DANIEL MARTIN MOORE: On The Horizon


Daniel Martin Moore has had a long day.

“This morning I played a song live on the air on Channel 19 in Cincinnati, and it was incredibly stressful, since it’s hard to get your voice warmed up at 8 o’clock in the morning,” he explains. “Then I drove three hours to visit my family. Later this afternoon we’re going to head to the grocery store, but there’s probably a nap in my future.”

Daniel Martin Moore has had a long day.

“This morning I played a song live on the air on Channel 19 in Cincinnati, and it was incredibly stressful, since it’s hard to get your voice warmed up at 8 o’clock in the morning,” he explains. “Then I drove three hours to visit my family. Later this afternoon we’re going to head to the grocery store, but there’s probably a nap in my future.”

Moore, who grew up in the tiny city of Cold Spring, Kentucky, very much prefers the relaxed pace of rural living. “There’s something about sitting on the back porch for a quiet evening that you can’t get from a big, congested place,” he says.

He speaks with the relaxed, unwaveringly polite cadence of a man raised with small-town manners. He’s so enamored with small towns, in fact, that he had planned on attending graduate school to study rural development, but that was before his big break. The singer/songwriter abruptly dropped those plans after learning that, on the strength of an unsolicited demo he’d sent the label in early 2007, he’d been signed to Sub Pop Records.

Though Sub Pop doesn’t discourage demos, it almost rarely signs acts based on them, especially in this age, where most artists must first make a name for themselves on the music blogosphere. Moore, as you’d probably expect, isn’t much of a computer guy. In fact, he wasn’t even much of a Sub Pop guy. He’d only learned of the prestigious independent label through The Shins, who he first discovered when they performed on Saturday Night Live. He ventures that he’d never owned a Sub Pop album before 2007. He’d never heard anything on Matador Records, either, and was largely unfamiliar with the concept of indie rock. Growing up, he’d mostly listened to folk artists like Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, or classical music with his brother, Earl, who plays piano on Moore’s recordings.

Ironically, it’s Moore’s very isolation from contemporary music that makes him fit in so well in the modern music scene. The remote, rural origins of Moore’s debut album, Stray Age, nicely mirrors those of Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, the out-of-nowhere album that emerged as one of the year’s biggest success stories. With his traditional groundings, Moore is a logical progression of Sub Pop’s increasingly folk-leaning roster, which is now dominated by acts like Iron & Wine, Loney, Dear, Death Vessel and Fleet Foxes, but more than any of his peers, Moore’s folk is untainted by modern trends. His gently strummed songs bare no traces of prickly, indie-rock chords, saccharine indie-pop flourishes or turgid, emotional lyricism. They have no intentions of making a grand statement.

The team at Sub Pop has in some ways mentored Moore, introducing him to modern music and sending him their new releases. “That’s one of the big perks about being on the label,” Moore beams. “I get all these new albums, and I love most of them. Musically, I’m less isolated now.”

And though he jokingly likens Sub Pop’s efforts to socialize him to the plot of My Fair Lady, he says the label was hands off during the recording process. They simply set him up with some outside talent-including producer Joe Chiccarelli, who fittingly produced The Shins album that introduced Moore to the label, and guest musicians Jesca Hoop and Petra Haden and-and let him do his thing.

“We had only one rule making the album: If something wasn’t entirely essential, then it shouldn’t be there,” Moore says, “We wanted the album to be as straightforward as possible. I wanted the album to sound like, if you were sitting alone and you put this record on, it would be like we all just appeared next to you and started playing.”

AGE: 26
HOMETOWN: Cold Spring, Kentucky
FAVORITE SONGWRITERS:
Johnny Cash
Lightnin’ Hopkins
Vashti Bunyan


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