May 25, 2021
Tune-In Tuesdays #107: Melodie Muggy on Releasing her First Song, “Chunkawunk”
Musician and artist Melodie Muggy in the citySource: Melodie Muggy
Last week, we spoke with Muggy via Zoom to learn more about her passion for music, her art and jewelry shops online, as well as her values. Muggy also shared some great advice for artists and musicians who are gearing up to release their first creations.
Tell us a little about yourself as a musician and an artist. What are your vibes and vision?
I guess my vibe would be ethereal, fun. I want to make people feel good but also vulnerable at the same time while listening to my music. I don’t have anything that outwardly talks about emotion yet — I just have Chunkawunk out so far.
As far as art goes, I like doing a lot of trippy, outsider art, abstract art; things you wouldn’t normally see, or things your inner child would be drawn to. People compare my art to a lot of Eye Spy books — those weird little craft books. I did those a lot.
I can definitely see that! So, what sparked your interest in music? Did you grow up in a particularly musical family? Were there any big stars that inspired you growing up?
Both of my parents were in a band when I was born. My mom was pregnant with me when they were on stage a lot of the time, so that’s what kind of grew the name “Melodie.” My sister’s named after a musician, as well.
I’ve always been in a musical household, my dad is very musical. As far as idols go, I really liked Joan Jett growing up. I’ve always loved the rocker vibes. As soon as I heard her music in Shrek growing up, I was like, “THAT’S ME. I want to be a rocker! Girls can sound like that!? I didn’t even know that was a thing!”
Yeah, she’s been one of my idols since.
Your work spans across so many different mediums, from music and art, to collage pieces and poetry, to your crafts on Etsy on Depop. How have all of these different outlets helped you grow and explore who you are as a person?
It’s helped me express who I am a lot. I always knew I wanted to be a musician, but I didn’t know I wanted to make paintings — or I didn’t think I was the best at it. I was only in an art class in high school for like four days, and it was on accident; they put me there on accident, I didn’t ask to be there, and I quit after four days.
So it wasn’t anything I had planned on doing. Even with jewelry, I didn’t start wearing it until I was 20. And I didn’t like wearing a lot of jewelry. I liked it on other people, but it just wasn’t my own thing.
It’s still weird to myself seeing that I’ve jumped so far into it. But seeing my friends effortlessly post, or how people on Instagram are trying to make it more casual, has definitely helped for me. Like I’ve heard from other people, “Bad art is better than no art.” So it’s better to put out something than to feel like you’re being really judgemental.
I used to be a huge perfectionist with my art and everything that I did, so I didn’t want to put it out. But now, I think having this avenue is a lot more fun because I don’t feel so judgemental towards myself and I have other people give me creative outlets to try.
I remember growing up, I’d see other artists online and I’d be so blown away that I didn’t even want to call myself an “artist” because I didn’t think my art lived up to other standards. So this whole new generation of “do what makes you happy and share it because it will make others happy” makes me happy.
I’m glad it’s struck a chord with you too, but what medium do you feel most connected with? When do you feel most in the zone — is it when you’re making tangible art pieces, making music, or all of it?
I guess it depends on the day and the situation. A lot of my art I make when I’m very emotional or wanting to get drawn into something. If I’m making music, I like to just make a lot of songs, write guitar pieces, or write lyrics. I have tons of lyrics that are ready to be goin’ places!
But as far as getting invested into something, I think painting, just ’cause I can use my hands, get really involved with it, and make it really messy. But most art, it’s just a matter of whatever I’m into that day, that second. My Gemini self is just always wanting to try something new.
Oooh, when is your birthday!?
Happy early birthday! Circling back to your music, tell me a little more about “Chunkawunk.” What software and instruments did you use to produce the track?
That’s the interesting part… I just have an amp next to my bed, ’cause I usually want to get up and just play guitar, so I used my Donner foot pedal, and I played with my electric guitar right in front of my phone.
Then I edited it — just cut the front and the end back — and posted it. I got tired of not having anything up! That’s how I was with most of my art for a long time. Like, I do this, why not let people know what I do? Even if it’s really bad, or I’m not the best at it, why don’t I just post something?
I have other software, too. Logic Pro is what I would be using most of the time, and that’s what I would recommend for people. But I just used my phone for this, it was super simple. I just wanted to have something out.
That’s so cool! So many people think that in order to get started you need to have all the equipment and software first, but here you just did it right on your phone. That’s awesome!
Yeah! I don’t know if you know who TV Girl is, but I really like their music. I emailed Brad and asked him a while ago — I think this was at the beginning of quarantine — “Hey, I’m going to be making music, what type of equipment should I use? What type of software?”
