Elanor Moss, a singer-songwriter initially from Lincolnshire, began crafting her first physique of labor whereas dwelling between York and Leeds as an undergraduate in Medieval Literature. Though she grew up in a musical family, it wasn’t till college that she started writing and performing her personal songs in addition to collaborating with artists together with Benjamin Francis Leftwich, The Howl & the Hum, and Rosie Carney. Forward of the discharge of her debut EP, Citrus, final Friday, she had solely shared one tune, ‘Soundings’, a devastating observe that showcased her capability to evoke highly effective feelings in opposition to spare acoustic instrumentation. As a complete, the 5-track assortment, which was co-produced by Brooklyn producer Oli Deakin, additional highlights Moss’ knack for intricate, resonant storytelling, coping with themes of despair, substance abuse, and violence which are offset by lush preparations and delicate melodies. As darkish as her songs will be, Moss at all times appears conscious of attaining that steadiness – not simply in an effort to make them lighter, but in addition to carve out house for hope and catharsis.
We caught up with Elanor Moss for this version of our Artist Spotlight interview series to speak about her relationship to writing, her earliest musical reminiscences, the Citrus EP, and extra.
Have the previous couple of months modified your perspective on the songs you’ve written or making music generally?
The previous 12 months since making the EP, I’ve centered on writing. I haven’t had a lot time to put in writing just lately, I wrote a bit bit whereas I used to be in isolation however the COVID mind fog is so thick you’ll be able to barely string sentences collectively. However the previous 12 months, actually, was all about craft. The Citrus EP, a number of it was stream-of-consciousness-y, they’re a few of my earliest bits of writing. At that time, it was solely what I might name instinctual songwriting. However the focus over the previous 12 months has been on the craft of it. I feel the songwriting that’s on the subsequent report is a bit bit extra finessed, and looking for that steadiness between that instinctive form of writing that’s solely feeling and the extra crafted writing that may be a little bit extra intentional. I feel that’s in all probability the principle distinction. I’ve collaborated with a bunch of individuals, I work lots with my buddy Sam Griffiths of the Howl & the Hum. He helped me write a number of the songs which are popping out on the subsequent report. I simply really feel like I’ve been studying lots about writing.
How do you go about balancing these two sides, maintaining issues uncooked and instinctual but in addition extra deliberate and collaborative? Was there one thing that made you are feeling extra comfy in that mode of writing?
Yeah, I feel a lot of it has been about discovering my voice and the factor that makes my songwriting mine and never another person’s. And that’s going to be a career-long battle. I feel each author has that battle of like, what’s the factor about this that’s me, that’s sincere and true? My expertise of co-writing and the way in which that I do it – I actually struggled with it at first, however it’s essentially the most helpful factor that I might have performed by way of studying in regards to the craft. As a result of you’ll be able to’t be that shy, you’ve obtained to be comfy with writing actually dangerous songs for some time. And it helped me be taught extra about what it was that was my voice, working with different folks and seeing how they write and the issues that in a session you go, “I can inform that it’s in all probability a very good tune, however it doesn’t really feel like me.” There’s one thing about it that simply doesn’t really feel sincere. And people periods are simply as beneficial because the periods the place you permit with a tune and it’s like, “I really like this tune. I feel it feels completely proper for me.” So I feel bouncing off of different writers has helped me on the journey of discovering my id as a songwriter and the issues about my writing which are mine, as a result of it’s nonetheless such early days.
What a part of your voice do you are feeling such as you’ve found that you just weren’t so conscious of again whenever you wrote the Citrus EP?
I take care of a number of fairly darkish themes, and I’m fairly on this knife-edge of human nature; the darkness that may thread by way of sure issues that on the floor stage might sound regular or good. I feel I’ve at all times been drawn to that. However one thing that I’ve fairly loved that you just’ll see a bit on the subsequent report is I’ve began like utilizing humour [laughs] as a software to faucet into a few of that, which is a tough factor to get proper and I hope that I do an okay job on it on this subsequent report. However humour is such a great way to convey a bit little bit of levity to darker themes. And the way in which that I form of did that on the primary report, convey levity to darker issues, was musically balancing moments of lightness with the darker themes of the stuff that I’m really speaking about. Sonically there’s a lot of shiny and dreamy moments which are delivering fairly darkish sucker punches. Whereas I feel with a number of the newer stuff, the place earlier than I might simply be delivering that distinction musically, I feel I’m looking for methods to ship it lyrically as nicely.
