- 29 Aug 19
In the run up to their Electric Picnic debut, Just Mustard’s Katie Ball chats about opening for The Cure, touring with Fontaines D.C. and Dundalk’s thriving music scene
Since the release of their outstanding debut, Wednesday, last summer, Just Mustard have barely had the chance to catch their breath. Showcasing their raw approach to experimental noise-rock, the album earned the five-piece a cult following on both sides of the Irish Sea, as well as a coveted Choice Music Prize Album Of The Year nomination – an honour that the band “really weren’t expecting at all”, according to vocalist Katie Ball.
From there, Just Mustard joined their pals Fontaines D.C. on a multi-city tour across the UK – during which they had a front row view of the Dublin band’s rapid rise to stardom.
“We were in the middle of the tour with them when Dogrel came out,” Katie tells us. “It was crazy to see the reaction, and how much everyone really loved the music. We’re so happy to see them doing well because they’re such nice lads, and were so supportive and welcoming to us. It was our first real tour and we were a bit nervous, but they made us feel so comfortable.”
With its newfound focus on independence and a DIY aesthetic, the Irish music scene has rarely been so close-knit. Nowhere is this more evident than in Dundalk’s thriving creative community. Just Mustard are one of a number immensely talented acts, including Æ Mak, David Keenan, Elephant, TPM and Jinx Lennon, flying the flag for their hometown.
“There must be something in the Harp,” Katie laughs. “No, The Spirit Store is such a great venue, and having somewhere like that to play your songs is incredible. Dundalk is a really creative town in general and everyone’s so supportive of each other here. All the acts and the bands are very different, so there’s no sense of being in competition which each other.”
Dundalk’s also home to their independent label and artist collective, Pizza Pizza Records. As well as Just Mustard, the roster includes Elephant, Larry, Trick Mist and We, the Oceanographers. Pizza Pizza also ran their first ever The Big Slice festival in July, with an eclectic line-up that included Junior Brother, Lemoncello, The Bonk, Myles Manley, The Mary Wallopers and more.
“We’re just a group of friends,” Katie explains. “We were missing something like it in the town, so we decided to set it up. Just Mustard’s first album was the first record released on it. It’s really cool having such a tight community, so we can bounce ideas off each other, and help each other out.”
In a year of many firsts, this summer also saw Just Mustard open for The Cure at Malahide Castle, alongside shoegazing legends Ride and Scottish post-punk collective The Twilight Sad.
“It was such a surreal day. The stage was so big; it was strange having all of us really far away from each other. Luckily we played a biggish stage at Primavera the week before, so we had a bit of experience with that extra space.
“Robert Smith was so lovely. He came back and talked to us after our set, and was just such a nice man. We had played with Twilight Sad the night before in Belfast, so it was great to be able see them and Ride play too.”
Mr. Smith isn’t the only Brit to have a taken a shine to the Dundalk band. Just Mustard have already been lauded by a number of major music publications in the UK, and head across the Irish Sea for a seven-date headline tour there in October.
“We’re really looking forward to that,” Katie enthuses. “There are so many great towns to play over there. The UK has a bigger population, too, so there’s more of a chance of finding a good audience for your music. Of course, Ireland will always be special for us – playing here is a completely different kettle of fish.”
Shifting from haunting electronic influences to industrial distortion, Just Mustard are certainly hard to beat when presented live and loud. There’s a deeply visual element to the heavily-textured, dynamic sound – owing, at least in part, to Katie’s background in film and photography.
“I studied film in college, so that definitely influenced me,” she nods. “All of us in the band really like film scores, and how the tension goes with the picture.”
While music videos can seem like an afterthought with some bands, they’re an integral part of Just Mustard’s vision – just take a look at their gorgeously bizarre ‘Frank’ clip.
“For ‘Frank’, we spent a whole Saturday in the house, refusing to leave until we had an idea,” Katie recalls. “We came up with some wild stuff in the process, but we got there in the end. We love music videos, and getting the movement in the visuals to match the movement in the song.”
Katie reveals Just Mustard are in the process of writing their highly-anticipated follow-up to Wednesday, which they plan to release in 2020. We can also expect another single before the year is out.
Prior to that, Just Mustard are set to be one of the highlights of this year’s Electric Picnic.
“It’s actually our first time playing Electric Picnic, so we’re delighted,” Katie says. “We’ve all gone many years as punters – I even cycled one year. It was great for charity, but it was pretty tortuous for me!”
• Just Mustard also play the Púca Festival, Trim (November 1) and are heading out on UK tour (October 11-18).