Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Kate Heron. Together we discussed audio engineering, their time at summer camp, their song “The Table”, and so much more!

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

Hi hello! Thank you so much for having me. Doing wonderful- currently sipping on an iced lavender oat latte outside. I’m so excited to be on Music Shelf! 

2. Your Instagram username is called “soundslikekate.” Could you share some examples of things that sound like something Kate does? What are some of your favorite sounds?

Ooh, things my friends would say “Yup, that sounds like Kate.” : splashing around in the water, the clicking of a keyboard researching a new hobby online (currently really want to learn how to cyanotype!), humming songs all day long, and going “awwwww!” at all cute animals throughout the day. 

My fave sounds: the total quiet out in a grassy field, the laugh of people you love, walking through freshly fallen snow, great horned owls at night, the door announcement for the L in Chicago, ice cream trucks, the ocean tide coming in at sunrise, and coffee brewing. I could go on for days- can you tell I’m also a sound designer? haha

3. What was your relationship with Music growing up? Who had the biggest impact on you?

Music has been everything to me since I was a little human- it has been and always will be my “substance of choice.” I’d imagine life playing out like a movie while I listen to songs and pair moments throughout the day with music. I love the way listening to music can help you travel back in time and sometimes briefly enter a different plane of existence. In my opinion, it’s the closest thing to magic. I once was listening to Sprawl II (Mountains beyond Mountains) by Arcade Fire and had my eyes closed and all of a sudden had a montage of 5-second snippets from my childhood flash before my eyes with details that I thought I had long forgotten and it remains to be one of the most wildly in-touch-with-the-universe things I’ve ever experienced.

Carol. My voice teacher in college. I don’t even know how to sum up her impact in words haha. She has magic powers. It was a spiritual experience and her presence will bring up feelings you didn’t even know were buried. She’s one of the most intelligent, empathic, and honest people I’ve ever worked with. I learned how to be myself by playing with different vocal sounds and discovering what my voice could do. Those voice lessons changed my life in every facet. She’d always tell me “just vibrate with feeling” and I use that every time I perform. Love you, Carol! 

4. Is there a song or album that played a significant role? Could you share more?

Arcade Fire- The Suburbs. 

I was in college in upstate New York (Ithaca) and heard the title track playing (don’t even remember exactly where- it was like all of a sudden it took over my brain and I was like okay this song found me somehow and I need to drop everything immediately to go and listen to the rest of the album. I listened to it on repeat as I’d walk the college campus late at night. It was my introduction to the idea of a concept album- and it blew my freaking mind. It was like listening to an indie rock MOVIE and I was like wow, that’s something I want to put out one day. After that, walking around listening to a record all the way through became a ritual for me. Anytime a favorite artist of mine put out a record, I’d grab a coffee, put on my big headphones, wander Ithaca, listen, and just ride the wave. Some of my faves at the time were: Hozier- Wasteland Baby! , Radiohead- A Moon Shaped Pool, Phoebe Bridger- Punisher, Dry the River- Shallow Bed, and Bon Iver- Bon Iver. 

5. How has social media helped you as an artist??

Social media has been a mirror to look into and see my progress and it has also provided such a relentlessly supportive community of musicians. It helped push me to write as much as I could. I downloaded TikTok when I was living alone in quarantine and slowly going insane from loneliness. I posted a cover I think? and it got like 20 views and 2 comments. But those two comments sparked something in me that was like- hey, I have something that people want to hear and I could start sharing it if I wanted to. I moved to Austin midway through the pandemic and started writing songs almost every day and posting snippets to TikTok. The encouragement from the community is what inspired me to start playing out and finish something that I didn’t even know I had inside. So many friends made, too! Thank you TikTok music community!

6. You are skilled in audio engineering, sound design, music performance, and teaching. When did you first begin developing these skills? Have they overlapped at all? What advice would you give to those looking to learn to audio?

