The irony isn’t lost on Elliot Moss: some of his best music is a product of personal struggle or excruciatingly low points in his life. For Moss, a New York musician immersed in music since a child, there seems no better response than to write a song, no matter the circumstances. His latest single, “Magic,” is fit to serve as Moss’s magnum opus. An intensely vulnerable song with a palpable emotional investment is only made more powerful by its context: Moss’s father was diagnosed with cancer and recommended treatment that could result in hearing loss, a devastating blow to the two’s special relationship. His father was a professional audio engineer, and the two owed some of their most prized memories to music. The development understandably shook Moss, a threat to his relationship not only with his father but with music. Fortunately, his father has fully recovered, and more music lies ahead for the both of them.
“Magic” was written as a release of sorts from the heavy emotional burden, accompanied by a stirring music video littered with symbolism, most prominently in the form of an 8 ball. The grueling process of grieving is explored in the video, with somewhat of a victorious resolution found in the song’s dominant guitars and evocative chanting. Moss graciously shared more about the song below, as well as his relationship with past music, memories shared with his father, balancing freedom with intention in his music, and more.
Elliot Moss: Writing "Magic" was more of an instinctual process, a response to everything that was happening at the time. The song then put itself together pretty naturally/quickly. Writing helps me gain some headspace; it can put something that’s out of my control on a sort of timeline that I’m more comfortable with. I feel better having claimed whatever the source is, in a way, and building something from it. The process changes my relationship with whatever I’m dealing with a little bit.
As for the Magic 8 Ball in the video, it's a symbol that reflects a shift in my perspective about life and control. It's easy to fall into a pattern of leaving things to chance, akin to shaking an 8 ball, but I've found that I crave more agency. I want to invest my efforts into areas where I can see growth and change. The seed inside the 8 ball in the video, to me, signifies this idea of actively nurturing something, rather than passively awaiting fate's decision.
Thank you. When I look back at my earlier songs, some resonate with me more than others. The interesting thing is that the tunes which feel more "timeless" were often created during my lowest moments. It's not the most cheerful realization, but it makes me wonder if the moments I try so hard to avoid don't lead to art that endures the best over time.
The louder and bigger the music gets, the more it mirrors a sort of inner chaos. It's my way of battling all the external noise and replacing it with something that I'm creating. There's a bit of a frantic mantra chanting, "It's all in my head," even though I know that's not entirely true.
Playing guitar feels like home to me; it's where I feel most comfortable. I find it easier to let my guard down and be more vulnerable when I'm not musically confined by something like a keyboard. Even if guitar doesn't always sound right for every song, it's still my go-to instrument for writing and coming up with ideas. For “Magic”, it definitely had a place. It’s the only instrument that feels connected to my childhood, and that connection was really important to show here.
Absolutely, there's a whole movie reel of memories. One of the standouts would be when we were setting up for our first big gig at the Ogden Theater in Denver. The thrill of hearing Devin’s drums through a real sound system for the first time, that's something we’ll never forget. Even the hard work of packing up in the snow afterward felt fantastic. We were buzzing for days.
Damian’s ability to simultaneously view a song from a birds-eye perspective while also understanding its core was invaluable. He helped me avoid rabbit holes and kept the songs true to their beginnings. Additionally, Damian has a massive mental library past work, and his experience allowed him to quickly determine if something would work or if it was best to focus our energy elsewhere. He was very sensitive to maintaining perspective and protecting our "clean energy" before we heard something too many times or worked too long on it. When I work alone, I tend to do more fruitless exploring.
I've found that maintaining a small degree of separation between myself and the music I'm creating is really useful. It's within this space that I find the greatest potential for healing and a better understanding of why I’m compelled to write about one thing or another.
If I stay too ground-level and caught up in the immediacy, it can actually make it more challenging to follow a thread all the way to the end. The rawness is important, but there's another layer that comes from taking a step back, like looking through a wide-angle lens. For me, some peripheral detail is what lets people in, too (if it’s pointing back to the right place.)