INTERVIEW: Daniel Martin Moore

Daniel Martin Moore has been writing tender, benevolent folk-pop songs since his first EP in 2008. His political sentiments and empathic emotional tales are complimented delightfully by a gentle vocal filled with character and compassion.

INTERVIEW: Daniel Martin Moore New album In The Cool Of Day is Daniel's 'folk-gospel' record, a collection of spiritual songs remembered from his childhood that have been re-arranged and artistically re-interpreted to combine “elements of all the sorts of music we love to listen to, play, and sing”, reveals yet another heart-warming side to the singer, as spiritual and moral as it is deeply personal and family-orientated. We spoke to Daniel, after his opening set for folk sensations Iron & Wine at Birmingham Town Hall, about the tour, the new album and the political drive he so passionately displays.

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Bearded: For those unfamiliar, who are you and what do you do?

Daniel Martin Moore: I'm Daniel Martin Moore, and I have loved music my entire life. I can remember, as a child, quickly gravitating towards folk and spiritual sounds that I heard my mother and grandmother sing around the house; those songs just have such deep roots. My new record In The Cool Of The Day is a folk-gospel album – folk and spiritual music have always been intertwined, you can't have one without the other, they don't exist independently of each other. So that's what we're doing, playing folk tunes, writing songs every now and then. It's fascinating because I never planned to do this professionally.

B: Oh?! What were your previous career plans?
DMM: When I signed with Sub Pop I was enrolled in graduate school studying Sustainable Rural Development. When this opportunity came along to make music and um, drive around in vans - we drive around in vans much more than we make music..! - I put my education on hold and decided to try this for a while.

B: We're glad! So, how did you find the gig tonight [supporting Iron & Wine in Birmingham]?

DMM: Yeah, I was really happy! We had a beautiful audience, and on-stage there was this musical clarity that is so rare to find– it takes a great house engineer and a great monitor engineer, and the guys here just knocked it out the park, the sound was incredible.

B: So how are you enjoying the Iron & Wine tour so far?

DMM: I'm really enjoying it - Sam's audiences are music lovers, and to play music to people who really care about music is a real privilege.

B: Do the Iron & Wine audiences differ to Billy Bragg's, who we saw you tour with in the UK in December?

DMM: Billy's audience were just as friendly as Sam's, but very different people. Even so, there is the same hospitality that runs through both, and I wouldn't be surprised if there were some cross-over fans who loved both artists.

B: How have both of these audiences reacted to Mountain-Top Removal, an issue that you have continued to actively fight against since your first release?

DMM: I find that it doesn't matter where I play or where we talk about these things, in the UK or the US, the reaction is always the same. It's a human rights issue – people are being terrorised on their own land, their homes are being shaken apart by these huge explosions, and their own water is being poisoned so they can't drink or bathe. There is also colossal damage to the environment, but I see that as secondary – children are being poisoned, and there is no way to justify that.
The same greed and short-sightedness that causes this issue can be released anywhere in the world, and that's what resonates in people. It's very inspiring to see such heart-felt reactions.

B: Do you feel that your political awareness is resultant of your religious upbringing?

DMM: Not necessarily; I don't think religion does enough on the political front, although in fairness there are a lot of churches who are speaking out against Mountain-Top Removal, for example, which I really respect.
I think my political awareness stemmed from being surrounded by good people – my family would never tell me that any of my opinions were invalid, and were always encouraging me to address anything that was weighing heavy on my mind.

B: Was there any sort of political or moral motive behind creating your new record In The Cool Of The Day, which is so focused on traditional gospel songs, or merely a question of personal taste?

DMM: There are always other motives, no matter what the question, but mostly it was a personal thing. Songs like the album's title track, written by Gene Richie, are very political in the most powerful and subtle ways – talking about feeding people and keeping people free are, within the context of a spiritual life, big commitments that many of us make. They're not religious commitments, they're moral commitments.
Gene is actually from Kentucky and at the vanguard of fighting Mountain-Top Removal - there are always other motives, deep at work!

B: Prior to the In The Cool Of The Day album's creation, did you begin with a certain vision of the finished product and did it turn out the way you envisaged?

DMM: Yeah, this most recent one definitely. Initially I recorded the album for my family to give to them for Christmas! When Sub Pop became aware of what I was doing they suggested I make it the next record, and suddenly I had so much freedom – a few weeks of recording instead of a few days, and more complex, elaborate arrangements. We definitely had a clear idea, even from the start, that we wanted it to be a folk-gospel record, combining elements of all the sorts of music that we loved to listen to, loved to play and loved to sing.

B: Were there any other gospel singers and musicians that particularly inspired the album's creation, or was it the genre as a whole?

DMM: I really love Johnny Cash, the album My Mother's Hymn Book is just my favourite – I listen to that record all the time. My family were perhaps my biggest influence: my grandmother sang in the church choir, my step-father and mother love gospel music, and my father and brother – I remember listening to my brother practising piano at home when I was growing up, and he would often play in church.

B: The new album reveals a clear and direct spiritual side to your persona that your older material approaches more subtly. How did this personal exposure feel for you?

DMM: I can't say that it really felt different to me, because I see it as being almost in the same vein thematically. There are a lot of similarities, maybe more than one cares to admit, so I see it as a continuum in a lot of ways – what we're doing, we're always doing from our hearts so in many ways it's all one of the same, at least that's how it feels.

B: In terms of the new album you employ an instrumental, folk-band density with some songs and emotive sparsity in others, consistent with your previous material. Was this stylistic continuity purposeful?

DMM: I'm not sure, as a solo artist I just have certain predispositions: I love the way a beautiful piano sounds, and I love vibraphones and violins, for example. I don't think it was a conscious decision to make the records cohesive, it's really just down to my personal, in-built tastes and preferences.

B: You've only just started touring this album, which in itself has just been released, but do you have any future plans in terms of new recordings, tours etc.?

DMM: Yeah, I definitely have another record in the works, we haven't started recording yet but it's certainly being thought about. Recently, I've really been getting into the recording and engineering side of music. I've just actually produced an album for an artist named Joan Shelley, and it's absolutely beautiful – Joan's songs are classic and her voice is timeless. So I've been in the studio for the entire month of January working on Joan's album – it'll be out by the end of the year I think.

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Daniel's new album In The Cool Of The Day is available from, along with all his other records. Alternatively, you can find his music on iTunes and Amazon, and the new album is available in all good HMV stores.

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