The duo Bob Moses continue to turn heads with another stunning release titled First To Cry. Bob Moses is formed by Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance, two Vancouver natives and high school friends. They joined forces after randomly encountering each other in Brooklyn in 2012. Since then, the pair has released EP after EP of bone-chilling deep house that moves the listener through a diverse soundscape of dreamy vocals, deep bass, and echoing instrumentals.
Their most recent release is a two-single EP that has made an impressive impact on music critics and fans alike. EARMILK was eager to speak with Bob Moses to find out how this production started, why they changed labels, and what Bob Moses has coming out next.
EARMILK: First off, Bob Moses has just released the First To Cry EP on the 16th of June. What are you most proud to have accomplished with this new work or either single?
Jimmy: Well, before we had primarily been releasing just EPs, like five-track EPs, and we never really had the confidence to put out a single. Before, every time we released music, we wanted to make sure people got a whole package picture of what we were about. We felt we were so new and we wanted to cover a bunch of different songs and instrumentals.
This is the first time we felt really good about putting out one track on its own, and then announcing a second one, doing a single with just two tracks. I think that was a big step in terms of how we release music and that process for us.
EM: Definitely, a lot of your old releases are not singles, but bigger EPs. Additionally, all of your old work seems to be through the Scissor and Threads Label, but this recent release is through Domino Records. Can you explain how this switch happened?
Tom: We were just going along, and Domino approached us actually. We've always respected them as a label as well. They've had big success, but they've always kept it very DIY and credible. They also put their music first and they just have a really good way of doing things.
We were really flattered to be approached by them, it was a natural process of meeting them, seeing how it went, then we all really hit it off. It ended up being a good move to switch over for an album. We wanted to put out this single with Domino as an introduction-transition thing before just diving into an album.
EM: What have you found the most noticeable changes to be since changing record labels?
J: I think the biggest change is that Scissor and Threads is a very (for lack of a better word) punk-rock, DIY, mom'n'pop operation. It's great because it lets people find out about us through vinyl record stores and such. That's a beautiful thing, and without that we wouldn't have been able to do what we are doing now.
Domino's approach is more questioning: what are you guys about, how far do you want to go, how do you want to release this, etc. They're very involved and they have a team, but they listen to you. They don't go, "we have a system and you fit into that," they formulate a system for you.
We had so many conversations that showed us this whole other world of planning a release and how to have the most impact. I know for us, not only is it about releasing the right way, but we'd love for lots of people to be able to hear what we've made. I think that's the biggest difference, the attentions to detail and the release structures/strategies.
T: Domino can open us up to bigger market, while our old label had slightly different ambitions than we did. Domino also have a really big indie side. I mean, our music is electronic, but with indie influences so we wanted to explore that further. We're still in the middle of it, because it's so new, I'm sure we're not even aware of what all the differences are. The nice thing that is continuous throughout both labels is they put art first, they put music first, and the really respect the people as artists.
EM: As a duo, do you find you balance out the work or do you specify with what you are each personally best at?
J: Well, we definitely balance it out, for sure. There are things that we're both good at and bad at, but the good thing is Tom is good at everything I'm bad at, and I'm good at everything he's bad at. There are many times where Tom will go away and write a track, then bring it to me and I'll do the same thing.
For example, I'm nowhere near as good of a guitar player as Tom, but I know enough to write and I can go to him, show him my ideas, and he can take it and build on it. Just the same, Tom is not as good as an engineer or beat maker, but he can start something and I can flush it out. We're both fully capable of doing each others jobs, but our relationship is great in a collective way.
T: We're like two overlapping circles, where as we have similar traits that we're both good at, but we also complement each other. From a writing perspective, we really gel in the right areas. We're also both really inspired by each other. If I'm trying to come up with a little thing on the guitar, sometimes just playing it for Jimmy and having him in the room will make me understand a whole other part. It's really serendipitous and it works.
EM: Who does the vocals on most of your tracks?
J: Tom does all the singing.
T: Jimmy does some backup things, but very rarely. I'm slowly trying to get him involved.
EM: What major release do you have in store for your fans this year that you can tell us about?
J: We always do this big DJ mix once a year. We'll put twenty tracks together and heavily edit them. We'll mainly use records that have inspired us, so that will probably come sometime this summer. Right now, we're diving right into our album, and we're probably going to overwrite for it. Who knows, you can't be certain of anything.
T: Yeah, we don't really know to be honest. We're just trying to write an album and we'll see what comes out. Other than the mix, we don't have too much planned out right now.
J: We have a few things that we've written kicking around that we'll find homes for: singles and things like that. For us, it's just about collecting a huge body of work and then deciding what to do with it.
EM: Definitely. So do you guys already have a few tracks or is it still in the initial process?
T: We still have a bit of work to do. We like to write and write and write, then the album is a process of refining. We try not to think about it too much; we're still very deep in the process.
EM: What event or show are you most excited for this summer?
J: Well we've pretty much booked the whole summer off to work in the studio, but we're playing Piknic Electronik in Montreal near the end of August. We're both Canadian, so that is a festival we're super, super excited for.
EM: Series of quick questions, answer in only one sentence.
EM: Longest set you two have played?
J: Hmm, about six hours maybe? I think it was six hours at an after party.
EM: Where was the show?
J: This is a tough one. We're not really known for doing long sets because we usually do a live show. We used to DJ.
T: Some warehouse in Brooklyn, probably. To be honest, after doing a six-hour set you don't remember much.
EM: Last show attended, but did not perform at?
J: I went to a Wolf + Lamb show on a rooftop in New York this Sunday.
T: The last show we both went to was Lorde at Brooklyn Academy.
EM: Deceased musician who you would have wanted to collaborate with?
J: Kurt Cobain, John Lennon. I don't know. I'd love to talk with those guys.
T: I'd want to meet Nick Drake.
EM: Biggest accomplishment in the industry?
J: I think just being able to make a living doing what we do, that's it. That's the hardest thing to get, yet we can just work on music all day, play, tour, and do what we love. That's the biggest accomplishment and the only one we need right now.
EM: Biggest regret in the industry?
J: Do you have any regrets Tom?
T: I don't have any regrets.
J: Yeah, me neither, I think every potential mistake or regret is a lesson you needed to learn.
EM: What have you guys learned about each other from working together?
T: I know if I have a good idea Jimmy will start doing a little dance. Jimmy has a signature dance.
J: I get excited and I do a little dance. It's like an involuntary reaction.
EM: And Jimmy?
J: There was a point when we were first starting out, we were crashing at a friend's house or whatever, we just had to sleep wherever we could to play gigs. There's been a few times where we've had to share a bed and he accidentally wrapped his arms around me a few times. It was a nice embrace, he's a good cuddler.
EM: Lastly what type of milk do you usually drink?
J: I like almond milk.
T: Me too.
If you want to catch Bob Moses live and see these two friends move you with their dark tones and dreamy lyrics, you can check the tour dates below.