The Mouths of Babes Interview

Mouths of Babes is an Americana folk duo made up of Ingrid Elizabeth and Tylan Greenstein and noted for soulful music and mesmerising stage performances. Their first full-length album, Brighter in the Dark, is due in early 2017. They’ve just released a single from the album— “Lock & Key” (listen here). (You can read more of this interview at http://www.voicemagazine.org.)

Do you have any advice for adolescent girls? Advice you wish had been given to you?

INGRID ELIZABETH: Be LOUD. Make NOISE. Bang on drums, wail on electric guitars, shake tambourines, and sing loudly in the shower, in the car, as often as you can. Don’t be afraid to take up space with your sound. And write down all your thoughts and ideas, no matter how silly or small they may feel. It’s the best way to tell your story some day. And all of our stories are so, so important!

TY GREENSTEIN: There’s no right or wrong way to be a woman, or a female musician, and there’s no limit to what you can do. Yes, you can play that guitar solo yourself. Yes, you can produce it yourself. If someone had told me that at a young age, it probably would have changed my life. But I’m learning it now, so it’s OK!

What conditions do you require in your life in order to go on being creative?

INGRID ELIZABETH: Low overhead expenses. A very flexible calendar.

TY GREENSTEIN: I need good undisturbed morning time, with good coffee and some sunlight.

What do you feed your muse? Are there any books, films, or albums that have deeply influenced your development as an artist?

INGRID ELIZABETH: My most recent inspiration has been Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic. It really speaks to those of us who see creativity as a spiritual path, one that’s easy to stray from in this very fast-paced, multi-tasking, and distracting world. It makes me feel like a sane person and is a great pep talk to get back on the creative train.

TY GREENSTEIN: I need long walks, good books, and new music to listen to. That all helps. But ultimately anything is food for the muse, or nothing is. It all depends on my state of mind.

Songwriting has a magical quality about it sometimes that still surprises me. There’s a way that words can flow out before I think of them and before I know what they mean, and then I write them down and all by themselves they make something beautiful, and they make sense, and they rhyme. How do they do that? That’s where the best lines come from, not from me.

That’s a deeply humbling and exciting experience. There’s also a zone I get into sometimes in performing where there’s nothing between the song and its delivery. In other words, I feel like the middle man (me) is gone and it’s just the song expressing itself. Again, in those moments, you just learn to get out of the way.

If you had an artistic mission statement, what would it be?

INGRID ELIZABETH: “All the feelings, all the time.” That’s actually our band motto. We give ourselves full permission to feel the depth of all emotions and experiences— grief, being in love, angst, uncertainty . . . All of it, even if it means being taboo or messy or loud in the process. We all go through the same emotions, and it can be very validating to see it put to music outside of ourselves to feel like we’re not the only ones. It creates community around being human!

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