OVER in Los Angeles; the Indie/Dream-Pop duo Moxi…
are creating love and buzz from their music. Anna and Andy Toy provide ethereal vocals and moody keys (respectively) and source from a range of sounds and genres – including cinematic grandeur, the 1980s’ New Wave movement and dark threads. It is that darkness and sense of reflection that is brought up in the interview. I ask the duo – Anna fields most of the responses – how they got together and what they can tell me about their new single, Paclew. I find out about their E.P., Figures Bathed in Light, and why they chose to write the songs in a cabin out in Big Bear.
They explain some of the inspiration and tales that go into the E.P.; where they will be performing in the coming weeks and whether there’s any advice they would give to newcomer songwriters.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
We are great!
Our week has been really fun because we released our new single, Paclew, last week - and we've continued to get so much love on it.
It's really exciting.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
We are Anna and Andy Toy of Moxi.
Moxi is a Dream-Pop duo from Los Angeles. We write dreamy music about all sorts of weird things.
We love our cat-child Lewis the most and spend our free time drinking wine, cooking at home; watching horror movies and listening to True Crime podcasts.
Paclew is the new single. How did the song come together and what is the idea behind it?
Andy writes all the tracks for Moxi and he had written this track and titled it Paclew (after our cat) - sort of as a place-holder name but we never changed it. While the song was partially inspired by the love for our cat, Mr. Lewis; I (Anna) wrote the lyrics about the depressed dark and twisty state my mind loves to go to way too often.
The song is about overcoming that and rising above it.
It is taken from the upcoming E.P., Figures Bathed in Light. What kind of themes and songs can we expect from the E.P.?
This E.P. is, probably, our most cohesively-themed E.P. yet.
We wrote all of the songs on a writing retreat we took in Big Bear, CA last year. We rented a cabin in the middle of nowhere for a few days: holed ourselves up in it with a ton of wine and wrote what is now the Figures Bathed in Light E.P.
We wanted to explore themes of light vs. dark; good and evil, spirituality; the supernatural. All of this probably sounds kind of out-there - but we've both always been fascinated by things we can't explain.
A lot of the songs on the E.P. are also written about personal life events - navigating our way through the ups and downs of life.
Am I right in thinking the title track stemmed from a near-fatal car crash? How did a life-threatening situation like that lead to a moment of musical brilliance?
Yes, you are right!
We were involved in a terrible car crash a few years ago in which we both walked away with only a few scratches. It was a terrifying experience and we both felt like we survived for a reason.
Anna: I remember getting home that night and crying myself to sleep because I just felt like we had been so close to death - and I didn't really know how to process it. I always process my feelings by writing music - so we went pretty full force into creating as much art as we could after that. We wrote and recorded the demo. for Figures Bathed in Light a few weeks later.
Andy: We both felt like we were so close to death and that nearness became a catalyst for creativity for me. I wanted to try to recreate that emotion through music.
It was produced by Emmy Award-winning songwriter Bobby Hartry; Bryan Cook mixed. What was it like working with those kinds of people? Did they add a lot to the recording process?
We absolutely LOVE working with both of these talented guys. They both play such a big part in Moxi.
Anna: We met Bryan at a backyard house show we played five-or-so years ago. I remember talking to him after the show and I knew instantly we were kindred spirits. He's a true artist in the way he approaches mixing and I love the way he thinks outside the box. It's so fun to give him a song and see the way he transforms it through the mix.
Andy: Bobby is a creative genius and we love working with him. He remains our connection with reality when we get inside our heads too much. I remember sending him five versions of the same song one afternoon - because I couldn't decide what direction to take the song in. Haha!
Is it true a lot of the E.P. came together in a desolate, remote cabin in Big Bear? What was the reason behind going up there? Was it easy to disconnect from real life, in a sense, and isolate yourselves?
Yes, this is all true.
Almost all the songs on the E.P. were written on this weekend getaway to Big Bear. We'd been feeling creative but wanted a change of scenery and pace to get us into the right headspace for writing. We had so much fun. We rented the cutest cabin, brought a ton of wine; cooked veggie lasagna and didn't leave the house for three days. We wrote all day and would stay up late drinking Chartreuse and working out lyrics.
For us, writing is the fun part and it comes pretty naturally. It's how we process things so holing up in a cabin for three days to write music was a little slice of Heaven to us.
What did you pick up from that environment that you wouldn’t if you were based in a city?
Well, for one, we didn't have any of the normal distractions we would have had if we were home in the city. I also love cold weather, snow and forests. I (Anna) grew up in Colorado - which L.A. is nothing like - so getting away and being somewhere cold always refreshes and inspires me.
We also took this trip knowing we wanted to write several songs - so just having focus and zero distractions really goes a long way.
Anna and Andy. Can you tell me how you both got together and started playing music? Was it an instant and easy bond?
Anna: I used to write and play Folk music as a solo artist. Andy was hired to play on one of my E.P.s so we met in the studio. I was going through the world’s worst breakup at the time and he always jokes that when he met me he was like: "Who is that depressed girl in the corner?”
He started playing live with me and we became fast friends. We started recording covers at his house on the weekend for fun and everything always felt so easy and right together, creatively. I got a call to write a song for a housing development commercial and called Andy to see if he'd want to help me...
He sent over a track that afternoon and I scribbled lyrics on my drive to his house and, about three hours later, we had written the song, In my Dreams - which would later become the title-track to Moxi's first E.P.
After we wrote our first song together, we knew we had something special. Moxi is very much an equal effort on both of our parts - and I don't think either of us would have made music like this if we hadn't found each other.
So, I guess we were destined.
So far, you have had music played on T.V. and shared the stage with big names; earned an impressive amount of streaming figures on Spotify. Is there a memory that stands out for each of you?
Honestly; all of it has been so fun and there’s so many things that stand out for me. Some favorites would be opening for Gungor at the El Rey. That venue is just magical and the sound is insane in there. I think most of my favorite memories, thus far, have happened this last year with this project. We just filmed our first full-fledged ‘big kid’ music video and I'm so excited about it.
We got to create and film it with two of our best friends - who just happen to be two of the most-talented video guys out there. I've been given so much creative freedom with this project and it's been so fun this year to dream up crazy ideas in my head - and then see them come to life.
Do you have any tour dates approaching? Where can we come and see you play?
We have several local shows: August 19th - Echo Park Rising, Echo Park CA; September 8th - Holiday in Costa Mesa, CA; September 28th - The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa, CA.
MORE SHOWS COMING!
Any plans regards coming to the U.K.?
Oh, we would absolutely LOVE to come to the U.K. Someone reading this should bring us or invite us! Haha.
IN THIS PHOTO: Sofi Tukker/PHOTO CREDIT : @luismoraphoto
If you had to select the one album that means most to you; which would it be and why?
Anna: Ryan Adams - Demolition
I've listened to that record more than any album, probably, and it's one of those records that can speak to you in so many different ways. I think Ryan Adams is an absolute genius.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Always be willing to learn and to put the hard work in.
We've learned so much since we first started and now, more than ever, I understand that keeping an open mind and being willing to learn and try new things is so key.
Don't be afraid to take the long-road because there’s so much to be learned from that. I'd also let young female artists know that we are all on our own journey and don't compare yourself to other people - because it's not going to do anything to help push you forward.
Creating art is a daring and brave thing to do - so we have to stick together and encourage one another on our own individual paths.