They said, “Honestly, just a $100 microphone and whatever software you have is good.” I was like, “Okay!” …Like, they make really good music and they have huge songs on TikTok and they weren’t even like, “you have to have the best software” or anything.
So it’s good asking people, and that’s what I would recommend for others, to ask the people they like and just shoot an email. You never know who’s going to respond.
Where did the name “Chunkawunk” come from?
I was actually writing a piece for another song that I had written on a trip down from Portland a few years ago, but the guitar piece wasn’t really fitting with the lyrics. So I was just kind of playing with my amp, and I put it on a setting I had never done before, it gave me these kinds of chunky sounds.
That’s why when I was playing guitar it was just sounding like chunks — and it looked like that in the audio, where there were fatter chunks [of waves] than the rest of them. So I was like, “Chunkawunk. That sounds good!”
I love it! And as you had said, it has a very ethereal, sort of spacey sound to it. There’s something about “Chunkawunk” that’s very mysterious, and yet meditative. How do you hope listeners feel when they hear “Chunkawunk?”
Spacey and vibey, like you were saying. I was sending it to a couple of my friends and they said it’s the kind of music they would just sit in the background and study to, or relax to more or less. So kind of like that meditative state, where you can just be in your own space and not have to stress too much.
When I heard it, my first thought was, “One: this would be a great smoke song,” [laughs] and, “Two: Smoke or not, this is just wonderful to lay down and let your mind wander to.”
That’s my thing, too. I want people to be very 420-friendly — whatever substances-they’re-using-friendly, safely, obviously. Anything that you feel you can be yourself and be in your own element with while listening to my music I’m happy with.
I’m glad that it brings you there.
Now, you said that you have some lyrics already written. For your future releases, do you think you’ll make more instrumental tracks, more lyrical ones, or a combination of both?
I definitely want to put more lyrics out because I’m more of a singer than anything. I play a lot of instruments, but singing is my main thing and guitar is my main instrument.
I only really put out some music that was in between because I was listening to The Beatles anthologies and the Beastie Boys, and they have in-between tracks where they’re just trying to learn their songs. It’s almost somewhat cooler than the song itself. It shows you what happens in-between getting it to the piece you actually want to make.
I think I’ll have a nice mix of both, where it’s showing my process of some songs — instrumentals, demos, and whatnot. But I also want to have actual, solid songs so when I’m touring so it’s not just guitar vibes for three hours straight [giggles], like a Pink Floyd concert or something.
[Laughs] That would still be cool to see, but I get what you mean. I love when artists include little interludes or extras in the beginning or end of their songs because it makes you feel like you’re in the studio with them.
Mmhmm, or like them talking or some type of input that they got. It makes them more human — like they’re not just an idol or celebrity.
Totally. Now, this next question’s a bit off-topic, but I’m personally a huge fan of your fashion and your photography, so I’ve got to ask — when did you start to feel like you were coming into your own person? What helped you get to that place?
I always felt somewhat ostracized in school. Even dying my hair would get me called a witch. But when you’re in elementary school, kids don’t really know better. Or when I would wear candy leggings in high school, people would be like, “What are you doing?” I was like the galaxy shoes, that type of person, always wearing abstract things.
I would get some comments like, “Oh, my parents think you’re really brave for wearing that,” which sounds like a backhanded compliment. Like it’s great, but I see what you’re saying.
I kind of just… ran with that. It’s the same thing that I feel with my art, like, this is me so why would I question it?
I’ve been getting more compliments about how I dress. That was one of the things my senior year and what I’ve heard from people since [then] on my Instagram. Or when I go to the post office, I’ve had people ask me if I’m doing fashion and design in school. But no, it’s just something that I do! I’m just a very colorful person.
I think it’s having the influence of other people, and seeing other people be brave enough or have the confidence in themselves, too, that helps.
I think me being in the Olympia and Seattle area also helps — there are a lot of eccentric souls out here. That’s part of the reason why I like going to New York because the city’s very big and bold, y’know, it’s the city life.
City life definitely helps. I grew up outside of the city in a large but conservative suburb. Moving closer to the city and spending more time there really helped. The fashion was just incredible and it made me go, “Wow, look at that, everyone’s just doing their own thing.”
It’s so much different when you’re in a conservative area. There are definitely some conservative areas around Olympia and even in Olympia — that’s why they have the governor’s building locked down so you can’t walk up to it.
You get what you take from people. If I went into public and only heard the rude things that people say, I would just be a regular, normal person. I wouldn’t be having the whole rainbow thing going on. You can see I’ve got a bunch of bracelets on my wall. I’m as colorful as I can be.