Earlier than we speak extra in regards to the new EP, I used to be questioning if you happen to might share any fond reminiscences that you’ve of having fun with music at an early age.
Each my dad and mom are actually musical. My dad is a superb guitarist, and he’s a poet and an English trainer. We at all times had been very musical rising up, I’ve obtained 5 siblings, all of them very musical. We had household buddies over and we might do conventional folks songs – my dad would play the pennywhistle, we might play guitar and sing. My brother performed the fiddle on the time. It was just like the hobbits or one thing, I don’t know. [laughs] I’m making an attempt to consider a very good comparability. Nevertheless it was actually enjoyable. And I used to sing with my sisters quite a bit. Should you’re going actually, actually early, we might hearken to Taylor Swift data within the kitchen whereas we had been doing the dishes and sing alongside to that. However I’ve at all times been a singer and a performer, I did college expertise exhibits and issues after I was very, little or no. It’s at all times been an impulse, I suppose, and I’ve at all times been in that type of surroundings. My mother is an incredible singer as nicely, however she hasn’t performed it since she was in all probability my age. The guitar that I realized to play on is that this stunning ‘70s Guild guitar that she was given when she was like 21 or 18, a kind of two birthdays, and it’s the identical guitar that I performed on the Citrus report.
Was there a selected second that made you notice you had been excited by writing songs?
I don’t assume there was ever like an aha second. I feel that music has at all times been a type of play, and it’s at all times been playful in its nature to me. It was at all times so pure that it by no means felt like an enormous reveal. I wrote my first full tune after I was in college, I really got here to it some may say comparatively late. I began writing songs after I was 18 while I used to be learning English. Earlier than that, I carried out lots and I performed guitar a bit and sang. And I’d written – I’d written quick tales and scraps of poetry and issues like that.
Why do you assume songwriting particularly got here afterward?
That’s a very good query. I’m unsure. I feel that songwriting is a really totally different self-discipline to quick tales and every other type of writing. And I feel that the musical factor means that you may talk one thing past phrases. For me, that’s the magic of it. As a software for storytelling, it’s type of unmatched. There’s a stage of, you don’t essentially have to be express to successfully inform a narrative with a tune. And I feel that for the form of confessional vignettes that I used to be doing on the time, it helped me talk issues that had been virtually too tough to say fully explicitly, maybe. I feel it got here after I wanted it. I don’t know if that sounds bizarre, however like I mentioned, it’s at all times been a type of play that’s fairly pure, the musical side of it. Writing songs themselves got here a bit later however I feel it was essential on the time, and it was one thing that had captured my creativeness. I used to be doing it as a result of it was new and thrilling, but in addition a software for expressing myself at a time after I wanted it.
What sorts of music or storytelling did you gravitate to early on?
In my home, it was my oldest sister Kate that dominated the roost musically. She was the cool older sister who had her finger on the heartbeat of all the pieces that’s happening. She used to make mixtapes for my mother and we might hearken to these within the automotive, and that was the place a number of my musical pursuits grew from. After I was rising up, that was when Feist launched her iconic Reminder report. We listened to that lots. There was a number of Bruce Springsteen, my dad’s an enormous Bruce fan, so I grew up with a number of him. Joni Mitchell, clearly, massive Joni Mitchell followers in our home. And what, we had been really obsessive about the Maroon 5 Songs About Jane, which is simply a number of nice pop songs. [laughs] After which after I was in uni, I found Nick Drake, Bob Dylan, The Beatles – we weren’t a Beatles home rising up. I found a number of stuff later after I got here to uni.
However by way of tales, my dad was learning a PhD in English after I was rising up, and it was in how literature helps kind kids’s ethical imaginations. So he was massive into a lot of actually good books, and so was my mum. They usually shared that with us from a very younger age. I used to be at all times actually drawn to fairy tales, and I feel that that exhibits. I used to be actually into these Scandinavian books referred to as the Moomintroll books. Very stunning, very darkish tales. The Brothers Grimm, famously darkish, however very stunning. So I suppose I’ve at all times preferred stuff that has that form of steadiness.
You had been speaking about these early inspirations by way of what was enjoying your family. When it got here to discovering your individual musical id, was there one thing you felt uniquely excited by or drawn to that the remainder of your loved ones wasn’t?
