Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Taiwanese artist Paige Su. Together we discussed being a multi-instrumentalist, their creative process, their debut album “We Are All Lonely Souls”, and so much more!
1. Mustard is grateful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you doing today?
I’m doing great! It’s wonderful to be here!
2. At a young age you were trained as a classical pianist and flautist. What was the role of music in your life growing up?
I was obsessed with orchestral music at an early age, and I really wanted to play in an orchestra and become a serious classical musician. As I got older, I fell in love with jazz and other genres of music. Music was everything to me growing up. It was the one thing that I knew I wanted to be doing. So lucky!
3. Additionally, you know more than just those instruments. For humans looking to train and become fluent with multiple instruments, what advice would you give them?
Piano really is the king of instruments. Once you have a solid foundation on the piano, it’s so much quicker to pick up other musical instruments. I would say to definitely get your piano foundation to get your fingers and brain working.
4. Is there a song or album that had a significant impact on you? Could you share more?
There are so many….. Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” is definitely a huge inspiration for me.
5. What is your creative process?
I usually record voice memos if I’m out on the road (melodies will pop into my head while driving in the car). But actually most of the songs on the album were written all together in a very short time, either on the piano or harp. You can say I was struck by the golden light of inspiration. So, I would spit everything out, without getting in the way, and revise it later with my musician brain. Usually, I write with arrangements in mind as well – like a classical composer, I suppose.
6. Who (or what) influences you?
There are so many… from Beethoven to Joni Mitchell to Radiohead. I love intense, dark and beautiful songs that paint colorful soundscapes. I also love simple and straight-to-the-heart tunes that melt you to the ground. I’m also a huge fan of world music, especially South Indian classical music and Balinese gamelan. I have actually spent quite a bit of time in South Indian studying the bansuri.
7. Your 2017 debut album We Are All Lonely Souls blew this condiment away. Would you still consider humans lonely souls? What makes a human complete?
Thank you!! I do and I don’t! I do believe that I am the only person in the room, and you are the only person in the room. And we are perceiving the world and living this experience completely on our own. In that sense, it does seem quite lonely. But in spite of that, because we are able to have such beautiful connections and interactions with other human beings (that most amazing power – LOVE!), it completes us, somehow. In that sense, we are all not alone.
8. You recently won a Golden Indie Music Award for 2022’s Best Live Performance. For those who have not had the pleasure to see you perform, how would you describe your live show?
I usually play the electric harp while I sing. I also accompany myself on the piano and keys. Sometimes I play the flute. I use a lot of cool guitar pedals on the harp and I have an amazing band – a badass drummer and bass player. People are usually shocked when they see me play, no matter where I go. There’s a lot of surprising elements – we are free and experimental with loads of colors and shapes. You do have to be present to fully get it.
9. Is there a big difference between a jazz festival and a rock festival? Do you have a favorite venue?
Yes, quite a big difference. The audiences expect a different experience, I feel. Jazz fest. audiences, I feel like they really want to see musicians showcase what they can do, and see them interact. But for rock festivals, they just want to have a good time! But that applies for jazz festivals, too, I guess.
10. What can fans expect from your upcoming album You’ll Live Forever in My Songs?
It’s beautiful and chaotic, and it is basically a journey that takes you through darkness to light. And by the end of the album, you’re rewarded with lots of love.
11. On one of your latest singles “Involuntary Adventures” you proclaim that love is dangerous. Could you elaborate?
I think love makes us do crazy things. When you are in love with something or when you love someone, most of the time you don’t even know who you are anymore – it truly is that powerful. So powerful and dangerous, but just so beautiful. Completely beyond our control.
12. What is next for Paige Su?
I plan to tour in the U.S., Taiwan, and Europe. Play great shows, and hopefully connect and play with other awesome musicians. Just keep creating and doing good work.
13. Where can readers listen to your music?
Everywhere on all the major streaming platforms. I also have limited copies of CDs for sale.