From a pretty young age! I’ve been singing since I was 6, apparently, I was singing somewhere over the rainbow nonstop around the house, and my parents were like “she needs to be in a choir”haha. And I’ve been singing ever since- did musical theatre in high school, took acting classes, and originally went to school for opera performance- realized I didn’t want to be an opera singer my sophomore year and took my first sound design class and immediately fell in LOVE with it, switched my major to be voice performance and audio production and have been sound designing ever since. I started working on all types of projects in sound after graduating from school in 2011: had the opportunity to be the front-of-house engineer at a beautiful historic theatre in Ithaca, and while I was there linked up with a director in town who was looking for a sound designer for an absurdist style play and I sound designed my first play (The Shoe by David Paquet). It was a world premiere and was officially published a couple of days ago actually!

I continued sound designing theatre and mixing live sound and then the pandemic happened- ended up working for a virtual choir company (you know those choir videos with a little square of each child singing? yup, I synched those for my job haha), and then once things opened back up, starting working in podcasting for post-production. I even got the chance to work on two Audible Original podcasts as a sound designer and dialogue editor (Moriarity, and Upgrade Soul). I’m eternally curious. I always want to try new things and different types of audio and it’s been such a fun journey!

They definitely overlap- knowing audio engineering skills help a lot with sound design. Knowing how to plug things in makes it so much simpler to run sound at a venue if you need to, and also, every sound person I meet I know exactly how to communicate with them about what I’d like sound wise haha, and know to be super polite and grateful because that can be a VERY thankless job. And I used to be there. Teaching it also helps with recording a student’s material in a way that is much more professional and elevated.

Hmm, advice. I’d say, anyone who is curious about sound- just maintain focus on your interests- Dive deep into what you’re most passionate about, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, go in with the confidence to be 100% yourself in every room, don’t change to fit into spaces that don’t serve you, bring what you are best at to all projects big or small, always trust yourself when something doesn’t feel right, and don’t over commit to too many things right off the bat- you don’t need to say yes every time, more will always come. Cause that’s how life works, in my opinion of the universe and the human experience). 

7. Additionally, you have theatre experience. What are some shows you have worked on? Do you have a favorite production? From an audio perspective, what show would you love to be to turned into a play?

Yes! I’ve worked on primarily absurdist-style plays, which are so much fun to sound design- The Shoe, On The Other Side of the Sea, The Fan, and A Day.

Favorite production I think it’s a tie with On the Other Side of the Sea and The Fan. For the first one, I got to create the sound of a “voice ocean” made from actors whispering names and it was absolutely terrifying and awesome to make haha. But The Fan was such an exciting challenge as well. It was during the pandemic and because of social distancing it was an entirely pantomimed play. So, from an audio perspective, we had to record every piece of the dialogue, in addition to all sound cues. It was essentially a 45 minute sound design that the actors had to memorize and pantomime with masks on and it was so cool to see it unfold. 

Show converted to a play- I think that Midnight Gospel would be incredible on a stage- made up of vignettes of monologues similar to Our Town. The different worlds in that show are just so imaginative and I can already hear some of the re-imagined sound design in my head. Pendleton Ward, I hope you somehow read this so you can hear me say I would be honored to be a part of the sound design for that.

8. Do you have a favorite summer camp song? Is there a summer camp song you dislike? How was your experience working at a summer camp?

Have you ever seen! A penguin come to tea! Because is that not the cutest image you’ve ever heard of? 

Baby shark. Never okay. Need I say anything more. 

It was total chaos! And a good learning opportunity for me- I’m a very empathic person and will accidentally kind of “tune in” to people’s energy and match it if I’m not super careful and when that happens with kids? Well, hahahah, it’s not the most conducive for leading them so I learned how to maintain those energetic boundaries. Learned life lesson

Also, kids will tell you what they think 500% of the time and it is incredibly humbling. I think interacting with kids is just so interesting and important in life and that we all need to ideally interact with people of all ages/walks of life throughout our day- not just our age bracket. I do my best to find commonalities between people and not just notice what’s different about us at first interaction. I think life is more connected that way.

9. What is your creative process?

What a great question that I’m not even sure of haha. I think I strive to always have my mind open for inspiration in every part of my day. The sitting-down-and-writing because it’s the designated time has never worked for me. 

