This interview took place prior to the release of “Parcel.”

Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Grace Gardner. Together we discussed songwriting, breakfast tacos, scorpions, their latest single “Parcel”, and so much more!

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

Thank you so much for having me here! I’m doing great today, I’m just recovering after a little tour. 

2. You have been songwriting since you were five years old. Can you recall the first song you wrote?

I started playing instruments when I was five years old, so I was writing music in the sense that I was learning my way around chords and music theory. I started trying to write lyrics when I hit middle school, none of them were really worth doing anything with until I was 16. I wrote a LOT in high school, but I don’t have much of a record of anything I wrote. The first song I wrote that I actually wanted to do something with was a love song for somebody — it was called “Pennies” and it will never see the light of day. 

3. Every morning you eat a breakfast taco on your balcony. What ingredients can be found in your breakfast taco?

Honestly, I know you’re not supposed to lie in your Spotify bio, and when I wrote it I was eating a breakfast taco every morning, but now it’s become an every other morning or so type of thing. I’ve become a really big fan of oatmeal and also bagels so those fill in the gaps. I’m vegan, so I make vegan breakfast tacos, and they usually have some combination of potatoes, peppers, spinach, tofu, and/or vegan egg (made of mung beans). And seasoning because of course. 

4. Mustard wonders if there is a song or album that had a significant impact on you?

So many. Rumors by Fleetwood Mac is one of my favorite albums of all time (next to Atlanta Millionaires Club by Faye Webster and Tapestry by Carole King). Those artists have all had really strong sonic influences on me. As for lyrical influences, I am a dedicated follower and student of Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker, Madison Cunningham, Allison Ponthier, and Jensen McRae. 

5. In addition to being a singer/songwriter you are a multi-instrumentalist and music educator. What kind of music education do you teach? What is your technique when learning new instruments?

I teach a few instruments as well as vocals! I used to teach mainly just kids but I teach all ages now. It’s really case-by-case, but in my experience, it works really well to teach techniques (new chords, new styles of chords, bends/vibratos, etc.) woven into learning a song. One of my students really likes Brandi Carlisle, so we use her songs to learn new techniques, and we’ll use theory in the context of the song. That way it doesn’t get boring, and you’re already applying what you’re learning and seeing it in action. 

6. Mustard saw that you are an arranger. What do you like to arrange?

I really love arranging vocals! I was in an acapella group all through college, which comes as a surprise to not a single person. I loved it. It was one of my favorite parts of college. I arranged several songs in as many as 10 parts for the group, and then started doing it for my own songs, and then other people’s songs, and then other acapella groups. It just brings me so much joy. I love choirs. 

7. From Texas to New Orleans environment has played an important role in your music. Could you share more about how you draw inspiration from your surroundings?

I grew up around a lot of country music. I was listening to old country like Willie Nelson, and newer country like The Chicks and Shania Twain, so I’m inspired by a lot of country and folky instrumentation – think mandolins, banjos, steel guitars, you know the vibe. New Orleans really has a way of bringing people to life — the entire city is constantly bursting with music, especially during Mardi Gras. Jazz is literally everywhere. I went to jazz bars all the time just to watch the musicians play with such thought and intention and intricacy. It was so beautiful to watch, and really taught me to approach my craft with more care and heart. 

8. You’re a blast at parties but can be found crying in the garden shed. What happened at the party? Has anyone apologized?

You’re the first to ask, and I really appreciate that. No, no one has apologized, but probably no one needs to apologize. I always feel bad hogging the bathroom at parties, and I inevitably get emotional because of a song or a memory or a whatever, so I always to cry in the garden shed instead. But I promise I’m really fun and easy going and delightful to be around. 

9. Some of your inspirations are Carole King, Stevie Nicks, and Joni Mitchell. If you could choose one song from each to share with another human what songs would those be too?

My favorite Carole King song has to be “So Far Away.” “Every Day” is my favorite song from Stevie Nicks’ solo career, but my favorite song from her in Fleetwood Mac is “Silver Springs.” My favorite from Joni Mitchell is “Trouble Child.” 

10. “Radio Silence” tells a deeply personal story about being ghosted by someone close to you. Did this person ever reach back out to you after the release of the song?

Yes, over email. My car battery died while I was on my way to discuss the situation, and then it got totaled the next week, which is telling enough. 

11. You followed up “Radio Silence” with the incredibly powerful “Deny Me.” Would you say both “Radio Silence” and “Deny Me” are a part of the same narrative?

“Radio Silence” is a very separate part of my discography — honestly I considered taking it down for a long time because it feels so disjointed and not representative of my sound or my writing style now. But I know some folks love it, and it can be nice to think about how far I’ve come. The songs are about two different people, and were actually written over a year apart, so I’ve never considered them a part of the same narrative. But now that you bring it up, I see how they can be used to cope very differently with the same situation. There seems to be a pattern of not having closure in a lot of my songs. 

12. Scorpions don’t live forever. What can humans do to make sure they do? What was the inspiration behind this single?

I am totally fine with scorpions not being immortal, personally. The inspiration behind “Scorpions Don’t Live Forever” came from my abandonment issues, but it was supposed to be a half-heartedly comforting song. When my fear came true, and I had to face my aversion to abandonment and process a breakup, I lived through it. So the song walks a line of being petrified that it happened in the first place and could happen again versus it happened, it’s fine, and most importantly, it’s survivable. 

13. If a human comes across a rattlesnake in the grass. How should they respond?

Run, I think. 

14. How has social media helped you as an artist?

I’m so used to talking about how detrimental social media can be, coming from my background having gone through eating disorder recovery multiple times. Social media was really painful for me, and triggering at times, so I had to do a lot of boundary-setting before engaging in it as strongly as I do now. It’s become pretty crucial, and that has pros and cons. I’m really thankful to have set those boundaries because I have a good relationship with social media now and I feel like there are so many more advantages than downfalls. I’ve met so many of my closest friends and so many members of my team through social media. I’ve met so many of my listeners through social media. It opens up a massive community of people you may never otherwise reach. 

15. What can fans expect from your next single “Parcel?”

It’s a new direction from my other recent releases, and it’s a style I want to lean more into. I really love an indie-rock sound. I grew up on 80s and 90s alternative music too, thanks to my mom. “Parcel” is really upbeat, and it’s really emotional and angry. It was something I needed to write to release my rage. It’s really fun to scream in a car. This is also the last song before the release of my first EP, “Peach,” on March 3! 🙂 

16. Do you have a favorite parcel carrier?

I’m going to pass on this question because I don’t want to start a debate like Noah Kahan’s gas station debacle. 

17. A human gets the chance to see you perform. How would you describe your live performances?

Friendly! We’re all just friends around a campfire and we’re cozy in our emotions. I try to make my set feel like a little summer camp, so it feels comforting and welcoming to everyone. I love playing with my band, but I also often play solo. 

18. Where can readers listen to your music?

You can find me on whichever platform you use to listen to music under Grace Gardner! 


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