"Much of 'Postcards I Forgot to Send' are little messages from my perspective out to the world, each one feeling like a postcard from a different time and place"
Moise x Evan Dale // Aug 5, 2020
Moise is a different man than he was two years ago, and in a very different place than he was last year. At the time of his 2019 release, Amongst the Leaves, drawn of a wide breadth of influence and sonic direction, he gave the world of a glimpse of his expansive stylistic range and immense promise. In turn, he traveled the United States and the world – often for shows but most importantly, for a return to his Rwandan roots – soaking up creative inspiration from each place; each culture, and manifesting them into the work that would become his debut album, Postcards I Forgot to Send.
Towards its release, we spoke with the stylistically transcendent Minneapolis musician on home cities, real roots, breakups, growth, and what it all means to his debut album as both an artistic exhibition and an intimate series of journal entries.
But, days away from its original release, the world was hit with the jarring aftermath in the wake of the tragic murder of George Floyd. Like most of music and most of Minneapolis, Moise removed himself from his work to focus on something bigger; grind towards widespread change. And now, days away from a new release date, this Friday, Postcards I Forgot to Send and its message are forever tethered to this moment in history and prophetically speak on its surrounding conversation with emotion, love, and soul.
RNGLDR: With your debut project, Amongst the Leaves (ATL), released a little over a year ago, you’ve now had the experience of putting together a proper full-length collection – which, given your wide range of influences and subsequently broad sound – must be difficult. What does it feel like having ATL in your rear view? What did you learn from the experience?
MOISE: I’m still as proud and connected to Amongst the Leaves to the same extent now as I was just a little over a year ago. The emotions and words from many of those songs are still relevant to where I’m at. Putting together that project taught me a lot, as it took endless nights staring at my laptop screen and waiting for stems to get sent back. I was still becoming the all-around artist I’ve dreamed of being from learning how to play guitar, gaining control over my vocals and the in-outs of the production process. It took an extent of patience that I didn’t know I was capable of gaining and that was only through time. Being a year removed from that time I am now able to appreciate what putting out that record has done for me, off the strength of those songs I was able to play shows all across the country and have an emotional impact on people's lives, which is what I’ve always wanted to be able to do with my music. So, after getting a taste of that I learned how to better cultivate an experience and understand what goes into making a great project. Amongst the Leaves was good but I knew that the next collection of music I put out was going to be even more impactful as the audience has grown and my pursuit for becoming the artist that I dream of is getting closer to becoming a reality every day. For a long time though it was kind of a question of how I would do that? ATL gave me the foundation as it was the project that I feel like I was still a beginner at a lot of aspects that go making this music thing a career.
RNGLDR: And looking towards your next project – your debut album, Postcards I Forgot to Send (PIFTS), what is something in the sound or the emotion of ATL that you’ve tried to incorporate? And what are some lessons learned that are leaving you and PIFTS differentiated from Amongst the Leaves moving forward?
MOISE: I think the big thing that helps the continuity of Postcards I Forgot to Send is that for a majority of the songs everything from the production to the writing was still being handled by the same small team that I have: Lewis Tuck, Will Levison, and myself. Having that base, I knew that we would only build upon what we started to dive into with ATL. Although we may have leveled up as far as the tools we had at our disposal to make the record it was still the same crew behind every arrangement. For the most part though, I wasn’t thinking subconsciously about ATL as I worked on this record, besides the fact that I was still performing the songs off the last record while writing this one, I still had plenty of stories to tell that I haven’t shared before.
Through the course recording PIFTS in unison with working with my main core of producers I did have the opportunity to work with some new faces. Which is a big testament to the reason why my sound is more developed, and the stories are larger on this record. Hayley Briasco, Psymun, Alex Kimball, and Nael Fikru were all people that I got connected with through a mutual friend as they all brought fresh ideas to the table which allowed me to keep focusing on the overarching narrative and message I wanted to say through the songwriting from track one all the way to twelve. When it comes to music I am always experimenting, and collaboration is the greatest form of experimentation in regards to music. You are able to be pushed out of your comfort circle and open up to new ideas. That’s exactly what came about from those sessions with those producers. From each of those sessions I don’t think we ever left the room not feeling like we made something incredible and the chemistry was undeniable. Also, I’ve realized that I cannot do it all on my own, I’ve always been a team player whether I’m the MVP scoring all the points (Lebron James) or the role player getting five buckets a game (Dennis Rodman). I treat music in this same fashion, it’s way more fun that way and allows me the freedom to truly focus on writing a story that is true to where I’ve been and I’m from while relating it to whoever listens to these songs.
