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Interview with Moxy The Band
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Amber: I’ve never not had music as a coping mechanism. There are pictures of me as a toddler with a guitar slung over my tiny little legs, running my fingers over the strings and humming before I could actually speak. I quickly learned that music was the best tool I had to deal with my turbulent home environment. I began to write songs mostly as calls for help or love from the adults around me. It was a way of expressing emotions that were passed my comprehension at that age. So I taught my self the alphabet in order to write my songs down, and became obsessed with vocabulary and dictionaries. Music carried me and protected me through seasons of my life that were filled when neglect, assault and domestic violence. I started to understand that some of the songs I was writing were bigger than me, as they began to bring the adults around me to tears. I began to understand the power of lyrics, and the connection of pain. I could write a song about my father, that would bring a grown woman closure about her father. I felt that feeling for the first time in 2nd grade and unknowingly decided then that I would commit my whole life to it. I am still in constant pursuit of reaching into my soul with bare hands, to heal and understand my life…. knowing it will connect to at least one lonely soul on this planet who’s in search of the same thing….. to reach those feelings that can’t be put to words.
Michael: Music really clicked for me when I got expelled from the 8th grade and discovered Nirvana. My father had always played guitar and sang around the house when I was young and bought me a squire when I was 11 but it didnt really make sense to me at that time. He got me these group lessons where the teacher was making us play "Hot Cross Buns" and I was just kinda like "Why do I care about this?" When I was stuck home alone and full of teenage angst while my friends were at school, hearing how simple and powerful Kurt Cobain's songwriting was made me think "...I can do that." That thought pretty much sealed my fate for the next 18 years.
Dryw: My parents were music fans and I grew up with music around the house. My mom occasionally played classical guitar and sang and my Dad has been a multi-instrumentalist. Their parents had also been musical, even casual performers. They enrolled me in piano lessons at age 9, but I didn’t fall in love with music until my best friend at 15 introduced me to punk rock and the electric guitar. Music has stayed primary to me since then. I’ve had to choose to follow through with the decision to be a music professional at several times in my life. If I had chosen otherwise around college, I would have liked to be a physician.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Amber: I love art. Drawing and painting in particular. In general I like to get my hands into anything creative or expressive. I love spending time in nature and with friends.
Michael: I really dont have a lot of time that isnt somehow related to music or building our career honestly. I like carpentry a lot. In order to pay for the studio time for this album I actually built Dryw's entire professional recording studio. It took hundreds of hours and im possibly more proud of it than I am of the album we created it for haha. Carpentry has a surprising amount in common with music making. There is something in your mind you want to see exist in the world, and you have to use ingenuity, problem solving, and determination to make it so. There's something primal, humble, and calming about building stuff that brings me a lot of peace
Dryw: Most time away from music is spent with my wife and two kids. Being a dad and husband is is my favorite thing in life and has been a been a major source of life and inspiration for me. I love all kinds of artistic media (games, film, music, books, etc) and look for influence in anything I consume. I love research, knowledge, and my wife Katherine is currently in her last year of law school. These life-aspects make a non-musical side of my life, but they utilimatley breathe life and give energy to the musical side.
How long has your band been around?
Michael: We have been writing and recording this record behind the scenes for the past four years, but have existed publicly for about the past 6 months
Dryw: I guess you could say up to 4 years!
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Michael: We are based out of Sacramento, CA. For me I think the fact that this town isnt really known for much has really driven me to put it on the map. The obvious move for any musician wanting to get somewhere is to move to LA and play the rat race, but I have spent the past ten years touring in signed bands without having to do all of that. I love living in a humble town like Sac and I am determined to have my cake and eat it too haha.
Dryw: I was born and raised in Sacramento. I live in the greater area now (Roseville) and love it. I’m not sure how it has affected me stylistically, but I’ve always felt good about staying and creating here, despite it not being a major city in the sense that somewhere like LA is. Sacramento has had some key musical contributions and has been a hub for certain styles at times. I’ve personally had the good fortune of working with a lot of talented people from this city, and have gotten to share it with people I work with from abroad.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Amber: I was fortunate enough to be the Nanny of an incredibly special little girl for almost 5 years, by the name of Moxy. Many people who have been following our journey know that Moxy and I have a connection like family, having been attached at the hip for the most formative years of her childhood, and the most formative years of my twenties. Just prior to my joining the project, and the global shift of the pandemic, our inseparable bond now had a wide expanse between it as Moxy unexpectedly moved to Indonesia. Around this time, I was also experiencing a total collapse of my health by the onset of my Epileptic condition. Moxy and I missed each other very much in this time, contact was strained, long hospital stretches were becoming familiar and we continued to write the album for a band with no name. One day, as we sat on the couch in the studio, deep in the writing process, a friend blurted out “have you thought of naming the band after Moxy?” and suddenly it seemed like that was the obvious name the whole time. Each song, in its own way, was influenced by or dedicated to her is some way. There has never been a more loving supporter or witness to our music than Moxy the girl. She had witnessed the entire inception of the album process with eager ears and starry eyes. Getting to tell her that we were naming the band after her was an emotional moment I’ll never forget.
Dryw:This one is for Amber. We needed a name, and from many considerations, this one felt the most true, and right in light of Amber’s s
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Amber: We played Concert In the Park to thousands of people just a handful of days after I had a massive grand mal seizure! As if nerves weren’t high enough, I was then working with a sprained ankle, lacerated tongue, ya know - the usual. It was a great feeling personally to overcome and power through, though. Thankfully we got to play a concert the following week at August hall for one of our favorite bands, Covet. It was so beautiful to play a show with the perspective and gratitude of having a bit of my capacity back. Had a worse case scenario under my belt so it was all gratitude from then on out.
