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JOSHUA MORIARTY – NO FILTER

Joshua Moriarty photo by Stu Morley
Joshua Moriarty photo by Stu Morley

“You talk everyday. You hear your voice more than any other person on the planet, every minute of your life. If it’s not nattering away, talking shit in your head, it’s out loud in your face, coming through your ears. So then you put a microphone infront of it and have to start singing as well and it’s kind of like: “More of me? How much me does there really need to be?”

“I just try and make music that I think is nice to listen to these days, like aurally sensual. I always like doing instrumental pieces, it means I have to write less lyrics… If you’ve ever written lyrics, it’s a fucking pain in the arse,”

Joshua Moriarty

It may come as a surprise that someone with a voice as impressive as Joshua Moriarty would struggle with a love-hate relationship towards it. Moriarty’s voice is one that many people would recognise as belonging to Miami Horror, featured in tracks such as ‘Leila’ and ‘Love Like Mine’. Joshua Moriarty’s third solo album, Melancholia, is out today and showcases how far he has ventured from his electronic, dance roots cultivated in Miami Horror to his 1950’s-60’s inspired cinematic, lounge style music he’s known for today.

Throughout my chat with Joshua Moriarty, there’s no filter. He’s down to earth, often making fun of himself and unafraid to speak his mind. Take, for instance, his candid response when I ask him how he thinks he’s changed as a musician over the years:

“I don’t really give a shit about dance music anymore, I think that’s the main thing… I don’t think I would do it again really deeply, but I’ll always be involved with dance projects, I imagine, at particular times,” he says.

Joshua Moriarty released his first solo album, War Is Over, in 2017, which he describes as a “hangover” from the funky, dance driven tracks of Miami Horror. It consisted of songs he’d pitched to the group that hadn’t been used and was a result of him trying to get the last of that genre out of his system. In 2019, his record Romantica saw him take a completely different musical direction. Influenced by composers such as Henry Mancini, Les Baxter and Martin Denny, Romantica is exotic, nostalgic and as its name suggests, romantic. It’s poolside friendly listening and consists mostly of instrumental tracks.

“I was hardly singing. I just felt like shutting up for a bit. I was sick of the sound of my own voice. I still kind of am, but sometimes it feels like there’s a necessity for me to open it,” says Moriarty.

Moriarty’s latest album, Melancholia, features a collection of reflective, mellow and dreamy songs that largely showcase his voice. It was produced in LA by ARIA nominated producer, Tony Buchen, over the course of 2019. Drawing inspiration from romantic crooners, Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison, Joshua Moriarty’s latest instalment is sentimental and cinematic, evocative of a golden age, Hollywood film soundtrack. One of the only instrumental songs on the album, ‘Cowgirls and Saints’, feels straight out of a 1950’s Western film. It starts out eerie and haunting, then builds to a retro, synthy crescendo. The only other instrumental song is opening track, ‘Legends’, which Moriarty names as his favourite of the album.

“It has John Carroll Kirby playing the piano. He’s just an incredible beast of a musician and the way he plays on that song just took it to a whole other level. He does this one-minute, beautiful introduction to set up the song and then the sax comes in and it gets a little heavier. It’s got that real sultry sound. I think for me, it’s one of the best things I’ve done. It sort of feels like a benchmark or something now.”

Melancholia explores multiple themes under the same woeful mood. Across songs including ‘One Last Time’ and ‘Long Serenade’, Moriarty processes the end of a relationship. In his track, ‘Isolation’, he depicts a feeling that has become more relatable than ever in recent times. Moriarty wrote this song before the pandemic, when he was regularly travelling between Los Angeles and Melbourne.

“Every time I would go back to one of the cities, I would spend two or three weeks re-adjusting to my surroundings and to my friendship groups and trying to remember what my routine was. Sometimes it’s three or four days with not much on and it’s like: this is horrible. You feel really disconnected. You can have a couple of lattes and go for a few walks around the park with a few friends, but there’s still plenty of hours to be filling. You could spend it doing music, which I often did, but it’s still a very lonely pursuit a lot of the time. I think that song sort of tried to encapsulate that feeling that had been brewing in me for a long time.”

Moriarty reflects that it’s a “very fitting” time to release a song like ‘Isolation’, with Melbourne recently coming out of lockdown. Moriarty spent most of lockdown in his studio, writing what will be his fourth album.

“I thought this is such an amazing opportunity that I will never get again where the world is silent. The world wasn’t silent, it was fucking loud, but if you could block the noise out, it was just incredible having that moment to actually try all of these ideas and particular things that I’ve been wanting to experiment with,” he says.

Moriarty says we can expect “more of the same” for his next album, which will be a mixture of half singing, half instrumental tracks.

“I just try and make music that I think is nice to listen to these days, like aurally sensual. I always like doing instrumental pieces, it means I have to write less lyrics… If you’ve ever written lyrics, it’s a fucking pain in the arse,” he says.

As well as continuing to work with Miami Horror, Joshua Moriarty is a member of Melbourne three-piece Telenova, runs his own podcast, The Bottom Of It, and is currently working on a record with his friend R.F. Coleman.

“I guess I’ve been lucky enough to just have ideas, always. There’s always been music in my brain. It’s like a job, you just gotta keep working, keep making records, keep booking studio time with friends. You could sit around for ages, waiting for inspiration to strike you, but more importantly, you just gotta start doing something, otherwise nothing will ever happen.”

Joshua Moriarty’s latest record, Melancholia, is out now, everywhere.

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