Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Xahferd. Together we discussed their Twitter display name, ghosts, their collaboration with Bri Carmel on their upcoming single “Make it Work”, and so much more!

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

I am grateful for Mustard having me! I’m not 6 feet under, in prison, or sleeping in my car so I’d say that I’m doing pretty alright, but as Pacing would say “things are getting kinda weird over here.”

2. You make “music for people that don’t like good music.” Could you elaborate further on this?

I see you’ve done your research. If I’m being quite honest, I didn’t know what to put in my Bandcamp bio and I thought that was a funny thing to put.

3. Your display name on Twitter is “Lost Cat.” Have you had any luck finding your cat? Or do you feel like a lost cat? If you could roam anywhere as a cat, where would it be and why?

I am the lost cat, just as I am many other things. If I were a lost house cat with the ability to go anywhere I think I’d probably just cause as much mischief as I possibly could wherever I possibly could. I guess what I’m really saying is that not much would be different. 

4. Additionally, you are just a couple of ghosts in a thrift store sweater. What are your thoughts on the mortal world? Where do you like to thrift? How would you describe your experience with humans?

As a couple of ghosts in a thrift store sweater, I would say that the mortal world is both entirely too complicated and heavy for my tastes. 

Both being a living human and a ghost means that I have a lot of experience with humans and I’d definitely say that it’s a mixed bag. Some people are really good, some people are really bad, and nobody has any idea what’s going on. 

As far as where I like to thrift, I really just go anywhere that isn’t one of those new-age thrift stores that don’t actually save you any money. I try to avoid Goodwill because of their treatment of their disabled employees but, at least where I live, they’ve taken over most of the good spots so I just kinda take whatever I can get. No ethical consumption and the such, you know. 

5. Can you recall your first experience with music

My first experience with music… That’s a good question. I think the first song I remember hearing was either Learn to Fly by Foo Fighters, Everytime we Touch by Cascada, or a Fall Out Boy Song I’m not recalling at the moment. 

When I was a kid my parents listened to a lot of metal and stuff like that. Metallica, Pantera, Slayer, Insane Clown Posse, Limp Bizkit, Beastie Boys the list goes on. You probably get the vibe.

As far as my first experience playing music, I actually started with trombone in middle school. Or, as a trombone would say “womp womp womp womp womp womp”

6. Is there a song or album that had an impact on you? Could you share more?

Honestly, Everything Went Numb by Streetlight Manifesto. 

Do I think this is the best album? No. Is it my favorite Streetlight album? No. Does it have a lot of my favorite Streetlight songs on it? Also no. 

I’ve gotta give you a bit of backstory so you can properly understand how this album immensely changed the course of my life forever. 

A long, long time ago in a neighborhood not too far from here, I was raised a Christian. I did the whole song and dance for 15 years, and one day I heard the most incredible song I had heard in my life coming from one of the other church goers cars. 

I asked who it was, and they said Streetlight Manifesto. So, when I had the money I went to the record store and picked up the CD. It was love at first sight, Everything Went Numb has some cool art if I say so myself. 

I listened to that album the moment I got home and was absolutely enraptured by everything about it.

That summer I read the complete works of Frederick Nietzsche, lost my faith, started going to local punk shows, and proceeded to spend the rest of my teenage years absolutely obsessed with ska. 

So, yeah. If it wasn’t for Everything Went Numb I’d probably be a completely different person than the one you’re speaking to today. 

7. What is your creative process?

This is a pretty hard question for me to answer. I’m a pretty stream of consciousness kind of person and I have a few different ways of going about that, depending on what I’m doing. 

When I’m writing a song on guitar or piano I usually start by finding a chord progression I like and then I just kinda sing whatever comes into my brain. Sometimes I like to challenge myself by adding a lot of extended chords and key changes and other times I just C Am F G all the way home. 

When I get to midi programming, whether I’m starting with that or adding midi later, I usually just look at what chords I’m using so I don’t put conflicting notes on top of each other by accident. 

I guess I’m really saying that I mostly just make educated guesses and only keep what I like, which is probably like 5% of everything I make.

8. Bri Carmel joins you on your upcoming release “Make it Work.” What was it like collaborating with Carmel on this song? How long have you been working together?

Oh, Bri is a wonderful human being and I adore, enjoy, appreciate, and respect them a lot. They’re one of my closest friends if not my closest friend. 

Bri’s definitely a vocalist before anything else and they’re v good at coming up with vocal harmonies. 

