Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Towse! Together we discussed studying at universities, change, their favorite color of green, their upcoming single “We’d Start a Garden”, and so much more!
1. Mustard is grateful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you doing today?
I’m ok! Lots to do ahead of the release! I’m currently re-dying my hair.
2. Mustard wonders what your relationship with music was growing up?
I’ve loved music for a very long time. We sang every morning in my preschool, and my dad would play country songs on guitar. I begged to take cello lessons as a kid, but my mom steered me towards violin, which I started learning at age 4. Before I got a real violin, I had a cardboard one I’d carry around “playing.”
3. You’ve studied music at Ventura College, CalArts, and BIMM. How has studying music helped you as an artist? What lesson or quote still sticks with you today?
Yeah three very different schools! At Ventura College, it was more classically focused, but they gave me an amazing foundation in music theory and ear training. At CalArts, it was all about experimenting. I learned to analyze and reflect on art. I studied everything from jazz and experimental classical music to Indonesian and Ghanaian music. CalArts absolutely helped me become the artist I am today. At BIMM, it was more about learning to understand the industry and building a community. My BIMM community is nothing short of priceless. My main take away from VC was just a hunger for more knowledge. Since studying at CalArts, I always remember my songwriting teacher Marc Lowenstein asking not if something was good or bad but if it was “effective,” and my production teacher John Baffa really instilling in me how important every step of the recording process is; that things can sound better than I ever imagined. Phil Nelson really stood out to me as a lecturer at BIMM, he always encouraged us to keep up to date with music industry news, and his approach has given me the tools to dive into finding solutions whenever I run up against a roadblock.
4. Regina Spektor, Fiona Apple, and Joanna Newsom are some of your influences. What album of each do you consider to be essential listening?
For Fiona Apple, my favorite is Fetch the Bolt Cutters. I would die for each of Joanna Newsom’s studio albums, but my favorites are Ys and Divers. For Regina Spektor, it’s more that I love songs scattered amongst the albums, but probably my favorite of her songs is 20 Years of Snow. Also honorable mentions to Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers and Build a Problem by Dodie.
5. What is your creative process?
For this track, I wrote it during a song a day for a month challenge in 2021. That’s always a great exercise for my songwriting. I like to jam with people to get arranging ideas, so in this case, the drummer, Dan Payne, and the bassist, Mark Gunner, partially wrote their parts with input from me on specific sections, like what the feel should be where. One that was comped and the piano recorded, I did scratch vocals. Then I got my partner, Corwin Zekley to layer up violin parts, again with some feedback from me. After that I finalized the vocals and mixed it on and off for a few months until it felt ready for mastering!
6. 2018 saw the release of your album “Change.” When did you first begin working on this project?
I started writing for that project in 2014 and recording in 2016. I am still proud of that work but it’s definitely a different era and a less mature voice, so I’ve decided to take it off of distribution, but it’s still available on BandCamp for the OG fans. Either way, I learned a lot from that process that I’ve taken on board since.
7. Mustard has observed that change can be tough for humans. How do you adapt and handle change? How did it influence this album?
I think sometimes we have to break ourselves apart a bit so we can rearrange the pieces before putting them back together. Change can be painful, but it’s very often worth the pain.
8. What does true happiness look like to you? When can you tell a human is truly happy?
I think true happiness is a balance and includes acceptance of the dark parts of life along with the good.
9. Do you have a favorite shade of green?
Yeah I love, like, pistachio or avocado-type greens and also sage.
10. Mustard’s human employee can relate to “Song for Introverts.” Would you consider yourself an introvert?
I don’t think I’m more introverted or extroverted, but I can get really burnt out, especially in loud social environments. I wrote that song while at CalArts when I rarely had any time off. I would just sit in my car when I got home because I wanted a few minutes of quiet before going in to see my boyfriend and roommates. These days I do find I need to seek out socializing a lot, because otherwise I can end up home, making stuff alone in my room for days on end, and that isn’t good for me either. You can also catch me having 5-hour-long chats or phone calls. It just really depends on the circumstances.
11. Could you share more about your father Jupiter? What planet do you consider yourself?
Embarrassingly, I was misquoting mythology when I wrote that song. So let’s move on…
12. What can fans expect from your upcoming single “We’d Start a Garden?”
It is a breakup song about losing your youth to a failed relationship that I naively thought would be “the one.” It’s like a slow burn of a song that starts out more ballad-y and gets pretty bop-y by the end.
13. Can readers pre-save “We’d Start a Garden?”
Yes! Although it’s out in two days as I’m writing this.
Here’s the link anyway:
14. Mustard wonders what can be found in your garden?
Unfortunately, I currently live in a flat (apartment for my American friends). I do have a pretty large collection of house plants though.
15. You can currently be found performing throughout London. How would you describe your live performance?
Lately, I’ve been playing a lot with my partner Corwin Zekley on violin/vocals and bassist Mark Gunner on bass/vocals and sometimes his funky bass/percussion setup or else a real drummer. People keep calling us a power trio (which is very nice) and I attribute this to Mark and Corwin’s exceptional musicianship (I feel extremely lucky).
16. Do you have any upcoming shows?
Our next UK show is in Brighton on June 7th! Then we’re heading off on a US West Coast tour ALL SUMMER LONG. In September, you can catch us at Nick Cody’s music for the head and heart showcase near Leeds.
17. Where can readers listen to your music?
We’d Start a Garden will be out on all platforms this Friday! You can always catch some raw work-in-progress on YouTube and TikTok as well.