POST PUNK TRYING TO SPREAD A MESSAGE
PHOTO CREDS: Josh Collins, MODEL: Rebecca Alexander
In a world that is often filled with greed and pretence, it can be hard to find music that truly speaks from the heart or has any kind of substance behind it. This, however, is not the case when it comes to Falmouth based artist Luke Moss.
Making music for Moss is a crucial part of the way he manages his own emotional wellbeing but also works to deconstruct the barriers that for so long have stood in the way of individual’s being able to talk about health and subsequently struggle to love themselves because of it. Through his music he embraces the dark, the light and everything in between, giving way for listeners to realise that the equilibrium of life always has some goodness to it even when there’s bad.
Luke’s most recent release Fuzzy Head Tapes II – The Lost Girls is a piece of a five-part EP collection which explores these themes and more. Underground had the chance to chat to Luke about all things Falmouth, his post-punk style and the release of The Lost Girls EP. So, join us for a DMT with the wonderfully wise Luke Moss.
Underground: Before we get into the heavy stuff, can you introduce yourself to Underground England readers who might not have heard of you with an interesting fact about yourself?
Luke Moss: Hey there, my name’s Luke Moss, and me and the band come from Falmouth, and I’ve had drinks with members of Pussy Riot, which was cool as fuck.
So, you’re based in your based on the west-country coast, what’s it like to be a budding musician in Falmouth?
Luke: It’s the perfect place to grow and develop your sound. You’re surrounded by so many creatives, not just musicians, that constantly develop who and what you are. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The amount of support you get from the crowds, whether they’re your friends or just passing through! Plus, some of the best musicians I’ve ever seen and heard in my life come from this town, I have a few of the tattoo’ d on me, they’ve made me strive to be better and better! Also, I get to meet amazing musicians in the band such as Charlie, and Jack. Also, Jake too, when I finally get around to practicing with him again.
Do you have a favourite venue to play down there?
Luke: It’s got to be between Fives and Jacobs Ladder. Jacobs ladder because I’ve seen some mad nights there and been lucky to play some too! Fives is the new place in town, I did Fuzzy Head Tapes I release show there, and it was such a great venue!
Here at Underground we love to hear about renegade artists who are breaking the mould with their music, what do you think makes your music something different to the mainstream?
Luke: I don’t really know, my music is my therapy, and how I’ve grown to deal with my head. I’ve been in some really dark places, and I now write to settle my mind. Fuzzy Head came about because I wrote these songs to cure them, and the tapes part is because it’s based on self-help tapes. What I found though, is that me giving myself this outlet to keep me from dark places, people have begun to resound with that. The fact that I’m breaking my own boundaries down, and that is helping others is heart-warming, yet scary laying yourself out there for all to see.
PHOTO CREDS: Em Marcovecchio
You describe your music as “post-punk, trying to spread a message”, why do you think it’s so important to be open about mental health?
Luke: Mental Health is something you can talk about, no matter if you’re up, down, middling, whatever the case may be. If you bottle these emotions up though, it can take you down a very dark road. Sadly, a lot of people don’t return from this road, as we know from statics, both men and women have taken their life because of something in their head. I’ve been down that road, I’ve tried not to return, it’s the darkest part of me. But, it also led to so much beauty in my life, people and memories that I would’ve missed that I appreciate so much more now. I sometimes feel that being dragged back to the world, and having to face my demons, gave me a voice I never imagined me having.
I talk about my darkest days, because it gives me strength now, and allows others to begin to open up. I’ve had people come to me after gigs and talk to me, message me, or see me in the street later in the week, and they’ll talk to me about their struggles, where they relate to me, or even they’re just getting help now. It’s the best thing about what I do, I get to play music live and change people’s lives. It’s something I always wish I had in my past.
Mental Health, just talking about it, that’s been a stigma for far too long, but now we’re opening up, we’re sharing. My generation is beginning to fight against a world that’s been built to suppress and confirm. We fight for a person’s individuality, we fight to make it so that men can cry and be fragile, where toxic masculinity is just being fought. Then the other way, women can be powerful figures, to lead the world, feminism is being recognised for what it is, the equality it represents. We’re fighting for our mind’s sake, so ourselves and those after us can live in a better world. It’s Okay Not To Be Okay, that’s the message I’m spreading.
Music is clearly an integral part of this, are there any artists or creatives who have inspired your stylistic choices?
Luke: Idles, straight up, Joy As An Act Of Resistance, blew my mind. I remember the day the album was released. I listened to it all day, on loop, I went through a whirlwind of emotions that day. Changed how I write about music and think about life. I’ve also got to give a nod to Jamie T, the man who changed my life, who’s music got me through a lot. ‘Sticks ’n’ Stones’ will forever be my favourite song, ever. Then there are artists like King Krule, Joy Division and Los Campesinos! who all have a bearing. Sam Fender has recently become an inspiration for me, you’ll hear it on The Lost Girls.
Closer to home, in Falmouth we have Tinnedfruit, best band I’ve ever seen live and their albums match, I can’t explain how much those 3 guys, Alex, Dan, and Danny, mean to me. Jay Beale, Ronnie Cook & Friends, Idle Eyes & The Restless Nights, Charlotte Lloyd-Butler, Fare, just to name a few, all my best friends, and their music inspires me daily. My best pal Milo Gore, I play lead guitar in a band with him, and his lyricism and how he goes about writing lyrics made me re-evaluate how to write a song.
How do you find the process of making such honest and emotive music?
