By: Shayla Lee
If you have ever listened to electro pop or indie playlists on Spotify or Apple Music, chances are you have come across Mothica’s music. Although she is an independent artist, Mothica has surpassed many signed musicians when it comes to Spotify monthly listens, a feat that is no easy task, but is most likely a result of her hard work ethic, beautiful music, and raw talent.
Delicately balancing light and dark, Mothica blends layered productions with her beautiful voice creating music that is equal parts haunting and ethereal. In November, Mothica released her EP ‘Ashes’ which is a compilation of songs created during various parts of her musical journey. From self-reflecting on her intense work ethic in ‘Burnout’ to reflecting on a past relationship in ‘By Now,’ ‘Ashes’ is a beautifully unique look into Mothica’s life.
We chatted about the musician about her EP ‘Ashes, her creative process, and how she juggles the various components of being an independent musician herself.
Let’s start out with a fun one. 😉 I read on your Facebook that being asked Myspace bulletin survey questions is much more fun. So… tacos or pizza and why?
I have to say tacos because I’m lactose intolerant, but every so often I can find an awesome cheese-free version! Kind of takes the pizza out of pizza though…
If you could turn back time and be a musician living in a different decade, what decade would you choose?
Probably the 1930’s or 1980’s. Combined. Wild eyeliner, dyed hair, but crooning bluesy love songs.
To people unfamiliar with your music, how would you describe Mothica to them? Does having a moniker allow you to express yourself as an artist easier than if you didn’t?
It’s hard describing myself to strangers because everyone has a different “box” in their mind to categorize me in. Whether that is comparing me to more popular artists, or assumptions of how I sound based on my personal style. I normally say sad indie pop, or if I’m feeling outgoing, I’ll just play a snippet off of my phone. The moniker allows me to separate myself from my music, but so many people I know still call me Mothica instead of my real name!
Your music blends various genres – electronic, pop, and indie to name a few. Who would you cite as some of your musical influences?
When I first started covering songs, it was Cat Power, Daughter, and Lykke Li. As I’ve gotten into more electronic music, I’ve been inspired by production behind Florence and the Machine, Troye Sivan, and more. My next project is James Bond inspired so we’ll see how that turns out.
What does your creative process look like? Do you have the similar process for each song or does it differ?
I’m constantly collecting song titles and random lyrics into a note called *HIT SONG TITLES* which is partially a joke. I like to write over minimal beats, even just four bass notes, and I’ll try to reference the song titles depending how I’m feeling in that moment. The most common themes are self-reflection, heartbreak, or I’ll-show-you-revenge. Some songs are written over and over throughout months, with the same lyrics until I can get it right. And often, the production is inspired by the lyrics. For example, my song Ashes has a percussion sound that is the flick of a lighter.
Congrats on the release of your EP ‘Ashes!’ How have you evolved as an artist since your first two EPs? How did ‘Ashes’ come together?
Thank you so much! Ashes is the odd child. It’s a collection of songs I wrote in various stages of my musical journey, some songs were written with commercials in mind when I first started doing that on the side for money. I was sick of writing sad songs, and tried to write something more upbeat. I tried out a jazzy song in ¾, and a stompy rock song. I wrote a ballad. It was definitely a time of experimentation. Now I’m going back to my roots a bit on my next project, and I always say my favorite songs of mine are the unreleased ones! Once they’re out in the world, it’s like pulling teeth to listen to them.
One of my favorite tracks from the EP is ‘Burnout.’ The lyrics feel like they’re my life. I read that ‘Burnout’ was the last song you wrote for the EP when you felt like your creativity was gone. How were you able to push through and create such a killer track?
This one came so naturally. It was one of those moments where I just mumble sang the lyrics and they suddenly made so much sense. “I don’t want to burn out so I keep playing with fire….” It’s about my realization of WHY I am so bad to myself, and why it’s hard for me to knock certain habits. It’s like I’m afraid of getting better, because being content with life makes me paranoid that something bad will happen so I purposely put myself in a cycle to feel like I’m in control.
