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

Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Tess Becket. Together we discussed their multiple talents, their creative process, their debut single “Toxic”, 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! I’m doing great. I’ve been writing some songs, planning a music video and rehearsing today, which are all very fulfilling tasks!

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

I’ve been an avid music fan since my early childhood. I spent all my downtime listening to music, even though I wasn’t around musicians or instruments at all. My older brothers plucked around on a guitar once or twice, but overall, my family wasn’t musical. I was a serious competitive swimmer and didn’t have time for much else. When I quit swimming at sixteen because of a chronic illness, I started acting in musical theater, which sparked my love of performing.

3. You’re a producer, songwriter, and audio engineer. Which came first? How do they overlap?

Songwriting definitely came first, and that started with poetry. As a teenager, I’d read poetry at open mics and go to workshops. I bought a cheap ukulele online and started writing music on it at age thirteen or fourteen. I moved on to guitar and have kept writing through the years. Although I always loved songwriting, it took a long time to find my other passions. I went to college for international relations and earned my associate’s degree in that field. I realized I wouldn’t be happy without a creative career, so I found an opportunity at a recording studio and changed my path. For the past few years, audio engineering has been my main job in the music industry. Once I became really comfortable with audio, the producer role came pretty naturally. My production background helps with filling out my songs and my engineering skills help when recording and mixing them. Taking on all three roles with my music lets my vision come through clearly in the end. 

4. What does an audio engineer do? What role do they play in the music making process?

Audio engineers do everything possible with sound, including recording, amplifying, manipulating and even creating it. It’s a broad term that includes recording, mixing, mastering and live sound engineering. The musician makes the music, and the audio engineer ensures the audience can physically hear it — whether it’s amplified live in a venue or recorded in a studio. On a very basic level, they typically operate the mixing console or computer, position microphones and route audio signals to capture or amplify the sound. Then, they manipulate the audio using plug-ins or hardware to make it sound the best it can. 

5. What is your creative process?

I’ll usually take out a notebook and sing, play guitar and write at the same time. I’ll write down my favorite lyrics and chords and continue until I have a full song. Sometimes it takes an hour, and other times it takes months before the basic structure is done. Once I have the song, I’ll make a drum beat for it and record a demo in my humble bedroom studio (which, for a while, was a computer on an ironing board). Then, I’ll produce it with my very talented drummer, Holden, and bassist, Zach, to really bring it to life. After we record drums, I’ll capture my guitars and vocals in the studio and bring any synths, extra instruments or special effects into the mix. 

6. Who (or what) influences you?

Lyrically, I’m influenced by poets like Ada Limón and Sappho. Anne Carson’s translation, If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho, is possibly my favorite piece of writing in existence. The musical influences most aligned with my songs include King Princess, Hayley Williams and Julien Baker. I also love lots of genres from radio pop, old school hip hop and musical theater to standard vocal jazz. 

7. You have over one hundred unreleased tracks. Could you share more about some of these tracks?

I’ve been writing for a long time, and before I knew how to produce, my songs started out very acoustic and folksy. Gradually, they grew into more of a soft indie rock sound. They’re mostly about sapphic love, childhood or family. I try to improve with every song I write, so I plan on releasing only the latest songs I’ve written, which explore some heavy real life experiences. 

8. Is there a big difference between an independent and commercial audio project?

Yes! The main difference is the budget. Independent projects typically have a smaller budget to work with than commercial projects. Last summer, I worked on a huge audio project for a really big company, which took 200+ hours of recording. Most independent projects have way less money to work with, which means less time and resources. 

9. Could you tell us more about your debut single “Toxic?”

“Toxic” is a dark and emotional indie rock song about returning to a problematic relationship. The production is really raw, with a small band consisting of vocals, guitars, bass and drums. It is a slow simmer with intimate lyrics and some emotional vocals.

10. How can you identify or spot something that is toxic? How should a human proceed?

The word “toxic” became a buzzword recently, and it typically describes someone or something that will cause you harm. If it hurts you continuously, it’s probably toxic. Generally, toxic things are to be avoided, but some people are unable to walk away from them. My debut song explores that dynamic.

11. What is next for Tess Becket?

In the coming months, I’m releasing two more singles and a music video for “Toxic.” I’ve been rehearsing for some live performances and am very excited to play some shows! 

12. Where will readers be able to listen to your debut single?

They can listen to it on any streaming platform, including Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, YouTube and Bandcamp!

Streaming link:

Follow Tess Becket on social media:


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