Moses Andrews III’s debut EP Exodus is a collection of poignant and unique arrangements that blend genre in interesting and wild compositions. From the opening neo-soul of “Chill” to the Pat Metheny prog-jazz of “Journey Through My Mind”, the EP has a little bit of something for anyone interested in the last 70 years of American music. And it’s no small wonder: Moses is a multi-instrumentalist and has been/is in bands like Passing Worth, Autocorrect, Miles to Go, Skeleton, Cassy Renee, and Nepotism. Whoa!
At the center of Exodus, “What’s Next” is a Blues stomp about the flawed American dream. Moses implores “they’re still mowing down the people / stealing lives for petty dollars / when this land was stolen wrongfully/ when will we stand and break this cycle?” above the steady boom-rattle call to arms. Moses joined me for an insightful discussion about what it means to be a writer in 2017, Black Lives Matter, and community.
Pick up a copy of Exodus here.
SC: Unlike other tracks on this album—like “Don’t Forget” or “Journey Through My Mind”—“What’s Next” is stripped down to foot stomps, handclaps and your vocal line. Can you tell me a little about why you chose that approach for this song?
MA: "What's Next" is stripped down to vocals, foot stomps, and chains for many reasons. I'm greatly inspired by old "Negro Spirituals" and slave songs, so the chains and foot stomps are what I went with. When you look at everything going on right now, especially our current political climate, we feel like we're falling back into the dark moments and stories of yesteryear. Minorities feel like they have no reason to live because of so many unarmed people dying for no good reason. We're working while feeling like we're going nowhere. We have the poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer. With so many things going on, there are so many things holding us back. Things like media and social media are the chains binding us. I've never noticed that the chains sound like handclaps, but that is a message in itself: Finding joy in all of the negative experiences, much like slaves did when they still had church and rejoiced, while being bound. They somehow knew a change was coming even when nothing around them seemed to be getting better. This song is stripped down because sometimes when we make music, we want to add so many levels of depth to it. I wanted the message to be heard over everything else.
the Government, War, and everything else leaving the world in ruin. Think of The Wailers and Bob Marley with "Get Up Stand Up". Think about the Isley Brothers with "Fight The Power" or "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye. Check out Nepotism's latest album called "The Free Lunch Program" and you'll hear it packed with songs about the government and the media. Now we're seeing the POLICE FORCE being brought into politics. It was happening years ago, but I think people are starting to speak up about it. Now, in response to "BLACK LIVES MATTER", Republicans and their supporters respond with "BLUE LIVES MATTER!" Really? Sure, a life is a life, but now you're putting a job above a whole race of PEOPLE! Yes, there is, without a doubt, a relationship between music and politics.
SC: What was your writing process like for “What’s Next”?
MA: My writing process was simple: Sit on couch, Look at news, Think, Cry, Think, Set up Pro Tools to record from my computer mic, Set click track, and Just sing whatever comes out. "What's Next" was my version of freestyling, so I had to hurry and write it down just to know exactly what I wanted to change in certain phrases. Then, everything else came after. The very first take of it sounded like it was on one of those old radios, so it was tempting to keep it that way, but I chose not to. Instead, I tried to replicate the same effect, so hopefully that came through.
SC: How often do you write? Do you keep a schedule? Or do you wait to be inspired?
MA: I write pretty much once or twice a week. I'm always coming up with new ideas for songs, but I don't actually lay anything down until maybe a month later. By then, I've been sitting on a particular piece for a while and it's really starting to bloom. So, do I wait to be inspired? Yes, but I also keep a bit of a not-so-strict schedule.
SC: How does your community influence you as a songwriter?
MA: How does my community influence me as a songwriter? Hmm. I've never really thought about that. Well, my community absolutely influences me as a songwriter. I'm a believer of the thought of your environment and surroundings influencing how you grow or how you act. I surround myself with people who are very confident and competent in what they do, so I always hope that rubs off on me! The song "Don't Forget" was written when I was sharing a house with a fellow songwriter Alex Davis. If you know him and you listen to the song, you'll definitely hear it. The love of my life inspired me to write the song "You Are My Heart". If you have friends who put you onto a certain artist or genre of music, soon, you're going to want to write something similar. The people and things close to me always play a part in my songwriting and I wouldn't have it any other way.
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