I think trying to be yourself is better than listening to other people’s formalities of how you should live your life. We’re just an avatar, man, we’re just having a good time. There’s no rhyme or reason to any of this, we’re just havin’ fun.
Speaking of color, I’ve got cans and gift cards glued to my wall.
I love that! I have a bunch of little art and things on the wall, too. I have my tapestry down right now, it’s the little things in life.
Oh yeah. I am a very proud maximalist [laughs]
I’m never judgemental going into other people’s spaces. I feel like that should be known for other people who have very expressionist lives. You don’t have to be judgemental of walking into a space with a pure white wall. There’s beauty in other people’s art, as well.
And I’m not saying that’s how you are, but that’s how other people might view having a big personality and being scared of having that big personality. But no, everyone has their own beauty in themselves, you’re supposed to be happy with who you are and what you’re doing. Everyone’s on their own journey, man.
Exactly! I love seeing photos of people who have those very crisp, minimalist apartments, but personally, I love having color everywhere. My one friend said my apartment is like a funhouse.
Well, that’s how I would like it to be! Like, I see Meow Wolf and I’m like, “That’s how I want my house to be someday! I want my own Meow Wolf house.” I just want it to be full of random things like an art exhibit.
I’d love to see your place sometime, that’s awesome! I can see all your little toys and things in the background. I think you’ve got a Pokémon on your wall, too.
Oh yeah! When I was a kid, my mom hand drew all of the original Pokémon and I had them on my childhood bedroom walls until I thought I was “too old” for Pokémon. I still have them with me, though!
Nah, you gotta catch ’em all, you’ve got to have them on you at all times. Like in my phone case, I have a Pokémon card. It’s a Sunflora! I keep it in mint condition. I have a Spinarak, too!
That’s awesome! The Sunflora’s like your good luck charm. Going back a little bit, though… What advice would you give to artists who want to release their first track on Spotify or upload their first listing on Etsy but may feel too intimidated to?
The best advice I could give is to just put out something that you think you’d want to buy. Music and art are two different things, so for Spotify and anything like that, I used Distrokid. If you upload your music there, they will upload your music to a bunch of platforms.
I got my recommendation from a friend who’s at GMO. They let me know to use Distrokid. I used all streaming platforms except for Amazon because heck to Jeff Bezos, especially in Washington state.
But that’s the easiest way to go for uploading music. I think you have to pay an annual fee or a monthly fee, but it’s not very expensive. And if you’re wanting to get it on a bunch of platforms — even more platforms than I can remember or name — that’s the best way to do it.
As far as Etsy and Depop go, just make sure you have a good background for things, describe your item well, get good pictures, and make sure you stay on top of shipping. That’s the one thing for me that, I’m getting an influx of orders now, but to keep up with work and the orders — especially if you’re hand making the items — it’s difficult.
A lot of people on Depop are reselling thrift clothes, so it’s not as hard to get the selling out there. But if you’re doing a lot of handmade stuff, definitely keep on top of it. You want the customer to obviously get what they’re buying and you want them to feel how you would want to feel if you were on the other end as the customer.
With Etsy and Depop I always say that packaging matters, too. Even if you just doodle on the envelope, it makes it extra special.
Yeah! I used to have these plain white poly mailers that I would do like a hand turkey on but write, “Handle with love” on them ’cause then the person and the UPS driver (or whoever is seeing it) is getting a cute message, too.
The ones I have now have smiley faces and tie-dye packs on them, and you can get those from a bulk pack online, as well. I think I got my poly mailers from Uline, too, so you can get them ethically.
I try to get as much as my stuff ethically. Like, I haven’t bought anything from Amazon in probably over five years, so I try to do a lot of my stuff locally or from Uline and other ethical places. I’m only one person, I try to do what I can.
So, what are your overarching goals as a musician and as an artist? How do you hope to impact your audiences and either industry as a whole?
I want to challenge people. That’s what I like about making art in particular, I like to really challenge what I’m doing or whatever the norm is. It may not always be evident in exactly the pieces I’m doing, but I like to question the culture and what we’re doing, and have things be topical, as well.
When it comes to my music, I want things to be more vulnerable like I said earlier, and let people feel like they can be emotional and express things without it being overt or having them sob about it.
I feel like the universal language is music and if I can help talk to everyone, that would be awesome.
That’s a really beautiful goal to have, and I believe that as you release more music your audience will really be able to connect with it. Even with the instrumental track, Chunkawunk, I felt so calm and at peace. It truly is a universal language.
That’s really sweet, I appreciate that.
No problem! Over email, you had also mentioned that you were in Seattle shooting for the background role in a movie. What was it like being on set? Is there anything you can share about the film or is it all still on the down-low right now?
