Getting To Know The FPSF Locals: Moji
Photo: Trish Badger
My favorite part of each and every Free Press Summer Festival, is the diverse crop of talent that performs from the local stages each year. That diversity is what sets Houston apart musically from anywhere else in Texas, let alone; the country. One of Houston’s most diverse acts, Moji will be performing at this year’s festival, and much like their very different sound, they are easily the most diverse act on the bill. Performing a mix of jazz, rock, soul, and even a little blues; the three piece pulls more sound from a guitar, a drum kit, and one of the best set of pipes you’ll ever hear. FPH caught up with the three piece consisting of Troy Creagh on guitar, David Garcia on drums, and Moji Abiola on vocals, to get their take on their sound, and to find out what they have in store for those who attend. In the spirit of their different approach, each member answered each question in their own way.
FPH: The three of you all come from different places, can you tell the band members’ pasts and what projects you three each worked on prior to starting this band?
MOJI: (Troy): I went to school for music and I practice four hours a day. I play a lot of jazz and that’s how Moji and David found me; thus we’ve played together ever since. (Moji): I’m originally from New York, and I lived in Atlanta, New York again, London, and Nigeria. I didn’t really take music too seriously until I moved to Houston, after college. I was in a funk band here called Two Dollar Sound from 2007-2010, but we broke up when I moved to England to get my master’s degree. I was also in The Journey Agents, I got a little sick of funk and started a short lived project that lead me to David & Troy. I’d rather not have my name be the band name, but it’s nice to not have to hide behind a band name. (David): Prior to this band, I have a 20 plus year history of playing live music in Texas. That also includes recording and doing session work.
FPH: There’s a very eclectic mix of soul, jazz, and elements of rock in your sounds, do you have a name or a genre for what you do as a band, or is it just your sound?
MOJI: (Troy): Sincerity is what I feel our sound is. (Moji): I don’t really know if there’s a genre we could be pegged into. Depending on the song you’re listening to, it could change. I feel like when I took it to a friend of mine in Portland who was in radio; he said it had a more rock vibe with jazzy flavors and a soul presence. Honestly, it’s just our sound. We have such a limited amount of instruments that we’re forced to just paint as colorful a picture as we can. It’s just us; for better or worse. (David): I think it’s just our sound. It’s very diverse from each of our different backgrounds. I was really into funk and later jazz, so I guess what we’re influenced by is what we each bring to the table. Ultimately it’s just our sound.
FPH: Moji herself has appeared on The Late Show and she’s had reviews in the New York Times. Has anyone else in the band received any accolades and what’s it like starting all over as a new act in a new city?
MOJI: (Troy): No, I feel like I got lucky meeting Moji and David. They have made playing in this city an amazing experience. (Moji): I can’t speak for everyone else, but I think starting as a new act in a new genre was very strange. This is a new playing field for me, because it’s been hard to find bands for us to play with sometimes. You have to go back to see what others have been doing, because it’s hard to find where we fit in today’s music world. To me, water always finds its level. Good music will always be in style, and will have an audience, and there’s enough space in people’s ears and people’s hearts that they can like our stuff as well as other things. (David): I have had several privileges throughout the years, I performed on FPSF prior, I’ve performed on Bonnaroo, as well as endorsements and interviews over the years.
FPH: You’ve dropped the single “Ceasefire,” which is part of an upcoming EP, correct? When will we see that be released?
MOJI: (Troy): I feel like that’s definitely a Moji question. (Moji): The EP is slated hopefully to be released in May prior to our performance at the festival. We’re headed back to Sugar Hill to, I’d say we already have the meat and potatoes part of it recorded, so now we’re going back in to add the garnish. (David): I’m gonna’ lean towards Moji answering this. We’ve recorded and will continue to record with Josh Applebee, and hopefully tour after it’s released.
FPH: Each member of this band brings something completely different yet individualistic to the group. Is there one element you try to focus on or are the songs always written with the group in mind?
MOJI: (Troy): The songs, or at least the ideas for my parts come from my time practicing, then I bring them to band practice for Moji to write and add a melody to. The songs are then collectively arranged through a very organic process of jamming and critical thought/discussion. My main concerns are keeping time and making sure that our songs have interesting harmonic progressions that still fit Moji’s melodies. (Moji): It depends. when we were first starting, I already had songs I wanted to work on while attempting to develop a sound. Now we mesh easier because we work better together where we try to work on one element, having substance. Music can be fluff and cotton candy, but we try to make everything as beautifully complicated while still showcasing that we have an ear for what we’re doing with rhythms and styles. Just an honest portrayal of all we’re into separately. Troy will always bring a jazz voicing to the songs, I try to add a bit of conveyance to the words and an evocative side to the vocals and melodies. David always adds a bit of tension which works because we listen to each other as we play very well. Sometimes the songs change and we work around by doing what’s best for the song without fracturing any ego attached to one part or another. (David): I feel we have the fortune to respectfully listen to one another as musicians and artists. I think we all compliment each other with our own styles, while still giving a chance to each shine.
FPH: You have achieved quite a bit for an act so early in its’ infancy, and now you’re performing on Houston’s biggest concert event. What do you have in store for those who attend this year’s Free Press Summer Fest?
MOJI: (Troy): A completely new sound that will change the way you listen to your world. (Moji): Can I be honest, I don’t feel like we’ve achieved enough. The festival is a huge compliment, but I feel like we should have people buzzing about us. I feel like we should have been able to do much more, but I think it’s nice to know that people know we can put on a great live show. It’s kind of strange, my family’s coming in. We’ve been working on how to add decorations to the songs that are already written, just for this show. Hopefully a feast for the eyes and the ears, maybe people in costume or dancers. We ultimately want you to look at us like, “wow, that sound is coming from three people?” I just want to make music that has integrity, is important, and is impressive. And I hope that’s what people take away from it, and that we’re here to win you over mind, body, and soul. (David): Without a doubt, we’ve had the good fortune to be in a vehicle that’s moving so fast. Our first live performance was White Linen Night, less than nine months ago. Now to be on this festival is crazy, so hopefully some guest spots, a good time, and maybe choreographed dancers is what we’ll bring to the performance.
As you can tell, these three are different from what you might hear happening in today’s music world. The fact that each is an accomplished musician in their own right only adds to the magic that they bring together when they perform. Like all of the local acts on the festival this year, Moji has definitely earned the right to perform in front of such a large crowd. and if you miss them you’ll be missing out on a band that represents the diversity of our city as a whole, and who could easily become something greater than the city itself.