Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Mia Tims who just released their debut EP “psychosomatic”. Together we discussed studying at NYU, fruit, and so much more!
1. Mustard is grateful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you doing?
I’m well! Thank you so much for reaching out about this, I’m really excited 🙂
2. When you get nervous, you use big words. What are some of your favorite big words? Do you have a favorite expression or sentence to use these words in?
I’ve been really into using the word “inebriated” lately, particularly when I am inebriated, which feels a little funny to use such an obnoxious word when I’m in such a state. I don’t think I have any recurring phrases with big words, but my friend Carson (shoutout her <3) and I are really into having various phrases of the month – we’ve been randomly texting each other “What’s your truth?” throughout our days as a little pause and reflect moment, no other context provided. So that is fun haha
3. Mustard wonders what your relationship with music was growing up?
I’ve definitely always had a very deep love of music and desire to be a performer. When I was growing up, I used to tell people that I wanted to be a combination singer-actor-fashion-designer (I no longer have acting or design ambitions though lol). I sang in choirs throughout my childhood and started playing guitar when I was 10 – songwriting came about when I was 14 after deciding that I should stop being frustrated by feeling like I could never write a song and just try it. After a few shaky attempts, I decided I was okay enough to keep going with it. My dad is a big music nerd/audiophile and our basement is full of miscellaneous audio equipment, so when I was in high school I’d spend my Friday nights digging through bins of wires and microphones so I could record my songs on GarageBand. I started uploading them onto SoundCloud, where they picked up some traction and made me realize that this thing that had always been a hobby that I didn’t really talk about a whole lot could maybe be something that I could do with my life. This was during my senior year of high school, so I ditched my plans for liberal arts college and applied to music programs instead. I landed at NYU and I couldn’t be happier studying the thing that I love the most.
4. Is there a song (or album) that had a significant impact on you? Can this song be found on your “my favorite songs ever” playlist on Spotify?
Snail Mail’s Habit definitely had a massive impact on me. I stumbled upon their NPR Tiny Desk Concert when I was 15 and fell completely in love with their sound and the earnestness of Lindsey Jordan’s voice. Her lyrics were so unapologetically teenaged and resonated with me deeper than anything I’d listened to thus far. I used to put on “Dirt” (which, yes, can be found on that playlist!) and stare dramatically out the school bus window, thinking about how the song sounded exactly how I felt. It wasn’t just because of the lyrics – the sonic world that they built seemed to be the equivalent of my emotional state, as if Jordan took the chemicals in my brain and translated them into sounds. I felt so at home. The reaction that that song produced within me became the thing I chased after in my own songwriting. I wanted to give my thoughts and feelings a distinct sound and world to live in, percolate, and blossom – in the hopes that maybe it’d touch someone in the way “Dirt” touched me. It’s also worth it to mention that she’s been a big sonic influence on me. I’ve gotten a lot of comparisons to Snail Mail and it’s always the highest compliment!
5. You’re currently a student at New York University. How do you balance being a student and a musician? Would you say being surrounded by fellow creative students helps inspire your own music?
It’s definitely really hard to stay on top of everything, I won’t lie lol – between shows, assignments, studio sessions, and my work-study job I have a pretty packed schedule. I think it’s really worth it though. I feel so lucky that I get to continue my education while also digging deeper into my artistry, and I definitely wouldn’t be able to do this to the extent that I do if I wasn’t primarily studying music. There’s been a lot of overlap between coursework and my artistic work outside of the classroom, so that’s really helpful in terms of managing everything and keeping up with my duties as a student.
6. Mustard has heard New York be called “The Big Apple.” Do humans provide large fruits to others? Are you a fan of apples?
I do think humans provide large fruits to others – if we’re defining fruits as rewards and gifts 🙂 I try to be a fruitful presence in my loved ones’ lives… it is definitely always better to be a giving force than a detracting force but I suppose that is a given. I am not a fan of apples though, ironically enough.
7. On Instagram you shared a poem about Oranges. Would you say apples and oranges are different? What similarities do they share?
I do think they’re very different! I think the biggest difference for me personally is that I actually like oranges lol… but symbolically I feel like oranges have such a potent message. They’re natural givers – they grow in a way that allows them to be shared so easily. You peel open an orange and there you have little segments, little presents ready to be given out to different people. I’m really drawn to orange imagery (like in the poem you reference!) because it always feels like such a pure, simple statement on the love and care between people. A sweet treat shared between friends… there is nothing better than that! Apples aren’t made in that same way. They’re kinda selfish fruits if you think about it – how do you eat an apple most of the time? You just bite into it, claiming it as your own, only yours. If you want to share it with someone else, you have to go through the effort of cutting it into pieces – an extra step just to share the love. How obnoxious!
8. If you could perform anywhere in New York where would it be and why?
Brooklyn Steel! I saw boygenius play there in 2018 – it was truly a life-changing moment (so influential that I wrote my college admissions essay about it LOL). The show was incredible and the three of them were just radiating with joy. Seeing them look so happy being together and doing the thing they love struck me with so much force. I wanted to find something, some calling or vocation that would make me feel just how they felt. At that point I wasn’t considering a career in music… little did I know! It would be very surreal to play that stage.