I typically hear a phrase while talking to people or listening to people talk, or think of song idea, usually when I’m nowhere near my guitar, or even while I’m at work so I’ll pull out ye old voice memo and run somewhere like the bathroom to quietly hum it- art is a priority in life, y’all. 

Sometimes it’s full lyrics- sometimes it’s gibberish. Sometimes entire songs just pour out of my brain which is a wild time- 90% of my music I’ve written I don’t remember any of the process of writing- I just hit record on my phone, go into this out there headspace, and just let it out, try different things, re-work things. It happens. I listen back and I’m like, okay that’s not half bad!

Other times, when I’m feeling full to the brim with emotion, I just sit down at my guitar or keyboard and see what comes up. Sometimes it’s absolutely nothing. But other times the most honest songwriting happens- for instance for my recent live performance music video release “Mariana’s Trench”- tears were streaming down my face the entire time I wrote that song. It was 1 AM. I was in my bedroom after having dealt with some devastating news and I had to whisper-sing it so my housemates wouldn’t wake up. And when I listened back it felt like a level up in my songwriting. The lyrics that came up described what I was feeling to an insanely specific degree and I was like, oh wow, that’s what I want to strive for in my future songs.

10. If you could turn any swimming maneuver into a song what would it be and why?

Breast stroke! Because it’s my fave and it makes your whole body feel sooo good and making a song that feels like that would be wonderful. I’ve actually been playing with writing songs that make me feel good to sing- because a lot of my music is very emotional haha. You’re giving me ideas!

11. Mustard developed the ability to cry listening to your song “The Table.” What was the inspiration behind this single?

Omg hahaha I’m sorry to laugh- it’s just that that’s just one of the sweetest things I’ve ever heard and I guess I’m nervous laughing? I’m so glad that it could let you feel that. And thank you for sharing. 

The inspiration is very specifically the pain of the holidays when you’re estranged from family or don’t have a close support network at the time. When you’re going through life and have your routine and are making progress and maybe things aren’t really panning out yet but you’re taking it a day at a time and that movement forward feels good, I think it can be the biggest heartbreak when it’s time for the whole world to pause and cozy up with their people and maybe you don’t have your people yet. The wildest part is that you could find them the very next week after or even the day after- but on the day of Christmas, or New Years, or Valentine’s day, or whatever day means something to you, that longing for your forever homies hits in a way that makes it feel like it will never end and you’ll never find them. But it always does and you will!

12. A human gets the chance to see you perform. How would you describe your live show?

Hmm, so my whole “mantra” that I sum up is that “I hope this makes you feel something” My live shows are very much about creating a space for everyone, including myself, to safely feel our feelings together, enjoy in the experience of it through music, and revisit parts of our heart that might have been tucked away or that we didn’t even know were tucked away. 

It’s happened a few times now that people come up to me after shows crying and then we both immediately cry together because I’m an extremely sensitive human haha. It’s really so beautiful and such a point of connection. I started performing to connect with people through music so when those moments happen, I’m so grateful each time. That’s what it’s all about! 

13. What is next for Kate Heron?

Playing many more solo shows in Austin! The next one is April 26th (start time TBD) I also want to try and release at least a demo or two or five by the end of this year! It’s a bit tricky for me to produce my music on an actual timeline but I’d like to have things out.

Also, in the sound design/audio realm: currently producing a track for someone, composing music for a podcast series, and might be composing for a film in the future! This is my shameless plug to say: hey if you need anything done in audio or creative land, let’s chat! Because I’m your gal and I have some spots left for clients/projects! You can reach me at

14. Where can readers listen to your music?

For now, Youtube and Soundcloud! Check out Youtube to see my music videos and Soundcloud for some bedroom-demos.

And my music will be released on all other streaming platforms in the future! So if you follow me on IG (@soundslikekate), I’ll be announcing when a lot more music is coming out. I’ve been sitting on around 2 years worth of music written haha so I’m really excited to let it out into the world. Also, I love to share snippets of songs that I’m working on on there so you’ll occasionally see those pop up. And in the meantime, if you’re in ATX, I play shows pretty often so come out, say hi, and let’s feel our feelings together.


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