HT: Part Two: What’s your opinion on what’s happening in Egypt?
NM: It’s super exciting and amazing to watch. I wish I knew more. I guess everyone does… at least about what’s going to come out of it. They cleaned the slate and it will be interesting to continue watching it and see how the void is filled. It’s an amazing display, a beautiful thing, whenever people come together like that, it’s inspiring.
HT: Now the real analytical exercise. Any correlation or connection between Egypt and Jam Cruise?
NM: I guess the obvious is the power of the collective experience and the energy that can be created when people get together and focus on a like-minded cause. Although one is a huge party and the other is a revolution.
HT: If you look at the streets of Cairo right now it looks like a huge party.
NM: It really does.
HT: Would you like to perform in that type of environment?
NM: No… I guess if it were an American version of revolution I would hope to be singing.
HT: That ties into the music you write. I listened to your last few albums this past week and it seems there’s a consistent theme in your music about a sense of individualism and perseverance whether you talk about employment or suicide. Is there a general theme to your music?
NM: I guess I’m the general theme to my music. It’s very much personal expression and cathartic. Personally, myself would be the thread. I’m not a topical writer and don’t write a lot of fiction. It all comes from a need in me that’s been consistent. I even try sometimes to break out of the places and write something more outside of myself but I’m not great at that. It seems to be the thing I can do is take what I’m feeling and what I need and get it through the music.
HT: How does Dear Puppeteer differ from Folk Singer or In His Own Words? Which based on what you said is asking how are you different?
NM: Well I guess one thing, musically speaking, that’s huge departure is my style of playing over the past two years. I’ve been getting acrylic nails. I go to my lady every 2-½ weeks to get my nails refurbished. There’s a whole style of playing that’s evolving. On Folk Singer I used finger picks but since then I’ve settled into these nails and has formed my music and the songs so much and the way they come out is so influenced by this style of guitar playing. I get so much joy of it.
HT: To paint a picture for the readers is that just the right hand?
NM: Just three nails on the right hand. I just had an injury and broke the thumbnail so now I’m using two.
HT: What strikes me about your music is when you talk about any topic; it’s all very literal. Anyone can connect to it. Is that intentional to make your music accessible or is that just how you write comfortably?
NM: That’s a good question. I guess it definitely comes from what I’ve always enjoyed myself, when it comes to songs or poetry. I like stuff that resonates and makes sense and is in plain English. That’s a tough one because I also try… if there’s any effort I make it’s to always try to have things mean as many things as possible and be subtle with words so there’s more for people to grab on to.
HT: Is it more important to you that the music is accessible than that it’s expressed properly?
NM: It’s extremely important to me that it’s accessible. Its one of the things that drives me crazy about music these days is that it’s inaccessible. There’s so much music being made that I don’t get. It doesn’t hit me and I don’t know what they’re talking about, versus a Hank Williams or one of my heroes. I don’t know why things have to be so confusing.
HT: Who’s confusing you?
NM: Almost all of it [laughs]. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. I hate to admit that and I hate to think that’s what’s going on but it’s rare these days for music to touch me very deeply. It happens, but it seems like back in the day the accessibility was more important than it is these days and these days there are more niches and smaller cliques and I don’t quite… I’ve never talked about that in an interview before so I don’t have anything prepackaged to say about that.
HT: This might seem left field but do you listen to hip-hop? Rappers can be some of the most literal lyricists out there.
NM: I think there’s a lot of truth to that and I see that and so respect… especially in young people, with the culture of spontaneous rhymes. I respect that it’s probably the closest form to what I’m all about. On the other hand I sort of missed the boat. With my age and what I was learning when that was coming around, I have deep respect for it but I don’t have much use for that vibe in my days.
HT: Do you think the ugliness of our political climate is seeping into the musical conversation? They say art imitates life and the zeitgeist right now is ugly.
