This Wednesday I had the pleasure of meeting with M’Lynn Musgrove, singer, songwriter, and pianist from University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. Her unique style fuses jazz, R&B, pop, funk, and soul into a natural expression of herself. Writing her music from her own experiences and feelings allows her to create a genuine sound that her listeners can connect to and learn from. Her last single, T.F.I.L, blew us away, so we decided to listen deeper. We found a collection of unique emotions packed into her songs and executed through flawless instrumentation. Be prepared for M’Lynn’s smooth voice, crisp production, and detailed compositions to create an incredible musical atmosphere.
We were extremely glad to learn more about M’Lynn as not only a songwriter, but a person. Here’s what we learned:
First off, tell me about yourself … Where are you from? What do you like to do other than music?
I’m originally from Dallas Texas, where I went to a performing rights high school. I auditioned for University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. So… now I’m in Miami performing and going to school! It’s tough to say what I like to do other than music because almost everything I do involves music whether it be going to school, writing music, or listening to music. However, because of the emotional intensity I’ve accessed due to my songwriting I always like to keep my emotions in check through writing in my journal, which just allows me to get all of my thoughts down (which may or may not end up in a song), or just doing yoga!
How did you get started in the music industry? How was your journey to where you are today?
My parents were actually in bands when I was growing up in Dallas. My dad plays piano and my mom is a singer, so I grew up taking piano lessons and music was just always in the house. I really hated taking piano at first, but it became a little more fun when I started singing and writing. I wrote my first song when I was in third grade with just a simple melody and chord progression, performed it at an assembly at school and realized I loved it so much. As I got a little older, around sixth grade, I began to play shows around Dallas with just me and piano. I played in the arts districts, parties, and literally wherever I could with my little tip jar. Then I attended my performing rights high school and kept my love for music going! My senior year of high school I was approached by two producers, Bradley Prakope and Josh Goode, who said, “Yo! We like your music and were hoping you’d wanna do a project with us,” which lead to a summer in LA and the creation of my first studio EP: Grounding. When we arrived in LA Bradley and Josh got me in the studio with some of the most incredible studio musicians. They had played with endless talent from Aretha Franklin, to Elton John, to Hootie & the Blowfish… so it was so inspiring being around them and their energy.
But that’s kind of my journey. I’ve just been writing forever. A lot of the reason why I started to write was just as a coping mechanism to get through the emotional angst of being a preteen and teenager. I was just a very angsty gal and so I had a lot to say and write about. Writing music really really helped me get that out in a healthier way.
Did you have other career paths, or passions that maybe clashed with music?
Personally, I have pretty much been doing music forever. I knew since I was 15 that I wanted to pursue music for my life. I went to a five-week summer program at Berklee College of Music, and by the end I knew I loved it and wanted to keep going.
The one thing that might be clashing is deciding where I want to place a career in the industry. Do I want to do the industry side of things or risk the creative side of things? No matter what, I’ll always be writing music, but right now I’m kind of straddling the line between the industry and the artistry.
What’s the most rewarding part of being a musician for you?
For me, it’s just the feeling of release when I finish a song. You have all of these thoughts and feelings, or a concept you want to write about, and it’s like you’re creating a puzzle around this idea. Then all of the lyrics, melody, and harmonies are molded into one and I think to myself “okay, yes. I finally put it into words. This is a song that expresses that emotion”. It’s the most rewarding feeling ever.
Along with that is the feeling that the audience gets when they connect with what you’ve written. It’s the most amazing and rewarding phenomenon. I love connecting with people through intimate conversations and really diving deep into learning who that person is, and so I feel like when I can do that with a huge room of people and they really connect with a song and come to me after and say, “I felt that”, it’s truly amazing.
Who or what are your biggest musical influences?
Ooh my, this is a tough one. First off, I’d probably have to say Norah Jones and Erykah Badhu, both alumni of my high school, Booker T. Washington. A lot of the style of my high school is funk, soul, R&B, and jazz, so I definitely got a ton of that influence.
Other than that, Stevie Wonder, John Mayer, The Beatles, B-52s, Michael Jackson, Ben Howard, Matt Corby, Ingrid Michaelson. My sound is kind of a mixture of this soul, Motown-influence, with a folky singer/songwriter intimacy.
Who would be your dream to collaborate with?
John Mayer. He is absolutely amazing and I would love to work with him. I love what he writes, his energy, and the vibe of his music… plus I can’t play guitar very well so I think it’d be really cool to get that influence in a song.
As an artist, what are some of your major goals in the next five years?
So I’ve been pretty intimidated since I had one single surpass what I ever imaged it to be. T.F.I.L is almost at 200,000 streams and it’s hard to know where to go from there. There are so many options and possibilities. Right now, I’m thinking I will finish school, move to LA, and start my next project, but I’m just giving myself some room to rest and get mentally prepared to go down that path because it really is a beating, and I have struggled with depression and anxiety. I wanna take this time to make sure I’m strong enough to exercise my full potential without it being detrimental to my mental health.
Also another one of my main goals is to find a group of people that I really like working with and start recording with them. I’m not entirely sure if an album is a great idea right now because the music industry is sort of shifting towards singles, but I’ll figure it out soon.
What can the DropSpot readers expect from you in the near future? Do you have any new music or live shows coming soon?
I have a few singles that I haven’t released yet, but I don’t feel like they’re perfect yet so I’m not ready to release them. I’m just taking this time as soul-food and working on myself.
Anything you’d like your listeners to look out for when listening to your music?
My music is very focused on emotions and mental health and getting through situations and coming of age. It’s just stuff that you deal with and also how to love yourself despite the world telling you that you’re not supposed to. My song T.F.I.L is about being in a relationship and not being ready cause you’re not fully in love with yourself. It’s difficult to be with someone else when you don’t respect yourself enough. I think when I do create an album it will be songs that I’m writing now about this journey that I’m taking to become the best or better version of myself. So yeah it’s a lot about mental health and I hope that people that are also going through it can listen to it and relate. That’s really important to me.
Also, I want them to look out for the slight jazz harmony that’s dispersed throughout the music! I really love music theory and I think there are so many options, when it comes to writing, if you really know your stuff. I really pride myself on not just being a singer, pianist, or a songwriter, I pride myself on knowing music theory and why a certain chord would go to a certain place other than a different one. Some of the best R&B and jazz songs have these incredible progressions that sound flawless, like you’re not even trying to make it hard. So that’s what I try to do.