Molybden (Austin, TX)

molybden3

You grew up in Marfa, correct? How did that shape you as an artist, as a musician?

I grew up, lived in and romped around Marfa and Fort Davis. My first and most remembered things explore the vastness of the landscape of West Texas and the metaphor that has on the possibilities for life. I think this shows in my songs.

You also spent some time in Olympia, Washington too, right? Did that music scene have an effect on you?

I lived in Olympia from 2004-2009 and it still has a huge effect on me. I moved there from Seattle to attend The Evergreen State College. I got wrapped up in the music scene there a bit. It’s where I really buckled down and started to take my songwriting seriously. But like anywhere, I’ve always been a bit of an outsider. On an academic level, I’m still influenced and practice a lot of what I studied at TESC. I took some amazing programs that covered Political Economy, Experimental Music & Movement, 2nd Order Cybernetics, and Art & Social Theory. I did a lot of experimental movement theater then, performing at the American Society of Cybernetics Annual Conventions in Urbana and Olympia. So, even though my songs might seem really simple on the surface, I compose with a great deal of intention and often use constraint-based techniques to craft my songs. Preserving dynamics is really important to me.

On a more cultural/community level, I’m still really influenced by my experiences in Olympia. Like Austin, it is a capital city, but it’s a lot smaller, so the scene was like a smaller piece of matter. The particles buzzing about were a lot closer. I worked at record stores and knew a lot of the local musicians, and what I picked up on is that one could write any kind of music, any kind of songs. You didn’t have to carve out a nice little role for yourself as folk-artist or metal-band and stay within confines of said genres. You didn’t need money to be a band. You just wrote and played music. I think the most successful music at that time was from the bands/people that were most passionate about their work.

I was also lucky to become friends with Calvin Johnson and he was {is} really supportive in my earliest days. That kind of punk attitude, combined with my higher education (BA, MAE) has really freed me from a lot of crap. The songs I present to an audience are songs I feel good about. I don’t care about fitting into some box. I’m not afraid to be an outsider. I like my weird little songs. I consider myself as artist to be a political expression.

Your songs are very minimal and also very powerful. Have you ever considered playing with other musicians in this project?

I have considered playing with other musicians. I will have some accompaniment on my forthcoming record, but will most likely still perform solo. It makes for a good discussion amongst some of my closest friends/fans. If Molybden did ever perform with other musicians, it would most likely just be a drummer, maybe a keyboardist. They’d have to be very good musicians, better than me. They’d also have to be willing to play very little, like in the band Low. And they’d have to be okay with me making the final decisions. The likelihood of finding those players is very slim, so I’ll probably always play alone.

Your song “Texas” is a beautiful, poetic ode to Texas and you did a tour of pretty out-of-the-way Texas towns last year. Has Texas been an influence on your music?

Thanks, Tony. People really like that song. I think I came back to Texas to play music seriously, although I didn’t know it at the time. Releasing my first record, Songs from Lincoln, happened over many months driving to and from Marfa. I think it was then that I became re-enchanted with my home state. I love playing the small Texas towns. Those were some of my best shows on that tour– Corpus Christi, Beaumont, Denton, Marfa. People are so appreciative of you coming and playing. There is so much gratitude shared in those experiences.

The last time I saw you play I thought I heard you mention working on a new album. Can you tell me anything about that?

I started writing my forthcoming album, Long Lance, summer of 2013 after my grandfather gave me an original 1928 novel, Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance. It’s a constraint-based album/concept weaving the 1928 novel’s ethnographical accounts of the Blackfoot Tribe on the fringe of settlement with my own autobiographical accounts of being… The author of the novel, Long Lance, was found out to not be Blackfoot by blood (even though Blackfoot elders initiated him into the tribe) but to be part Cherokee & part African American. He was then renounced from fame and lost everything; eventually found dead, most likely suicide. To some he was an impostor, but to me he is an unsung hero. I have 6 of 11 songs written so far.

How do songs come to you? Do you have a similar songwriting process for each song?

It varies. My best time to work is in the morning. I sing a lot at the house or on walks. Something will come to me and I’ll repeat it to memory. Or, sometimes I’ll be practicing guitar and a song will appear. I written a song in 4 minutes, or I’ve taken years to complete one. On this newest record, I’ve been composing a lot of the lyrics first, which has been really tricky. I try and never limit or denounce any melody or idea that comes. Sometimes it’s just healing, but other times it’s a song in the making.

Thai food or pizza?

Thai.

Dawn or dusk?

Dawn.

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