A Moment of Clarity

Austin, Texas, based musician Ian Moore began to play music in the 1990s. As a college student he made the choice to go out and perform his music while stopping his college education.

Since then, Moore has listened to classical music, Hindustani music and Punjabi music, hearing the early roots music of Austin, and grew up in the psychedelic period with his parents, helped Moore grow. Currently he is on tour and replied to this interview via email.

Omar Geith: What was the first song or artist that you remember having a strong effect on you? And why? Was it the music or the lyrics?
Ian Moore: I had so much music that influenced me at the start. I think the first artist I fell in love with was Buddy Holly. At least that is the first record I bought. I was influenced by everything about him from his voice to his words to his glasses. At that time I had 4 records that weren't kid records on my Fisher Price turntable: 12x5, Sticky Fingers, Meet the Beatles, and Sgt. Pepper.

In what atmospheres did you listen to music growing up? Did your parents’ record collection hold a lot of interest for you? Your friends’?
Both of my parents were big music fans. I loved a lot of the music my dad loved. Bobby Blue Bland, Aaron Neville, Leonard Cohen. We saw a ton of local music as a kid, so I'd put in Paul Ray and the Cobras, the Meters, Doug Sahm, Willie, the Elevators in that bag too. I went to a lot of punk rock shows as a young teen. I was into the scene, but not much of it stuck to me musically.

Were there any musicians whom you initially wanted to play like, or did you always want to craft your own sound?
I wanted to sing like Paul Ray and then Aaron Neville. I was pretty obsessed with some local bands like the Leroi Brothers and Ballad Shambles early on. I fell into a deep love of Jimi Hendrix for quite a while. My first guitar hero was Denny Freeman. The first songwriter I fell in love with was Willie, when he did Stardust. I always thought Doug Sahm was really cool, just his whole vibe. I still have deep infatuations with musicians. Richard Thompson has been hard to shake as of late.

What event made you start thinking seriously about becoming a musician?
I got my first tour when I was a sophomore at UT [Austin]. At that point we were starting to get a following in Austin but I wasn't taking it very seriously. I told my councilor that I was going to go on the tour and re-enroll when I was done with the tour. The tour is still going.

Your music borrows from a lot of different genres. Was that diversity intentional, or did it just seep in from what you were listening to?
I reflect the things I took in growing up. Playing classical music, being exposed to a ton of Hindustani music and Punjabi music, being around all the beautiful roots music of early Austin, and growing up in the psychedelic culture that surrounded my parents. That pretty much laid out the path that I walk along today. I would love for my music to be more easy to classify. It's been a challenge during my career. So many people are so linear in thought and really struggle to just enjoy rather than classify. It seems to me that I'm just doing what I’m supposed to do.

Does your music sound now the way you imagined it would when you were just starting out?
I've wandered through a lot of wilderness and dropped into a lot of scenes. In doing that I've incorporated things I never would have thought would be a part of my music. I have had many rules at different parts of my career. I try to review and break as many of those as I can when I think about them.

Do you deliberately look for inspiration in the music you listen to, or do you let it come naturally?
I find that I try to avoid things that are deeply imbedded in our collective consciousness. I'm easily influenced and reflect whatever I take in. Sometimes I find myself a bit close-minded about something that actually speaks to me and I revisit it later on my own time. I'd just rather be in my own little side stream. It seems that with digital culture and the viral nature of hip information you have to be a bit guarded to not echo information in a generic game of telephone.


Do you listen to music differently now as a songwriter than you did when you were just a fan?
I'm sure I do. I try really hard not to be too myopic, but it’s inevitable that I will key in on little elements. I love well-made music, well written songs, clever harmonic content, etc, so I probably react differently than I did before I was writing so much, but that said I still react really emotionally. I just don't care how smart or innovative something is if it doesn't move my soul in some way.

Would you like to say anything more about your music or fans?
Thanks for putting up with me. I ask a lot of the folks that have followed me, and every now and again I get a moment of clarity about how strange the trip must be to follow my twists and turns. I am grateful every time I step up on stage and see a room full of people. I've built a crazy funky family out on the road and I like that we've stuck together.

by Omar Geith