Millaze Welcomes You to Oakland
Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Indiana's alternative pop artist Millaze!
Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Indiana's alternative pop artist Millaze! Together we discussed their mountain career strategy, the word genius, their album “Bedside Table”, and so much more!
Millaze will be releasing their newest single “Sink On My Phone” December 8th on all streaming platforms!
You can pre-save it here!
1. Mustard is grateful to have you join them at On The Shelf. How are you doing today?
Millaze is grateful & pleased to be here with you, Mustard.
2. Mustard has observed that it all began in Pittsburgh, PA where you developed a "mountain" music career strategy. What step of the strategy are you on now? Could you share more about this process?
I’m on Step 5 of 6! Steps 1-3 set up the foundation of your career, then Steps 4-5 climb your own unique Mountain by doing all the things people dream of doing within a music career (writing music, playing shows, recording, etc)! Then Step 6 is a secret that I’ll tell you, Mustard, because you’re so kind to ask about The Mountain: 6 doesn’t actually exist. It’s just “success”, and you should be there the whole time if you’re climbing correctly anyway, because you define “success” for yourself, every step of the way!
I started developing The Mountain in 2013 with my company MIC and all my interns and musician case studies. It’s gone through so many iterations, I’m very proud of how simple it is now - but still packed with the checklists & how-tos that leave musicians feeling satisfied that they’re actually getting somewhere methodologically with their careers, not just having information vomited on them in a big blob.
3. Pittsburgh PA is known as "Steel City." A local steel company reaches out to you to write an anthem for them. What does this anthem sound like? Do you receive a discount on their products?
It sounds like my song “Half-Title Page” because what’s a better anthem than an elegant 7+minute long, lyric-less factory in the clouds? I receive no steel discount but I do get personally embroidered PPE with my name & anchor logo, and a lifetime pass to tour all of the steel factories I want, anytime I want.
4. Mustard has observed that you can often be found enjoying a croissant. What does this food mean to you? What do you like to pair your croissants with?
Chocolate croissants represent enjoyment & satisfaction, 2 things I learned from ED recovery. I swear by them now. I like lattes and tea, I switch it up a lot, I like novelty.
5. A human finds themselves in Oakland. What do they find on their journey? Does Oakland have seasons? Wildlife? How does your music build the world of Oakland?
They find croissants in unexpected places (see the “I Don’t Want Control” music videos for that). It experiences all 4 seasons in a humid continental/subtropical climate. My music doesn’t build Oakland, my memories did - but my songs help me find closure in my memories that needed it, so that’s like a rebuilding, a renovation, if you will.
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6. Why do humans like to use the word "genius?" What word can humans use as an alternative?
I think people use it because it’s a cool word, and they want to emphasize their amazement & respect for someone. I know that feeling. However, “genius” is indeed overused & misused, in my opinion, and that weakens the word. From my understanding, it’s meant to refer to someone who isn’t just an expert in one arena, no, they’re an expert in multiple arenas & then they combine those expertises to come up with new takeaways, & then they teach those new takeaways in such a way that the average person would understand the new takeaway.
So a good alternative would be “expert” or a slew of cool adjectives & qualifiers like “wicked smart” or “insanely intelligent”.
7. Who (or what) influences you?
The idea of living a full human life across the entire spectrum of experiences (ok almost all of them, there are a few I’d like to avoid like going to jail or doing meth, etc.), and people who are trying with all their hearts.
8. What is your creative process?
I write in notebooks every day, and some of those writes pop out at me in such a way that I feel compelled to sit down at the piano and write a song around it, usually in a couple hours. Often I launch the piano improvisation part of that songwriting session with voice memos I sloppily hum into my phone in my bathroom in the middle of the night, with melodies I dreamt up & don’t want to forget.
I immediately record a rough demo and now the song plays a big, fun part in my life for weeks. I listen to it while walking my dog, cooking, baking, folding laundry, lying in bed. I practice it on the piano. I play it at open mics, to iron out some finer details & learn how it hits people. Then I record and produce it and commence listening to that new demo for even more weeks, enjoying it thoroughly. Then I tweak if need be, and once I feel good about it in my gut, I go back and forth with my co-producer on finer tuning of the mixing & mastering - and then I release it.
That’s when social media promotion, etc, becomes the creative part of the process! Which is something that I’ve been working on coming around to believing more: that social media is an art of its own, too, difficult as it is.
9. In every interview Mustard likes to try to better understand humans. How would you define being human? How does music help you express being a human?
I’d define it as being in a mushy vehicle, on this planet with a purpose that’s clearly about connecting with other people and yourself, through love. Music is one of my best tools for this journey.
10. According to your Bandcamp biography you sail the sea. Where have you sailed too? When is the best time to go sailing?
My studio is the USS Sanctuary, it sails The Sea in Oakland. I haven’t really sailed like a sailboat, just motorboats because here in reality, I’ve only been on boats to go fishing on lakes, especially Lake Chautauqua in NY. My dream is to live by the ocean one day, and perhaps have a ship, indeed.
11. You go back in time via "Parts Work" to share stories behind your songs. When did you first get the idea for this concept? How can a human reclaim their younger self?
