Molly Moore

QRO enjoyed a lucky run-in with Molly Moore on a day when she had only just totaled her car shortly before our meeting....
Molly Moore : Q&A
Molly Moore : Q&A

The garden variety human heart is, characteristically, a fortified site. To perform any sort of moral inquest into the dwelling of such demented poetry is to expose oneself to a kind of caustic skullduggery that many find they possess neither the seaworthy rafts nor the batches of grog required for survival. Fortunately for hearts both excavated and not, Molly Moore is the opposite of “many.” Hers is a singular, mordant voice that has been keeping match fit behind the wizard’s curtain of pop music far longer even than your last jagged breakup seemed. With her latest EP entitled Escapism, she makes the peripatetic process of beneficial heart-hewing feel like the frontier exploits of a particularly haute-punk fairy, and portrays all of the polemical purity tests any of us must endure in order to tell the whole truth about ourselves with an uncommonly multichannel panache.

Long before the 2020 release of her debut album, Voice on the Internet, Molly Moore had showcased her signature snappy musical patter, laced with insightful interconnections between decades, styles, genres, and attitudinal stances that other artists could not have found the relational ribbons to bind together with such an undulating joinery. Though she represented only one physical half of Cosmos & Creature, she fully inhabited both sides of the galactic and the earthly within that early duo, simultaneously conjuring the grainy and unmilled lyrical residua of Arab Strap’s “The First Big Weekend” as well as the kind of discovered cool that was the original jeweled jurisdiction of ladysmiths like Letters to Cleo’s Kay Hanley before her.

In the meantime, Molly Moore has become a KROQ local favorite for the carefree hypermnesia of “Careful” and the manner in which the high friction snow crystals in “I love you, but I don’t like you” play in the gulley between venom and verve. Moore has likewise recently composed original music for the Hasbro animated series Hanazuki, EXO, and Robin Bengtsson, atop her own songs featuring in Netflix’s The Last Summer, ABC’s Conviction, Amazon’s Jolt, and MTV’s Siesta Key. Escapism finds her poetically processing relationships lost to every description of death, both corporeal and chimeric, and luring the listener to truly grapple with the parallels within life’s stark paradoxes, much in the way learning about Dayak fruit bats for the first time might, one of the few mammals in nature known to exhibit male lactation.

Neither Molly Moore nor any of her music appears to believe in the muzzling tactics of the mundane methodology modern society has accepted as our only means for dealing with that which is marred: sweep it under the rut-rug. Instead, she has vulcanized her own self esteem by looking at her flaws through a fun-house mirror-microscope. Tunes like “Do They?” illustrate her unique way of casting the same beauty-beams across a crush that feels like a silvery-purple cloud of flowers and the gray end of a decomposing cigarette. HerVacation” is both the inversion and the modernization of The Go-Go’s. Molly Moore looks at destruction with a diamond grin. Not for her the dissolute ownership of missing anything, least of all a man or a moment.

QRO enjoyed a lucky run-in with Molly on a day when she had only just totaled her car shortly before our meeting. However, this horrid event did not hinder her a hare’s foot from speedily making wonderful wreckage of our hearts with her gory glamour and prickly pink angora.

Molly Moore

QRO: Miss Molly, I have become your fastest and most loyal fan!

Molly Moore: Get out of here, really?!

QRO: Escapism is just that for my ears – and not just because it’s a good weekend mantra. One of the things I have loved about your music in all of its incarnations is your insistent focus on change, transformation, and temporality. Can you talk to us a bit about why those themes resonate so strongly within your creative spirit?

MM: Absolutely. I think I have a desire to become better, always, and learn from my mistakes, and just evolve, really. I don’t want to pay too much attention to perceived limits and the ideas that the world imposes upon your life. That is a very common theme in my path and it bleeds out into my music almost constantly. It’s so important to me to be honest with myself and honor where I’m at, but also always be pulled ahead by the future.

QRO: That’s really coming through on this new EP and I feel that you are such a spectacular sieve, Molly. At any given moment and turning on a dime, I’ve seen you utterly inhabit 1980s indie, 1990s house, all the way through to something akin to Britney-esque pop, but punchier. I have referred to you as “visceral candy.” Can you give us insight into the road you followed to the glittering, high-density rawness you inhabit in your sound?

MM: Oh definitely. Early on, I think artists like Alanis Morissette really inspired me. Her lyricism and just how willing she was to say things in such a gritty and uncomfortable way.

QRO: I am literally still trying to be her every single day of my life… [laughs]

MM: Same! Waiting to hit my mark! Fiona Apple also really inspired me in that way. More recently, it has been friends of mine. I live with my friend Maty Noyes; the way she writes and says whatever she wants to say and expresses herself so fully has been really inspiring to me. We’ve been lucky enough to get to work on music together.

QRO: “Handsomer!” My mondo boy-bye jam of 2022! [laughs] One of my favorites you’ve ever done!

MM: Ayyyyy! [laughs] Thank you so much; that is a favorite of mine as well.

