Monday, June 11, 2018

Interview: Moira Smiley

Moira Smiley
Recently, we were lucky enough to check out the vinyl version of Unzip The Horizon by Moira Smiley. If you haven't seen it, go check out the review HERE.

She's an artist who's been around the block more than once.

Her latest release is a beautiful piece of art. We talk about the album, vinyl, and artistry in general...

GM: First of all, thank you for letting me review your album on vinyl. It's my preferred method and it really allows the music to come alive for me. Why did you choose to release it on vinyl?

MS: Thanks for reviewing! Your ‘unboxing’ video made me laugh and wonder aloud, but the review was really fun - thank you so much for taking the time to do that, Nik.

Truly appreciated.

Why vinyl? I did truly grow up on records…fiercely organizing my parents wood chest of records and listening to them for hours — old jazz records, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and unusual Classical music from my Mom and wildly unusual Smithsonian Folkways records from my Dad.

Although I don’t have specific nostalgia about that time, I do feel that making a record is allowing yourself to say ‘ok, I’m putting my full commitment into this artistic statement…spending the money…making the art…making it handmade.’ I have also been a nomad, touring in 4 bands for the past nearly four years.

I sold most of my belongings, and felt incredible joy and freedom being a light-footed traveler. Recently, I’ve moved to be near family for a little while, and things like vinyl have come back into my world as treasures.

GM: Let's keep talking about vinyl for a bit longer. What's the best sounding record you've ever heard? Mine, interestingly enough, is Live In America by The Blues Brothers.

MS: Jóhann Jóhannsson’s Orphée sounded beautiful on vinyl to me.

GM: How do you listen to music at home?

MS: Lots of different ways - vinyl is the new (returned) pleasure, but I also listen to CDs (artists still tend to give them to each other), my own iTunes library on my laptop while working, sometimes from my XHD that has all my couple thousand CDs copied on to it before I got rid of them.

I also listen to various music services like Spotify, Tidal, Pandora (occasionally) and Apple Music. I also listen to music on YouTube via live videos.

GM: I found that Unzip The Horizon was an easy album to get lost in. It seems like that'd be a good thing for me, but that makes it hard for me to really describe the songs to my readers. How would you describe them?

MS: Uncategorize-able is what I am to most!

I would say follow the emotional thread of the words through the songs, the timbre of the voice as it changes a little, the function of the voice within the world of the song. They speak of moments that may make sense of the harmonic, rhythmic and collaborative choices.

The songs travel through valleys of self-doubt, up into empathy for the pain of others and down one river of certainty that my job here is to sing and call others to sing.

If you read my bio, you can probably also hear the worlds of music I’ve passed through to get here.

GM: Since we're already there, the lazy way to put you into a genre would say you're a singer/songwriter type or a folksy Americana artist, but how do you tell it?

MS: I would say Modern Folk. Chamber folk. Music of an experimental Vocalist/Composer… definitely tied to folk music, social music, traditional music that was for functions like dances, weddings, funerals, work parties, sacred hours.

GM: What's the most unexpected album in your library?

MS: Maybe Joe Satriani’s Flying In A Blue Dream

GM: Where do you go to get inspired?

MS: Musical influences are usually from off the beaten path - shown to me by a passionate friend, run into at a festival, found through some love of a singing style so far from pop you never even think to search for it.

I go to folk archives regularly - places like the Smithsonian and Library of Congress and other academic places that house recordings of music. I also listen to the best & brightest in my particular circle of musicians - those pulling on similar musical wells as I - friends and acquaintances or separated by a few degrees.

GM: What else do we need to know?

MS: I love the response I’m getting to the yellow vinyl of Unzip The Horizon. For me, it was a choice of joy…in line with the song Dressed In Yellow and I’ve seen a lot of joy from it.

ALSO, I just visited the coolest record store I’ve been in in ages - Highlife Records in Vancouver, BC (and online).

 I love their selection, and they’re selling my album now - so here’s a shout-out to them!

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