Exclusive: DJ Mustard Dishes On Rihanna, His Breakthrough, Beyonce, & More

The California native is proving himself music's go-to hitmaker
Published: Thursday 17th Nov 2016 by Sam

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.

Interview by: Sam + Nehemiah

‘Cold Summer’ is out now at retail and on all streaming services.

Your thoughts?

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  1. Queen Ci November 17, 2016


  2. Jamon November 17, 2016

    Good stuff. That was a looong stretch adding Beyonce to the title lol

    • Trose November 17, 2016

      LOL,Don’t do that. ANYTHING is possible.Words are powerful and speaking things into existence helps. Big freeDia worked with Beyonce who saw that coming? OrTinashe With B. SPEARS.I applaud this man for his hard work.People will say what they want but he was nobody one minute and literally became the timbaland/Neptune of 2014-2016.Its stories like this that Def keeps me motivated and invigorated. #blackexcellence

      • Jamon November 17, 2016

        I was talking about Sam’s title page, not him saying he wants to work with her.

      • Jamon November 17, 2016

        To be more clear, her name wasn’t needed in the headline lol

  3. Chasin Time November 17, 2016

    I just can’t help but to as everybody about Beyoncé

    • Chasin Time November 17, 2016

      *they just can’t help but to ask everybody about Beyoncé

      • Annalise November 17, 2016

        And you just can’t help but to throw shade without reading the actual article. DJ Mustard was the one who brought up Beyonce, not the over way round dumass

      • Brain dead spears November 17, 2016

        They didn’t ask about Beyoncé.

  4. Trainwreck November 17, 2016

    That secrets track he did with Tinashe was dope.. the 2 have chemistry ..

  5. Jubilee November 17, 2016

    He should have said “why ya’ll keep asking me about Rihanna when ya’ll don’t even like her” #Boop…Also, he didn’t even say much about Beyonce to put her in the headline. This site is soooo gay!

  6. SCREAM QUEENS 2.0 November 17, 2016

    Why not show your support to your fellow UK artist Ella Mai? She’s one of the upcoming artist in UK. Her 5 track EP drops on Friday 18/11 make sure you check it out!

  7. RihYonce November 17, 2016

    I hate this site ? Had me thinking he did some tracks for Bey

  8. #JACKIE November 17, 2016

    It took a house full of people to write Needed Me? Kii.

  9. Tori November 17, 2016

    Surprised TGJ hasn’t posted about Rihanna special box set coming in out next month. I’m lying, I’m not really surprised, but let it would’ve been Beyonce releasing an album lol.

  10. We Nowqd Redv dimnobut it ash trjoan ivy blobukz Need UK timely Ukuno eremxil November 19, 2016

    Good interview

  11. v***** December 10, 2016


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