Photo credit to Zoe Challenger

Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Kate Malanphy! This interview took place prior to the release of her album “Rock.” Together we discussed nature, The Bee Movie, her creative process, her newest album “Rock”, and so much more!


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

today I’m good! I am grateful to join Mustard too! I had a show last night with my band Fend, and later today I’m going up north, so I am riding a few waves of excitement.

2. Your heart is currently unloading in Minneapolis. How do you reload a human heart?

I am sure every heart is reloaded differently. Some surefire ways to reload my heart are creative time, quality time with loved ones, and outside time. Overall, having freedom to explore and play will refill my heart very fast. But, it often happens unexpectedly too. Many times, small interactions with strangers have filled my heart. To go out into the world & simply see so many people exist and connect makes it feel full too.

3. You can be found voyaging throughout nature. What is your relationship with nature? Do you have a favorite activity to do with nature?

When I was a child, almost every family trip we took at least involved nature, if it wasn’t completely immersed in it. We went camping more often than we stayed in hotels, and we drove everywhere, giving us the opportunity to really see how many different and special natural places there are. Even at home in the summers, neighborhood friends would convene in the middle of the street in the morning, and proceed to spend the whole day outside, coming home only to chug water or eat a quick lunch. Our days were spent building “rivers” and “dams” in the dirt, erecting forts from sticks, running around and sampling berries from all the bushes in the neighborhood. I still love to build forts and pick berries (reveling in the little gifts that the natural world always has and always will provide), but I think these days, my favorite thing to do in nature is to just be present. It gets very hard to live in the moment in this working adult life, but nature is a reliable source of wonder that always brings me back to my physical being. 

4. What was your relationship with music growing up?

I was playing as soon as I could! My parents had an old upright piano in the dining room of their home, and I have heard that I was fascinated by the sounds it made as soon as I could reach the keys. They started me on piano lessons when I was four, which continued through high school. Throughout school, I was also extremely involved in extracurricular music like orchestra and choir. Some of my first real moments of “leadership” and confidence were in high school choir. Music has always made sense to me & felt like something I had freedom in. 

My parents are also avid music lovers – my dad loves rock music & dance music, and my mom has always had great taste in songwriting, so I got a lot of really good influence there. They hosted these crazy dance parties on holidays for a long time, and looking back, I can see how this was a rare time when they would really let loose. I think it taught me about music as a source of connection and catharsis.

Overall, I am super lucky to have grown up in a home where music was validated and supported as an interest/creative outlet, and not made into something where only excellence meant it was worth it. 

5. Who would you consider some of your influences?

Two very core influences (that I can thank my parents for) are Ben Folds & Rufus Wainwright – the element of piano being consistently present in their music as well as their emotive narrative lyrics are things that you can directly hear in my stuff.

In the past several years as I’ve developed my own taste more, some big favorites have been Hop Along, Big Thief, & Talking Heads. I also feel very influenced by a lot of the Twin Cities local artists I’ve come to know – Bugsy, Mike Kota, WHY NOT, Early Eyes, and Papa Mbye are just a few.

6. What is your creative process?

It is pretty sporadic these days – I do what I can when I can. I’ll have a little time to get a piano idea down, or scratch out a couple words, and I slowly combine things to get a song together. When I was writing this album though, many of the songs came to be in one continuous session. I miss that process & I’m trying to get back to it – building it into a routine is tough!

7. 2018 saw the release of your beautiful debut single “Honey.” What was the inspiration behind this release?

I don’t know if I have really ever talked about this, haha! But, at the time I had been talking to another musician who had written a song for me pretty on the spot. I was very inspired by this, somehow it hadn’t clicked before that one person can just make complete songs on their own. So I sat down that night and wrote the lyrics to Honey (I’m sure it was also inspired by a crush at the time), and the next day got the piano part written out, and there it was!

8. What are your thoughts on Dreamwork Animation’s “The Bee Movie?”

I think it is very enjoyable, but it’s also wild how much of a thing it’s become. I have never quite been able to figure out if the whole thing was a joke to the creators too. I do wish people took the ultimate idea of it more seriously lol – we’re killing this world!!!!! But then again you can’t really count on Dreamworks to push that kind of messaging too blatantly. 

9. You followed it up with your EP “In and Under?” Could you share what it was like to put this EP together?

This EP was rather straightforward – I demo’d the songs with just me and piano in practice rooms at my college (Hamline University). I got in touch with the engineer who I worked with on Honey, and we got these songs put together in a day or two. I also had my friend/musical colleague Alex come play some drums on this EP – we had played music together previously in high school, and we play together with this project now too. We had lots of fun together in the studio. I haven’t thought about the recording process for this one in a while & looking back, I feel very sentimental. 

10. Found within the linear notes of your release you can often be found thanking your parents. How have they supported your music?

They have always gone along with/outwardly supported my musical endeavors – as I said above, they’ve always been down with me seeing it as more of a creative outlet than something that I needed to be the best at skill-wise. They both have helped me learn about combining raw creativity with tactile goals. Notably, they also helped fund my first EP – if I hadn’t had this support it would have been unattainable, and I absolutely would not be where I am (not to mention all the music lessons over the years too…). Getting that EP put together was extremely validating to me as an artist and I simply could not have done it without them. It’s important to me to remind myself that I am so lucky and that I cannot take this musical life or their support for granted, and equally important to make sure they know how much I appreciate them. Finally, they come to pretty much every show, which is so sweet. Knowing I’ll at least have them in the audience brings a huge sense of reassurance if I’m ever feeling uneasy about a gig.

11. Mustard wonders if you still aren’t hungry? What was the inspiration behind your single “glue?”

Oh, I am definitely hungry now! That song was very much about just being in a depressive spiral & feeling unable to get out of bed, let alone take care of myself & go connect with people. It was written in my freshman year of college, when I hadn’t quite built a support system in the cities. Since I wrote that song, I have come a long way in coping with these feelings, and I’ve built friendships that I know I can fall back on, so it’s become easier to be good to myself & accept love. 

12. April saw you release two EPs: “Keep It Down” and “Steven and the Mouse.” Are these EPs connected? Do they play a role in your upcoming debut album “Rock?”

Yes! I am a bit late for this one lol. But all these songs have come together now, along with many others, to form Rock!

13. What can fans expect from your upcoming debut album “Rock?” How does it differ from your previous works?

Basically it’s a lot louder and more wild! The people I worked with on this record & the environments I worked in allowed me to explore these songs to the fullest extent that I wanted to. I tried to bring every sound I had access to into this record, and I think it’s very fun to listen back and hear things that I had forgotten I laid down, or hear cool little things that my band members played on the songs too. My music has always been emotional, but I think this record is more sonically expressive than my past works, and reflects more of what I want my sound to ultimately become. 

14. Who wins in a fight: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or your upcoming album?

my album no doubt. he wouldn’t be ready

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

A few words might be dynamic, cathartic, emotional. Overall, I get very involved in my songs when I perform them (as do my band members) and I think that feeling spreads to the audience. With these new songs, there are also quite a few danceable (perhaps even moshable) moments, which has not always been the case! 

16. Do you have any upcoming shows?

Yes! My record release show is next Friday 5/26 at 7th street entry in Minneapolis. I will also be playing another band’s record release show on the 30th of June at the Turf Club in St. Paul. It’s technically not announced that I will play that yet, so I have left the band unnamed lolol. But if anyone’s interested, go check out the Turf Club site to see what’s up!

17. Where can readers listen to your music?

I have my music on all streaming platforms as well as Bandcamp – lyrics and credits are all up on Bandcamp too, so I recommend they go there first!

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