There’s stuff that’s on the down-low. If you look it up, it’s called “Kimi,” so there’s good info on Wikipedia about it already because of what the media’s been hearing about the film and all of the extras in it. I think they hired 1,500 extras total for the film, so there’s a lot of leaking information about it, as well, I’m assuming.
Even taking photos wasn’t allowed on set, so when I posted that I was on set it was just the sky and my face. You’re not allowed to post ANYTHING, they were running over and yelling at people for taking photos. It was pretty secure.
The lead role is Zoë Kravitz, and the director is Steven Soderbergh. I had to wake up at 4:00/4:30 in the morning and drive up because we had to be on set at 6:30. It was really cool. They change your wardrobe, check your hair and makeup, give you food.
This was just for an extra role, it’s not like I had any lines or anything, they were just having us be pedestrians and walk across the street and whatnot.
As far as I know, the movie is about a girl dealing with agoraphobia. She’s a tech designer, so she’s generally always in the house. I think they said the outdoor scenes were filmed in Seattle and the indoor scenes were filmed in Los Angeles. That’s as much as I really know about the filming of it.
But it was cool because the main shot of where we had started out for the day they had us go outside and I was right across the street from Zoë’s shot. So I may actually see myself in the background if I’m lucky.
Even if not, it was still a really cool experience. She looked like she was having fun, dancing, and having a good time on set, too. It was great. All said and done, waking up early and being there for a long day, I would absolutely do it again.
And they pay you. I wasn’t expecting that, either.
Even if it’s just a background role, you still had a great time and you get paid for it, that’s wonderful! If the main character has agoraphobia, I can see why they hired so many extras. They probably wanted to emphasize how stressful and anxiety-inducing it is to experience agoraphobia.
And I think that they were talking about that. One of the first times that she leaves her apartment is when the protests are going on, so there’s a lot of stress in the situation.
The only way that I found out about this movie is my dad had told me about it through Q13 News on TV talking about needing extras in the Seattle area. It was as simple as that.
For other people, whenever you see these opportunities, try them. You never know when they’re going to say yes. I ended up being on it. They COVID tested me a couple of days ahead of time, paid me for the testing, and paid me for the time I was there, too.
Now I’m interested in seeing what’s being filmed in my area. I want to be in a film!
Definitely check out Backstage.com. I think you have to pay annually — but I mean, an annual payment for figuring out different TV and movie roles that are going on isn’t bad. Plus, there’s a lot of local things, like college kids who just need an extra actor.
So if you want to build your acting portfolio or anything like that, it’s a great way to go. I’ve gotten “To Tell the Truth” to email me. I just forgot to email them back! America’s Funniest Home Videos are asking for extras on there, too. It’s just for anyone wanting to go out there and try something like that.
There are tons of websites for it, but I recommend Backstage.
I’ll have to check it out! For me, it’d be more of a hobby, though it would be kind of funny if I upended my college passions and pursued acting as a career instead. I might end up really liking it!
That’s what you never know! For me, I went to a Seattle talent program in 8th grade. They accepted me, but it was for modeling and acting because they didn’t have a music program at the time. You also had to pay like $6,000 to do a bunch of stuff, so I was like, “I’m not going to pay a bunch of money for something I don’t want to do.” And I was also in 8th grade, so I was like, “I’m just a musician at this point!”
Acting wasn’t something I ever really cared about doing either, but being on the set and doing the whole thing that we did the other day I would definitely do it again. I can see myself wanting to take it more seriously.
I’ve done plays and whatnot in elementary and middle school — y’know, the things that they FORCE you to do, not things you ever wanted to do, but you never know what’s going to happen. I think that’s how Matthew McConaughey’s career got started ’cause he just showed up to a Dazed and Confused things and now he might be the governor someday [laughs].
On that note, though, it has been SUCH a pleasure speaking with you, getting to meet you, and getting to know more about your work. Before we wrap up the interview, do you have any final comments or thoughts to share?
Just to reiterate for anyone that’s wanting to do their art, do their fashion, do anything, whatever it is — even if you’re just wanting to go be an astronaut or a doctor — whatever it is, utilize it, pay attention to it, build on your craft.
When Malcolm Gladwell says to put in 10,000 hours, he’s serious. Work on it. Just keep on working on your craft. You don’t ever have to know at 20, 30, 40, or 100 years old what you’re going to do with your life. Just do it by day.
If tomorrow you don’t want to be a doctor anymore, that sucks, but today you wanted to be a doctor. Don’t, uhh, do your student loans like that [chuckles], but it’s the notion that counts. It’s the thought.
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