Luke: I feel like a ten-tonne weight has gone from me. I used to write songs that weren’t honest to myself, wanting to be an indie kid from 2009. Since I changed up how I write, it became cathartic for me. I changed up my writing process, usually starting with lyrics, which could come in a stream, or could come in my looking over stuff I’ve written down over time, on receipts, on my phone, on my arm, it’s super fun either way. As I said, the Fuzzy Head Tapes are my therapy, so the process can be very caged or flows like a waterfall, it’s just how my mind can react to it all.
Your current project Fuzzy Head Tapes is a five-part series which sounds like a big venture to embark on, what has influenced your choice to release the EPs in this way?
Luke: The Fuzzy Head Tapes came after a performance I did for my final project for university, called ‘The Depression Diaries’, where it told the story of my journey from dark to light. This story was told in one continuous piece of music, that went from Solo, to band 1, to band 2, back to solo. My lecturer Rick Rogers, who helped me through a whole lot of my head stuff, said to not stop this because I’m onto something special. So, I looked at what I could do, and how I can put my voice to good use. Fuzzy Head Tapes are observational, whether it’s external or internal to myself, they all tell a story according to my eyes. So, I decided to write an album based on my version of the ‘5 Stages of Grief’. These would be something you could listen to in whatever order you saw fit, and each to be centred around a specific theme, yet could be applicable to anyone. If I release them one by one, it shows the journey you take through the ‘Stages of Grief’, rather than it being over in an instant. It might sound like an artsy-fartsy, pretentious wank type thing, but it makes sense in my head, maybe it is a little. I don’t know, I just go with the flow most days.
Of course, the EPs are all centred around the human mind and mental health, taking inspo from self-head tapes (as the title would suggest), what inspired you to dedicate the second EP to the women in your life?
Luke: They gave me life, they helped raise me, if life had no women, then we’d cease to exist. I can’t remember a time in my life when a woman hasn’t been a key figure. Yet, they’re still not treated in society with the same respect. I’ve seen so many different things in my lifetime, where women have had their lives taken from them in so many ways, and I get depressed. Yet, through all this adversity, they still fight for what is right and just. That’s what ‘Mother-Sister-Daughter’ is about, their fight against those who are blind. My rage against men who continue to belittle women, yet my pride in seeing those fight, all mixed into one song. The EP has two break up songs on it both inspired by females in my life for different reasons, one of them reflective that both men and women alike can apply to it, it’s about remembering the little things about someone, yet they begin to fade. The latter is angrier, it’s in the moment of a break-up where your whole life changes, yet the ending references someone bringing you back to life, ‘The Sunflower’. It’s the closest I’ve got to a proper love song in terms of my style. I’m just an angsty bastard I guess, can’t write a love song without it being a bit bleak. All these songs centred around women, show me how important they are to my life.
Interview by Aimee Williams-Maynard
PHOTO CREDS: Josh Collins, MODEL: Rebecca Alexander
Are there any key female figures in your world who have inspired The Lost Girls?
Luke: Obviously my Mum, and my Sister, Jo. Both raised me in such a loving way yet were strict with me in the right way. I’d be nothing without them. I’d die before I let anything happen to them. Women that raised me throughout my life, from home, through to school, all the way to uni. Christina Smith, aka FARE, for teaching me so much from a woman who was so nervous to share her voice, to someone who is very strong now. In fact, the first song on the EP, ‘9/8/8/9’ is inspired by her music. Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes inspired the whole EP, I even quote her on ‘Mother-Sister-Daughter’.
Most importantly, without a doubt though, is my girlfriend Hannah. She’s the sunflower, which is cringing as fuck, but she has it tattoo’ d on her arm. She made me a better person, so much so that I wouldn’t be able to attempt this without her by my side. She has taught me more about women, and the world, and giving yourself a try, than anyone can, and maybe ever could. She helped write ‘Mother-Sister-Daughter’, as she was the only person I felt comfortable enough to write a song about Feminism with, without making it preachy or come from white, middle-class man privilege. She made it easy, and Hannah is the single best person that could happen to anyone’s life. EVER. Everyone loves her, she just makes everything brighter, even when she’s down.
That’s beautiful! Following this, would you say that your music provides you with the opportunity to explore feminist activism?
Luke: I’d like to think that now I’ve broken my own mental barrier around writing about women, I will explore activism. I supported Pussy Riot’s Riot Days in Falmouth in 2017, and that sent me down a path. Up there with one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, and it bled into my music. I’m forever an activist for this though, whether I write about it directly, or it just appears through different songs. I’m going to explore it more, but also be mindful that I’m not the voice that should be heard. Half the globe is filled with voices better suited than mine, but I will speak up for what is right and join the women in making the world a better place.
Can you give any exciting clues about the succeeding EPs we have to look forward to?
The next one is a sad story, that will get very dark, but then very light. It’s the halfway point so I thought I’d give the theme a bit of a half and half. We’re planning something very special and interesting with the guys that make me look good (check out Josh Collins and Em Marcovecchio, they’re badass fuckers), which will be different to how we released I & II. I just can’t wait for V, because it has my all-time favourite song, I’ve ever written on it, and it’ll feel so good to get it out into the world. It’s called ‘It’s Okay Not To Be Okay’, and it’ll tie up the saga perfectly.
Despite the overarching focus on the awareness of mental health running throughout the EP series, what do you think is the most important message for listeners to take away from this EP?
Love each other, give yourself the time you need to come to terms with who you are. Always be open, and don’t be so self-indulgent, but share. Never stop talking, even on the days where it feels like it’s done. Most importantly, remember six words for those days. It’s Okay Not To Be Okay. That’s what I tell myself every day.
Listen to Luke Moss’ newest release here (along with his plethora of great tracks!):