Meet Elliot Moss, the multi-instrumentalist and songwriter behind 2015's eerie, electro-driven LP 'Highspeeds' and this year's EP 'Boomerang.' We caught up with Elliot at his show earlier this summer at 'Baby's All Right' to chat about live performance, his creative process and those beautiful music videos he keep making.
Tell us about yourself.
I’ve been around music my entire life. Both parents are musicians, so I could either rebel and become an accountant, or learn the guitar. Wrote my first record ‘Highspeeds’ in high school and put it out end of senior year. Spent the years that followed touring in support of it, and recording my new record ‘Boomerang.’
How did you get started as a musician?
Both parents are guitarists. Mom showed me some of my first chords. As soon as I could strum them, I was writing terrible, terrible music. I got into recording my own stuff a couple years later. Hearing yourself back is a lot different than hearing yourself play, thankfully. I learned a lot very quickly.
Who do you consider some of your major musical influencers?
My interest in music stems from by my parents’ love of it, so I suppose they deserve the #1 spot. Climb down the ladder just one rung and you have geniuses like David Byrne, Bowie, Bjork, Massive Attack, and DJ Shadow.
You play many instruments; do you have a favorite, or one that you find a greater connection to?
I would call guitar my main instrument. It was first. I’m working to become a better keyboard player.
When listening to your music, I get the distinct feeling you’re trying to take us to a different world. Can you describe that world to us?
Demon Days was the first record I heard where the production and sound design stood out to me as being something more than a necessary part of a whole. I could close my eyes and see colors and places clearly. Whenever I write, there is a visual in my mind to support what I am saying or playing. This can be good and bad. I don’t want what’s engaging about my music to require a particular, additional stimulus to be interesting. So it’s more about working elements of the visual counterpart into my music through sound design and the feelings that I can find a way of translating into sound. Sometimes I have to remind myself to do this. The visuals can be so hard-wired that I forget they are separate.
It’s probably related that certain songs will recall, in detail, conversations that I’ve held with people. I can listen to music that I haven’t heard for years, and with it the accompanying conversation or memory plays back without fail.
Do you enjoy performing live, or would you rather be in your studio playing your instruments?
I think that I need both. The grass, to some degree, is always greener. As soon as we pull away, I start missing the tools I have in my studio, but I think it’s good exercise to get away from the places and things that aid you. It makes you work hard. And differently.
Your music videos are really beautiful and carefully crafted. Is making music videos key to executing your musical vision? What do you get out of making the videos?
Video has interested me for as long as music has. If I wasn’t a musician, I’d have gone into special effects. There’s something so fascinating about it. I relish the times that I get to take a step away from my main gig and play director for a bit. Whenever I complete a video, it feels like the other half of the song is finally there. So far, ’Closedloop’ feels the most complete. I feel like the final product matched the one I imagined pretty closely.
What’s the creative process like for your videos and how does it differ from the creative process you go through to create your music.
Videos are typically a lot more collaborative than making music for me. The music is a very solitary thing. They’re also more involved in terms of production. And it’s more expensive. There’s a lot more limitation to contend with… that makes for a different creative experience that involves a lot more planning and teamwork. I try to enlist the help of veterans who know what is achievable and what is ridiculous. And how to do something in the middle of those two.
Your video for ‘Closedloop’ is stunning, how did you achieve those surreal visuals, and is that what you had in mind when you were writing the song?
These guys at RC Test Flight built a drone that lights up like a mini-sun once it’s the sky. I think it’s 1000 watts across 8 LEDs, which is really bright. It looked even brighter than 1000W. Daniel piloted the “sun" while Calen ran the camera drone. We shot the whole thing in three nights all over Utah. It was grueling, but fun-grueling. Editing it was another hurdle, so much footage to choose from. It looked so beautiful coming in that I would end up watching raw footage for hours.
A BEHIND THE SCENES LOOK AT THE MAKING OF 'CLOSEDLOOP'
ELLIOT MOSS: 'CLOSEDLOOP' MUSIC VIDEO
Check out Elliot Moss' Playlist:
Interview: Emily Saunders - @thesaunder
Cover Photograph: Drew Reynolds
Live Photographs: Allie Sarachene - @alliesarachene