DJ Mustard has a lot to smile about.
In a time when folk are questioning the existence of “super producers,” the California native is proving himself music’s go-to hitmaker.
Having crafted smashes for the likes of Rihanna, Fergie, and Tinashe, Mustard is spreading more of his magic in the form of new album ‘Cold Summer.’
Boasting collaborations with the likes of Nicki Minaj, John Legend, YG, and Rick Ross, that set has earned him praise aplenty.
That Grape Juice caught up with the turn-up king to discuss the project, his rise to prominence, working on Rihanna‘s ‘ANTI,’ Beyonce, future plans, and much more.
Get to know DJ Mustard all the more after the jump…
TGJ (Sam): You proudly rep the West Coast. Aside from being from Cali, what are some things that have inspired your signature sound?
DJ Mustard: Honestly…strip club music, Mannie Fresh, Lil Jock, Dr. Dre, I mean with Dr. Dre, that’s West Coast, so… I would say like a lot of the early 90s music, early 2000’s music.
TGJ: You’ve become a highly sought-after name in the industry. Why do you think your specific sound has garnered so much popularity?
DJM: I think it’s the consistency and just the simplicity of my music. It’s not overcooked; it’s not too hard to think about. When you hear it, it’s like it almost gives you the feeling that you could make the same beat. You can make it that simple when it’s kind of not, you know what I’m saying? I think that people just gravitate that.
TGJ: So would you say that you make “feel” music? Music people can feel?
DJM: Yeah, definitely. All the way.
TGJ: What makes ‘Cold Summer’ different from 2014’s ’10 Summers’?
DJM: I think this was just like a thing I put together and I wasn’t thinking everybody’s going to like it as much, but it ended up being a fan favorite. As of right now, they like this one the best. And it was just a little more focused on the production, but not so much focused as the idea of the ’10 Summers’. It was just more so fun to do. Not the usual pressure that comes along with doing an album. (This was) just doing music just to do it. And it ended up coming out the best.
TGJ: One of TGJ’s favorite tracks on ‘Cold Summer’ features Ella Mai. How did you discover her and what’s the most compelling thing about her sound that you think is different?
DJM: I saw Ella Mai on Instagram. I’ve seen her doing a lot of covers, singing to her Instagram followers. And people were asking me to look at her cover videos on there; and when I did I saw that this girl is a star. And I actually went and met her in New York. We did three songs the first day I met her and I knew there’s something special about her because she’s an all-around type of person – and she can sing. Like she can “sing-sing” without autotune. She’s like one of those types of artists, talented. So I just gravitated to her really fast.
TGJ: You’re continuing the legacy of the West Coast sound. Have any of your Cali predecessors such as Dr. Dre or Snoop reached out? If so, could there be potential collaborations?
DJM: Of course I’d work with them, yeah. I’d do it. I’ve done stuff with Snoop before. Just not really direct, but yeah, I’d do it. I don’t see why not.
TGJ: This summer you had the opportunity to tour with Rihanna. What was that like?
DJM: That was crazy because it was overseas and I got to see an amount of places that I’ve never seen before and never thought I probably would see. So it was good just travelling the world and get to play for that many fans and people just reacting the way they react. It was better than they reacted over here (in the US), so it was cool; it was fun and it was a good experience.
TGJ: What would you say were some of your favorite places that you discovered overseas?
DJM: Places like Milan, Paris, London, of course. I went to Spain; that was crazy. There were so many places.
TGJ: While you’ve worked with a lot of notable artists within the industry, Rihanna carries the most star power. What was it like working with her on ‘ANTI’ and more specifically ‘Needed Me’?
DJM: It was cool. I did a lot of songs for that album; that was the only one that made it, and now it’s like special because of the story behind it. I was getting tired one night and almost didn’t go to the studio. However, I ended up going and we came up with ‘Needed Me.’ Rihanna was in the kitchen; it was just like a house full of producers and great artists, spent hours of doing. We have been cool ever since then. She let me to be on her tour and stuff like that.
TGJ: Great story. Do you know if we will ever hear any of some of the other material that you’ve worked on with her?
DJM: I’m not sure, I hope so, I mean… I don’t know.
TGJ: You had a heavy hand in Tinashe’s launch with ‘2 On.’ Are you featured on her long-awaited ‘Joyride’ album?
DJM: I don’t know. Honestly. I did a couple of songs with her a while ago. I don’t know if I’ve made the cut or not, or if I have the right to say. But I hope I can be a part of it and hopefully we will get in the studio and make some more magic together.
TGJ: You’ve worked with a lot of major players. Is there anyone you’ve yet to work with that you wish to?
DJM: Definitely Jay-Z, Beyonce, J. Cole, Drake, of course.
TGJ: On the last track of Cold Summer (‘Another Summer’) you mentioned that you never thought you would make it out of California. Before hitting it big, what did you feel you’d end up doing as a job?
DJM: I actually wanted to be a club DJ, DJ’ing all the hot clubs in LA. I never thought I’d DJ in Milan or London, or even going over there, period. So, that was like a big chance for me, obviously. I thought I was going to be like a local club DJ without an apartment to sit in; I could do mixtapes and get money off that. I never thought I would be like…this.
TGJ: What’s the best advice and worst advice someone has given you?
DJM: The worst advice was people giving the advice they wouldn’t take themselves.
The best advice is definitely “go for what I believe in and not what anybody else believes in.”
Do what you want to do, it’s your life. You have to figure it out; no ones going to figure it out for you.
TGJ: Flipping that a bit, what advice would you give to someone wanting to break into the industry as a producer? Or even as a singer?
I would just say, don’t give up. Anything can happen, anything is possible. As you said earlier, the sky is the limit. Maybe tomorrow, your life will change better. You’re not supposed to give up.