quality.

3. The piano is one of Mustard’s favorite human instruments. When did you first begin playing? What advice would you give to other humans who may be interested in learning it?

I started playing when I was pretty young; I think I was seven or eight. But I started writing pretty seriously around thirteen. My advice for someone who might be interested in learning would be that it’s never too late to get started. I think that a lot of people think of learning an instrument as a pretty daunting thing, but it’s really important to look at your progress as it happens and recognize that you’ll never actually be done learning. If someone’s interested in songwriting specifically, I’d say to learn chords and start observing the changes in pieces you like from writers you like and try to emulate that in a way that makes sense for you. 

4. What was your relationship with music growing up? Is there a song or album that had a significant impact on you?

My family is really musical; my dad’s an incredible guitar player and he and my mother run a guitar string business, which – I’m going to plug it now- you should absolutely buy from because it has great customer service and really good prices. Their site is My older sister, Shyah Preis, also makes music, and you should stream her music because it’s really exceptional. My younger sister, Roro, doesn’t make music but probably should because she’s really talented. So music has always surrounded me growing up, and I feel very lucky for this. As far as songs or albums that had a significant impact on me, I have to say definitely Stevie Wonder’s “Innervisions”. My parents always played Stevie Wonder and The Beatles for us when we were little, and I still listen to that music now and it’s really interesting to continuously approach it from a new perspective.

5. What is your songwriting process?

It really changes a lot, but I find that, right now, the way I usually go about it is by finding a motif on piano I like, or a two chord relationship. I’ll then vamp those and kind of hum a melody over them and then try to see if any vowel or consonant sounds come about. Then I’ll write lyrics from those. Sometimes, though, I’ll get an idea for a chorus or a specific lyric will come to me that I really want to put into a song, and I’ll write the song around that. 

6. Who would you say are some of your influences?

I really love Stevie Wonder, as I mentioned earlier. I’m obsessed with Ben Folds; I love his music so much and I’m pretty sure that’s something that, at this point, a lot of people know about me. I’ve loved Sara Bareilles, Jonatha Brooke, and Steely Dan for a really long time. Whether or not that’s apparent in my music I’m not sure, but I would be really thrilled if people think it is. I think musical theatre has really left an impact on my style; Jason Robert Brown is one of my favorite composers of all time. There’s a lot of artists I’ve been listening to in the past few years, but I feel like these are maybe the most informative to my sound as well as the ones I’ve been listening to since I was pretty young. There’s also lot of writers I love whose style I think contributes to why my lyrics sound the way they do, and I think two of those are definitely Richard Siken and David Sedaris. 

7. How have social media platforms such as TikTok helped you as an artist?

Social media has been extremely helpful in promoting my music and growing my audience. TikTok specifically changed so much for me as far as sharing my music goes. I think a majority of people that listen to my music found it through TikTok; I know a lot of people heard Loose Fitting Bedsheet there before it was released and have started listening to my music through that. Through TikTok, I’ve come in contact and become mutuals with so many amazing people, many of whom I really look up to, and it feels totally unbelievable. I’m so thankful for it.

8. On your single “Be Lonely (I Won’t Be)” you speak of evolving. Would you say that you are still evolving? How can humans mark and keep track of their growth?

It’s really funny that you mention this song. It’s only available on my Bandcamp and I wrote it when I was fourteen. That’s like a deep cut. I’m really proud of that song and it’s interesting to have that record of my writing from such a young age. It’s fitting that I describe evolving in the song because I think this song is a great one for me to track my own creative evolution. I know that I’m still evolving; I think people never stop and that’s a good thing. I don’t specifically know that there’s a certain way for people to track their growth, but I know that one way I’m able to do it to an extent is by having records of how I felt and wrote, such as this song, that I can come back and listen to.

9. Speaking of growing, in 2018; you wrote and directed “Growing Pains.” Could you share more about this short film? What was the process like putting this film together? Was “Liz’s Theme” written at the same time of the script?

