Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Ana Schon. Together we discussed their relationship with music, Berklee, their latest single “Mejor Sin Ver”, and so much more!

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

I’m doing good! Excited to be here.

2. Mustard wonders what your relationship with music was growing up? 

I grew up surrounded by musicians – my dad is one, and so were a lot of the adults that surrounded me as a kid. So my exposure to music was really intense from a really early age. I started playing piano when I was 4, and had been singing since before that. My friend Mateo started playing guitar when we were in primary school, and it became part of the games we played. Eventually we started writing together and named ourselves Borneo; we released our first EP in 2019.

Even though I realized this is what I want to do when I was pretty young, I feel like that relationship I had with music as a game, a way of playing, really shaped the way I listen to it and write it !

3. According to your Spotify bio you’ve been making music your whole life. Can you recall the first song or lyrics you wrote? 

A couple different examples come to mind – when I was 4 or so I plagiarized a 7-up jingle and told my dad I had written it. And in 5th or 6th grade he and I wrote a song together. But the first one that felt like a real thing was “Gris” that Mateo and I wrote for Borneo. I remember that one being a real turning point of “oh, this is like. emotional”.

4. You’re a student at Berklee College of Music. How has Berklee helped you as an artist? What is the best piece of advice you’ve received so far from either a fellow musician or professor? 

I graduated in December! Really excited about this new phase. And Berklee was a really cool experience; I feel like in the time I was there I developed a lot as a writer, but especially as a performer and producer. I really learned to listen with a more critical ear. And most importantly, I met amazing collaborators and colleagues, people I want to spend a long time making music with – my band, for example.

And when we’re thinking about bands, I feel like the most impactful piece of advice I got was from Mike Sempert, who was my songwriting directed study professor and who I did my capstone class with. He’s spent a lot of time as an indie-ish musician, touring mostly so he could play bigger tours for more people in longer bursts. And one day he just stopped. He realized it wasn’t for him and he stopped. It’s a nice reminder that there’s no linear path to “success” and what works for some people in the industry isn’t for everyone and there’s a lot of value in a lot of different roads. 

Like, people will say, don’t do x thing until you have built a fanbase, like, don’t release an album until you have a certain amount of monthly listeners on Spotify. But I don’t know, the world of music is so random right now. Might as well put out stuff and be as smart about it as you can while still doing what you want. So I’m doing that. Album in May. Boom.

5. Who (or what) influences you? 

Media. Movies. The news. I wrote “Medicine” when we were pretty deep in the trenches of covid. My friends, too. At Berklee, and in the scene in Boston in general, I’ve met so many other songwriters that are doing stuff in super interesting ways. So a lot of what I’m doing now comes from watching my peers and trying to figure out why it works or doesn’t work. Also the generation that came right before us, who are more advanced in their careers and doing what I hope I’m doing when I’m their age.

Also the Minecraft soundtrack. Foundational masterpiece of its genre. God damn.

6. What is your songwriting process? 

Changes every time! I hate to admit it, but I’m kind of an emotional writer. A lot of the time it’s a way to find words and meaning for what I’m feeling, so the way I go about it isn’t the most consistent. What I notice about the process is that I tend to start from one line, maybe just one lyric or one melodic phrase, and expand upon that. But sometimes it’s concept-first, sometimes the chord progression.

7. In 2020 you released your debut single “El Camino.” What was the inspiration behind this single? 

I wrote the song on March 15th or so. It was right as the COVID lockdown was starting and we were all like “aww two weeks off let’s bake some bread and miss each other”. And that’s what it’s about, “el camino” means “the road”, and the chorus loosely means “can’t you see that this is just a turn? that the road is right there and will bring us back together”. And it did, I guess, but into a new landscape.

8. Mustard wonders if the events in “Lying To U” actually took place? Would you consider these to be full lies or white lies within the song? 

They’re lies! That’s the whole point – the verses in “Lying to U” are all the excuses I would give to the person the song is directed at for why I’m not making time for them. Does it make me feel like a bad person? Yes. But, in my defense, they get pretty outlandish.

The last one, “mom invited Russian Orthodox priests over”, is the only one that actually happened – the lie is only that it didn’t happen to me, but a friend of mine. Shoutout!

9. Why don’t humans go to the beach after 8 PM? 

Maybe cause it’s dark and scary and cold – and probably because nobody else is there. The world I’m trying to speak to in “Medicine” is pretty dystopian, really isolated. It’s a rough moment to be a young person. I think a lot of people my age, especially those of us that come from places like Argentina where the effects of the climate crisis and other crises are more evident every day, feel really hopeless and like there’s no way to make collective change. Something about the cult of the individual. Long story short, the answer’s capitalism.

10. The doctor told you to be more afraid on “Medicine.” Do doctors usually prescribe fear? 

Hopefully not, but some should, maybe. Or not fear, but anxiety. A hurry. We don’t really have that much time to act against the stuff our world is going through.

11. Two weeks ago you released your newest single “Mejor Sin Ver.” Could you tell us more about your latest single? 

Yes! I think of “Mejor sin ver” as a song to a summer fling that never really happened, the person in your town that was around for maybe a few weeks before we all went back to school and back to work, that you know you’d have fallen in love with if they had stayed. Hit me up for a translation of the lyrics, ‘cause I have ‘em.

12. What is next for Ana Schon?

THE ALBUM ! Both “Medicine” and “Mejor sin ver” are taken off my first record, which, if everything goes right, drops in May. Huge. 

My band, Borneo, is also releasing a longer project this year. But the timeline for that one is a little more diffuse – follow us on IG at @borneo.borneo to find out haha.

13. Do you have any upcoming gigs? 

Yessir! I’m playing with the band in Beverly on April 1st, then a solo acoustic gig on Thursday April 6th. These are both house shows so you need to ask me for the address if you wanna come. Then we’re doing a big one at Exit Galleries on April 28th with some of my favorite artists. Really excited about that one!

14. Where can readers listen to your music? 

I’m on all streaming platforms as Ana Schon, and as Borneo, and on socials as @ana.schon. Thank you so much for having me!


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