9. Who (or what) influences you?
All sorts of things I feel and experience! I often draw from relationship/social dynamics, honing in a lot of the time on very specific moments that felt really visceral to me. I’m notorious among my friends for never being able to get over things… I partially blame my habits as a songwriter for that LOL. I like zooming in on things and picking details apart over and over, considering what happened and what could’ve happened and what I wanted to happen. Most of the time, these different elements end up weaving into each other to create a completely new narrative. I think that’s a really cool thing, that within my songs I can tell these cohesive stories that have so many different layers of personal truth within them. Even if the exact events that I relay through the lyrics didn’t happen verbatim, the feelings that the story elicits are always very real. It’s so cathartic to capture those emotions in such a potent way.
10. What is your songwriting process?
It takes on a lot of different forms – honestly I don’t think any of the songs on my EP were written through the same process. I primarily write alongside guitar, so sometimes I start with a guitar part and then write a melody intertwined with that. Sometimes a melody will pop into my head and I’ll just write the whole song then and then and add the guitar later. Sometimes my friend/EP producer Theo Hoffstrom will send me an instrumental and I’ll topline that… it happens in too many ways to keep track of! I’m a very lyrically driven songwriter so I’m constantly writing blabber down in my notes app throughout my day – even if I’m in a dry spell musically, I’ve yet to encounter that lyrically which is a very fortunate thing! Basically I’m saying that I am never able to shut up lol
11. Last November you released your debut single “Live Forever.” What was the inspiration behind this single? How long have you been working on this song?
I wrote it after ending my first relationship. It was an incredibly turbulent time – I had just started college and was surrounded by so many new people in this really overwhelming place. I felt this rush of anxious adrenaline constantly, so naturally my songwriter self wanted to capture all that nervous energy I was feeling. I also wanted to feel like a release and have a vibrancy in it that I had never really imbued into my writing. I loved the way the chorus of “Fit N Full” by Samia felt, so that was a major inspiration for the energy I wanted to put into the song. Theo and I started recording it in November 2021. After losing all of the files when his hard drive broke a month later, we went back to it in April 2022 and re-recorded everything – and tracked live drums with my friend and drummer Jackson Cathcart, which was super exciting because I had never had live drums on one of my songs before! Overall it was a super surreal experience hearing one of my songs come to life like it did, and I’m really happy that it resonates with so many people 🙂
12. If you could live forever you would tell your friends and lovers. What are you telling them?
The lyric is actually “I’ll tell my friends I love them” – that is totally the fault of my poor enunciation though!! For a while, I’ve struggled with verbally articulating the deep love I have for many of my friends. When you’re with a partner, it can feel a lot easier to express your love within that relationship because it’s usually such an intrinsic aspect of the dynamic. It felt strange to me that I could so easily express love to my partner while still struggling to express it to my friends. It felt like I was cheating them out of something that they very clearly earned and deserved. When I left that relationship, I decided that I wanted to more actively express my love and admiration for my close friends. I have so much love in my heart! I don’t think it’s fair to myself or those important to me to only express that within a romantic relationship.
13. You get the chance to be immortal. What are some things you would do? Would you share your gift of immortality with other humans?
Honestly I don’t think I’d want to be immortal… too much pressure to do something great with it! I suppose I would want to travel the world, maybe live in every country for a lifetime. I think you could make some helpful observations, maybe unite humanity or something like that. See? Too much pressure!
14. This week you released your newest single “Lucky.” Could you share more about your newest single?
“Lucky” captures me being really upset and angry at someone that I cared about, releasing it through a sarcastic bite. I was frustrated with how I was being treated, and I was sad that I had so many strong feelings that were unreciprocated despite there being obvious chemistry and history. I wrote it in May 2022 when I was so upset one day that I just had to let it all out. I made a demo in my dorm room… It had a silly little drum machine that almost made the final cut (funny because the live drums have become such an integral part of the song’s energy and feel). I brought it to Theo a few weeks later to start ramping things up a bit, and it really took off from there. It definitely had a lot of kinks that we had to work out along the way – I think I recorded the vocals maybe six separate times, and Theo has seventeen versions of the song in his files. The hard work really paid off though because we both really love this song – and are glad so many people do as well!!
15. Mustard wonders if you believe in luck?
I’ve been thinking about this question since you sent the interview over, and I’m honestly not sure. I feel like it depends on how you define luck. Regardless of whether I do or not, I never want to be so reliant on some force that is outside of my control. If I want something to happen, I will always do what I can to make it happen. If something in the universe would like to help me in regards to what I can’t control, then I suppose I wouldn’t refuse that help.
16. What can fans expect from your upcoming EP “Psychosomatic?”
A lot of yearning and also a lot of sarcasm! It’s a great representation of my personal truth over the past eighteen months. I’ve experienced a lot of change since moving to New York and starting college, and I’ve discovered new sides of myself throughout the process. I hope that people are able to see themselves in the work. I’d like to be a friend to my listeners, someone who can offer a shoulder and empathize with their pain. I’m definitely learning how to do that in a stronger, more distinct way… But I think that this EP is the most earnest shot that I can offer right now, at twenty years old and very much still in a constant state of confusion. If you’re reading this… please give it a chance! Give meeeee a chance ❤
17. Do you have any upcoming shows?
Yes I do! My band and I will be playing at Gold Sounds in Brooklyn on 5/3/23 alongside some super cool artists. It’s going to be a lot of fun so you should come out if you’re in the area!
18. Where can readers listen to your music?
Any streaming service – where you listen, there I’ll be! I’ll also be putting the EP up for digital sale on Bandcamp along with some CD copies, so if anyone would like a more tangible connection to the music I would highly recommend checking that out 🙂 Thanks so much!!!