Yeah. I imply, rising up, I used to be the fifth of six, so I’m the second youngest. And I at all times simply jumped on the bandwagon of no matter my older sister was into, which drove her insane. However I additionally determined, after I was like 12, my oldest sister was actually into Taylor Swift, so I used to be like, “She stinks. I hate Taylor Swift.” Secretly beloved Taylor Swift, nonetheless love Taylor Swift. So I suppose there’s at all times been a component of that, like if my older sister actually preferred one thing I might be like, right here’s the extra indie model of that’s method cooler. And it by no means was method cooler, it was simply me being a youthful sister. [laughs] I’m unsure that I ever actually absolutely artistically rebelled in opposition to something in my household or that different folks preferred. I feel I simply type of went by way of grumpy phases with many of the issues, however ultimately at all times got here round to the truth that Taylor Swift rocks.
Talking of Taylor Swift, I wished to ask you in regards to the title observe in your EP. You reference the tune ‘Calgary’, and I used to be questioning if it’s the Bon Iver tune.
It’s the Bon Iver tune, yeah. Nice tune. [laughs]
I assume Bon Iver was an early inspiration as nicely?
Yeah, I ought to have talked about really – the For Emma, Eternally In the past album and the Bon Iver, Bon Iver album fully transport me again to my childhood. Completely central to my musical creativeness on the time, and nonetheless, in all probability.
And now he’s labored with Taylor Swift.
I do know, it’s wonderful. It’s been so cool to see how Justin Vernon has continued to innovate. On the time, For Emma and Bon Iver had been such revolutionary, imaginative data. And regardless that the sound has modified lots, the essence of it to me hasn’t modified in any respect. The essence remains to be innovation and telling tales by way of fascinating, intricate soundscapes. It’s simply the palette has modified. I imply, lots has modified, I’m in all probability being reductive, however it’s been nice to look at.
I noticed that you just launched a meme competition on Instagram, the place you’re encouraging followers to caption images of animals consuming citrus fruit. And I’m additionally seeing the fruit within the background there, which I admire.
[laughs] Oh, this one? This one’s an accident, I’ve had COVID and I wanted vitamin C. We will make it appear to be much less of an accident. [Places the fruit next to her] There you go, now it’s not an accident.
Have you ever been getting any good submissions?
I’ve, I’ve had completely hilarious memes from it. There’s one the place one of many footage of someone handing a monkey an orange, and the monkey earlier than is de facto unhappy, after which when the monkey will get the orange it’s actually blissful. And somebody used the lyrics from ‘Soundings’ to caption it, as a result of the opening line is “Give me able to go house tonight,” and the orange is the explanation to go house tonight. After which me, I’m the monkey, and it’s the listener who’s handing me the orange. It’s wonderful. I really feel like I’ve to say this as a result of I stole the concept from one other artist who did it. I’ve been following this artist, Anna B Savage, she launched a fully wonderful report, A Frequent Flip, final 12 months and it was wonderful. She did a meme competitors and I used to be like, “That is the funniest factor I’ve ever seen. I’ve to do this.” And so I did. I’m unsure if she was the primary, I think about she wasn’t, but when she was, nice concept and I’ve stolen it.
Nevertheless it’s been very nice to see folks responding to it and sending in humorous issues. My presence on-line is clearly nonetheless rising, however the songs are so emotive and a number of them fairly darkish – I don’t need anybody to assume that I’m like a depressing one who simply walks round being unhappy and depressing on a regular basis. It’s good to have the ability to join with folks with a facet of my persona that’s totally different to my songs, if that is smart.
It goes again to the humour and playfulness that we had been speaking about. I don’t imply to overanalyze it or something, however you posted one that you just created with the three frogs clinging to the fruit and the caption “sizzling, unhappy women.” Clearly, the unhappy women trope can typically be reductive, however I used to be questioning if that may be a method so that you can playfully reclaim or lean into that.
You make a very good level, as a result of really, unhappy women make the trade go spherical. I feel that fangirls and unhappy women and women generally get a foul rap. I really feel like it may be used as a derogatory time period, however there’s nothing about it that’s really derogatory. Individuals needs to be allowed to get pleasure from issues collectively as a fan base with out coming underneath any type of scrutiny for the kind of music that they like or the general id of that type of fandom. However I really feel like “sizzling, unhappy women” has turn into a factor throughout the web. It’s already been reclaimed, it’s now not something derogatory, so far as I’m conscious, with the rise of microcultures and issues on Tik Tok. It’s all shifted lots, I feel, for the reason that Tumblr days of fandoms.
