Interview: Bob Moses

This month American duo Bob Moses visit Istanbul to promote their debut album Days Gone by. We caught with one-half of the group, Tom Howie, before the show
Bob Moses
By Time Out Istanbul editors |

You released your debut album Days Gone By in September. Where are you now and how is the tour going?
“Right now we’re on the tour bus on our way from Montreal to Toronto. The tour is going amazingly well and each gig keeps getting better than the last!”

It’s easy to mistake Bob Moses for a solo project. How did you guys choose the name?
“We were named Bob Moses by our friend Francis. It just sort of happened and we didn’t think much about it at the time. We started playing gigs and producing under that name and it just sort of stuck.”

What were you doing before you started Bob Moses? I heard you guys know each other from high school…
“Yes, we knew each other in high school. We shared the same art class, but we were both into very different styles of music at the time. We both played in other bands and produced music before Bob Moses. We ran into each other one day at the Lowe’s parking lot in Brooklyn – turns out we had studios in the same neighborhood for about a year and didn’t even know! So we ran into each other having not seen each other in years and decided to try working together, and right away it was clear that there was something special.”

Days Gone By is an album that is easily relatable even for those who aren’t all that into house music, given its vocals and lyrical depth. Was that your intention when you started writing tracks for the album?
“Our intention was simply to make the best work we could at the time. We worked hard to find our sound on our previous EPs, and our goal was just to write the best songs we could. We wanted to write a few things with different rhythms, not only on-the-floor dance tracks. We aimed to make an album that flowed well together and could be listened to at home or in a club.”

The artwork on the album cover is also quite impressive. How did that comeabout?
“The artwork came together really beautifully, and it is thanks to our good friend and art designer Joe Mortimer. The picture is actually taken from a piece of artwork by another artist, and thankfully we were given permission to use it. Joe does all our artwork, and he always sends through a few really great ideas as options. The minute we saw this we knew we wanted it to be the cover, as it is simple and striking and sums up both the musical and lyrical content of the album really well.”

You’ve previously stated that your live shows combine what a DJ does with the performance of a rock band. We know you use live vocals and guitar with electronic setup in your shows, and you’ve also stated in an interview that it’s not enough for you to make music using just the guitar. What’s so satisfying about mixing organic and electronic sounds?
“We started out by DJing and I would sing over our tracks. Then we broke it out into doing a live set with live vocals using the Ableton. Then we added live guitar, and now on this tour Jimmy is playing live keyboards as well. The set flows together like a DJ set with continuous mixes between most of the tracks, with a couple of breaks to play one or two of the slower songs off the album. The fun part for us about mixing organic and electronic sounds is that we both come from live band backgrounds, and it’s really fun to play live music in a way that DJing can never emulate. We also love the energy of dance music and we think that from a producer’s standpoint, the electronic music realm is the most exciting as far as being able to push boundaries sonically, and is also where many exciting artists are working, so it’s easy to get inspired by them.”

Yours is a dark, moody electronic music that makes you sad at the same time you’re dancing. Would you describe yourselves as melancholic?
“We are actually both very happy people. I can be a little moodier than Jimmy I’d say, sometimes, but writing music is for us a cathartic process much of the time, and most of the music we love is moody and melancholic, so I guess that’s just the way it comes out.”

Resident Advisor also described your music as “moody” and “post-club.”
“Sure. I think it’s less aggressive than lots of club music, so that’s perhaps why they made the distinction that it is good to wind down to after being out.”

How does it feel to be part of a big label like Domino?
“It feels great! Everyone at the label is super awesome, and we’ve become good friends with lots of the people we are working with. They are very professional, but they are all music lovers first, and are very passionate about music. It feels like we are in good hands. Even though they seem to be a ‘big’ label, they have a very down-to-earth and familial culture, so it doesn’t feel like we are at a big label at all, but a small and very inclusive one. We really couldn’t ask for a better situation.”

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