I met up with Monica Moser to talk about her new album Your Absense, A Closeness in a favorite Nashville coffee shop. We strategically planned out meeting at that spot so that we could sample their new butter beer as any dedicate Harry Potter fans would. Moser, a Texas native, studied songwriting at Belmont University in Nashville. She’s released several singles in the last couple years however it’s been three years since she last put out a full project. With the new release out today, it is clear Moser spent the last three years honing in on a cohesive sonic aesthetic sure to crack even the coldest of souls into feeling something when they press play. Once Monica and I got the butter beer taste testing out of the way we dove into chatting about Monica’s road to Nashville and embracing her love for songwriting.
How did you get started in music?
Monica: I think my first love was theater. I grew up acting in plays and musicals. Then, I got my first guitar when I was 10 and started taking lessons. When I was 12 or 13 and in the middle school angsty era I started writing. They weren’t very structured and didn’t make any sense [laughs]. I didn’t share it with anybody and was really private about it.
The first time I ever shared a song was at a coffee house in high school and I remember I didn’t like how it felt. But then my oldest best friend was diagnosed with stage four cancer at the end of sophomore year. That obviously rocked my world and one of the ways I dealt with it was writing about it. Side note: she made a miraculous recovery and thank God is still with us to this day. But at the time I was playing around with a song about everything on the piano and my mom really pushed me to share it. Knowing it was for someone else made it easier. I almost felt selfish keeping it to myself. I played the song for my entire high school. After that it gave me the confidence to share a little more and more every time.
It’s been a couple years between your projects. What did taking that time mean to you?
Monica: When I got out of school, as I think we all feel, the post-grad ride out is confusing and overwhelming. You feel all these contradictory things in general. Then with music a lot of people say you need to focus in on one sound and make sure your branding is clean. I’ve always been drawn to a lot of different things and that’s confusing. The last singles I put out are all really different. Now, I feel like it’s more acceptable to be a bunch of different genres as long as it’s all cohesive. I was wanting to combine what was working and I think the people I recorded with have helped me find that.
What was the inspiration behind this project?
Monica: So I love the music of Jack Antonoff of Bleachers. I went to his concert and he talked about the way he wants his music to be heard and it’s exactly how I want mine to be heard…where the lyrics are pretty sad and emotive but the way it makes you feel is hopeful. This project is pretty personal and sad but also the way it progresses goes from a negative view of something at the start to being hopeful and more objective at the finish. I would see it as a six-part process of letting somebody go. But it’s not just about one person. It’s letting go of past hurts and abandonment.
Ten years from now what kind of artist do you see yourself being?
Monica: Ideally I think it would be amazing if I could be writing for bigger people in worship or pop while continuing my artist career, going on a tour every so often. I love performing and there’s nothing that can match that but I think if I did it all the time I wouldn’t love it. Writing is my main thing.
Every artist is influenced and inspired by dozens of other artists throughout the span of their career. With that said, if you were to pick your musical parents who would they be?
Monica: My musical father would be John Forman from Switchfoot. I think he’s one of the best songwriters. His music is so hard to write and it shouldn’t make sense in the mainstream but it does which I think is amazing. My musical mother would be Sara Bareilles. She’s my everything. Then my grandparents, on my mother’s side, [laughs] would be Joni Mitchell and John Lennon.
Monica’s album makes you want to curl up with a cup of coffee, light a candle and dive into fall. Her divine vocals feel like wrapping your coziest blanket around you. I can guarantee you’ll want to have this project on repeat after listening.