SongCrafter's Series: Carly Moffa
Up and coming songwriter Carly Moffa discusses art and her process.
Photos by: Carson Greenway
I had envisioned this segment to be a clever and incisive discussion with the song crafters of tomorrow. I got halfway there. The song crafter for this month, Carly Moffa, is indeed not only an exceptional writer of songs, she is also a sincere and enthusiastic human being. It’s that last part that tripped me up.
Her enthusiasm for talking about far-ranging concepts mixed with a sweet yet forthright vulnerability and openness had us taking all sorts of conversational walkabouts. I can be a talker. Any opportunity to chat with hyper-creative people compounds that trait. So our initial video interview went off the rails. My fault. What can I say?
While we still want to share that interview at some point I realized that I should give it another try. There are elements of an artist’s life and process that I felt I didn’t get to in that first talk. So here we are, adapting our approach to The Songcrafter’s Series into what I think is a more insightful format. We sent a series of questions for Carly to thoughtfully answer.
I hope you all enjoy it as much as we enjoyed capturing it. Carly is the type of artist we should all want to succeed. She has talent, yes, but what makes her ever more valuable to our creative community is her authentic kindness and, at the risk of sounding repetitive, her enthusiasm.
arcHIVE: What are you most excited about for the immediate future?
Carly: Working and getting lost in the craft. Intense practice, training, studying, and writing. Showing up and surrendering. Finding a balance between discipline and flow state. I never want to not be able to communicate something because of my inability. I never want to be limited by a lack of skill. I want to do everything in my power to honor the craft. “Sweat it Out” will release in January, then “Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe.” I am excited to let those songs breathe and to let them go.
Why do you think art is important for humans?
In math and science, we learned to study and trust others' work, but in the arts, we learn to trust ourselves. Art is a “safe space” and I hope it feels like a safe place for others too.
Why do you create art?
Because I have to. I can’t not make art
What are you trying to explore with your art? Are there themes that speak to you that you are trying to amplify or draw attention to?
It's unique to each day. I try to live by intentions. My intention is to show up honestly and to lean in. I try to write about what I feel to be true for me.
What do you aim to say with your music?
What’s real and authentic
How did music find its way in your life?
Do you have a special process for creating music?
No. The facilitation of authenticity requires a “safe place” - honoring and reverence. I try to cultivate a “safe place” with the intention to honor and just be. There is a quote by Palmer that says, “The soul is like a wild animal—tough, resilient, savvy, self-sufficient and yet exceedingly shy. If we want to see a wild animal, the last thing we should do is to go crashing through the woods, shouting for the creature to come out.” I feel this resonates with creativity and the subconscious energy at play.
Vulnerability is saying what we're scared to say, it’s the quiet nudge. It’s the honoring that leads to intimacy, intimacy leads to connection and connection leads to healing.
Sometimes I’m driving, in class, in a session, or asleep. I’ll wake up mid dream and voice memo a song in my sleep thinking, “this is really something!” lol They never are as good as I think they are when I’m dreaming.
What is your most important tool for making music?
My counselor, I’m kind of kidding.
If you had a motto what would it be?
Gentle and kind. When I ask my counselor what my homework is, he always says to be gentle and kind to myself. I can be ruthless.
What have you been listening to lately?
Right now Bach Violin Concerto in A Minor. I also just listened to the Timshel Podcast meditation “Navigating Fear.” I listen to “Midlife and the Great Unknown” (audio book) by David Whyte every few weeks.
What have you been reading?
Alicia Cook’s "I’m Sorry I Haven’t Texted You Back Yet," Russ’s "It's All In Your Head,"
"7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Covey. Also, this semester I was reading everything under the sun for school, so my reading game was interrupted in a good way. I usually read a few at a time. I keep a pocket size version of "The Way to Love" by Anthony De Mello (I thought it was regular size when I ordered it) and music theory flashcards with me.
What other kinds of media do you like to consume? Why?
Books, podcasts, nature and animals (which are not forms of media, but I like watching them), art, paintings. Pre pandemic I loved visiting museums while traveling on the road. There would always be a random one [museum] free for students or just free to the public on certain days. Anything that builds connection and prompts me to lean in, which in a sense is everything.
Anyone in the local music scene you would recommend to the readers? Why? What about their music speaks to you?
Morgan Bosman- funk/soul goddess with a gentle spirit. She is as amazing of a human being as she is a musician. She is a safe place to land and a creative vessel.
The Aquaducks - Funk band, super tight live, groovy, upbeat vibe. I think the energy is gravity.
Angie Marie Go - Sick guitar player and writes lyrics I wish I wrote.
What is your favorite room to play in Nashville? Anywhere?
I don’t know. I can tell you I loved playing The Basement, but I also love playing a house show in my best friend’s living room packed with friends (nobody’s really a stranger), just acoustic and crammed. (Pre covid, of course)
Who are your musical heroes? Why? What about their music speaks to you?
All the masters, I can’t list them all. Bach, Otis Redding, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Hendrix, Shania Twain, Lionel, Luke, Andrea Bocelli, Bob Dylan. I love them all. I am fascinated by their work ethic and ability to create and cultivate community. Recently I’ve gotten into Frank Sinatra, my pops listened to him all the time. He knew his craft, an expert on his voice, delivery, phrasing, bridges, connection, authenticity. He was a magnet.
What do people need to know about you, about how you think and why you create to understand and appreciate your art?
I don’t know. I just make the art, what people think is none of my business. my hope is the art be felt.
Who are you besides an artist?
What keeps you up at night?
Everything and nothing, depending on the day.
What do you wish I would have asked you in this interview?
Resources for musicians/creatives. Music Health Alliance and MusiCares are organizations/ advocates passionately supporting musicians throughout the creative community. They are awesome and I am so grateful to them. They’ve been an amazing resource for myself and others!
Where can people find your music?
Spotify : https://spoti.fi/3m3qzT0
Amazon Music: https://amzn.to/2VVKkBo
Apple Music: https://apple.co/2W2FVwg