The other day this musician started following me on Twitter. I check out his stuff on MySpace, and well, it’s lovely and powerful and thoughtful and all the things I think good music should be. He’s just working on his first EP, due on this spring/summer, and he tells me this is first blog interview, so it is my pleasure to introduce you to Rene Moffatt, a new fave in my music rotation.
1. What got you started in music? What made you want to take this hard but beautiful road of art?
Personal expression is the short answer. The longer is a bit roundabout. A year and a half into my career as an interactive designer I realized that I wasn’t going to get the fulfillment I needed out of my day job. In the agency world you are almost always at someone else’s service and I need to “march to my own drummer”, if you will. I picked up the guitar and began playing. Soon thereafter I began writing to deal with personal issues that we all face at some point. But little did I know that I was actually tapping into a deeper thread that had been running through my entire life. When I looked back at each stage of my life, I noticed that music had ALWAYS been there in some form or another. After participating in youth choirs I began to focus on athletics and eventually went on to play collegiate soccer. But I continued to play the piano on my own throughout high school and remember sneaking into music department practice rooms to play all through college. During those times it never occurred to me that I could take music seriously or perform on stage. It wasn’t until I noticed that musical thread did I have the “ah-ha moment” and decided to pursue the musical life that I’d secretly been leading.
2. If you had to describe your music with five great adjectives, what words would you use?
Introspective. Emotive. Singable. Memorable. Arresting.
3. Who are the people/artists/musicians/writers who most influence your music?
Two high school English teachers. (Each year would start with a viewing of Dead Poet Society)
My Parents.. my gratefulness towards them grows with each passing year.
The Beach Boys
I’ve read quite a bit of Thoreau and Emerson. “Self Reliance” made quite the impression.
Frank Lloyd Wright
4. If you were a spice, what spice would you be and why?
Rosemary – “tolerates some degree of drought” “easy to grow for beginner gardeners” “pest resistant” – wikipedia This seems to fit a songwriter.
5. On a great day, what do you listen to? What about for a terrible day? Or a day-ish day?
While there is music for every mood… In more recent moments I’ve sought out The Tragically Hip’s album Phantom Power when feeling confident and Ryan Adams album Easy Tiger when feeling desperate. If I want to get tedious work finished, like time entry or mind numbing edits I’ll put on Stanton Moore’s album III. And listening to music I’ve never heard before makes the neurons in my head fire like itâ€™s the Fourth of July. The trick is then channeling that energy.
6. What is your writing process like? Do you write music or play every day? Or is more of a muse-inspired event?
Ideally I would write and play everyday. At the moment I’m working on a 6-song EP that I plan on releasing late Spring/Early Summer. Being in the studio, playing lots of gigs, and all the promotion that goes along with that is a huge part of being a songwriter with aspirations. All these things take up their fair share of time and I’m looking forward to getting back into writing and practicing more consistently. I only began taking music seriously within the last couple of years… and so I’m still developing those routines and the discipline you need as an artist/songwriter. That being said, life only gets more busy and complicated so you have to find ways of getting songs finished in small increments. On a lunch break I might challenge myself to write one line, and that feels like an accomplishment! Other times I’ll spend a few hours writing and generate a few interesting thoughts or lyrics. The muse is often the inspiration for ideas, but I haven’t had a muse finish a song for me yet.
7. My readers are book lovers, so if you could recommend three books for them, what would you suggest?
The Punch, John Feinstein
Born Standing Up, Steve Martin
Replay, Ken Grimwood
8. If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?
I crave the ability to fly. I’ll take “Bird” for $1000. No ostriches, emus or penguins, though.
9. What’s the most gorgeous thing you’ve ever seen? How does that thing work it’s way into your music? Or does it?
The most gorgeous physical element: Lower Falls in Yellowstone National Park. There were lookouts along a hiking trail and one looked back onto the valley and in the distance the waterfall. It was like a Realist painting, immaculate. And I remember laughing because I couldn’t believe I was looking at something so pristine. But I wouldn’t write a song about a waterfall’s physical beauty. Instead I would write about the idea of perfection in nature… or something like that. And trying to understand how it came to be, or what role it plays in our lives.
I love concepts or poignant ideas. There’s a beauty in an effectively conveyed feeling. Something that makes you say, “I’ve felt that before” or a lyric that rings true. I try and capture those moments in my songwriting. So I’d say those things constantly work their way into my music.
10. If you were to put together an ultimate mixtape for my readers, what ten songs would you include?
“Summer, Highland Falls” – Billy Joel
“Casino Nation” – Jackson Browne
“Sail On Sailor” – Beach Boys
“I Will Follow You Into The Dark” – Death Cab For Cutie
“When My Time Comes” – Dawes
“Born Again” – Corey Chisel
“Man O’ War” – Eric Bachmann
“Cathedrals” – Jump Little Children
“The Temptation Of Adam” – Josh Ritter
“Workingman’s Blues #2” – Bob Dylan
A constant figure on the D.C. area’s music scene, RenÃ© has worked tirelessly on honing his performing and song writing skills. With a penchant for memorable melodies and insightful lyrics, this up-and-coming songster is quickly making a name for himself as a respected singer and songwriter in the nation’s capital. RenÃ© will release his debut, 6-song EP this spring and will be playing this Friday, April 2nd at IOTA Club and Cafe in Clarendon.