Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with SELVEDGE. Together we discussed their first experience with music, what drew them to ambient music, their upcoming album “CAPACITY”, and so much more!

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

I am wiped! I just got back from taking my daughter to the zoo. But overall, I’m doing pretty good! How are you?

2.  Can you recall your first experience with music?

I wish I had an anecdote of a singular moment of a young me getting my world opened up by a song or album. Music has been in the background of my life constantly, but in very quotidian way.

I did have a clock radio as young boy I would listen to, especially trying to fall asleep. Before I had a portable CD player, I would take the clock radio, put in a nine volt, and walk or ride my bike listening to music. I needed the companionship I think. The escape. 

I also remember being enthralled with HitClips—not so much the cartridges, but the radio and headphones it had. I listened to a lot of radio rock and American Top 40. 

Music, even very bad and boring radio rock, has helped me walk long distances, like to school or to the mall (five miles! from the house I grew up in). With headphones, music, and a long battery life, I can do pretty much anything and go pretty much anywhere, and growing up, that’s what I did.

3. When did you begin making music? What drew you towards ambient music?

Many of my friends from college and after are musicians, so I had exposure to the act of music making, if not the skill or aptitude. In 2013 co-hosted a music related comedy podcast with a friend of mine. I often acted as a producer as well—collecting tracks we were discussing, mixing or cutting audio, all that. At some point, I began to play with tracks, sampling certain parts to make my own tunes. That planted the seed of me making my own music, but I didn’t really start until about 2017, 2018 when I got a different computer. 

I wouldn’t necessarily say that all I make is ambient (the next record is very glitchy and noisy). I definitely make a lot of ambient leaning music for sure. I gravitate toward the sonic envelopment, the disappearing into a bath of sounds. I like the escape good drone or ambient provides. 

Ambient music caught me at a hard time. In college, I worked three jobs (one admittedly cushy and easy) while also being a full time student. I was always tired and would pinch naps wherever I could on campus. Also around this time, I was getting exposed to a lot more variety of music. Artists like Windy & Carl, Basinski, and Stars of the Lid— were very helpful to screen out the rest of the world.

I don’t necessarily think of ambient as healing or a sleep aid—though it can be that. For me, it’s about blocking out the hiss of the world, a space to explore, an aural canvas on which their are elements to focus on so you can drop your focus of other things.

4. Who (or what) influences you?

Here is a short and incomplete list off the top of my head:

Belong. Stars of the Lid. The skies in Kansas. Broadcast. Thunderstorms. Basinski. Yellow Swans. Mobb Deep Lucia Berlin. Pan Sonic. Windy & Carl. Long drives. Gang Starr. Low (the last two albums especially). Dirty Beaches. Ed Rucha. Beth Gibbons’ wail on “Half Day Closing.” Forest Management. Natalie Shapero. Fennesz. Toshimaru Nakamura. David Berman. Russell Edson. Marty Hillard (and Ebony Tusks), Los Destellos.  Sightings. The failures and triumphs of memory. Deerhunter. Stereolab. GAS. Jan Jelenik. Andy Stott. Grouper. Dreamcrusher. Spacemen 3. MBV (duh). Unwound. Diane Williams. 96 Tears. YouTube rips of old garage rock. Animal Collective’s “Feels.” The Cramps. Infinite Body…

5.  Mustard wonders what are some of your favorite sounds.

The sound a knife makes in the sink. Reverbed and buried drums. Trigger delay blast. Hiss of winter wind. Pipes relaxing. Organ cutting into and surrounding the mix. A crawling bassline. 

6.  What is your creative process?

Often a record is made in reaction to the last one. I tend to keep multiple projects going at once, simply because it can be good to have different sounds to provide contrast. I generally start with a feeling or mood or an itch to make something. The haptic desire can be very strong. From there, if the track is good, I’ll think, okay, let’s make another one—alright I have a single, a two-tracker. Then I’ll keep going, oh hey an EP. Keep going, hey it’s got the shape of an album now, what’s missing, what completes the set? This path keeps things low stakes (though in reality it’s all low stakes) with a goal still driving the process. Not everything ends up beyond a track and not everything ends up as a release and that’s okay.

Inspiration can come from any number of places. Maybe I’ve been listening to a lot of one artist or sub-genre and think, damn that sounds cool and I’m responding to this palette, I should try something in this vein. Maybe I’ve got a new toy. Maybe I just have a pocket of time to drink a few beers and play with my synth.

I try to follow the edict of write fast, edit slow. Don’t overthink the individual piece, get it to a complete draft, polish up or manipulate over a longer period of time. I used to do stand-up comedy and one of the things I took from that was a discipline in artmaking, as back when I was doing sets, there was a weekly open mic that drew my peers and fellow local comedians, meaning I had the opportunity (and incentive) to write something new as often as I could. 

I carry this ethic to other art I make, photography and writing, both of which were my primary outlets for a long time. 

7. In 2018 you released “Orbit.” What was within your orbit during this time? What was it like putting this album together?

That was my first release! There’s some things I still like about it, some things I’d change, a few things I’m embarrassed by. There was an earlier clutch of tracks I whittled the EP from. Some were tracks that went back to my 2013 experiments. 

It was exciting to put the record together, simply because I was learning how to do it for the first time. I was building on what I was trying to do four or five years before.

Around this period, my wife was deep into grad school, so my process was to make some sound samples or beats during the day on my phone during lunch breaks and upload them to my computer and fiddle with them after we had dinner and she went to study. I had this routine for a better part of a year, which is how my first two EPs and first four records came about.

Once I released it, I was hooked. I wanted to keep making and to keep releasing. I got pretty lucky, as some really awesome people and labels worked with me on subsequent releases. I’m forever thankful to Infinite Sync, Anthony Pandolfino (Mystic Timbre, now Engraven Records), Vivarium, James E. Armstrong (Rusted Tone Recordings), Wormhole World, and Submarine Broadcasting Company, plus anyone who has ever checked out a demo of mine. I’m also immensely grateful to my listeners and supporters.

8. What makes a ghost fresh? Have you come across a ghost in your music making?

A fresh ghost is one that has just come out the shower!

But no ghosts in my music making. I titled that track and album Fresh Ghost because it made me think of a spirit hitting a wall, Pac-Man-like. Not being able to find the exit, searching the surfaces in the dark. New to the plane.

9.  How does Folk Physics differ from other forms of physics?

Here’s the Wikipedia definition:

“Naïve physics or folk physics is the untrained human perception of basic physical phenomena.”

I was really attracted to this term because it explains a lot about myself and also points to the shared, innate, and often wrong ways in which we perceive action. The track I named that felt more positive than most of my music—it has a searching quality, a funny love to all of us in the grand web of human existence. Sure, let’s go with that.

10.  What can fans expect from your upcoming album “CAPACITY?”

A little bit of all my musical obsessions. Drifty ambient, noise, crackling drone. I do think of this one as a bit more romantic than my other albums—there are few moments in which I embrace beauty and softness in a way I haven’t before. 

11. When you are looking out the window, what is moving outside? Could you share more about the lead single “Moving With The Window?”

The world baby! The name is suggestive to me of stationary travelling, of being observant in a closer way, of one part of the frame staying still and one part moving.

The video I made for this track quite literally features moving with a window – that is, looking out a car window (moving though).

12. Where can readers listen to your music?

Although Bandcamp is preferred, I’m on most digital streaming platforms. Put my music on low while you sleep and help me earn some pennies. 


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