Musings with Montse: Artists and Their (Honest) Stories
Montse final cover

Musings with Montse features meaningful conversations with all kinds of artists. Musicians, poets, photographers, and other creatives share their honest stories, touching on the duality of being creative - the pure joy of making art - but also the particular struggles that come with it. In speaking about vulnerability, many of these artists remind us that even though people can look like they have it all together on the surface, we all struggle.

In each episode, Montse's guests share the contents of their personal toolkit - what helps them get through the hard times. They also share their "favorites" list - what they are reading, listening to, places that light them up, and the creativity of other artists that moves them.

(Theme Music by Heather Maloney)

  1. Thumb 1549948462 artwork

    Oh Pep!

    Oh Pep! are indie-folk/pop duo Olivia Hally and Pepita Emmerichs.

    They are from Melbourne, Australia but we were able to catch up in person while they were on tour in the US (with our mutual friend Gregory Alan Isakov) in support of their new album I Wasn't Only Thinking About You.

    We cover a lot of ground in this conversation (with lots of giggling along the way!).

    They share the story of how they came together as a band, and tell us about something outside of music that they both want to do.

    We talk about the grounding nature of journaling, the beauty and romance of handwritten letters, and some of the challenges (and benefits!) of a life on the road.

    They also share some “favorites” including their musical and personal inspirations, though Liv so beautifully adds that to her, it’s “more that there are moments that are really inspirational than people.”

    I so enjoyed catching up with these two wonderful friends and I know you’re going to love getting to know them a bit!

  2. Thumb 1549345343 artwork

    Eric D. Johnson (Fruit Bats)

    Eric D. Johnson is a songwriter, musician and producer. He has been in The Shins, Califone, and his current musical project is Fruit Bats.

    He’s also a really great guy, and I feel lucky to call him a friend!

    In this episode, Eric gives some solid advice to young artists, and tells us why failing (“hopefully not spectacularly”) can be a really good thing.

    We talk about the good and bad of social media. He also shares some great tour stories, talks about the differences between joining someone else’s band as a “side guy” (as he did in The Shins) vs. doing his own thing, fan interactions (and how he wants to make a graphic novel about this! - I can’t wait), the book that had a major impact on him, and a whole lot more.

  3. Thumb 1548733897 artwork

    Hollis Wong-Wear

    Hollis Wong-Wear is a songwriter, musician, speaker, and community advocate based in Los Angeles. She is the lead vocalist of the electronic R&B trio The Flavr Blue, and was GRAMMY nominated for Album of the Year for her vocal performance of “White Walls” on The Heist by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

    In this episode, Hollis shares why her intention of creating real impact through her art is so important to her, and tells her story of how spoken word poetry is where she first honed her storytelling skills.

    Hollis shares a time in her life when perceptively everything looked good but on the inside she felt really down on herself. She tells us what helped her through that time and I think it’s so important to hear - not only because we all need to be reminded that perception is not reality but also because she shares really practical advice on how to get through those times we feel empty inside.

    We talk about the collaborative and powerful relationship of mentorship, and a lot more!

    Hollis also shares some of her favorites - a person, place, food, and book!

  4. Thumb 1548135404 artwork

    Liza Anne

    Liza Anne is a songwriter and musician based in Nashville, TN.

    Her latest album is titled “Fine But Dying” and I love how raw and honest every song on that album is. In this episode, we talk a lot about mental health. She explains the duality of being introverted but also wanting to being around people. I really loved how she says getting older is “an eternal homecoming”, and how she describes what small talk feels like (as if everyone is "playing a part”).

    Liza shares how she gets through life’s challenging times: whether just a moment or day, or much longer. We talk about the importance of finding a good therapist (go on a few blind dates with therapists until you find the right one!), and you’ll hear her talk about what the women in her life have meant to her.

    She also talks about her love for Sex and the City, favorite album, favorite song, city, memory/feeling and more!

  5. Thumb 1547526236 artwork

    Tom Renaud of Lord Huron

    Tom Renaud is a member of Lord Huron, based in Los Angeles, CA. He’s also one of my dear friends!

    In the episode, Tom tells us how Lord Huron came to be, about curating a taco with his band, and his love of food, cooking, and travel. He also speaks about the post-tour come down that inevitably happens as a touring musician, what he does to manage stress on the road, and the one thing that clears his head. Tom has been a good friend of mine for years and I can tell you he is one of the kindest people I know. While interviewing him for this podcast, I actually learned some new things about him! I’m excited for you to get to know him a bit.