My therapist taught “Parts Work” to me a fear years ago, because I was speaking about Young Me rather cruelly. Reclaiming our Younger selves is simple: we just need to talk with them & listen to them in our heads. It sounds trippy, so I’ve been trying to show it on my social media videos this week in the “How I Did It” series, because it’s actually the same as how we talk to ourselves in our heads all the time. Except usually we’re cruel to ourselves, you know? Goal here is to love ourselves instead.
12. A human pulls a book off the shelf. That book is called 'The Dialectic.' What is this book about? Can it be found on GoodReads? How long did it take you to put this book together?
The book is about the dialectic conversation in everyone’s heads: learning how to navigate the grey area of life, when you realize it’s not all black & white as would be comfortable, and multiple things are true at the same time (“dialectic”).
It’s not on GoodReads because the app doesn’t accept deconstructed album series - “Carnegie Stacks” (2020) is you walking into the library stacks, “A Note on the Author” (2021) is you pulling a book off the shelf and reading the dust jacket, “Front Matter” (2022) is you leafing through the beginning of the book & deciding to take it to the front desk & check it out, “Bedside Table” (2023) is you taking it home & putting it on your bedside table. The album I’m working on releasing in 2024 is “She Picks it Up & Can’t Put it Down” because you do just that. I started working on this since the dawn of my time, I’ve written & recorded & produced many series that never got released, and they all led up to writing this one.
13. Mustard wonders: "Can women really "Shake it off"?"
Millaze wonders it, too, and she believes yes they can - and even if they’re never quite the same again, they’re more street-smart and stronger for it.
14. In 2017 you released Rabbit Hole. What are some signs that a human may be going down a rabbit hole? Can they eventually escape from it?
Know when someone you love is kinda blurry, like they’re not all here? Maybe for months or years, they’re clearly struggling, but maybe not so clearly? That’s a rabbit hole - and they’re all escapable with love and time (even if it means a *lot* of time.)
15. Do you recommend every human try black coffee and Cherry Pop-Tarts? Could you share the significance of this meal?
Aw, Mustard. My dad and I ate that on our early morning fishing trips at Chautauqua Lake, ever since I was a little kid. I secretly recorded one of our trips when I was older and turned it into that song - it’ll always be one of my favorites. Magical. If you’re gluten-free or have GERD you shouldn’t try it, but everyone else: YES.
16. Earlier this year you released your album "Bedside Table" to say goodbye to your dad. You shared the story about your last minute with him which went viral. Did you expect the response that you received? Have you been able to reflect on this album?
I didn’t expect it at all. I’ve now talked with hundreds, maybe thousands of people on the internet about death & grieving, and it helped me so much. It’s felt warm, I’ve felt seen, I’ve been able to care about & be cared about - with internet strangers I’ll never get to meet face to face. It feels like everything I ever dreamed in my music career, and I believe Dad gave me this gift. It’s been one of the most important experiences of my life. I reflect on the album often, it’s a perfect album.
17. What advice would you give to those who may be in a similar situation?
In a similar situation of losing a loved one, the advice I give is: say what you need to say, but if it’s too late to do so, don’t sweat it at all. They totally get it. All is well. Now it’s your job to fulfill their wish for you: to enjoy your life.
None of our passed loved ones EVER want us to waste our life away in grief - we’ll be sad for sure, but we can’t stay there. Because think about it logically: if that person really loves us, it would hurt them so badly to know we’re hurting at their expense. So we gotta get help like talking to a professional, being kind to ourselves, and believing it’s possible to heal - at least a little bit - because it is possible. Our brains are more powerful than we ever, ever get to see.
18. You followed up "Bedside Table" with your newest single "I Don't Want Control (Not Possible.)." Why do you not want control? What was the inspiration behind this single?
*smiling devil emoji* I always want enjoyment & satisfaction in life now, because I didn’t have it for most of my life with my 3 EDS. This means I don’t want control over calories & eating “perfectly healthy” & working out an insane amount – that’s all ED recovery stuff. However, that life theme I learned there was what I was thinking about all day, every day when I ran into the inspiration for this song:
“I Don’t Want Control” is about when someone feels so good that you get scared you won’t get that feeling ever again. So you pray you’ll feel satisfied from the encounter & not sad when it’s over, because even though you invite them into your world, it’s hard & fast & you expect them to pull away because they always do. It’s both a confident & a desperate song!
19. Someone brings their friend to see you perform. How would you describe your live performance?
A Millaze show is a show where you close your eyes & leave the room to go off to your own world inside your head.
20. Do you have any upcoming shows?
Yes! January 12 at The Bishop in Bloomington, IN, with Moon News, my friend & their band.
21. What is next for Millaze?
The next single “Sink Down on my Phone” should come out December 1st! After that, a bunch of singles, and the “She Picks it Up & Can’t Put it Down” album, and my social media Lunch Dessert videos like usual, and more touring - actually I’m looking for a new booking agent now! I’m stoked about finding someone because I have everything all prepared from my Mountain work, you know?
22. Where can readers listen to your music?
Mustard, you thoughtful & astute & kind condiment, you. Readers can listen wherever they prefer to listen to music - just type my name onto any app, like Spotify, Youtube, Apple Music, Pandora, Tidal, Deezer, Bandcamp (this has my secret song archive!), and more. I am Millaze.