I really love the closing track ‘By Now…’ and the beautiful lyrics – especially “I’m sorry I wasn’t gold enough // shiny for you // with all my edges rough // bound to lose.” You also released a music video for the track. The first half is full of deep red and blue hues, roses, and candles whereas the second half shows a man in gold dancing. Can you tell us more about this song and the inspiration behind the music video?
This song I nearly didn’t put out, but I’m so glad I did. I wrote it about an ex boyfriend from several years ago, but it was one of those relationships that still haunts me. I still thought about him and where he was, and it started with the idea of “by now, you’re probably with someone else…” and how much that hurts even after all this time. I considered that person to be my first love. In the music video, there’s a few easter eggs about him including a blurred photo of him and a CD case showing the cover art of the song we released together. Twitter got a hold of that, and his fans (since he’s in a popular music group) tore me to shreds over it. It’s so bizarre having a group of people attack you just to defend someone they’ve never met. It’s not a mean song in any way, if anything, it’s a bit pathetic but I’m not afraid of putting my feelings out there if they’re true. The dancer was covered in gold to reference the lyrics about not feeling good enough for this person, since I attribute my mental health being one of the reasons things didn’t work out.
Mental health is something very important to us at Femme Riot and we love hearing about how others maintain balance in their lives. Being a busy musician, what practices do you implement into your life to insure your health and well-being is taken care of?
Oh you know, I run like twice a month…. Just kidding, I do love to talk about this but I will say I’m the last person anyone should ask advice from. I’ve been hospitalized multiple times for self harm and a very near suicide attempt when I was fifteen. I think because I’ve been so low, it has inspired me to put myself out there more. This may sound weird, but putting yourself out into the world is incredibly embarrassing, but because I’ve had these dark pits of depression, I realize that nothing matters and I should just DO IT FOR ME. It’s this weird philosophy of “nothing matters so do everything you’ve always wanted.” You never know what could happen. So many musicians I work with, I met via email or they talked to my at one of my shows. Life can feel magical at times, and that’s why I keep going.
Life can feel magical at times, and that’s why I keep going.
Being an independent musician, have you experienced a lot of challenges or has being independent helped you? What advice would you give to other young musicians starting out?
Oh boy! Yes, it’s incredibly bizarre having listeners on Spotify comparable to signed recording artists, but not being considered “legit” in the industry. For example, I don’t have a booking agent but I am in contact with venues personally. So many artists in my niche genre have teams of graphic designers, ghost songwriters, social media managers, photographers, videographers, stylists, makeup artists, and I’m doing it all myself which is daunting at times.
My advice is to not wait for anyone to come “discover you” as if you’re some incredible hidden talent in a castle, you’re going to have to put yourself out there, in front of strangers in person and online. You can’t have an ego about it. You’re going to email venues and blogs and other musicians, by being clever and nice without just asking for favors. Every connection I’ve made, I’ve done the research of the person I’m talking to so that I know if I can be funny or business polite or ask them about personal things going on in their life. It’s a lot of work, and you realize that being a musician isn’t just about making music…. It’s about branding yourself in a way that doesn’t dehumanize your work.
It’s a lot of work, and you realize that being a musician isn’t just about making music…. It’s about branding yourself in a way that doesn’t dehumanize your work.
What do you have in the works for 2019?
I’m releasing some AMAZING remixes to Ashes in the new year that honestly might be better than the originals. Following that, my next EP which I’m super excited about. I already have the title picked out but I won’t announce it just yet in case it changes. I’ve already written ten songs or so to pick from, and cannot wait because I think it’s more “me” than anything else I’ve done. Beyond that, a few more music videos, more merch, and hopefully I can get a tour booked in the spring or summer!
Anything we haven’t asked that you want to add?
I guess I’ll add a big thank you to anyone taking the time to read this and to YOU, Femme Riot, for asking me thoughtful and interesting questions! I appreciate it so much. ❤