    Tom also shares his favorite podcast, album(s), place, and more!

  6. Thumb 1546908213 artwork

    Heather Maloney

    Heather Maloney is a singer-songwriter based in Northampton, MA. She sings the theme song for this podcast! She is also my best friend. So, you'll have get through a bit of of us giggling and gushing, but it's worth it to hear her beautiful story - I promise!

    In this episode, Heather shares how going through a bout of depression led her to spending three years at a silent meditation retreat center and how meditation changed her life. I love the simple but profound mantra that came to her during that time: “If your heart is aching, let it ache.” We also talk about the power of female friendship and being mirrors to each other, long-distance friendships, being highly sensitive which she so perfectly describes as an “overload of information”, and about being independent in romantic relationships. Oh, and as I knew we would, we talk about our deep love for Joni Mitchell, and a whole lot more.

    Heather also shares her favorite book, album, podcast and more! This is a particularly special episode to me. I hope it feels like something special to you, too!

  7. Thumb 1546381292 artwork

    Catherine Russell

    Catherine (“Cat”) Russell. Backup singer/collaborator to David Bowie, Steely Dan, Jackson Browne, Paul Simon, Dolly Parton (and many more!), and her legendary father (the late Luis Russell) was Louis Armstrong’s musical director. She is also an incredible Jazz Musician - her sixth album, Harlem On My Mind, received a Grammy Nomination.

    As you can imagine, Cat has incredibly dazzling stories to share, and you’ll hear some of them on this episode. For example what it was like to sing duets with David Bowie night after night, why singing with Dolly Parton - who she describes as the “sweetest, most real person” is one of her all-time favorite experiences, and what Louis Armstrong meant to her. She also talks about singing with Steely Dan (she’s been working with them over the last 25 years and counting), Paul Simon, her dear friend Cindy Lauper, and more. She has an incredibly rich musical background and you’ll love to hear these stories. But to me, she is the person who taught me how to sing the Blues, who helped me move through my first real heartbreak, and the woman who continues to mentor and care for me through life’s challenges and joys. She’s still one of my all-time favorite people to sit down with over a cup of tea to talk about music, men, work, friendship, LIFE. As you’ll hear in the interview, she talks about being honest with her feelings, about emotional learnings, the things no one teaches us about it school - and how list writing helps when her mind is racing.

    Because Catherine has taught me so much about life and music I thought it was fitting to have her as our first artist in the “mentor series” of this podcast. I love her to pieces, and know you will, too!

  8. Thumb 1545777406 artwork

    Sam Outlaw

    Sam Outlaw is a singer-songwriter from Southern California who is currently based in Nashville, TN.

    I’ve known Sam for a few years and I have always appreciated his unfiltered honesty about moving through life’s challenges. In this episode, we talk in depth about mental health. Sam describes what going through a season of depression and panic attacks really feels like, and how he has gotten through it. He also talks about the moment he left his high-paying job to pursue the dream that kept tugging at him, and what it’s been like sharing the stage and opening for Kacey Musgraves and Sheryl Crow, among others.

    Sam also shares a musical idol of his, a favorite song, place, book, podcast and more!

  9. Thumb 1545104887 artwork


    Dessa is a rapper, singer, and essayist. She has landed on the Billboard Top 200 as a solo artist, as a member of the Doomtree collective, and as a contributor to The Hamilton Mixtape. As an author, her memoir-in-essays entitled My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love was published in September 2018 by Dutton Books.

    In this episode, Dessa talks about making her living in the language arts, how slam poetry led her to Doomtree, and the difference between telling her story in song form vs. book form. She also speaks about the the unique type of heartbreak that followed after falling in love with her bandmate, post-tour depression, and the un-glamorous parts of being on the road (the reality behind the pretty instagram photos that you don’t always see).

    Dessa also shares a favorite memory, book, place, podcast and more!

  10. Thumb 1544331787 artwork

    Steve Varney

    Steve Varney is the guitarist for Gregory Alan Isakov and leader of Kid Reverie, a rock band out of Denver, CO.

    In this episode, Steve talks about what it’s like being a touring dad (and how technology helps!), emotional rebuilding, turning towards music during the hardest times, touring with his best friend and neighbor Gregory Alan Isakov, and about his stutter which he describes as an “uncontrollable vulnerability.”

    Steve also shares his favorite song, album, book and more!

View Older Episodes