Mustache Fable
Gig Seeker Pro

Mustache Fable


Band Folk Singer/Songwriter




"Review: Mustache Fable by Alex Henderson"

Artist: Mustache Fable
Title: Saving Earthworms from Sun Scorched Death
Review By Alex Henderson

Upon hearing that Mustache Fable’s Danielle Arsenault is based in South Korea, some might assume that her focus is Asian pop. But there is no Asian pop to be found on Mustache Fable’s debut album, Saving Earthworms from Sun Scorched Death. Instead, Mustache Fable favors a quirky, eccentric style of English-language alternative pop-rock that often incorporates folk-rock elements.

The brains behind Mustache Fable is obviously Arsenault, a singer/songwriter who grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada and has spent the last four years working as an English teacher in South Korea. Arsenault has some help on Saving Earthworms from Sun Scorched Death, including producer Geoff Nostrant on drums and keyboards from time to time and Oliver Walker on bass and background vocals on a few tracks. But Arsenault is clearly the one in the driver’s seat; she wrote all of the material on this release, and for all intents and purposes, Saving Earthworms from Sun Scorched Death is really a solo outing rather than the work of a full-fledged group. Indeed, it is Arsenault’s goofy musical personality that makes Saving Earthworms from Sun Scorched Death a creative success. Arsenault has her direct or indirect influences, including Suzanne Vega, Edie Brickell, Tori Amos and the Cocteau Twins. But the eccentricity that she displays on this 2012 release is an eccentricity of her own.

Arsenault’s lyrics do not go out of their way to be accessible. She has a background in spoken word poetry, and that explains why her lyrics tend to be on the abstract side. And despite her melodic and harmonic eccentricity, Arsenault never comes across as musically elitist or aloof, one gets the impression that she really wants to pull the listener into her quirky, oddball world.

Saying that Arsenault is quirky and eccentric is not to say that she is unmusical or that she is not on solid ground melodically. From a melodic and musical standpoint, Saving Earthworms from Sun Scorched Death has a lot going for it; Arsenault writes appealing, attractive melodies.

Many singer/songwriters accompany themselves on the acoustic guitar, but Arsenault’s instrument of choice on Saving Earthworms from Sun Scorched Death is the ukulele. And her use of that instrument really enhances the album’s folksiness. Arsenault is by no means a folk purist, but folk-rock is a definite influence. Even when Arsenault does some rapping on “Soak Your Life in Music” and the oddly funky “Inspiration Comes to Me,” one hears a folk influence. Arsenault uses hip-hop elements in an alternative pop-rock context. And it works for her.

“Once Destroyed by Tears,” meanwhile, is spoken word. Of course, rapping and spoken word are two different things, but both of them are useful tools in Arsenault’s creative arsenal. So is world music; there is a strong Middle Eastern influence on “Two Truths, One Lie” and “We Pray,” and Arsenault sings in Spanish on the Latin-tinged “Ella Que Vive en la Esperanza” (which means “She Who Lives in Hope”). Latin music, to be sure, is many different things, ranging from Afro-Cuban salsa to Dominican merengue to Brazilian samba to Argentinean tango. And on “Ella Que Vive en la Esperanza,” there are hints of Mexican ranchera music (which makes sense because Arsenault spent some time in Mexico before moving to South Korea).

When Arsenault sings in Spanish on that track, she doesn’t sound like a native speaker but rather, like someone who grew up speaking English as her primary language and learned Spanish as a secondary language. But then, her occasional use of Spanish only adds to the album’s nerdy, offbeat charm. And all things considered, Saving Earthworms from Sun Scorched Death is a memorable effort from Mustache Fable.
- Ariel Publicity

"Mustache Fable Focuses on the Positive"

Danielle Arsenault is always on the move.

“I have so much energy, even when I’m sitting,” she says. “When I go out with a group of friends I often stand because I just can’t sit very well.”
She doesn’t stand, thankfully, for the interview, but the list of her activities suggests she rarely has a minute to spare. Arsenault hosts shows, is writing a series of cookbooks and this Saturday is launching an album, “Saving Earthworms from Sun-Scorched Death,” under the pseudonym Mustache Fable. She is leaving Korea soon to take a three-month course on permaculture in Haiti, helping to rebuild the country’s farming communities, before taking the West Coast trail, a 10-day hike in British Columbia. Her way of taking a break from all this activity is rock climbing.
“That’s my time to relax and everything just goes away, and all I feel is the rock,” she says.

The certainty of a positive outcome that this implies demonstrates the positive thinking throughout her music. The themes can sometimes oppose each other. “[People] are complaining and complaining, but really the choice is up to them,” she says. “They are always looking for someone to come and rescue them and they don’t take the chance.” At the same time, the other song admires the hope many people have that keeps them positive.
Arsenault concedes the contradiction; hope can be as much a desire for rescue as complaining but she puts much more emphasis on the positive outlook the two songs espouse.

This sunny disposition is present in the album’s title.
“When it rains the earthworms come out but then the sun comes out and they get stuck on the sidewalk and shrivel and die,” she says.
“When I was little I used to save the worms. I used to pick them up and put them back in the dirt.”

