Fly In My Dreams: The Venomous Beauty Of Just Mustard
Picture the following; the sound replication of melodically astute chainsaws playing in dark and surreal, industrial settings with Cocteau Twins-like vocals sung through metal cylinders. This is an attempt to capture the mesmeric, mind-bending soundscapes that play out on ‘October’, the title of Just Mustard’s latest single. The track is part of a split release, and ‘Frank’, the first part of it, came out earlier this year.
The scale of imagination oozing from the electronic guitar noise inventors from Dundalk in Ireland is challenging to describe and even harder to pin down. Hardly lending itself to categorisation or labelling, this is also reflective of how the exploratory five-piece sees the music they make, and seemingly, how they would like to keep things.
“There is not an individual band that is a massive influence”, David Noonan tells Clash. “It will just be a certain album or certain bands influencing some aspects of it, but it’s never solely one band. We haven’t even done it that much in the past, but we may talk about mixing something like The Jesus and Mary Chain or mixing a guitar with a hip hop sounding drum beat or something similar.”
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Until now the temptation to describe them as shoegaze has been there, but it seems largely driven by the lack of suitable music tags available, and surely this is mainly to be construed as a positive; a sign that Just Mustard, like a lot of their Irish peers, are making super-relevant and important music.
“To be honest, sound-wise we get labelled as a shoegaze band, and because we didn’t really know why at the start, my friend looked up the definition, and it was basically ‘that is what we are’, it was a bit like ‘oh I understand now’”, says Katie Ball.
“But I think as a whole, the shoegaze thing is not exactly a style of music we all share to be honest, or any of us share that much. My Bloody Valentine are probably the only band that would be considered and it is not even our go-to thing, but it has definitely influenced our guitar playing”, acknowledges David.
Drawing on influences and atmospherics that are more associated with the spheres of electronic music, this comes across in the structure of the songs, there are signs of ‘anti-versing’, full on instrumental parts, and generally a lot of their song material bears a closer resemblance to electronic music with its more linear style of composition.
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At the moment creativity is heaving, it feels like an art movement fronted by numerous acts that make electrifying and compelling music, and it comes from various different parts of Ireland. As much as it is convenient to refer to it all as “one scene”, the fact remains that there are many scenes and the sounds made are as diverse and multifaceted as the people who make them.
“I think everyone in Ireland sees themselves as doing their own thing”, says David. “It’s such a small country, small and tightly knit. There is a community of Irish musicians from different parts who would be playing at different shows. But maybe apart from some of the hip hop communities or the people who play traditional folk, it is just bands doing their thing. Everyone can be quite separated from each other, it’s not like there are fifteen punk bands in Dundalk or something like that.”
“Speaking more locally with us, and the town we are from, there are loads of musicians, but they are all playing completely different music”, Katie reflects. “There are not many similar bands at all. I definitely feel part of the Irish community as a whole, but there are few bands doing the same thing.”
But even if the idea of one current Irish sound does not exist, there is an Irish identity, and with that comes a pride of the output, and there is no doubt that the band are making a contribution to it.
It is a hectic summer, and so far their schedule includes playing at the acclaimed Primavera Festival and upcoming live dates with The Twilight Sad and The Cure. But prior to this, the band went on tour with fellow countrymen Fontaines D.C., who are “really accommodating, great people.” The two bands don’t play the same kind of music but it worked out really well.
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Just Mustard are keen to take things further, they want to keep up the momentum by writing new music and play more live shows. Writing the follow-up to their debut ‘Wednesday’ is on the cards. DIY culture is a thing in Dundalk, and the artist-led Pizza Pizza Records is the band’s entrepreneurial home and artistic base, and it is going to facilitate and be the perfect setting for releasing their second album.
“We are involved with a DIY label, it is just us and some of our friends”, says David. “It puts out music but it’s going on regardless of what else is happening. It’s nice to have a kind of collective as well. It’s just like people helping each other out, come up at shows and listen to each other’s tracks when they are being mixed and exchange opinions. It’s a good atmosphere for creating music.”
“We are going to start writing as soon as possible”, he continues. “The last few months have been very hectic, but we are excited about writing new songs again.”
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Words: Susan Hansen
Photo Credit: Rachel Lipsitz
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