NM: I think a lot of people are sitting on their hands these days. This disgustingness is creating a disconnect and apathy which is sort of a shame. It’s interesting because we have the two puppets, one on each hand, fighting back and forth about stuff that doesn’t really matter… on the other hand I think a lot of the ugliness is dying down even though I know it’s probably not. I think I see it tempering though which is nice
HT: Ever feel it’s superficial? It’s ugly because we’re told it’s ugly?
NM: I think it’s extremely superficial bullshit. In terms of the actual issues crashing towards us, we don’t talk about the things that actually matter, nor do we know how. It’s such a complicated system that keeps us all going. It’s extremely overwhelming, and there’s no movement to grab onto, in a bigger sense, but I think in small towns, in each community, people are finding ways to step up.
HT: If you’re elected representatives were reading this, what issue would you tell them were important to Nathan Moore?
HT: Sustainability is the big one. Things are unsustainable and if something is unsustainable, that word should be in all capitals
HT: Are you talking about our economy? Our energy system? Our food source?
NM: It’s all tied in together to oil.
HT: To shift the convo a bit, how does your music correlate to your magic?
NM: Another good question
HT: You clearly love the two
NM: I do love the two
HT: What do they share that you dig about both of them? Or are they different things you just enjoy?
NM: I don’t think they’re totally different things. I really love… when I can incorporate it well into a show; it’s some of my favorite moments. I’ve been passing out kazoo’s with my logo on them and all these things, it runs the risk of being silly and campy, but it also has the potential that has been accomplished so many times of genuinely being a beautiful thing that feeds into itself.
If I can create a moment with magic that creates an actual moment of astonishment even if it’s just a moment, it lets the light in and can go from actual astonishment to a heartfelt song. It’s all about opening, opening things up. When they feed into each other like that, I feel almost proud. When I first started incorporating magic into the shows, and I’ve been doing magic longer than I’ve been writing songs because I started when I was eight as a hobby. But when is started combining the two a lot of close friends told me to stop it because I was belittling the fact that I am a serious songwriter. It was awkward for a few years, but something in me kept going for it, and then having a few experiences where it really worked and felt genuine… I like the idea that I could be the worlds first slight of hand musician. I can’t think of anyone in the folk tradition that has been that so when I first thought of it like that I got really excited. I like the idea of coming up with something new. It’s exciting.
HT: I’ve seen you do some cool tricks live, but being that first ever slight of hand musician, how do you translate that into the studio and onto an album for someone listening to a Nathan Moore record.
NM: I’ve definitely spent time thinking about the musical equivalent of an illusion and what that would be. I don’t think I’ve specifically done that but maybe on some other level it’s in there, because I think like that. Maybe it’s in the way I sing a line. I don’t even know. It could be subtler.
HT: I’m sure you’d like to support you’re new album but is there time for Surprise Me Mr. Davis in 2011.
NM: Surprise Me Mr. Davis will never not be. Even if we’re not playing shows we still exist as friends and collaborators and in conversations. We’ve got some gigs and we’re working on a new record. We’re always cooking something up. I think it just confuses people because we don’t have that breaking aspiration.
HT: While I’ve got you on the phone is there anything else you’d want the readers to know that I didn’t bring up?
NM: I’m really proud of Dear Puppeteer. I think I’m getting closer and closer… I love the feeling I’m growing and evolving. I don’t think I’d still have as much spirit and excitement in me if that wasn’t true and that’s really evident in there. I’ve got the next record almost written in my head. Things are pretty awesome at the moment. I feel blessed to be a folk singer in 2011 traveling around singing songs, it’s a pretty amazing things. All the people that give me the gift of my ears, I am forever indebted to them because I know in this day and age with our attention spans it’s hard to give yourself over, but people do that night after night and I cannot do that without them.
HT: So 2011 is going to be a big year for Nathan Moore?
NM: It feels like that to me.
You can check out Nathan’s alter ego http://www.percyboyd.com/ for some awesome streams of his songs. I don’t think he updates the site much anymore but it’s still a huge resource for Nathan fans.
seriously peeps, nathan moore is like this generation’s kris kristofferson only this generation hasn’t figured it out yet 😉 don’t sleep on dear puppeteer. best record i’ve bought this year!!!