It’s actually kinda funny because this is a breakup song and Bri happened to be in a similar situation and really liked what I had put together so they asked if they could be on it. 

They then listened to what I had recorded so far for a couple of days and then I just drove over to their house and they got it down in a single take. 

They’re very professional and very easy to work with. This was the first song we worked on together and I recorded it months ago. 

I do have plans to feature Bri in more songs. In fact, just today I started writing a song that’s heavily inspired by doo-wop music and they’re probably gonna do some vocal melodies for me. Whether I end up liking it enough to record is another story, but we’ll see. 

 Anyways, I love working with Bri. They’ve got a beautiful voice and it cannot be overstated how easy they are to work with.

9. What can fans expect from “Make it Work?”

I feel like at this point in my career the word “fans” might be a little bit of a strong word. Friends is much more likely and appropriate. 

But to answer your question, Make it Work is lyrically a song of frustration. It’s about being in a romantic relationship where you don’t feel like your efforts are being reciprocated by your partner, even though it’s a relationship you really want it to work. 

Musically, it’s a very calm song. A sine-wave presents the main melody. There’s a violin, a guitar, and some bells adding texture. I’ve been told that it’s “a vibe” but I think that’s really up to you and anyone else who listens to decide for themselves.

10. What are some situations that you believe humans need to make work?

I mean, generally I think people just need to cooperate a bit more and we can make a lot of things work. Everything from social situations to economic situations. As a species that has gotten to the point that we’re at through cooperation we sure are bad at it. 

On the flip side, people also gotta know when to fold. No-win situations do exist and knowing when and how to walk away when it’s time to walk away is pretty important. Not folding at the right time is how you lose your shirt, and nobody wants to lose their shirt. 

11. Music Shelf is a big fan of the Bay Area. How would you describe the music scene in the Bay Area? Are there any artists you recommend humans check out?

The bay is a pretty cool place. I actually live in Sacramento which is a couple hours east of the bay and I don’t know many music people out there but I can certainly tell you about a few bands here in the valley! 

Little Tiny Knife: a chip-punk band from Sacramento that’s actually been meaning to talk to you about an interview in the future and they just came out with a new single called tired of driving that I recommend highly. It’s made up of Brianna Carmel, Josiah, and Jim. Even though 2/3 of the members are also in Blooming Heads they are still an entirely different band and are led by Josiah.

Blooming Heads: This band is LTK sans Jim, but it is led by Bri. They call themselves sad-core because they’re not sure what else to call themselves genre-wise. I help a lot with both bheads and LTK and am at every one of both bands practices so I might be a bit bias when I say that these are two of the strongest acts in the city but that’s my opinion. 

Luhan Si Hadin: sweet music by sweet person. They describe themself as cinema pop and don’t have a whole lot of official releases out, but if you go to their YouTube or happen to be somewhere they’re playing a show I recommend it. 

Nine Fingers: my favorite local rapper/folk singer. He moved up here from Bakersfield, CA, which is like 4-6 hours south of here depending on traffic. He’s got this low, scratchy growl of a voice and sings a lot of very sad songs. 

Lokeigh: this is my friend Tyler’s band. I have a hard time putting together words to describe them because the energy of this band feels very similar to the energy that Tyler takes into his everyday life. It’s very raw and typically very high energy. I think they’re opening for Apes of the State soon so if you or anyone happens to be in Sacramento you can totally catch them.

Lucy Broom: I’m not really sure what she’s doing musically right now and she actually does live in the bay but she’s v good and talented and anything she’s doing definitely deserves ears on it. She used to be in Lokeigh with Tyler and I think she’s still in What Eats Hydra but I’m not super sure what’s going on with that act. 

There a lot of talented people here and it would take a long time to get through all of them, but those are all of my most closely related artists so I figured I should give them shout outs. 

12. What is on the horizon for Xahferd?

Well, Mustard. I’ve got a few songs recorded already and I’m constantly working on new music so the plan is to record and shit out as many songs as possible until I get bored, tired, or dead.

13. Where can readers listen to your music?

That’s a great question, I think Make it Work should be up everywhere on 3/3. I just uploaded it to my distributor a few hours ago and it’s my first time so I’m not super confident about what the next part looks like. 

This single is also gonna be on my new Bandcamp, Xahferd. I have some older stuff on Bandcamp as well, and that’s under Leftover Zac

Thanks so much for having me today, Mustard. These were some good questions and I had fun answering them. Best of luck in all of your ventures, condiment related or otherwise. 


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