RNGLDR: Your first single release since ATL, and your first en route to Postcards I Forgot to Send, is Try Try. The track definitely takes on the soul-heavy direction of your sound. Can you speak a little bit to the underlying texture of the track, and what it says about what we can expect from Postcards I Forgot to Send as a whole?
MOISE: Try Try was one of those songs I had a great feeling about as soon as we laid down the first chords. For the most part the melody of Try Try and the foundation for much of the production was done in one session. March 2019, my friend Dua Saleh (incredible artist) and I planned on having a studio session. It had been a while since we last linked up. So, I get to the studio, and I knock on the door and it was Psymun who opened it up. I really had no idea we were going to be linking up at his studio, pleasant surprise. Obviously, being a Minnesotan and spending lots of my high school years on Soundcloud I had been a fan of his for a long time. He and I had never met before, so we spent much of the time just talking about life and getting to know each other. Dua was running late so we just thought we would try and make a song. I took out my guitar and Psymun started grabbing some random pedals. I had never seen any of these pedals before and I think of myself as a little bit of a gear head. Probably ten minutes in and we had that funky guitar line you hear repeating for most of the song. Psymun laid down the drums and the bass while I started just humming voice memos coming up with a melody. The chorus of Try Try was the first vocal that got laid down - I remember trying to also knock out a verse but it wasn’t sitting right. Dua then showed up with a friend as we all just vibed out to the song. I knew we had something… it wasn’t until October when I was in Manchester with Will that I was able to finish the song. One rainy day while Will left me in the studio as he had to run some errands, I knocked out the verses. The reason why it took me so long to get the verses is that I knew I couldn’t force it, I wanted to be really intentional with the lyrics as I wanted to tell a story about our world currently to send a message to everyone out there. Much of Postcards I Forgot to Send are little messages from my perspective out to the world, each one feeling like a postcard from a different time and place.
RNGLDR: Try Try also comes hand-in-hand with a powerful video seeing B&W snapshots of you and your friends vibing to the track around the streets of Minneapolis. Explain to us where the idea for the video came from, and how it’s aesthetic relates to your home city and forthcoming album.
MOISE: My first idea of the treatment for the Try Try video was just that rooftop scene with a bunch of homies mobbed-up there chanting and singing the words to the song. I knew I wanted it to be a cold winter day and even some snow would be ideal to make this video be as Minnesota as possible. I wanted to bring Minnesota to the world, especially the Twin Cities. All of the cast on the rooftop were people that I consider friends or family, nobody from the outside, I wanted to capture this moment in time for the city of Minneapolis. There are a lot of talented photographers, dancers, and musicians living here in Minneapolis many of which are black and brown like me. Oftentimes, we get lost in the sauce as far as artistic recognition in America, so any opportunity we have to showcase and put a face behind our city we must bite at the bone and ride it! Your home or city is what gives you your own unique perspective as an artist. I felt it was time I really put my stake in the ground and claim it for my city while also empowering those I’ve watched grow around me... To me that’s cool. I think artists like A$AP and Drake have done that really well. You know where those guys are from, and they did this through not only their lyrics but their videos. With that in mind, I worked with Effy Kawira, who is a close friend and a director that I feel like will get her flowers soon! Being a black female director, I’ve watched her become a force in an industry that needs more representation from females that especially look like her. I admired her uncanny vision and ability to lead a large production like what went into Try Try. It allowed me to trust her and make this song bigger than just what I had initially envisioned. She really just took that rooftop idea and ran with it incorporating the diner, dance studio scenes, and assembling a team and cast that would fit the emotions of the song. Along with that it was her idea to make this all in black and white as this would be easier on us in the editing process perspective and it fit the song. Again, this album is supposed to be a message to the people from this hopeless romantic dude in his twenties, so the video had to have that in mind as well.
RNGLDR: With Try Try now included in Spotify’s ‘Chill Vibes’ & ‘The Wave: Fresh Finds’ playlists and with a recent spotlight in the COLORS Home/Bred stay-at-home series, you’ve got the kind of attention towards your music that any artist would want on the way to releasing a debut album. But, what kind of pressure comes with all the new exposure? How are you using that pressure creatively until the release date?