QRO: The line “I don’t need a man, I just need a manicure / You is kind of handsome, but I am much handsomer” speaks to my soul for so many reasons. First, manicures are nearly always better than men. Second, I have always been adamant that the word “handsome” was better suited to describing women and that the word “beautiful” was far better used to indicate male exquisiteness. Your thoughts?

MM: Oooooh, I love that and I completely agree. Especially at the time I was writing that song, I was feeling a lot of other emotions that were not captured within it, like loneliness and insecurity. I was having a moment of transformation where I realized I don’t need to feel these things because I’m not with somebody.

There’s no need for me to live in fear because something didn’t work out or because someone that I loved didn’t find that same love within me. That’s why I think that song is so special to me, because it really did make me feel this sense of empowerment and confidence that I was wanting to feel at that time but hadn’t arrived at before. It was almost like spellcasting. I was writing into existence what I really wanted. I love that that song can summon this inner dynamite and belief in yourself.

I don’t want to pay too much attention to perceived limits and the ideas that the world imposes upon your life.

QRO: It’s the best kind of lit fuse! You’re also channeling some seriously hot, platinum and neon Annie Lennox in this video – one of the handsomest and most talented women on planet Earth forever. This song just got used in Jolt on Amazon as well, featuring two more of your fellow divine goddesses, Kate Beckinsale and Laverne Cox – a glorious gamut of womanhood. I do have to say: a movie about a murderous bouncer is very your vibe! [laughs]

MM: Yes! It was so perfect and so cool! I loved that pairing because I felt like it really highlighted the song in an amazing way, and a lot of people discovered it that way. It makes me really happy to feel like my music is inclusive like that for all kinds of women because that is something very important to me too.

QRO: Much of your own womanly flair hinges on the way you brilliantly juxtapose that which can be danced to and laughed about on the surface with that which is driving at some much heavier and more introspective themes. Does this consciously relate to your understanding of escapism on this EP or is it more of an unbidden unveiling of dichotomies in your own artistic nature?

MM: It’s very much a conscious choice. It starts with just wanting to capture reality in music. I never want to come to a conclusion that doesn’t feel real in a song. I think a lot of times people are trying to wrap things up by the hook, you know, and that’s awesome as well, but so much of life is left unsaid or unknown.

The idea that you can draw people in with something that they think is one thing, then you have their attention to say something completely left of center that is equally as true, that’s really engaging to me as a writer and artist. I think that’s who I am as a person too: happiness is sadness and sadness is happiness. Accepting both is so crucial to my personal existence. Everybody’s at a little bit of a different stage with that, depending on what they’ve gone through, I think.

QRO: I commend you for the honesty with which you depict it because I do think that’s the human experience, but we’re conditioned to focus on the lollipop and not the blood, so to speak.

MM: I’ve struggled with that for years in my life. I tried to suppress my negative or uncomfortable emotions. A large part of me becoming a healthier person has been about recognizing that, not only is it okay to express those things, it’s just as important as feeling moments of joy and bliss. The two go hand in hand.

I’m not trying to glorify depression or trauma, but I do believe that there is so much stigma and shame around letting those things out in an honest way. You need to have tact, know the right time and place, and also know your audience in terms of who you are speaking to. It’s a daily practice, for sure, and I’m just grateful to be coming to a place where I can accept those things in myself more freely.

I never want to come to a conclusion that doesn’t feel real in a song.

QRO: That leads me to ask you about the title: Escapism. As a textbook Pisces, I am astrologically expected to be an escapist and to be forever swimming off into the artistic ether, which I generally am. I have frequent, furious debates with friends over what constitutes good or bad escapism. How would you delineate the two?

MM: It’s really interesting you bring that up because I do think this EP deals squarely with both types! It’s addressing everything in that spectrum. For me, escapism has been at the crux of my life because I make music, and that is inherently an escape. You’re getting lost in a feeling and going for six, eight, twelve hours, exploring every little corner and crevice of that emotion.

A lot of times there is fantasy at play, and fiction intertwined with reality. The duality is inescapable. I’ve had plenty of detrimental experiences where it’s all too easy to disappear into relationships or substances that are not feeding your life, and then I’ve had just as many times where the relationships or the substances were positive in that moment. It’s all about the circumstances and where you’re at in your head. This body of work is about how those things play into each other. How do you find balance within those two? How do you make space for reality within all of that? Like we were saying, it can allow you to really veer off and not address a lot of things going on in your life if you fall off too far on one side. Coming to grips with how to shift the finger over to myself and not blame others for what I chose in my life has been crucial to me becoming a better version of myself and a person that could even write these songs.

The events leading up to this EP, and a lot of what these songs are about, is just the idea that you could fall in love in a way that was free and not restrictive to either party, that love doesn’t have to mean control or ownership, that love can just be a feeling in your heart that doesn’t have to become something specific.

QRO: You have just stolen whole worlds of words straight from my soul and very recent lived experience! I would staunchly argue that “love” that has the word “control” as any kind of automating factor is the furthest thing from actual love. You’ve got that ageless idea: if you love something, set it free. Real love of any breed is always about wanting the other party to have more, not less, of everything worthy in life. I don’t see a way for true love to ever landscape limits, so I really adore that you’ve said that so eloquently in both your art and your lifestyle.