Michael: We have only played two shows, but the second was supporting Covet in their hometown in the bay and that was really special. Yvette played piano and violin on the album / is a good bud, and Ive have the pleasure of watching her grow over the past ten years. Seeing her play to a sold out theatre and getting to open the show no less was just chefs kiss sweet.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Amber: The Crest Theatre Michael: I love playing in Texas. Texans really show up for live music and are always great crowds to play for. Looking forward to us finally getting on the road and hitting all the major Texas cities.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Michael: Paramore, The 1975, Active Child, Moxy The Band
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Amber: Trust the muse. Burn your fire for no witness.
Michael: If it isnt truly a calling for you, if you arent willing to sacrifice almost everything to do this, keep it a hobby. For myself? I probably would go back and tell myself to continue focusing on the craft for a few more years before you lock yourself into anything. I started touring with a band right out of high school, and sort of pigeon holed myself into a lane for the next ten years when I was just a kid. I wouldnt say I regret it, those were the times of my life and Im proud of what we created, but if I had waited a little longer to marry myself to something it could have been more sustainable.
Dryw: To people persuing career music: do it because you must. Be pataient. Keep your expirations realistic, and be prepared to work hard for a long time. Quitting is the only way to ensure failure.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Amber: Relax. Your art is often wiser than you are in that moment. You will look back at yourself with compassion, understanding that you were doing everything you could with the hand you were dealt. All that pain, all the suffering - you’ll be grateful for it some day. Pain, however unfair, can be useful to you.
Dryw: Get it done! Haha.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Amber: I’m sure my answer to this question will change but currently it’s “overgrown” I like the way the song starts. It feels like it walks me into a world of where I was when we were writing the album, but this time with more perspective. The lyrics are intensely layered for me, there’s a lot of personal meaning and it comforts me to hear it finally laid down.
Michael: Probably "You Feel It Too." I was really lost when I sat down to start this band / write this music. I was frantically writing all sorts of random garbage in the wake of losing my previous band, and this track was the first one that struck the chord of what I wanted to do. It was sort of the flagship track of Moxy The Band and informed a lot of what the rest of the songs would come to be. Not to mention, Amber's lyrics and vocal performance on this song are just next level.
Dryw: We worked hard to make an “album with no skips” and I love each of the songs. That being said, The Cost is a special one to me and occupies a unique emotional space in the album. The process for writing that song was unique yet clearly shares DNA with the rest of the record.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Amber: All of them! But definitely The Cost and The Feeling of Letting Go
Michael: We are kinda too new to know the answer the request part, but I think our first single "The Cost" is really powerful live and seems to hit ppl pretty hard.
Dryw: The Cost and The Feeling of Letting Go are a lot of fun and feel great to play. I look forward to hearing what resonates most with listeners.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Amber: Life being really really hard. My heart yells for answers and it comes out in the form of a song
Michael: The process was a little chaotic for a lot of the album because we were working out the format in real time. For the most part, the tracks started with me writing a one minute demo at my home studio (basically a verse and a chorus), and then Id take that to Dryw and we would flesh out the rest of the track together collaboratively. From there we work with Amber to come up with nonsense hooks, and then she writes lyrics and we re-imagine the hooks with the real words.
Dryw: This album mostly began with Michael’s demos - sketches and fragments that we refined, transformed, and wrote to completion. We had even written and demo’d some vocals before it became clear that Amber should be our singer. After moving forward with Amber, the vocals were then written between sessions with her and Michael, and the three of us.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Amber: You can overcome things that feel inconsolable or insurmountable. You can even dance while doing it.
Dryw: Moxy must primarily be Amber’s lyrical canvas, but in our musical style I hope to inspire creators to write diversely and think less rigidly in terms of genre.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Amber: If a band tells you they are 100% gravy, fully unanimous all the time - they are probably trying to sell you a lot more than their record. We disagree often, as creative thinkers often do. We like to have “family meetings” with Dryw’s wife Katherine when it comes to really important decisions or disagreements. It may sound funny, seeking the advice of a bandmate’s spouse, but we find that her wisdom and impartiality ease the tension of any situation we must navigate together.
Michael: Haha what a spicy question. We do indeed, as all bands do. Our band dynamic is extra complicated because two of the members are dating (Myself and Amber) which can be really tough to navigate. Luckily I was good friends with Dryw long before we ever became bandmates, the band truly feels more like family than a business. If it gets especially heated we straight up have a family meeting and Dryw's wife (Also close to Amber and I) and we sort it out.
Dryw: We do have disagreements! We certainly try to move forward in a way that feels acceptable to everyone, but compromise and humility are often needed. There has always been a way forward, whether creative or interpersonally, and my wife Katherine is a wise person who helps us through. I think we learn from any setbacks and it utimately makes us a better team and better people.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Amber: We’re playing House of Blues baby! I’m looking forward to a future of touring, and putting this record into the hearts of more people who feel it too.
Michael: We are trying to get a team together at the moment to get this show on the road. Definitely hope to land a tour early next year and continue touring through 2023. We are playing a big festival at House of Blues on January 8th called Kill Iconic Fest, should be a good time!
Dryw: Live performance is certainly a priority. I look forward to continually refining that experience and to writing the next record.
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?