MOISE: All these opportunities have been amazing. It also feels weird to be getting this type of attention for an artist that has not released a debut album yet. As an artist getting recognition for your work isn’t the sole objective of making art, but when that does come it is gratifying as it keeps you going. Also for my team those looks are especially gratifying for them as they put a lot of time and effort to help me get to where I want to go so seeing their artist/collaborator listed with the same names that we hear on the radio is a big win for them. We are a small team still and that’s the way I want to keep it so any small win and outside help we can get goes a long way. If anything the only pressure I feel is to finish up the mixes so we can get this project out after all this time, I put pressure on myself to have each song sounding as perfect as it can be because you never know when it will be your last.
RNGLDR: On the subject of influence, your trip home to Gisenyi, Rwanda last year has clearly left some lasting impressions with you as a person and an artist. Tell us about how the trip changed your life perspective as an individual. And in what ways did the trip affect you as a creative that we – as listeners – will be able to hear in your forthcoming album?
MOISE: It was my first time back home in ten years. Both my parents are from there and many of their brothers and sisters still live in Rwanda. Getting reconnected physically with my roots was a moment I needed for a long time. Ten years feels like forever, much of the country has changed as they have taken amazing steps forward into establishing themselves as a respected country in the continent. It was also empowering to be back now as an adult, I am more aware of my surroundings and take notes. There wasn’t a moment since the day I set foot back on the homeland that I didn’t feel inspired as I was consistently taking voice memos, recording video, or taking photos. It was a time I wanted to be able to reference whenever I want this feeling of wanting to be home.
All of the visuals for this album are directly from that time spent in Rwanda. Everything from the physical album art to the music videos. I wanted to use that time there as an opportunity to bring awareness to a part of the world that is oftentimes overlooked but to me it’s the most beautiful thing in the world and everyone should know it exists.
RNGLDR: Speaking on Postcards I Forgot to Send, specifically, what is the thematic inspiration for the project’s already unfolding personal direction?
MOISE: During the process of creating my last record I was going through a breakup. I had been dating this girl for a little over a year and our time ran its course. We had our differences that were more because of circumstance and not ill will towards the other. That had a lot of impact on the writing for Amongst the Leaves as I found myself channeling the energy from experiencing a breakup. I’m well over it now. That saying that time heals is really true for anyone going through a breakup. This album, Postcards I Forgot to Send, shows the growth from that period of time. I’ve had my fun and went through new challenges. I think this album is more introspective and tells stories of real-life situations I've put myself in for better or worse over the past year. Going through life alone without being tied down to anyone is just different, I like it a lot. One day I know that feeling will change and maybe that’s when I write my fifth album full of songs for your wedding. Sounds majestic.
RNGLDR: And musically, how would you describe the direction of the project’s underlying sound that ties the whole thing together?
MOISE: Every demo for the project in some shape or form was worked on while at home, on the road, or in-studio sessions over the past year. It wasn’t all done in a short time period, which can make it a bit of a challenge sonically when you finally put together a tracklist of all these demos. I think there is a wide net musically as I don’t think there was a genre that I didn’t touch, well maybe besides Country and Latin music palettes. That leaves some new territory that I can dive into with the next album if my mind takes me there. Each song plays like a lost message, a thought or emotion that you wish you would have had the ability to say but for whatever reason you didn’t. Whether that’s because of insecurities or timing, that was the overarching narrative I wanted to create for this record. I’m glad the idea in my head was able to translate over the course of twelve songs. I think that’s the perfect amount of songs to capture that without overwhelming the listener. It’s digestible but long-lasting.
RNGLDR: Is there anything else you’d like to say to your listeners as we edge closer to the release of Postcards I Forgot to Send?
MOISE: I’m thankful for each and every person that spends any time with any song I make. It’s been a long road but the turns are only getting crazier, no exits at this point, I’m in too deep. I hope when people listen to this album, they become even more invested into the narrative and things I stand for. I have a story to tell and I think it can relate to a lot of the struggles and happiness that everyone goes through in life. By being able to provide a soundscape that connects with people on that level will always be the goal and what makes this all rewarding. Please press play at track one, maybe pause halfway through to grab a glass of wine, then never hit stop until the last song is done. Then tell a friend to come over and smash that play button again!