Interview: Allie Moss – From Desk Job to Singer-Songwriter
Jersey Shore singer-songwriter Allie Moss talks to Line Hilton about her career to date, BT Infinity and Pretty Little Liars…
iSing: Why do you sing?
Allie Moss: I love music. I love singing. I have a song called Why Sing? a And, it is about that. Like, why do we as people sing? I think I sing because it lifts me up. I sing when I am sad. I sing when I am happy. And, you know it brings me happy.
iSing: Can you give us a brief outline on your career so far?
AM: I used to work in insurance. And, I had dreams of being a singer and a songwriter. But, really more than anything I just wanted to be in music. I didn’t really know what that looked like in terms of a career.
But, my main goal was to be the solo front person or the front person in a band. And, I took baby steps and I started studying with Wendy Parr in Manhattan. Also, I took baby steps away from my other job,. As I decided to learn to teach.
I kind of transitioned originally from working a day job to teaching voice, while going to open mic nights in Manhattan like three or four times a week. KAnd, kind of getting my feet wet with that. Along the way I met a woman named Ingrid Michaelson, and we were peers. You know we played some shows together and then she asked me to replace a person in her band and sing back-up and very shortly after that she asked me to start touring with her. So, I had the big choice of putting my own thing aside to gain this experience. And I thought, why not you know?
I tour managed for like the first two years. Then I still taught when I was home for a bunch of years. Let’s say my career has a lot of legs!
iSing: How did your song come to be on the UK’s BT infinity advert?
AM: I wish there was like something I did, but it was literally by luck or the right place at the right time. I was on tour with Ingrid and somebody messaged me on Facebook. But I didn’t think it was real so I ignored it. I thought that it was spam and then they found my e-mail address through my website. They wanted my song but they had to get approval and all of that.
Some youngster in an advertising office had heard the song and they suggested it. The next thing I knew it was the next week and once we said ‘yes’ then it was a new thing. And, it was brilliant.
BT INFINITY ADVERT
iSing: How did that opportunity impact your career?
AM: I was able to do four tours in the UK; some opening shows, some festivals and other stuff. It allowed me to release a full length record and pay for all of that. It was a brilliant time, I like to meet so many fans. One remarkable gig memory is from a gig in Glasgow. I had a terrible time getting there from London. I bought myself a first class ticket and it was going to be a luxurious, easy train ride, but it took 10 hours and I ended up in a £300 hotel room in Edinburgh instead of Glasgow. I didn’t even make it there that night! When I finally got to the gig, it was in this little place – a basement.
I expected it to be dark but there was about 100 to 150 people there and as soon as I started playing Corner, they all sang.
iSing: So, aside from Corner do have any other songs licensed to TV or film?
AM: Yes, I have been lucky enough to have a few songs in Pretty Little Liars, Bones and Parenthood. Parenthood became one of my favourite TV shows; I only started watching it because they used my song!
I have had some independent films and most recently I did a cover of an Imogene Heap song called Wait It Out. This featured in Zach Braff’s second film called Wish I Was Here. So, that was pretty exciting.
iSing: There is something that people can learn about that process of getting a song. How So, how does your music get out therelicensed?
AM: I got connected to a company called, Secret Road in Los Angeles. There are several companies that do this in New York, LA and London. They are essentially licensing companies that pitch your music to film and TB and so, you have to sign to give a percentage to them. But, then you don’t have to deal with going to the advertisers directly. And, they rally on your behalf.
Sometimes ideas are pitched to me so I can write for something, or write for artists. So, that is something that I am going into as well. But, I feel very lucky to be on their roster because they have a lot of good artists.
iSing: Do you get paid?
AM: Yes, you get paid a lump sum if it’s placed on TV or in a film. The same thing happened with the BT ad. I got paid one lump sum, but then I also got royalties for a good year plus, because it took time to like trickle and that was a very wonderful year.
iSing: As well as singing and song writing, do you play any instruments?
AM: Yes. My main instrument is guitar, rhythm guitar. I play acoustic and electric. But, I also play ukulele and bass guitar. I have played on a couple of Ingrid’s tours too. I play piano enough to write and when we are playing a few songs on stage, it helps if someone teaches me the parts and scales and stuff.
iSing: DAnd, does that have any impact on your writing?
AM: Definitely. I mean I like to try to write without an instrument in hand occasionally, but I think the more I learn the more I put in, the more interesting things will come out.
iSing: So, you work for Indie Pop Singer, Ingrid Michaelson, as a guitarist and backing singer. And, you have also worked as her tour manager. How has this experience helped with your career?
AM: In many ways. First, and foremost the experience itself of performing with her has taken me around the world. I have learned from her because she is an excellent entertainer.
Just musically I have grown, and my comfort on stage has grown.
iSing: What kind of things did you learn with regard to the business side?
AM: Well, Ingrid still owns her own masters, and has her own label. She partners with other people so she is not completely independent. But, I just saw someone who made smart decisions, who is frugal, whereas when you first start out on tour you can waste a lot of money in places you are never going to get it back. So, when I toured for myself I knew the same things and how to save money.
iSing: What do you think the benefits and disadvantages are of being in the music industry today?
AM: The benefits, I just feel lucky to be working. I think the disadvantages that the level of success you are at when you have made it is lower I think. I have a lot of friends who are you know New York and New Jersey, and who are very talented, and not all of them have music as their only job. I think in my situation I just do more than one thing to be successful at it.
iSing: Are there any advantages?
AM: I think the advantages are that if you are unknown you have more of a chance of becoming known through the internet and the various roots of that of YouTube and Vine, TV and of someone hearing your song and then passing it along.
I heard Lorde’s EP because someone I know who is from New Zealand tweeted about it.
iSing: Is there anything that you wish you would have known about the industry before you started?
AM: I think when I was way, way younger I wish I had put more emphasis or been told to put more emphasis on song writing and craft. I always had a nice voice so I could kind of sing terrible songs, and people would still kind of like it.
And, I think especially being an independent artist being able to write your own songs, being able to write well is a huge commodity. Know what you are signing. Don’t just blindly trust. Go with your gut.
iSing: Do you have any advice that you would give up and coming singers, songwriters with regard to the career, taking a career in this sort of climate?
AM: I mean when people ask me, my biggest point of advice is to work on their craft. To work on their voice. To work on their instrumentation, work on writing songs before they promote themselves. Social media is a huge advantage.
Book small shows where you live, and get better at performing, and don’t be afraid to ask for help, or to write with somebody you admire because most likely they will want to write with you.
I feel like one of the strengths that I have is just being diligent. I have learned this from my teacher Wendy Parr. She told me it was less about practicing for one hour, once a week and more about practicing a little bit every day. It’s the frequency and being consistent. I have to say, as a traveling, touring musician that is what keeps my voice in check. Sometimes I warm up in the shower; you have to seek and find privacy to warm up your voice. So just be healthy, eat a balanced diet and get some sleep.
iSing: So, what is next for Allie Moss?
AM: I am working on another record. I am still into making records. Although, there is an advantage to releasing songs singly now I think. So, I am writing for that, I have some upcoming writing trips and I have more touring with Ingrid.
iSing: Where are you going?
AM: We have a confirmed tour in Australia, and then we will be doing more US touring throughout the year, but it has not been announced yet.
CORNER – ALLIE MOSS (LIVE)