Molly Moore has a passion for art. Having written her first lyrics at the age of 7, it was only natural that she would become a multi-faceted artist in the years to come. Her thirst for creating and exploring different areas within the art world drives her to be, simultaneously, a songwriter, singer and co-producer, while also being involved in her solo project and a project with her boyfriend, Brandyn Burnette. Her own sound is one that takes pop music and twists it around, darkening it with extremely honest lyrics and a haunting and addictive melody.
Atwood Magazine had the chance to speak to Molly Moore in light of the release of her new EP, Now You See Me (out 11/8/2016 via Home Planet Records), and, amongst many other things, we talked about her musical origins, acting, her songwriting and production process, and all the different projects she is involved in. Check out what she had to say below.
Listen: “Indigo” – Molly Moore
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A CONVERSATION WITH MOLLY MOORE
Atwood Magazine: You’ve been writing songs since you were very young - do you remember the first song you wrote?
Molly Moore: Actually it wasn’t a full, done song but I remember the first lyrics that I wrote. I sat down with my dad, I was seven years old and I had these lyrics called “Anarchy Girl,” they were about my sister because she was rebellious at the time. So, that’s my first memory of trying to create a song.
I’m always fascinated by these stories of kids who write since a young age, most kids play with toys or watch tv and don’t write.
Molly Moore: Right!
Did it come naturally to you? What prompted you to start writing?
Molly Moore: My whole family is pretty musical so I was just exposed to it from the beginning. It’s kind of funny but I’ve always been emotional and I think that’s what drove me to start writing and creating songs and melodies and stuff like that as opposed to feeling so many emotions.
Yeah, it makes sense your songs come from a really honest place, it’s beautiful.
Molly Moore: Thank you!
Your dad is a musician, and as you said you grew up with music always around you. Did you always know you wanted to be a musician?
Molly Moore: I’ve always kind of known in this weird way, it was my dream when I was little – I’d tell my mom I wanted to be a pop star – and then as I got older I was like “Mom, how do you get behind the television screen?” (laughs). I was really interested in performing and acting and all of the facets. I got a chance to dabble in acting for a few years as I was growing up and it was a lot of fun, it’s still a really big passion for me, but when I was getting that experience I realized that I like creating more so than performing somebody else’s words. And even though I love that too, I’m just a writer at heart I guess, and there’s something really gratifying about making music and performing it personally.
Do you consider going back into acting?
Molly Moore: Absolutely. It’s definitely an equal passion of mine, I just saw myself creating music at such a high rate that it’s not been a priority for the last few years, but it’s definitely something that I love and that I want to do more of.
Did your move from New York to Los Angeles affect your music?
Molly Moore: Totally. I mean the move was a lot about collaborating for me because I would look up online all songs I liked and I would find that all writers and producers, most of them lived in LA, and I really just wanted to work with people who were going to expand my knowledge and writing and music in general, and so I came out here. It was a totally different perspective on everything pretty much, and I’ve been on this journey of finding myself and my own musical identity and it’s been a lot of fun, it definitely comes with its challenges. I feel like I’ve grown into myself being out here, being able to work with different people and see their perspective on writing and music and be like “okay, I feel pretty confident about my own perspective” because I was writing songs for other artists for a while, and I really enjoy doing that, but it’s just good to have your own perspective I think.
Speaking of writing for other artists - do you have a favourite song you’ve written for someone else?
Molly Moore: Wow. I do actually. I have a song that’s, fingers crossed, coming out with an artist next year, it’s called “Letting Go” and it’s one of my favourite songs I’ve written that’s getting picked up by another artist.
And what do you decide to keep/give others?
Molly Moore: It’s really hard to decide actually what’s for me and what’s for other people sometimes because when I create, I’m really not aware of what I’m doing. It’s almost like I have a blackout when I’m creating and then I go “that’s actually kind of cool” or “that would be for me” when I listen to it a few days later. It’s definitely something that I’m working on identifying and I like to be open to all different opportunities when I write now, so I try to just leave it open and see if it does work for another artist, then I think of that. But it’s becoming clear if I have an emotional attachment to the songs I don’t want to get rid of, it’s like “it’s my child I can’t give it up for adoption!”
I think it must be really odd to see someone else with your song. You’re really proud of yourself but at the same time it’s not completely yours become someone else is singing.
