With one album under his belt before he could legally drink, Elliot Moss released his latest EP Boomerang this past spring on April 28th. The collection of tracks was recorded in the same studio where he produced his debut Highspeeds, but marks a musical milestone for the singer-songwriter. Shortly after his tour ended with a performance in Detroit, EARMILK caught up with the precocious Moss about the mysteries behind it's release, as well as debuting an exclusive live performance video.
Tell me about 'Boomerang.' What was the inspiration behind your sound on your second release?
To some extent, the process served as inspiration. I started with words for the first time. Like, getting them all on paper before fretting a single note. It's a very different way of working for me; I'm used to starting with sound.
I wrote most of 'Boomerang' during the latter half of our first tour. I love it, but being on the road kicks the shit out of me. Months pass, and I absentmindedly start playing the 'what could I be doing if I wasn't doing this' game all day long. 'I miss home' I'd find myself thinking. But it wasn't that exactly. Ultimately, it was something more like 'I miss that last thing.' I'd push into the next day, having failed to process anything at all. The present mattered less and less.
Just as I'd decided I'd make a great florist or something, it'd be time for soundcheck. I'd play the show, ride the adrenaline rush to bed, and forget about the flowers. Somewhere along the way, I noticed this routine and started to write about it. I wrote about places that didn't exist. And I'd imagine them for as long as I could hold the picture in my head. It kicked in hard when we toured Europe. Even further from home, a smaller group.
How have you grown as an artist on your second release?
When you're playing your songs in a different city each night, the parts that don't work get thrown into sharp relief. It can be educational. I wrote a lot of songs in between 'Highspeeds' and 'Boomerang,' but they'll never see the light of day. I was trying to diagnose my dependencies and shortcomings as a writer. I wanted to get better before seriously approaching anything new, and the most obvious way was practice.
My work ethic has improved, too. Annie Clark (St. Vincent) once said she treats her work like she would a day job. "If you're a writer, you have to write." It's simple, but such an effective way to frame everything. And her words have saved me from wasting a lot of time. You wouldn't walk out of your office job because it's frustrating, what right do I have to walk out of my job writing music? Rules and routine are vital in the zero-accountability vacuum of my home studio.
What inspired the title 'Boomerang?' Is it because the album boomerangs between emotional extremes?
It means a couple of things. Pulling out of an experience of isolation, learning to become mindful of the stuff that sent you away. And dealing with it.
Do you have a particular story behind 'Boomerang' that comes to mind?
Tracking strings for the first time. Your arrangement has been sitting in cold hard MIDI for months. Finally, it comes to life at the hands of great musicians; that's a phenomenal feeling. The preparation is painstaking, but it's so worth the trouble.
What has been your best memory on tour?
One of my favorite things we've ever done is drive down Highway 1 (from Vancouver to San Diego.) We were a 5-piece for that tour. A group of kids figuring things out as we went. We had loads of time in between shows and ended up walking around in the redwoods for a long while. I can't recall such sustained happiness since. Neither can my girlfriend. We really cherish those times.
How has your life changed since your first release?
I can honestly consider music to be my day job for the time being. I'm trying my best to do that justice. I've seen way more of the world than I ever expected to – and want to see more now.