Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Australia’s Bronte Alva ahead of the release of her upcoming single “I Hate Birthdays.” Together we discussed their songwriting process, identity, their upcoming single, and so much more!
1. Mustard is grateful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you doing today?
Wonderful thank you! I’m happy to be here
2. At the age of seven you wrote your first song about a crush. Did your crush end up hearing your song?
I don’t think so! I showed it to all of my friends of course but he went to a different school. The second song I wrote about his best friend however, definitely made its rounds.
3. How has your songwriting process evolved from your first song during your childhood?
My analysis of my own feelings has evolved greatly. I think songwriting was a key component in my emotional development and became a tool for me to practice deep introspection. In some ways it hasn’t changed at all! That playfulness of relishing in a moment, putting it into words and expressing it as something fun and exciting still exists in how I songwrite today.
4. Who (or what) influences you?
Missy Higgins has and always will be a great inspiration for me. I listened to her at a very young age; one of her concerts was the first concert I ever attended. Then, later in life, learning of her queerness, I felt that connection to her and her music grow. She has always been very honest with her music and I can definitely see a mimicking of her songwriting in my earlier works. Musicians that bare their souls in their lyrics and songwriting will always inspire me. We all want to be heard and something to connect to. It makes us human. I’m still figuring it out as it comes and entering my twenties, I’m only just finding my place in the world. The songs I write will and do reflect that journey, so, what influences my songs I think will continue to be an exploration of the current world around me.
5. Is there a particular song or album that had a significant impact on you?
Obviously Missy Higgins, The Sound of White is a classic and started my songwriting journey. The raw imperfection explored in Angie McMahon’s Salt album is so beautiful and I listened to it non-stop in my last years of High School. In the recent few years, Taylor Swift’s re-recordings and new albums really resonated with me. Of course, the All Too Well (10 minute version) hit home, as I think it did with most. I wrote a song about listening to that song while going through something similar; feeling infatuated but also manipulated and powerless by an older man that I was seeing, something that will always stick with me, and I felt that song so deeply. Her approach to songwriting really helped my unpack the emotions that were bottled up from this experience. I will alway deeply feel that song. Recently, I toured with WAAX too. Through WAAX’s intense, punk instrumentation and their honest lyrics and watching Maz live, I felt empowered to further connect with my own, and society’s suppression of female rage.
6. What was it like to re-record your original demo with The Terry’s? Could you share more about this experience?
It was very surreal. I was lucky enough to have this opportunity less than 2 months after my last HSC exam. I didn’t feel secure (like most people after finishing high school) and to have an established band believe in me and empower me to believe in myself provided a stepping stone for my own actions towards bettering my own approach to music and songwriting. I learnt so much from them and will always be grateful for them taking me under their wings.
7. Was the story behind “Eve’s Lips (Make Me Want to Cry)” inspired by actual events?
It was 100% just a recount of what happened. Me and this girl went out a few times, had hungover hot chips and pretty shitty sushi and kissed. I didn’t write the song as a love song, just my own excitement and confusion in the exploration of my sexuality.
8. In Eve’s Lips you mentioned getting sushi. What is your favorite kind of sushi?
Some spicy tofu with avocado or veggie tempura always hits well.
9. You followed “Eve’s Lips” with “Your Mum.” Was this single inspired by a mum you know? Could you tell us more about this single?
I wrote this song after getting ghosted by a boy who I’d been keen on for a very. long. time. After we finally went on a date, I realised after that how blinded I was and that he was actually pretty shit the whole time. I got mad about all of the unpleasant experiences I had had in the recent years. I was also really sad of course and cried a lot. He was immature and arrogant and I couldn’t believe I couldn’t see that. Then, one day, at the cafe I was working at at the time, while I was in my rejection depression, this beautiful, sexy, confident older woman walked in and blew me away. I just thought, “why do I care about this little boy when these mature, feminine, powerful women women exist?” and that just led me to “I don’t even want you – I want your mum.”
10. Mustard loves the artwork of your first two singles. Did you design these?
No! My beautiful, talented brother Jack Clark aka ‘Cooked Rabbits’ designed them. He moved to Berlin about 4 years ago to persue DJing and art and has been absolutely killing it with his unique style. He has been very inspirational with his devotion to awareness and action towards social change and justice, which is reflected in his modern abstract works.
11. Your songs explore what it is like to enter adulthood. What is something parents/teachers do not properly prepare humans for when entering adulthood? What is something all humans should know how to do as adults?
I think they don’t prepare us for a lot. I think especially in the schooling system, as well as at home, there isn’t enough emphasis placed on critical thinking. Questioning our place in the world and how that may differ from others, in my opinion, is integral to developing empathy towards others. Too often we are allowed to move through the world without ever questioning our privilege and this provides a breeding ground for low tolerance. If we can have empathy towards others, we can learn humility, we can learn our privileges without being defensive and maybe we can have a generation that knows how to right their wrongs and be empowered to say sorry, while having tools to educate themselves on how to do better.
12. This week you release your third single “I Hate Birthdays.” What can fans expect from this single?
They can expect a direct insight into my mind at the time. It was originally just written as a diary entry because I was feeling overwhelmed and it became a song after the fact. It’s one of the most honest and messy things I have written and it explores my frustration with trying to understand myself as a young woman and person with all of the expectations placed upon us in this day and age.
13. Do you feel like humans put too much importance on birthdays?
In some ways yes, but in some ways no. I don’t particularly care what anyone does on their birthday to be honest. I just never had many friends so I always felt alone on my birthday. It can become a harsh look back on everything you haven’t done in the past year. I would stare at my phone all day wondering how many people would message me and it was never many. I cry every year, not because I hate them but because I love my birthday and nothing could ever live up to my own unrealistic expectations. The popular girls had everything on their birthday; flowers brought to school, shout outs on peoples storys… It wasn’t true, but I felt like I’d never be loved that much.
14. Where can readers listen to your music?
Everywhere!! Spotify, Apple music, YouTube, you name it! Tag my ig @brontealva_ if you love it too, I would love to hear what you think. Xx
One thought on “Overcoming Expectations with Bronte Alva”