Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with SERGIO. Together we discussed their relationship with music, being a first generation Mexican-American, their newest single “Back Up” 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, thank you! I just released my first song of the year and so far the reaction from the fans has been amazing.
2. Mustard wonders what was your relationship with music growing up?
I grew up in a very musical family. I sang in church throughout my whole childhood with my siblings, cousins, and Godfather, while playing soccer as well. Every weekend we sang each mass, we traveled all over for retreats, weddings, quinceaneras, and many more events. We even recorded our very own CD! My mom definitely still has that saved somewhere. It got to a point where I was getting too busy and had to focus on one. Even though soccer is another passion of mine, there was just something about the feeling I would get on stage and singing for people that made me choose music as a career path.
3. Was there a song or album that had a significant impact on you? Do you still revisit it today?
Definitely. It wasn’t until I was a little older, but, Justin Bieber’s Purpose album is one of my favorites. Not only did his singing inspire me to continue developing my voice, but hearing how vulnerable he was able to be on that album while being as big as he is really resonated with me. I love how he was able to genre-bend and explore different styles, but keep it all cohesive with specific production and sound elements.
4. Who (or what) influences you?
My biggest inspiration has to be my parents. They immigrated from Mexico to the US to provide my siblings and I with the best life they could possibly give us. Hearing stories of what they went through to get to where they are now is so inspiring. If they were able to start their own successful company, life, and family from scratch in a country that they were not familiar with, I know I can accomplish my wildest dreams.
5. You are first-generation Mexican American. How has this helped influence your music?
It influences my music completely, as it’s how I identify as a person, and as an artist. I grew up speaking and singing in both Spanish and English my entire life, and singing / writing in “Spanglish” is a perfect representation of who I am as a person. Singing in both languages feels just as organic as it is to speak them, and I’m very glad people are loving that I’m incorporating both now.
6. What is your creative process?
There are definitely days when it changes, but for the most part I like to start with having a solid idea of the concept. Then I go to my journal and write down tons of phrases, words, ideas, and literally anything and everything that comes to mind about the concept. I try to not worry about rhyming or song structure at this stage in the process. Then I’ll switch over to find the right chords, and follow it up with melodies, lyrics, and production.
7. Since redefining your soundscape, has your creative process changed since your time with In Real Life?
I started taking songwriting seriously in the last few months of being in the band, and my writing process hasn’t changed too much since then. I still write about personal life experiences, I still start a majority of my songs on the guitar, and I still never have storage on my phone from how much I use my voice memos app. If anything, it’s only getting better as time goes on. I took a dive into production during quarantine and learned a tremendous amount. Now when I’m in sessions I am able to elaborate on the type of sounds I want to use, the transitions I want musically, comment on mixing, timing, the EQ of certain instruments – I learned new terms that make communicating with the producer a lot easier and the list goes on and on. I’m also listening to more music now than ever and this helps me push myself and potentially get inspiration from something I wouldn’t have listened to in the past. I can definitely say that I’m proud of the progress I’ve made as a songwriter, and I’m never going to stop working on the craft. This is what I love to do and I’ll always be giving it my all.
8. What inspired the motivation to embark on a solo career? Can we expect appearances from In Real Life members on future singles of yours?
I think it was just time for all of us to branch out into our individual careers. We originally started as 5 solo artists, and the opportunity of being in a band was so big that none of us were going to reject it. We learned so much about the industry and went through some of the most amazing times of our lives together. I really got to live my dreams with 4 of my best friends, and I’m so grateful for that. We got to a point where we were starting to see other opportunities come to us individually, and we agreed to pursue them. I think there is definitely a chance that I’ll collaborate with one of the guys! We all stay in great touch and support each other in everything we do, so we’ll see!
9. You are currently one of 12 artists that were handpicked to join the Pepsi Music Lab. Could you share more about your experience with the Pepsi Music Lab?
Definitely. The Pepsi Music Lab academy experience has been amazing so far! It is a program that helps push up-and-coming artistsand remove industry barriers. One of the first things we did was get flown out to NY for a bootcamp that was hosted by both Pepsi and UnitedMasters. We were in tons of workshops, content shoots, and got to meet everyone involved in the program. Pepsi is also now supporting with a radio campaign for my newest single “BACK UP”. I’m very grateful for how much they have helped my career, and am excited for the other opportunities that are coming later this year.
10. Through the Pepsi Music Lab you receive mentorship. What has been the best advice you have received so far?
The best piece of advice I have received so far was from LaRussel – he said to never compare yourself to other artists. UnitedMasters and Pepsi have been so supportive in the process of the rebrand that I’m going through as an artist, and it has really helped me find myself even more musically. I have never felt better about the direction I am headed in with my team, my career, and with myself.
11. You have amassed over 135k combined social media following. How do you approach social media? Do you have a favorite platform?
I am extremely grateful for every fan of mine! My fans are always at the top of my mind when it comes to planning releases, merch, live shows, etc. Being able to connect with them on social media is so fun and allows me to grow a real and direct relationship with them. I like to use Twitter when it comes to messaging fans directly, because I feel like a lot of my core fans are very active on it, but also have a lot of fun new ways I am planning on connecting with them more throughout this year and for more releases to come
12. You recently released “BACK UP” which is about wanting to make a move but without moving too fast. Could you share more about your latest single?
Of course! I originally wrote BACK UP in the summer of 2020, when I found myself in a little bit of a situationship. A friend of mine and I became very close very fast, and it led us to being in this weird position where we started to develop feelings we didn’t know how to act on. Part of me was saying to just continue going with the flow of things and make a move, but another part of me also didn’t want to take the risk of ruining our strong friendship. I also didn’t know what she was thinking and we had never really talked about our intentions with each other. So I called my producers and co-writers to talk about this, and we ended up writing this song. Writing this helped me realize the importance of communication in any relationship.
13. What are some signs that another human likes you back?
I feel like once you get to the “good morning” and “good night” texts, chances are that the other person is starting to like you. At least that’s from my experience!
14. What is next for SERGIO?
New music – I am so excited about the direction that my team and I are heading towards. We have been developing a fresh sound for the last couple of months, and I really feel like everything is starting to come together. I am getting ready to work with lots of amazing producers and writers that I haven’t worked with yet, and I’m so pumped to see what we can create together. I’m also hoping to be back on stage sometime this year, but overall e are working towards some amazing things.
15. Where can readers listen to your music?
They can listen and find me at…