From a musical standpoint, do you assume it may be reductive to make use of that time period?
Yeah, I feel that there’s at all times a lot extra to a tune that has been labeled a tragic tune than unhappiness. I feel that the craft and nuance and intricacy of sure sorts of songwriting will be neglected if you happen to’re fast to label it one thing like “unhappy lady,” particularly if it’s gendered like that. It does go away room for parts of it to be neglected. However one thing that writers like Mitski, Rosie Carney, Adrianne Lenker, and Laura Marling have in frequent is the feminine gaze. Most ladies who write music in that style – though they’re all totally different artists, I feel all of them fall underneath the same umbrella, and the way in which that they view the world and the way in which that they write about love and intercourse and life is all by way of that feminine gaze. And folks writing about related issues by way of the male gaze, I don’t assume they might get slapped with a label like “unhappy lady.”
What appeals to you about making music that’s intimate and weak whereas additionally specializing in the feminine gaze?
I feel that within the type of music that I make, the way in which I’ve described it earlier than, as a lady you don’t typically management how males take a look at you. How you’re gazed at determines an terrible lot, and there isn’t lots that you are able to do about that. However a type of subversion is inviting folks to take a look at you, and welcoming folks to take a look at you in your phrases, and in a sure method, and in your individual phrases, because it had been. And I really feel just like the type of music that I make invitations you in to take a look at me in a sure method. And I feel that being weak and making an attempt to inform the reality in some methods is a quiet act of resistance and quietly telling your story. Typically a whisper is simply as efficient as a shout, however I feel that you just want each issues. We want Self Esteem to be doing what she’s doing, we want different girls who’re doing it brashly and loudly – and brash is a phrase that I’m utilizing in a reclaimed sense. However I additionally assume that there’s room for whispering your reality as nicely.
Provided that part of performing is being seen, what was it like sharing these songs in a stay context?
As most songwriters will say, when you’ve written one thing with the view to carry out it, it’s now not yours, actually. And for me, taking them on stage helped me work by way of sure feelings and emotions. And it additionally highlighted to me that telling tales is a method to join with folks. Once you’re on stage and also you’re connecting with a roomful of individuals – if it’s your individual present, they’ll be there as a result of they know who you’re and so they wish to share that story with you, however on help excursions or opening for another person, as I’ve performed a number of this 12 months – you’re in a room full of people that do not know who you’re, they’re not there to see you. And if you’ll be able to win over even a kind of folks and so they resonate along with your story and your tune, it’s an incredible feeling. And I adore it, I adore it when folks come converse to me after a present and so they hadn’t heard me earlier than. I get lots of people come speak to me in regards to the title observe, ‘Citrus’. I typically shut my set with it stay, and it opens up vital conversations with strangers. I’d at all times hoped that telling little bits of my story and contextualizing them in a method that felt extra common can be a method to join folks and join with folks and open up tough conversations.
Do you thoughts sharing any particular moments of connecting with somebody who’s listened to your songs?
I had somebody come to me after a efficiency. It was actually highly effective. I used to be opening for a New York folks singer referred to as Elijah Wolf, and he was enjoying on the Brudenell in Leeds. Somebody got here to me after my set, a lady from the viewers, she was in floods of tears. And he or she simply mentioned, “Can I hug you? I wish to speak to you about your final tune.” After which she gave me some statistics, I feel she should have labored in a sector that offers lots with male violence in opposition to girls. And it wasn’t really ‘Citrus’, it was a unique tune that I sang, however it was on the same matter. With that individual observe, I at all times wish to contextualize it culturally and provides a bit little bit of a chat about why I feel it’s vital that we speak about these items. And he or she thanked me for saying that and thanked me for the tune. And we talked about how tough it’s to be a lady at – simply how tough it’s to be a lady. It felt actually cathartic to attach with a stranger who I hadn’t met earlier than so deeply, regardless that it was solely a five-minute dialog. I felt lighter for it, and I hope that she did too.
This interview has been edited and condensed for readability and size.
Elanor Moss’ Citrus EP is out now.