Something else that seems without borders to me is your wardrobe, lady! Just a heads-up: I’m stealing all of your clothes…

MM: [laughs] Yes! Let’s go! I can’t wait to see you out there on the rainbow wave!

I find exploration and experimentation, both visually and sonically, keeps me fascinated with the process.

QRO: I absolutely live there with you! No matter what you wear, you are essentially a dreamy Delia’s model from an alien galaxy of Dolls Kill-level cool in every single video. Talk to me about what role the fabulous threads, ever-morphing strands, and whimsical makeup play in the presentation of your art.

MM: I basically just want to inhabit every style and genre in one place: alternative-soulful-pop-rock-sometimes hip-hop! [laughs]

QRO: Oh my gracious, what if I said that I’d already written down that you are, “Amy Winehouse meets Missy Elliott meets Grimes meets Cyndi Lauper?!” [laughs]

MM: Wow, that is so dope! That is the coolest combo I’ve ever heard! Just, how many legends?! Wow, I’m honored. I think I grew up listening to so many different kinds of music that influenced me that I couldn’t possibly choose just one palette to play with. I find exploration and experimentation, both visually and sonically, keeps me fascinated with the process. I feel like I have all of the decades within me. A lot of it is relative to mood too, right? There are aspects of me that come out in a night drive that are different to that me who is dancing in her underwear in the morning!

QRO: And now you have just stolen my next question because I was just about to ask if you felt that there were unfound facets of yourself that come out to play through your many variegated collaborations, all of which have been intriguing. Do you feel that something else comes out of you when you are, say, working with Steve Aoki versus the Molly that shows up when you are working on something like “Marco Polo” with NoMBe?

MM: Yes, most definitely. “Marco Polo” was really amazing because NoMBe has been a good friend of mine for a while. I’d been sending him every song from the project and kind of secretly hoping that he would want to jump on one, but I didn’t want to say it! [laughs] He had already agreed to co-produce “Shy,” which was awesome, and then with “Marco Polo” he didn’t even respond, he just sent it back to me with his voice on it and I was like “YES!”

I was so stoked because that really brought the song to life in a whole new way. I think with that song I was trying to write a thesis for Escapism. Throughout my career, collaborators have been a huge piece of where my music has gone and how I’ve gotten there, and even what I’m writing about. I feel grateful for that. It just feels special to create something with someone that you trust and that knows you. Feeling comfortable allows you to keep diving deeper. I think that’s all art really asks from you: to dive as deep as you possibly can and take risks, not to hold back.

Feeling comfortable allows you to keep diving deeper. I think that’s all art really asks from you: to dive as deep as you possibly can and take risks, not to hold back.

QRO: That sentiment is a thing I wish more people, artists and otherwise, fully grasped! As much as you are a consummate feathers-and-flash performer, my feeling is that you are a writer first in your deepest heart, and I know that you have written songs for quite a few other incredible artists like Lea Michele and Jesse McCartney before venturing out on your own. Is there a difference in the path you take to reach a Molly song versus a song intended for another voice?

MM: For the most part, I know when something is for me now. It didn’t always happen that way. There was a period where I would just write every day and I didn’t know what I was going to stumble upon. There’s always that sense of what feels extremely close to your own heart. It’s almost like a diary entry when you write a song for yourself: this is a piece of my story; I can give it away, and I have, but I don’t as often anymore.

If you’re a songwriter that is also an artist, you tend to be in the driver’s seat if you take that responsibility. The psychology of collaboration when you have a bunch of artists in one room is so fascinating to me. A co-writer, to me, is there to make sure that the artist in the driver’s seat is leaving no stone unturned in the full expression of themselves.

QRO: For certain I think that avoiding holding patterns is forever the way to stay 5G as an artist of any kind. No matter what someone’s definition of success may be, if it isn’t breathing and moving in some way, it’s hard to classify it as living, I think.

MM: I agree with that 100-percent. Success is obviously subjective, and I feel somewhat weirdly grateful that I haven’t had a song yet that is truly defining of my career, necessarily, or a song that’s gotten bigger than me as an artist. That is what often happens and then that artist will be like, “Oh, I have to do that again” and it gets constrictive fast.

Goals are incredibly important, and I’ve got a list of them on my wall, but falling in love with doing what you love on a daily basis is the renaissance moment, to me. All the other stuff is secondary and additional. Every day that no one is telling me I can’t do it anymore is success.

QRO: I could not have conceived of a better coda to this delicious conversation today, Molly! That’s not just brilliant, but the most shining truth. Thank you for letting me graffiti my winsome words all over your colorful club vibes. I’ve had the best time hearing you describe what went into these dreamy dance-ables.

MM: This felt like a conversation with a new friend! Thank you so much. I really appreciated your questions and will be looking for you in the rainbow world when I come to Atlanta!

QRO: Oh, I’m your full-on hype-host the minute you touch down and will be escaping into my weekends with Escapism until then. Thanks for all the maven-magic, Molly!

-photos: Abi Polinsky

Molly Moore

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