Oh, wow. Haha. I really appreciate the research that went into this. It’s almost like, Nardwuar level. That’s a short film I made for a film festival I submitted to when I was a sophomore in high school. Something I’m specifically proud of in that short film is the score; I wrote two original pieces for it. “Liz’s Piece” was one of them and I did write it during that time. I actually revisited the short film the other week and I’m really happy with those pieces. It was the first short film I ever made; I don’t really make them now, most of my writing besides music now takes the form of playwriting. But I made a couple of short films in highschool and, from a technical standpoint, had no clue what I was doing. But I think they all had really good bones. It makes me happy to know how vulnerable I could make myself at that age, I’m pretty sure I wrote that one during a time where I felt pretty lonely. I was fifteen when I wrote it, I think. That’s a pretty confusing time for a lot of people; everything is new and everything is heightened. So I look back on that time really fondly and I try to channel a little bit of that outlook into my projects today.

10. Mustard wonders if you ended up buying a dog? What is your favorite breed of dog? Is it true that dogs are a human’s best friend?

I have, in fact, never had a pet dog. I don’t know that I have a favorite breed; I think at this point most dogs are multiple breeds which is good. But I like corgis a lot. I always have. I like how close they are to the ground. They’re one of the breeds where I don’t think I would be unable to keep up with their cardio wants. Really, I have no clue if it’s true that dogs are a human’s best friend. It’s interesting, though, because it doesn’t matter if you have an ego around them, so I would imagine that people sort of drop their egos around their dogs, which is probably a good thing. So they’re probably very good friends and good to be around.

11. Could you share more about your latest single Aspen?

I could! It’s out now and everyone should stream it. I wrote this song a while ago, I’d been wanting to put it out for some time now. I think that song meanings are kind of ever-changing, and I recognize that everybody attributes different meanings to songs, which is beautiful. “Aspen” feels to me, though, to be about being insecure in a relationship and clinging to these notions you’ve built in your head. I created this setting of this job in Aspen, and I think that job in Aspen is kind of the lie you tell yourself to allow yourself to make this relationship what you want it to be. The first and second verses to me are establishing that fantasy, and the third verse is coming out of it, thus the lyric “If you find someone different, do me a favor, say you didn’t. Give me something I can live in.” So it’s like, by the end of it, you’re kind of asking that person to keep you in the dark so that you can have this fantasy that, even though its manufactured, is preferable to reality because it means you stay comfortable. I think the verses are a lot more grounded than the chorus and bridge, which feel to me like you’re just getting swept away in this idea that you’ve built. I think the key change really contributes to that. That’s at least what I felt when I wrote the song. Now, though, the song feels a lot more like a love song, especially with the chorus lyrics e.g. “You’re like a painting of god, I fly too close to the Sun”. It feels sometimes now like I’m singing about a love that I gladly and knowingly throw myself into. I mean, the Icarus reference and the implications of it aren’t lost on me so I mean this only partially but I guess I just think it’s neat that I can interpret any part of it that way now. Because it really didn’t feel like a love song when I wrote it. I’ve never actually been to Aspen. 

12. A human gets invited to see you perform. How would you describe your live performance?

When I perform live it’s me sitting at the piano. I’ll have a water bottle and I’ll drink from it periodically. I’ll talk a little and then play a song and then talk more about the song before talking about the next song and that’s how I go about it. I think they’re engaging, I think people feel engaged during them. Hopefully people have a good time at my live performances and hopefully they leave feeling inspired or feel like something I wrote resonated with them, but all I really know is that I love doing it.

13. What is next for Wesley Preis?

I’m opening for Olive Klug at the Moroccan Lounge in Los Angeles on February 17th. If you’re reading this you should absolutely buy tickets at the link in my Instagram and TikTok bios. I’m so excited; I’ve loved their music for so long and so getting this opportunity has been so unbelievable. I hope to put out a lot of music this year and to play a lot more live shows. More writing, I’m always writing. There’s a lot that’s tentative right now, so I won’t get ahead of myself, but I’m looking forward to a lot and I’m really grateful to have so much to look forward to.

14. Where can readers listen to your music?

Thank you for asking! My music is available on all streaming platforms. Follow me on Instagram (@wespreis) or on TikTok (@wespreismusic) and click the link in my bio to listen to my stuff on whatever streaming platform you use. I also strongly urge you to check out my Bandcamp. And come see me live if I’m ever near you! It’ll be a really good time. Thanks so much!


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