Molly Moore: It’s definitely an interesting feeling to have someone else singing on it, but I think a lot of times because I don’t always have the kind of voice that lends itself to singing the songs it’s really awesome to hear somebody else give a song a lot of power when you couldn’t have otherwise.
I’ve read you write with your acoustic guitar, but your sound isn’t exactly acoustic, and you don’t play the guitar while performing. How do you translate the acoustic sound you start with to the final product?
Molly Moore: The production definitely ends up defining that a lot, and I’ve been doing most of my writing and producing most of the times with my boyfriend, Brandyn Burnette, so I think he definitely has added a huge aspect of creative direction to my work with the production style that he’s developed, and being open to experimenting with me. So he’ll sit and draft out bones for a track basically and we’ll go and find musicians who will play on the song. I definitely don’t only write on acoustic guitar, sometimes I’ll find inspiration from the beginning of a track or something that someone will send me, so it’s been a lot of fun to co-produce the project and give my input creatively on the elements that I think match what I’m saying. But yeah I’m definitely not a mastermind musician (laughs) I try to be as involved as possible with types of layers that I want in the tracks, but I have help of some amazing musicians to bring the songs to life.
So I saw your acoustic performance of Shadow of the Sun with Brandyn and I absolutely loved it. Would you consider eventually releasing fully acoustic tracks?
Molly Moore: Thank you! Definitely. We love stripping it down because it gives the song a whole other feeling and especially when you really focus on the songwriting aspect and then you produce it out it’s really fun to just showcase the song and highlight it in that stripped way so people can hear it a little more raw and just relate in a different way.
How do you think your next EP, Now You See Me, compares to Shadow of the Sun?
Molly Moore: I think it’s a little funkier than Shadow of the Sun. I’ve got a little more of my personality out, and I feel more open, like I’m just growing into my own voice and sound. It’s definitely experimental, it’s definitely still dark the way of Shadow of the Sun had that dark feeling about it. We have some amazing horns by my friend Ryan who plays trumpet on the record, and that added this throwback feeling, for me at least, and the layer of soul. I feel like the first body of work was more electronic/pop-based and this one is a little more live, I think.
I’ve got a little more of my personality out, and I feel more open.
Some of your songs and lyrics, ones like “Natural Disaster” especially, are pretty dark and brutally honest. How do you cope when you’re performing these songs live, because I imagine it can be a pretty emotionally exhausting process if you channel all your feelings into the songs that frequently.
Molly Moore: That’s a good question. I mean, there’s a point where I put my first EP out and we were playing some more stripped sets and we were in this really transitional phase of life and I found complete solace in performing because it was the one place where I was like “I have everything,” you know? No matter what pieces aren’t together yet in my life I’m able to perform and feel like everything at once. That’s not a really clear way of describing it, but it’s almost like therapy for me, it’s almost like whatever I’m going through in my days or weeks that has been throwing me off, I just try to put that into the performance because I feel like that’s the only way that it makes sense for me. It’s such a… How do I even describe it? It’s therapeutic for me so I just live the moment in whatever way applies to me then and it’s definitely gotten me through a lot, it’s made me feel the most comfortable when I’m performing whereas I used to get nervous and feel like I couldn’t move around or perform the way that I fully wanted to and now it’s so much about what I’m going through that I don’t even think about it.
That’s awesome, that you have an outlet like that. I feel like it must be really special to just leave it all onstage and see the people who are watching you receive it. It creates this really special connection with your audience.
Molly Moore: It feels really special to be able to do that at all. And with the project that Brandyn and I have together (Cosmos & Creature) it’s a little bit lighter and more pop-focused, so we get to dance around and be a little ‘happier’ than with our solo projects, it’s a little more extroverted, whereas I feel like our solo projects are more introverted.
Listen: “Young” – Cosmos & Creature
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Speaking of that - I know you had been working with Brandyn for a while with production and everything, so how did you guys decide to actually start this project, Cosmos & Creature, together?
Molly Moore: We had always wanted to do something together because we love creating and we love performing and it sort of just took shape at the end of 2014, we started creating and manifesting this project together and it was kind of a natural evolution of what we were doing. Brandyn has got his project and I’ve got mine and we were doing sets together, but I would feel sort of disjointed because it would be like his set and then I would perform, or I would perform and then he would go, and he supports me so we felt like a band but it’s like we were showcasing these two separate artists, if that makes any sense. So now it’s a lot more fluid, we get to just perform and it feels more natural.
