MANDY MOORE: From Pop to Art

“So, for me, it was a self-explanatory process. Look at myself; look, and see what’s there. When you start doing that, well…I never felt it was hard to put myself out there, and the more I did it, the easier it got. It was the opposite of what people’d expect-and it also felt really, really good.

Videos by American Songwriter

“I’m infusing all of myself in this music, because even in a role, you’re not really being yourself. I could take everything I learned about putting emotions out there and use it to express me…because here, it’s absolutely about you. Absolutely.”

For someone who is a self-confessed musical theatre geek…whose early records had no “her”…who somehow crawled from bubblegum pop to crunchy, musky, earthy writers…and who grew up, experienced boys, love and loss as a public person, Moore has a strong self-awareness. If anything led her from the realm of fame and bold-faced sizzle, it was her desire for content rather than momentum.

Indeed, the dusky-voiced artist with the catch in the middle of her tone, and the sense of timing that clings to the tiniest bit of the beat as it fades, produces a languidity that telegraphs pain and desire. She says “organic” and leans forward across the table with a conspiratorial excitement, identifying what she believes “is missing from music today.”

She came to this realization as much from the well-honed record collection of her manager Jon LeShay-whose own musical taste is beyond reproach-as her own studio-time.

“It’s frustrating in hindsight,” confesses the woman who begged her collaborators not to listen to her previous work. “There was nothing I could do then. My hands were tied! I was in a record deal…

“I would be given a demo by somebody that someone else had picked. I would be told which studio to be at and what time…and there’d be a producer there someone else had selected. That’s how it was-other people’s idea of who I should be.

“I look at those records and go, ‘Wow…,’ because they bear my name and my face, and it’s forever. But there’s nothing to it. I got to where I just couldn’t do that anymore.

“I found my little niche in the film world. It seemed like that was working. I was getting roles in interesting films, so I put my focus there.

“Down deep I wondered, ‘Is [music] still in the cards for me?’ Because time passed and I found myself falling more in love with the music…then some things happened in my personal life that I needed to get out of my system, so it was about that-evolving, not making plans so much as knowing I needed to.”

Whether it’s the brooding ballad of falling apart and self discovery in the memories (the pure piano-drenched torch “Gardenia,” written with chanteuse Kreviazuk), the effervescent guitar buzz of being supported, while expressing one’s own gloriousness (“Slummin’ In Paradise”) or the lanky groove and come hither slink of the all-over-now knowing that bastes “Ladies Choice,” Moore may be on new ground. But she commands because the truth is hers.

“I don’t wanna be clichéd and say, ‘It’s about the work…’,” she admits, addressing the challenge of finding her voice after years of being other people, even when her name was on the CD. “But I can tell you it’s easier to go through [life transitions] when you’re writing about it. You know? It’s easier to live it out there in the music rather than out in public, and these writing sessions all became, um, mini-therapy sessions.”

Leave a Reply

KT TUNSTALL: In the Studio