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Interview with Austin Mulka
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
A: My journey into music began at a very young age, largely influenced by my dad, who was a musician and singer. Watching him perform and seeing the joy and passion he had for music inspired me to follow in his footsteps. One of my earliest memories is of my dad singing and playing "La Bamba" on his guitar, and it ignited my love for music and the desire to be a musician like him.
If I hadn't gotten into music, I might have pursued a career related to literature or philosophy, given my background and interests in these fields. I've always been fascinated by the power of ideas and the beauty of storytelling, so it's possible that I would have become a writer, a teacher, or even a researcher in one of those disciplines if music didn't satisfy my passion for those fields.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
A: I have a lot of different hobbies. I have pretty severe attention deficit, so I'm constantly switching to new things and hobbies. Luckily, I learn thing's pretty quickly so It's resulted in me having a lot of random skills like knowing how to solve a Rubik's cube. I think the variety of hobbies and interests I have definitely influences my music, which is why every album I make is very unique and different.
How long has your band been around?
A: I've been making music probably since about 2018, but I really started grinding around 2022. The last year or so I've been in the studio a lot more and have been much more focused on music.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
A: I am based out of Detroit, a city with a rich musical heritage that has undoubtedly influenced my music. Growing up in the birthplace of Motown, I was exposed to legendary artists like Stevie Wonder, who happens to be one of my all-time favorites. The sounds of R&B and Motown have had a significant impact on my musical style, and I've always admired the soulful, emotive qualities that define these genres.
While my current releases might not fully reflect this influence, I am excited to share that my upcoming albums will showcase a deeper connection to the R&B and Motown sounds that have inspired me throughout my life. Being from Detroit has allowed me to immerse myself in the city's vibrant musical culture, and I'm eager to pay tribute to the iconic artists and styles that have shaped me as a musician.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
A: Long story short, my dad really wanted to name me Jean-Luc after Picard from Star Trek, but my mom said no, and somehow they settled on Austin.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
A: One of my most memorable shows took place at a cozy, intimate venue with a crowd of about 15-20 people. It was a breakthrough moment for me, as I had been playing a string of shows where the audience was non-existent. This particular gig was special, not only because of the larger crowd, but also because of the incredible energy and connection I felt with the audience.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
A: My favorite venue to play at so far has been The Token Lounge. There are lots of venues I would love to play at. In Detroit, the Majestic Theatre and the Magic Stick come to mind. The Majestic Theatre is a historic venue with a rich musical heritage, while the Magic Stick is known for hosting a wide range of indie and alternative acts.
In Ann Arbor, the Blind Pig and The Ark are two venues that I'd be excited to play at. The Blind Pig is a legendary club with a long history of showcasing up-and-coming talent, while The Ark is an intimate listening room that offers a unique and personal experience for both the artist and the audience.
Performing at any of these venues would be an honor, and it would provide an opportunity to connect with the local music scene in a meaningful way, as well as reach new audiences and share my music with a wider group of people.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
A: It would really depend on what album I was performing because the styles are so different. There are tons of artists that have influenced a lot of music I've written that's still unreleased like Regina Spektor, Fiona Apple, Rebecca Sugar, Jeff Buckley, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Bruno Mars, Childish Gambino, and Elliot Smith, who have all been huge influences for so many of my songs. But if I'm performing my current album Reveries and Requiem, I would want a line up of Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, and They May be Giants. Obviously many of the aforementioned aren't actually possible, but you said if.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
A: No matter how long you prepare, your first song isn't going to be the best, or your first show, or your first guitar solo, first album art cover, first interview, etc. You can spend a long time practicing and preparing until you think you're ready, but ultimately the fastest way to improve and actually get better is to just keep releasing music and keep performing shows. The more practice and experience you get on stage and in the studio the better you are going to be as a musician.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
A: Hope Is the Thing with Feathers. The song was Inspired by the poetry of Emily Dickinson, this song is a part of my EP that delves into the world of her literary works. I believe this song does a really good job at capturing the juxtaposition between grief and hope that embodies Dickinson's poetry.
Her poems often appear whimsical and charming on the surface, yet they contain deeper, darker, or more ambiguous meanings.. In crafting "Hope Is the Thing with Feathers," I aimed to reflect this unique style of Dickinson's work, creating a piece that balances the lightness and darkness of her poetry.
The song represents not only my love for Emily Dickinson's work but also my own artistic journey in capturing the essence of her poetry through music.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
A: My favorite song to play and my most requested song are both Peace. I think it's just a very simple and melodic tune. It's easy to play, it's easy to sing, it's filled with angst, and it's got a really catchy rift.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
A: My creative process is ever-evolving and varies with each song I create. There have been times when I've started with melodies, while other times, I've begun with lyrics, riffs, or even a drum beat. I believe this fluid approach to songwriting keeps my music fresh and allows me to experiment with different styles and techniques.
As for inspiration, it can come from a multitude of sources. Past experiences, books, news articles, and even small, seemingly trivial moments like seeing a ladybug outside have all sparked my creativity. Having studied literature and philosophy in college, I find that ideas and thinkers from these fields also deeply influence my songwriting.
Some songs start purely based on emotion and feeling, while others originate from abstract ideas or researched concepts. Regardless of the source, I strive to imbue each of my creations with a sense of emotion and meaning that connects with my audience.
My diverse interests and passions contribute to a unique blend of inspiration that shapes my musical style, spanning genres like rock, pop, and R&B. In the end, it's the marriage of these varied influences and my ever-changing creative process that allows me to produce music that is both innovative and emotionally resonant.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
A: Ultimately, I want listeners to interpret my music in a way that resonates with them. But some of the themes that are in a lot of my music are:
Hope and resilience: I often aim to inspire hope and encourage resilience in the face of adversity. By sharing stories of personal growth and triumph over challenges, I want to help listeners find the strength to overcome their own obstacles.
Connection and empathy: My music seeks to create a sense of connection between people and foster empathy. By exploring universal emotions and experiences, I hope to bridge the gap between individuals and cultivate understanding.
Self-discovery and introspection: I enjoy crafting songs that prompt self-reflection and introspection, encouraging listeners to delve deeper into their own thoughts and emotions to gain a better understanding of themselves.
Ambiguity: By weaving in elements of uncertainty or leaving certain aspects open to interpretation, I encourage my listeners to engage with my music on a more personal level, drawing their own conclusions and relating the songs to their own experiences.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
A: In any creative collaboration, disagreements are bound to happen, and my relationship with my producer is no exception. I always encourage my producer, Nick, to provide honest thoughts and feedback, and while this can sometimes lead to clashing opinions, we've developed a healthy way of resolving these differences.
When faced with a disagreement, we usually decide the course of action based on who is more passionate about a particular element of the music. For example, if I suggest removing a certain part of the song and Nick has a strong argument for keeping it, we'll discuss the reasons behind our opinions and try to find a solution that respects both of our viewpoints.
So far, we haven't encountered too many disagreements where we are both extremely passionate about our positions, but when it does happen, we sometimes explore a third option that serves as a compromise between our initial ideas.
By focusing on open communication and respecting each other's creative input, we are able to navigate through disagreements and ultimately create music that is a true reflection of our combined vision and talents.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
A: My plans for the future are to continue growing as an artist, expanding my musical horizons, and pushing the boundaries of my creativity. I aim to steadily increase the time and budget dedicated to my music, which will allow me to enhance the quality and scale of everything I do. I also have aspirations to create unique musical experiences and innovations that have never been done before.
Currently, I'm working on my upcoming album, "Reveries and Requiem," which I'm very excited about.