Alison Moyet On Her Career & New Album ‘Other’
Prolific singer and songwriter Alison Moyet has gone through many changes throughout her career. She first began as one half of the electronica group Yazoo – known to Americans as ‘Yaz’ – but pursued a solo career after the duo released their second album. She has since released eight solo albums – her most recent and ninth album, Other, will be released on June 17.
Moyet recently sat down with uInterview to discuss her career, her musical style, and her new album and tour.
Moyet’s music, since her early days in Yaz, has mostly always been rooted in electronica. Other has been regarded as a call back to those roots, although Moyet doesn’t completely agree.
“I call it prog rock, although, I’ve been told not to,” Moyet told uInterview exclusively. “That’s kind of what it is to me. It’s an album that’s based on its lyricism, its poetry, and the songs are cut to fit the words as opposed to the words being cut to fit the songs.”
But what really sets Other apart from Moyet’s previous albums is its inspiration.
The two-time BRIT Award winner and Grammy nominee spent most of her career writing her music from a place of physical isolation. But after a move several years ago, Moyet now lives in Brighton, a town in the south of England, where she is surrounded by people from all walks of life.
“I used to live a bit into the country where I was quite isolated … I spent many years of my life feeling observed,” said Moyet.
And then she moved. “Instead of living in this big house with a big sweeping drive, I bought myself a terrace and I walk everywhere, I think I’ve driven twice in two years, and consequently I observe.”
“It’s about watching. This town is so brilliantly interesting, so much diversity, young people and old people, and different sexualities and different religions – a real melting pot of otherness, which appeals to me.”
With a new perspective, Moyet has decided to focus her music more on the poetry and less on her big, towering voice, the one that first catapulted her to prominence. While her voice has become softer, her words have become louder.
Said Moyet, “It’s what you leave out, as much as what you put in.”
For fans that worry that Moyet has traveled in a direction that leaves out the Yaz era, they need not worry any longer. The new tour, coming to the US in September, will feature an electronic set, allowing the singer to reach back into the Yaz discography.
And the live set, Moyet believes, will not disappoint.
“There is a lot of energy, it’s quite irreverent. I’m always in the moment, I’m always there with it, and I love connecting with the audience,” she said.
“I feel very good about my live work, I think you should come!”
I call it prog-rock although I've been told not to, really. That's kind of what it is to me. It's an album that's based on its lyricism, its poetry, and the songs are cut to fit the words as opposed to the words being cut to fit the songs, as normally happens.
I tend not to keep favorites in anything. It's, like, my favorite is whatever I'm working on in that particular point in time. I like to participate but once it's done I'm not a great consumer of my own things.
I co-write them all but all the lyrics are mine. The majority of the material, as with 'The Minutes', was written between me and Guy Sigsworth. How that works is, Guy would send me over a very basic track which I won’t listen to until I've gone in to record. I go straight into record, the minute it comes on I start improvising to the point where I don't even know what the next chord change is. This way, I think you end up with a melody that's more instinctive as opposed to designed. And then I write the words to that, that's usually what happens. Or I write the words and it goes the other way around. But yeah, all of these words are mine on this album.
Well, I'm less nervous so consequentially my vibrato is not as fast. I wouldn't exactly call it nervous but there's kind of a heightened state of emergency. I felt everything was more pressing, I don't know what it was. But yeah, your voice changes, sometimes because of your physicality and sometimes because you make different choices about it. It's come to the point where, I used to sing really, really big, and now it’s become so ubiquitous, big singing, that I've stopped and gone the other way and stopped singing really big.
The songs that I've been writing over the past few years have been far more about the poetry than the, sort of, grand-standing over a voice. I just think that just because you can sing big doesn't mean you should do it always. It's what you leave out, as much as what you put in.
My life has changed, really, quite radically in the last five years. I used to live a bit into the country where I was quite isolated. What happened there was I spent many years of my life feeling observed. My life has changed, I've moved to this place Brighton, which is in the south of England, which is a town of real diversity. Instead of living in this big house with a big sweeping drive, I bought myself a terrace and I walk everywhere, I think I've driven twice in two years, and consequently I observe. So, it's about watching. This town is so brilliantly interesting, so much diversity, young people and old people, and different sexualities and different religions – a real melting pot of other-ness, which appeals to me.
You know, those litigious types. We were called Yazoo and the minute we dropped our first single an American band, who were called Yazoo, sued us for a million, which is kind of quite funny because we had no money at all. So we changed our name to Yaz and then they said that their female singer had always been called Yaz so they sued us for a million and a half instead. Then we got one advance, which was for fifteen hundred dollars and they just took all of that. That's how the name changed.
I go out and I'm part of a three-piece as part of my live set-up. I work with two guys, John Garden and Sean McGhee, and it's an electronica set. So it's programed, and there is also live playing, and obviously also everything I do is completely live. But it's an electronic set which means I am able to revisit a decent amount of Yaz material, as well as some of the things throughout the middle of my career and the last two albums of mine, 'The Minutes' and now 'Other' which are based in electronica. It allows for a more cohesive set. It's difficult for someone like me, whose output has actually been quite diverse, it's come from a lot of different places. It's really difficult to do a live set and not have it sound like some nasty karaoke, it becomes too eccentric and too bonkers. The great thing about electronica is that it can tie in all of those flavors. If you look at those Yaz albums, if you stripped away the electronica you'd see the material in those albums is really diverse, it's really different, but it's that sound that hold it together. Thus, it works for my live material. There is a lot of energy, it's quite irreverent, I'm always in the moment, I'm always there with it, and I love connecting with the audience. I feel very good about my live work, I think you should come!
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