Australian born, Canadian folk singer, songwriter Ruth Moody is heading to Portland. Starting May 19 through June Moody and her band will perform a series of concerts in Washington, and then Oregon. While prepping for her first solo North American music tour through the Pacific Northwest, Moody agreed to an exclusive interview. Moody is a Juno-Award winning songwriter and member of the folk super-trio The Wailin’ Jennys.
These Wilder Things, Moody’s most recent solo album showcases her ability to craft timeless originals. From the haunting gospel sounds of “Trouble and Woe” to the bluegrass-flavored “One Light Shining” (featuring Jerry Douglas) to the Celtic feel of “Life Is Long.” Moody also delves into darker indie-pop sounds, especially on the title track and the haunting “Pockets,” which features Mark Knopfler on guitar and vocals. In addition to Moody’s original songs, she includes a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” and makes it her own with a stripped-down, folk arrangement that transcends genres. Let’s get started.
What’s most important to you right now as a music artist and why is that important to you? That’s a hard question to answer; it all feels particularly important right now. I’m working towards a new album, so writing is mostly what I’m focussing on. But in addition to pushing myself as a writer, it’s also important for me to continue to explore new ways of expressing myself vocally and on my instruments. I want to continue to grow in what I do, to keep bettering my skills. It’s a rewarding journey.
What do you anticipate the most for your music tour of the Pacific Northwest 2016? I love this part of the world and I’m confident that the tour is going be a blast. I have a bunch of new songs that I’m excited to play at these shows.
Do you like to write songs on tour or keep a journal for song inspiration? I do both. I write less on the road than I used to, so I have to remind myself to leave time and space for it, and to write down or record anything that I think of that could be a spark for a song, because otherwise I will forget. It gets so busy – I basically manage the tour myself, with help from the guys. The Northwest is great though because the drives aren’t super long, so we tend to be able to get out and take walks or catch beautiful views as we drive. It helps keep the creative juices flowing.
What’s the inspiration behind choosing Bruce Springsteen’s cover song, “Dancing in the Dark?” A friend of mind suggested I cover it. I’m a big fan of The Boss and it hadn’t occurred to me to cover his biggest hit. As soon as I considered it I could see how it would be fun to folkify it, and we came up with a cool ‘chamber-grass’ arrangement that ended up making it feel unique. It’s fun to play at the shows, as people start to recognize what it is.
What music inspires you the most right now and/or what are you listening, too? Hmm, in the last week, Blake Mills, Beck, Sarah Jarosz, my friend Kristin Andreassen, George Jones, Basia Bullat. And Gillian Welch, always.
Five things you must have in place – A personal check list you go through before each stage performance?A set list for the guys is probably the most important thing – they play multiple instruments so they need to know how to tune them all before the show. If we’ve had a decent soundcheck then I’m usually warmed up enough, but sometimes I like to do a little bit of additional warm up so my voice feels relaxed and ready. Usually I take a couple of minutes to breathe so that I’m tuned in with myself. It makes for a better show if I’m actually in the moment and in touch with my intentions in doing this. But sometimes there’s no time, we’re flying by the seat of our pants and I’m lucky if I’m dressed!
What’s your favorite guitar to play? And who did you turn to when you decided to learn to play? I play a custom made Collings OM2H and I love it. It’s a magical guitar. I think my brother, who is a great musician, taught me my first three chords but he was bored while he was doing it, and I remember thinking ‘I guess I’m going to have to figure this out on my own.’
Any rumors about Portland you hope to unravel or places that you hope to experience while passing through our town? Portland has the best brunch spots in the world. Oh, I hope to be able to go out to all of them.
Ruth Moody and her band perform the Albert Street Pub on June 11, 2016 at 8:30 p.m.