I love the subject which “Imaginary Friends” deals with because I feel like today it’s hard to know when people are being genuine. Was there a specific event that triggered the writing of this song?
Molly Moore: Yeah there totally was. Basically there was just a person who I’ve kind of known and been friends with since I moved out here, and we lost touch, and I just reconnected with them and it was just one of those funny experiences where you think somebody wants to catch up with you but then it kind of felt not real, they were just telling me what was up with them and then were like “okay, gotta go!”, and I was like “oh, okay, that was fun, but we didn’t get to talk at all.” So I was kind of upset by the situation and let it get under my skin, and I was like, “Why am I doing this? First of all, if this person doesn’t care about me it really doesn’t affect me or matter at all,” and I just spun out this into a song and I genuinely have never felt more healed by music in my life than after writing that song because I was like “I don’t care anymore! I wrote an awesome song that I can play that I’m proud of” and it was this feeling where you can take something that’s been bothering you and been on your mind and taking up energy and putting it into something else, something completely different that encapsulated how you feel. It’s almost like writing in a diary and burning the pages.
I genuinely have never felt more healed by music in my life than after writing that song.
Listen: “Imaginary Friends” – Molly Moore
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Social media is arguably one of the tools which helps us create this superficial facade you talk about in the song - we all want to look cool, pretend we’re having fun, and it seems like our self-validation is based on how many likes we get. As an artist, what’s your relationship with social media like?
Molly Moore: I try to just be myself and not think about it and post when I’m inspired to because otherwise I feel like I’m posting nonsense and wasting people’s time (laughs). I try to just post when I think about it and share things that are real and candid to me. I gotta say, I definitely do a lot of self-promotion on social media just because of music, but aside from that I try to give people little bits and pieces of inspiration or what I’m going through, or make people laugh.
Your songs have been remixed quite a lot - it’s almost like someone telling your story in their own language. What do you think about this recycling/re-imagination of your work?
Molly Moore: I love remixes because it gives people an opportunity to hear the song in a totally different context. A lot of time it appeals to a totally different group of people which I think is crazy, I think it’s amazing, the coolest thing about making music is that you can have all these different versions of the song. They’re not always amazing or better than the original but a lot of times it gives the song a totally new perspective and context, that’s what’s so cool about production.
I know you’ve released a few covers, both as a solo artist and with Brandyn on Cosmos & Creature, how do you think a cover compares to a remix? Because arguably they’re still other people retelling the original artist’s story in their own way.
Molly Moore: It sounds like a remix (laughs)! I think covers are always really unique because you always want to incorporate it differently, sort of like a remix, you want to give it a different spin which I think is always awesome for an artist – to get someone else’s art and give it their flavour. It’s a lot of fun, it’s definitely Brave New World territory for us, but I like singing other people’s songs especially when I can feel it in my own way. I think that’s the best.
To finish off, if you had to choose five artists to cover five of your songs, which artist would you choose for what song?
Molly Moore: Oh wow! Wow. Okay. Off the top of my head, that’s really hard. New songs or old songs?
Molly Moore: I think it would be awesome, I always imagined Demi Lovato singing “Don’t Believe It”. Totally random but that just popped into my head. I always felt like that song could have worked for her but I was just like “I’ll just put it out myself” (laughs) so I’d love to hear her version. I’m obsessed with this band called Local Natives so it would be awesome if they covered Shadow of the Sun. Do you know them?
I’ve heard of them, but I don’t know their music.
Molly Moore: Oh my gosh they’re amazing – you’ve got to check them out after this interview! They’re my all-time favourite band. Okay, three other songs. It would be really, really, really awesome if Banks did a cover of “Just a Dream”. I don’t know how that would even sound at all, it’s messing my brain up to think about it. It would be awesome if Phantogram covered “Free Spirit”, I really like Phantogram. Then it would be really, really cool if… I gotta make this one right… You know Ledinsky?
Molly Moore: Well, he’s a new artist, he has an EP and he’s pretty awesome. I think it would be dope if he covered “Imaginary Friends.”
cover photo: Molly Moore © 2016