A chat with Moya about soul, ex-boyfriends and Mick Hucknall
On first meeting Moya, she seems at once friendly and self-assured – not at all what you might expect from a 22-year-old. Dressed in leather shorts, a collared shirt and Ray-Bans, she has all the breezy confidence of someone that knows what they want and, after an impressively busy first half of the year, she certainly has the drive for it.
Having just come off stage from a successful debut V Festival performance at Hylands Park, Chelmsford, and with plenty more to accomplish before 2013 is up, you get the distinct impression that she is loving life and rightly so.
“Every day of your life you wake up and you can’t quite believe that this is your job and this is what you do,” she smiles broadly. “It’s not really work either, it’s just fun! And at the moment I’m just enjoying it because I know that it’s going to get so hard.”
Certainly with a headline tour on the cards, alongside releasing an EP featuring six new tracks, Moya’s schedule is hardly quietening down.
“We might even have a new album out next year which I really, really want. I just want to keep writing and keep putting music out. I’m evolving, every day I’m evolving. I want people to see that.”
Dubbed by Perez Hilton as “the female Bruno Mars”, she describes her sound as “pop soul” and “not your commercial, ass-shaking, one-hit-wonders.” Her inspiration is unique for someone so young – she explains that she has always listened to a lot of Motown, disco and jazz, as well as artists like Nina Simone and Gloria Estefan, and you hear this influence throughout her music.
“It’s my mum’s fault that I sing the way I sing! My inspiration comes from anywhere. It doesn’t matter where you are – a lot of my songs have been written drunk or hungover, or incapacitated on a beach somewhere!” she jokes, “When I wrote Lost and Found, a lot of it came from stuff I went through as a child – I wrote a lot of diaries.”
What’s most interesting is Moya’s frankness. She speaks at length, although of course light-heartedly, about how much she draws on her own personal experiences.
“I wrote Come and Get It about a now ex-boyfriend who didn’t come and get it, shall we say. He was just oblivious to what was going on so I wrote a song about it. About how you want to hold on to something amazing but in the end if he’s not gonna come and get it, sort himself out and step up to the mark, then I’m just going to leave. It’s all about empowerment.”
This image is one Moya is happy to live up to. She feels strongly about not playing up to what she sees now as an over-sexualised industry.
“I have little sisters and I feel I have to uphold some sort of moral grounding for them – they look up to me and there are a lot of other kids that do the same thing and I think it’s really important to have that kind of empowerment but not do it in a slutty way.”
Making Me Fall is a similarly powerful, relationship-inspired pop/soul anthem and the song that has so far garnered the most attention. On asking her whether she’s put out by Hilton’s comparison, Moya remarks:
“A lot of people ask that. But, if you think how successful [Bruno Mars has] been and if you think what a sick voice he has, then you can’t really complain. He also writes a lot of music that I think really relates to what I write about and sing about. He’s really soulful and takes it back to the old school, and I really respect that.”
Such comparisons might faze other fledgling artists, but Moya has already toured with the greats – from Andy Burrows (of Razorlight) to Rod Stewart via Mick Hucknall. She admits to finding the “Rod fans” a little hard to please, as they are renowned for expecting a lot from his support acts, but generally found the transition from small stages to stadiums relatively smooth.
“It hasn’t been too much of a kick in the face. But you can’t really put that kind of thing into words – when someone tells you you’re going to play arenas for the next few months you’re like: ‘Give me a break, not happening!’ When you get on that stage… I don’t think many artists can say that in the space of six months they’ve gone from a club to a theatre to an arena tour. For me, this is about making those steps towards becoming a better artist. What a fantastic way to do it.”
As she leaves to play another V Festival set in Weston Park, Staffordshire, with yet another busy six months ahead of her, it is without doubt that Moya will do exactly that.
Best act playing at V Festival? Beyoncé. But also Sam Smith, I think he’s amazing.
Most played song on your iPod? Simon and Garfunkel – 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover
First album ever bought? I don’t remember my first album but I remember my first CD: the Teletubbies theme tune. I was little. I probably killed my parents with it on repeat!
Hucknall or Stewart? Stewart. I grew up listening to Simply Red so I feel like I have a loyalty to them but in terms of the overall experience, Stewart.
Arenas or intimate shows? Arenas. I really enjoy intimate gigs when I’m playing acoustic shows, I think it’s really important to do those once in a while to remember how you started because you can get a bit over your head. But the arenas, man, they’re just crazy!
Best career advice you’ve had? [Hucknall] saw that I was obviously ecstatic about how well my first really big show had gone and he was like: “Look, I want you to remember, to bottle this emotion, because you’re not always going to have it this good. You’re going to have some really shit shows and you’re gonna feel like you don’t want to do it anymore, but if you can remember the times when things were incredible then you will be absolutely fine.” It actually really helped me, I had some bad shows, but I thought: “I know I can do it, I’m just having a bad night.” I think people think we’re superhuman sometimes. We’re just normal.
Worst memory of your career so far? I played a basement gig in King’s Cross, London, and there was no one there and it was really depressing. I just messed up on loads of lyrics and it was possibly the worst experience of my life. It was horrible.
Highlight of your career so far? Playing the RDS Arena, Dublin. 35,000 people in an open-air stadium? I was like, “How did I get here? I don’t understand!” It was a pinch-yourself moment. That or the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam – it’s an incredible venue. The Dutch know how to party.
Who or what is the most important thing to you right now? I’m not gonna say music ‘cause that’d suck. Family is really important. I don’t see them really often so when I do it’s great. If you stick with your family all your life, you’re never gonna go wrong.
Come and Get It is released on 23rd September 2013. For further information or to order the album visit Moya’s website here.
Watch the video for Come and Get It here: