Music, like any vocation, takes time to make. There’s no blueprint to follow in the creation of art, and creative inspiration can come and go in an instant. I think most of the listening public is sympathetic to this fact, which is why there’s never too much of an outcry when an artist goes silent for a long period of time. We understand that everyone creates at their own pace, and long breaks in between music releases is nothing to bat an eye at. Then there’s Molly Moore. Since releasing her first EP Shadow of the Sun in 2015, Moore has been on an artistic tear. Barely months have gone by in the intervening years without a single or EP from Moore, either under her own solo work or with boyfriend Brandyn Burnette as part of their project Cosmos & Creature. I talked to Moore shortly after the release of her third EP, Third Eye High, at the end of May. Even with a new project fresh out into the world, Moore is still writing and sharing her vision.
Moore does appreciate the release, especially since Third Eye High came out with Moore halfway across the world from her home in California. “It doesn’t feel real because I was in Denmark when it came out so it’s still surreal that it’s out there,” she says with a laugh. Coming back home with your project already out has some perks, though. Moore says that she loves to see and hear about people enjoying her music out and about now that it’s been put out into the world. Third Eye High is the latest step in a never-ending journey for Moore.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Moore writes music every single day. That’s been her life for some time now, as she says she’s been wholly dedicated to music, saying it’s been “probably three years ago in September, because that was when I signed my first publishing deal so that was when I got financial freedom to create music and focus on it.” Before that she tried to write as much as possible, but also still had to work a day job in order to pay her expenses. Now that the finances to survive day to day are less of a concern, Moore has wholly thrown herself into writing music.
Whether it’s writing for herself, something to pitch to other artists, or on Cosmos & Creature, Moore is grateful for some of the freedom that comes with music as a full time job, saying “it’s very freeing to focus on it instead of carving out every little moment of free time to work on something.” When she was working another job her entire life was taken up by either work or writing, which didn’t do wonders for her work/life balance. Even still she’s working on sorting out that balance. Moore explains “That’s definitely still a challenge, getting to do other things aside from make music and make plans to put it out, but I’m learning every single day the biggest part of creating is living life, actually living it.” It’s definitely an adjustment for Moore, but one she’s taking to well.
One of the biggest parts of having a better balance in life is getting to explore new hobbies and interests, and Moore reveals that one of her new loves is cooking. “[It’s] Very therapeutic for me,” Moore says, and explains it engages many of her senses in a similarly creative way as her day job. We spend a few minutes talking about spices and exchanging favorite recipes, and while she jokes that there’s no Molly Moore YouTube cooking channel in the works, she is getting better and plans to continue on with her hobby while she works on more music.
While the creation of music is a joyful process and a living, breathing thing, it does share similarities with more traditional jobs. Namely, the inspiration isn’t always there and you can find yourself in a rut. It’s happened to Moore before, and she tries to remember how fortunate she is when that happens. She says “I feel like as a creative you react to being stuck in different ways depending on where you’re at in your circumstance, and for me I always try to take the pressure off because I feel like creating music is such a blessing to even be able to do.” This applies to both her solo work and her work with Burnette. She describes times when she and Burnette disagree on a direction to go or a particular piece of music, and the two of them will go work on their own projects or just take a break until they can work through it.
One of the most notable examples of this was a song that Moore started in November of last year, but couldn’t figure out the right lyrics for. “I literally waited six or seven months to write the words to the melody and guitar chords, and then they just came out of my one day. I was going through a lot, feeling like trouble connecting with the people in my life and the words just came out so simply and easily,” she reveals. At the same time, Moore says that it has definitely been a learning process letting go. She identifies herself as a serial micromanager and has high expectations for herself, saying “you want to be able to control, you want to be able to produce your best work all the time and be super productive, but at the end of the day you can’t always control when you are writing your best work or you are super productive.” Learning to let the work come to her has been a big part of Moore’s sustained success over the last few years.
Part of that lesson is being choosier with some of her work. Moore loves all of her EPs, but the way the songs were chosen has evolved. She explains that on the first two EPs it was mostly a case of putting the first six songs that were finished together and sending them off into the musical landscape. With Third Eye High, she played the part of curator a little more. “I did have a different perspective of just wanting to look at what I’ve created, then just take a longer moment to figure out which messages were really important for me to put forward and which were the clearest thoughts because you write all the time and not every song you make is great,” she says, adding in a bit of a chuckle on the last note.
That also translates into the production on her tracks, which Moore describes as a 50/50 mix of having a concrete plan going in and trying new things to see what fits. There are elements that Moore likes that almost always make an appearance, like the horns that provide texture to much of Third Eye High. Moore clarifies that at this point she’s more of a “verbal co-producer” in her words, although she is learning how to do more of it herself. She gives the producers she works with a pretty broad vision to work within, though. “I feel like as a creator I’m always like if there’s an instinct you have you want to do but you think it’s too weird or too much, please do it,” she explains. Moore relates it to something an acting teacher she had once told her: it’s much easier to go big and wild and throw everything in the mix and then pull it back than it is to coax more out of a more subdued project. With that in her heart, Moore arrives at the big, spacey sounds you hear from her.
That sense of space and fascination with the cosmos and the universe is something Moore has carried with her all of her life. “My parents were super spiritual people and always grounded me in believing in just more than what we focus on in our day to day lives and just the energy of the world and the universe and what’s out there,” she recalls fondly. Moore is fascinated by dreams and what’s out in our solar system and the more spiritual side of our existence, which she translates into her visuals, artwork, and music. She summarizes by saying “I just think every moment is really amazing if you think about it and stay grateful, and I’ve struggled so much with that in my life it’s become super important to me in music to talk about that.” When you listen to her work, you know Moore has succeeded in this.
Moore is not just grateful for the past and present, as she already has future plans. True to form, she says that she’s already working on more music that she wants to release soon. This is in addition to planning live shows to play through Third Eye High and other new material and crafting music videos to go with some of her previous releases. She also muses that now, at the age of 25, the thoughts and plans for a debut full-length album are forming in her mind. She has no timetable for anything, but she’s insistent that the year and a half between 2016 EP Now You See Me and Third Eye High was too long, and says she never wants to have that long of a gap between major releases again.
If there’s anyone who can stick with that relentless drive and plan, it’s Molly Moore. Whether with Cosmos & Creature or as a solo act, Moore’s thoughtful mind, unparalleled work ethic, and lighthearted tranquility are a force to be reckoned with when they’re combined. When people say they do something “all the time” it’s usually hyperbole, but Molly Moore means it when it comes to writing music. Songwriting is a long journey, and Moore is ready to take it without stopping.
Featured photo credit: Jennica Abrams