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Premiere: Hot Mustard – “Nickel Empire” (Video)

This morning, instrumental recording duo Hot Mustard released a new single, “Nickel Empire,” complete with a music video created by the group’s own Jack Powell under artist moniker Opus Thimble. We’re thrilled to premiere the song and video pairing here on Extra Chill. 

“Nickel Empire” is the third in a series of releases from Hot Mustard’s forthcoming sophomore album Seconds, which is slated for release on March 31st. 

The new track features trumpeter Jordan Mclean (Antibalas) and Dave “Smoota” Smith (TV on the Radio) on trombone, and also introduces the addition of a new collaborator, Helen Gillet, who plays the cello. 

“I had been awed by Helen Gillet’s immense presence on the cello several times in New Orleans before covid, so when we reached out to her during a strange time in the pandemic, we were excited to find out that she was able to collaborate remotely. We are very high on her contributions to the project,” said Powell.

Like all Hot Mustard songs, “Nickel Empire” melds elements of jazz, hip-hop, and funk, taking inspiration from a myriad of styles and, through the musicians’ unique perspectives, creating a distinct sound.

The overall tone of the track is introspective, yet forward-driving: funky bass creeps along and mingles with mischievous horns, while the cello adds a cerebral quality.

“I wanted to do a piece about mental health,” said Powell. “As I’ve gotten older I have faced the sometimes painful realization that I need to drastically shift my way of life and thinking.  I let some things that were once a lot of fun outlive their rewards. The video is just one small aspect of that; it’s about cleaning the castle of negative and destructive thoughts.” 

The animated music video shows a man’s forehead opening, allowing us to peer into the world inside his head. It’s a landscape that includes a tiny city with a castle at its center and some kind of fire-breathing, hybrid animal monster. Chaos ensues. 

It’s a fitting visual pairing for a piece concerning inner demons, and it showcases the multidimensional nature of Hot Mustard’s work.

Check out the video for “Nickel Empire” below and mark your calendars for Seconds on March 31st.