A Conversation With Dicky Moore
Dicky Moore, English singer/songwriter/guitarist, chatted with me last week. Moore formed the band Scintillate in 1994, who disbanded in 2005, and is currently playing with Scritti Polliti. He is also working on a solo album.
Batface89: Dicky, thank you for talking with me today. The second I heard your music on The Sixty One I was waiting that first second to bump it! Your musical style have a very upbeat, layered, complex, lush feel to them. They make me happy, yet they are not at all sacchariney. How would you describe your sound?
Dicky Moore: Thanks for that very flattering description. I try to be as positive as I can, both in my life and my artistic ende vours, so I'm glad that this comes through in my music. I've tempered the complexity of the music I've made in the past as I've worried about excluding potential listeners, but recently I've been making the music I want to make rather than worrying about what people want to hear, and ironically this seems be more successful in achieving the effect I formerly craved.
Batface89: Your first solo album is coming out soon. On The Sixty One, your Albums area say "Forthcoming Dicky Moo album". What is it called?
Dicky Moore: I haven't decided on the title yet, but the working title is "Transhumanism and the Omega Point". I had the album finished a couple of weeks ago, with 11 tracks, but have now decided to ditch half of them! So expect an astonishingly well refined album in... a few years ;-)
Batface89: I was reading on your website that the album holds a theme of escapism. Can you elaborate on that, and can you talk about your song writing process?
Dicky Moore: When listening to the E.P. released last year I realized that a theme of escapism running through it, ranging through dreams of spiritual liberation, escape from pop-song protocols, freedom by exclusion (on a desert island) and the fantastical story of future revolutionaries colonising a new galaxy. I am constantly trying to find new ways of writing songs, but find the best songs come to me deep from the subconscious, which I can then decorate using conscious processes. The Omega Point, for example came to me in a dream. I then imposed a Bach-style 4 part harmony on the chorus, which was a more conscious and mathematical development.
Batface89: How did you record the album?
Dicky Moore: I've got a very humble studio setup in my flat in Dalston, London, running Pro-Tools on my laptop, and arranging using Finale. I absolutely love the editing and mixing process. Once I've got the sounds in the box - that's when the magic begins.
Batface89: Speaking of magic, we exchanged a couple of emails about consciousness and lucid dreaming (and thank you for that very interesting information). I interviewed a musician/videographer a while back who has synesthesia, where different notes would appear to him as different colors. Do you ever involve your other senses in the process of creating your music? Have you given any thoughts about how you would interpret your songs visually (e.g., for a video)?
Dicky Moore: Hmmm - that's a really good question. When composing, I try to feel the music rather than think the music, but I'm not sure if that is specifically using senses other than hearing. I have to be cautious of using my eyes too much when post-recording - something might "look" out of tune but sound great! I'm hoping to make a video for 'The Omega Point' soon, and am keen on making videos that compliment the music rather than detract from it like the censored version of the Cardigans' "My Favourite Game" and "Last Nite" by the Strokes.
Batface89: Can you talk a bit about your musical history? How old were you when you started playing guitar and singing? Do you have formal musical training?
Dicky Moore: I grew up having access to different musical instruments, but didn't start playing guitar until I was 14. I taught myself some chords from books friends of my family had given me, but my Mum took me to a guitar tutor to tame my strumming. I then studied A-level music at sixth-form college, which I found fascinating, although I went off the rails a bit before I could complete the course.
Batface89: I'm glad you came back to it. You are currently playing guitar with Scritti Politti. How is it playing with Scritti Politti, who have reformed after more than 20 years? Is Green Garside, singer-songwriter the only original member? How did you get hooked up with Scritti Politti?
Dicky Moore: Green Gartside is Scritti Politti, and I'm incredibly lucky and honoured to be playing guitar for him on his live performances. We knew each other from our local pub, and I was drinking in the pub when he was recruiting his live band. I was very lucky, really.
Batface89: Right place, right time! The Scritti Politti album 'White Bread, Black Beer' got an 8.1 rating at Pitchfork, and was also nominated for the Mercury Prize awards. Congratulations. I fully agree. The album is beautiful and I love the layering of vocals. Can you talk about recording the album? What have you learned from working with Green Gartside?
Dicky Moore: I don't have anything to do with Scritti's studio recordings, as Green plays everything himself, but I deeply learned and loved the songs on that album and it was an absolute pleasure touring it. I've learned a lot about the music industry from playing with Scritti Politti, and have learned a lot from Green Gartside as a musician, songwriter and person.
Batface89: I can imagine. 'The Perfect Way' by Scritti Politti was a big hit when I was a tween. I never thought the lyrics were deep back then but listening to it now, I listen with a whole new set of ears. I remember borrowing the record from the library. Finding new music was much more difficult back then - I either had to dig through the shelves at the local independent music store, or see what the library had to offer. The Sixty One is made music discovery so easy for me. What has your experience been like with The Sixty One so far as an artist and as a listener? How do you think the musical landscape will change with artist and listeners interacting, such as at The Sixty One?
Dicky Moore: Experiencing thesixtyone.com has solidified my opinion that the demise of mass media will liberate many artists, be they poets, musicians or illustrators. I now feel that I can reach a wide audience without needing to be accepted by the broadcasting establishment. Now music will be judged more on its merits than it ever has been since the media age begun. However, it doesn't look like the large record companies are keen on giving their power away voluntarily.
Batface89: I have to say, I like the way the music industry is headed. I've really discovered more new bands thanks to the internet than I ever did by watching MTV or listening to the radio. Do you have any favourites among the bands posting music on The Sixty One?
Dicky Moore: I've discovered some great music on thesixtyone.com, namely FryArs's 'Happy', Steve Heftner's 'Why a Lawyer?', shockingly, both are yet to hit the frontpage, and music by more established artists that I wouldn't have heard of otherwise such as Kaki King.
Batface89: (Both of the songs you mentioned hit the home page right after the interview!) It seems like you are keeping very busy with your solo work and playing with Scritti Politti. Any other exciting news you'd like to share? A US tour perhaps?
Dicky Moore: I would absolutely love to tour the U.S. again! We toured in late 2006 and we made so many fabulous friends on our way and saw wonderful places. We were supported by the multi-talented Jeffrey Lewis band, who I highly recommend to music lovers. Sadly there are no tours planned at the moment, but I'm currently very excited about an environmental campaign led by Friends of the Earth, which is trying to get our government make it law that greenhouse gas emissions are reduced each year, totalling in an 80% reduction of 1990 levels by 2050. The most amazing thing about this campaign is that it just involved normal people talking to their MPs candidly about the fears they had of climate change and the action they thought should be taken. And it worked! The bill is due to go through parliament in the next few months and similar campaigns are now cropping up around Europe! It's completely restored my faith in democracy. It's people power that's gonna save the world!
Batface89: Thanks so much for the interview, Dicky. Best of luck with your solo album and with Scritti Politti.