Arsenault came to Korea with a creative streak, but says she had no musical knowledge. “I wanted to make music but I didn’t know how because I couldn’t play an instrument. I didn’t want to just sing other people’s songs, I wanted to write my own.”
She picked up a ukulele in Seoul’s Nagwon Arcade during her first year in Korea four years ago.

Her friend told her that she wouldn’t learn to play it, and it would just end up as decoration. This might have turned out true, if she hadn’t been living in a small town in Gangwon Province with time to kill. “There were only 1,000 people, and I was the only foreigner in the town and there was no one for me to speak to,” she says. “All the younger Koreans had moved away and it was only older Koreans left. I was all alone. I liked it.” Later she would teach herself how to use a loop machine.

“I guess this is what it’s all about ? gaining new knowledge, learning new things. That’s why I came to Korea, that’s why I’m going to Haiti.”

She also says she learned a lot from production, which she says she sat in on and helped with. She describes her producer, Geoff Nostrant, as skillful, talented and kind, but is it possible for a can-do person like Arsenault to let someone else take control?

“I think in this instance it wouldn’t be possible,” she says, “because he wouldn’t know what my vision was.” That aside, the album’s artwork was drawn by Kim Hye-won, who draws under the pen name Wonny Bunny.

Arsenault ditched the idea of a CD, explaining that people just use them to convert them to MP3 files now, but wanted to create something physical and opted for a booklet with lyrics and a download code in it. There is also the option of a simple download without the book.

“I’m lucky I have some really talented musicians friends. “Normally I play on my own, but I really wanted to have a full sound that really represented the album rather than just by myself.”

You can find out more about “I guess this is what it’s all about ? gaining new knowledge, learning new things. That’s why I came to Korea, that’s why I’m going to Haiti.”

She also says she learned a lot from production, which she says she sat in on and helped with.

She describes h - Korean Herald

"Music: May 2012 Reviews"

Mustache Fable
Saving Earthworms from Sun-Scorched Death Self-produced
Mustache Fable offers up powerful proof that the quality tunesmithing acumen presently emanating from Seoul’s burgeoning expat music scene doesn’t have to emerge through an indie/alt. rock filter in order to maintain a workable, creative, and essentially DIY ethic. This poetic, imaginative effort carries itself with purpose and passion on its journey through the DIY soundscape: sometimes meandering, sometimes challenging, and sometimes wistfully expectant and hopeful, but always engaging. The album is the brainchild of Danielle Arsenault, an expat “renaissance woman” who has brought myriad streams of creative talent to bear. Influences from Cyndi Lauper (“On Time out of Time”) and Allen Ginsburg’s Howl (“Once Destroyed with Tears of Joy”) vie with world music (“Elle Que Viva en la Esperanza”), and offbeat excursions (“We Pray”) to further strengthen the DIY impulse. Finally, the entire album has no physical dimension: it can only be acquired through download via a personal code after you purchase it online. Total DIY, and well worth the man won (??, W10,000)! 

Words by Michael Berry - 10 magazine Korea


Saving Earthworms from Sun Scorched Death - full length album.



After living in a rural country town of 1000 inhabitants in South Korea, Danielle Arsenault, aka. Mustache Fable, picked up a ukulele and taught herself to play while watching YouTube. After a year of honing her skills in her bedroom, she was ready for something more.

Saying goodbye to those sweet middle school students, she moved to Seoul and immersed herself in the culture and took on several projects of epic proportion.

After a lot of fumbling with the ukulele and a loop station, she began to write her own songs. Even though she had only really been playing music for three years, ambition ticked her creative bones and she began the process of making an album of originals. She has been a spoken word artist and poet for over ten years. That is where her music found its roots – in the word. Her debut album has 9 songs, 3 spoken word tracks, an intermission and an outro. The songs evolved over 10 months of growth and change and in March 2012, 'Saving Earthworms from Sun Scorched Death' was born.

On the album, the ukulele has a sound of its own and sets a bright tone that blends well with the lyrics. Harmonies ring throughout and a few friends have contributed their musical genius with the addition of bass guitar, piano, violin, trumpet and melodica on one track or another. Listening to a lot of punk rock when she was young some of these attitudes linger in the lyrics of her songs, albeit with a twist of positivity. Within the uke-infused melodies, social commentary is inserted, riddled with observations of human behaviour and the choices made collectivley as a human populace. If Suzanne Vega, Tracey Bonham, Ani Difranco and Mustache Fable were to have tea, I’m sure something magical would happen!

Danielle is also an avid rock climber, and co-author of a quarterly cookzine from the kitchens of pinch and dash inspired by healthy, whole foods, all recipes being gluten-free and vegan. Up until a few months ago she was an English teacher, Spanish tutor and Student of a Permaculture Design Course in Haiti. She then completed the Living Foods Lifestyle Course at the Ann Wigmore Institute in Puerto Rico and is a certified Raw Food Chef from Raw Foundations in Vancouver, BC. Currently she lives in Victoria, BC and has decided to cook up some yummy foods for awhile. She is however always writing new songs...