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a million creatures Getting to Know #03 - Published: 1st September 2014 - - Words & Questions: Jamie Downes -

The solo project of New York resident Molly Murphy, a million creatures (all lowercase) appeared on Volume. 2 of our Beautiful Songwriting series, her captivating vocals and superior storytelling prowess having combined to allow latest EP, Fugitives, to leave a lasting and thought-provoking impression. I recently caught up with Molly, who gave a fascinating and in-depth insight into the connection between her self and her creative output, discussing the process driven nature of her work, the importance of storytelling and her interest in the darker yet hopeful side of the human experience.

I think, maybe, being an artistic person, doing creative work is a huge part of who I am [...] but I don’t think necessarily it creates the definition, I think it just helps me articulate it.

Refamiliarise / Become Acquainted ?

The Interview

How long have you been recording songs for, and how long has a million creatures, specifically, existed?

Molly: I started off in musical theatre – I’ve been singing my whole life – but I started playing with my first band right when I graduated from college, so that’s maybe four or five years ago. A million creatures started maybe a year and a half ago, so me striking out as a solo artist has been happening for a shorter period of time. I was a little tentative about doing that and moving away from the band setup.

What is your process as a songwriter?

Molly: It varies. I mean, if I’m working alone, I get really fixated or fascinated by different ideas or stories or something personal that happened to me. I’ll go into that for a long time – reading about it, writing about it, whatever – and then songs really come from that space. Or, I’ll just start playing things – melodies on the guitar – and start listening to music and things come out of that. So, that’s the solo process. Then, also, one of my favourite things to do is bring in different collaborators, and that changes the process because you’re dealing with more human beings, and that sort of allows me to take my ego out of it, whatever my ego is; to be able to bring other people in and know that there is this whole other world of ideas out there. I also like to bring things to other people and put myself in that space.

And do you find yourself making many changes to your work when you bring other people in?

Molly: It depends. I mean, before I moved out – I just moved to New York – but when I was in California, I was playing with two singers and they were working on songs with me. They came into the project in the capacity of being singers, more in the session singer kind of format. They aren’t interested in writing, they’re interested in rehearsing and performing, so in that sense I was in more of a leadership position, which was actually kinda new for me at the time, even though it was very recent. I’m really used to blending into the group, and I’m working on communicating what my vision is and what I hear with the people that I’m working with a little bit more. But they came in as singers, and I’m working with someone here in New York – and she’s my really, really close friend, and we’ve been working together on various projects for a long time – and she comes in the capacity of a writer and a creative and somebody who likes to develop work as well, so that changes the process. There’s more compromising and more changes and more collaboration because her mindset is also of a songwriter, as opposed to people who are working in the capacity of enhancing the music and adding their talents, which are singing and learning the songs that I’ve already written and me being in more of a deciding position.

Do you find that your creativity takes a hold quite quickly, or do ideas behind songs take a while to develop?

Molly: When I did my first album, which was completely solo… I think when I allowed myself to go into the space of ‘this is going to be a bedroom recorded experiment; it’s going to be a little bit less about the product and a lot more about going through the process’, that process was expedited a little bit, because I put myself in a space where I knew I would flourish creatively. I was very true to that throughout the whole process. But, sometimes, I’ll go a long time without being able to write anything and will just be rehearsing older songs and having little ideas here and there, but it’s like a whole odyssey just trying to get a song out. I think it’s external input, like, if I’m putting myself in a space that feels really productive and creative and I’m taking the time to do that, then that’s going to affect the process and going to make it more fluent; give it more ‘go’, I guess.

That’s surrounding myself with the right people and just deciding that the process is going to be about the way that I think my music works best. It’s about controlling the environment that I’m writing in. Sometimes, I’m just kinda all over the place with work or whatever it is. I have, like, a million projects in my head and if I’m trying to sort them all out then nothing can happen. I need to get myself in a place where I’m just focussing on one thing at a time.

Do you find that difficult?

Molly: I do sometimes, yeah. I’m constantly thinking about stuff that I want to do and the things that I am working on, and sometimes it’s hard to filter it down to, “Okay, what is it that I need to do today”. That’s just how my brain works. So, it’s like things come really quickly and I get really attached or excited. And, because something I love to do so much is work with other people, I also get excited about other people’s projects and participating in their work, not as a songwriter, but going in as a singer – somebody who’s helping with something in a different capacity. That takes some negotiating. If I’m doing that with somebody’s project, and I have a collaboration I’m working on with someone else and then I have my solo stuff…

It’s trying to filter down, “What am I thinking about today? What am I working on today? What am I giving my full attention to right now?” When I’m able to really do that, I think things sort of fall into place, but if I’m thinking about all three things then it’s just all over the place. But that can also be great. I mean, it’s really exciting. I’m really glad my brain works that way because things are constantly happening. I don’t ever feel like I have huge wells of time where I’m not in a creative space, which is really nice, but sometimes I get so overwhelmed that I’m like, “I need to stop and decide what I’m working on.” So there are ups and down to that being my brain, I guess.

How important is it for you to be a storyteller as well as a songwriter?

Molly: Yeah, pretty important! That’s a really good question… I don’t really think of them very differently. I think you can be a storyteller without being a songwriter, but I don’t think you can be a songwriter without being a storyteller. I don’t know that everyone really defines themselves that way, but music that I listen to and that I love, even if it’s instrumental music, or musicians that have repetitive lyrics or are not as lyric heavy – I still think it’s storytelling; I still think it falls in that realm.

So yeah, I think it’s really important. I think it’s important for me to be in touch with that specifically, because it’s where my roots are; starting in theatre and being a part of a family who… I think that’s always been important to my family. Reading and storytelling has always been a big part of my life, and then also having an interest in it beyond just the creative. I enjoy hearing about people’s days, and I enjoy that conversation where people are sharing on that level, even if it’s just like, “I went to the store” – whatever sort of boring thing happened. It’s kind of interesting for me to engage in the world that way with other people, and so I think it’s important that it makes its way into the work that I’m doing. For me, it’s a big focus, and the projects that I’m interested in and the projects that I’m thinking of in the future are really based on a more narrative songwriting world.

Some of your songs, particularly on the album, seem, perhaps surprisingly, quite sad.

Molly: [laughs] That’s okay. I’m okay with sad. I like to define myself sometimes – not all the time – as melancholy folk, because I do think there’s a hint of that. I actually don’t really ever set out to write sad songs, and I’m not a sad person either. I think some combination of the things that I’m interested in – stories and emotion and the world – happened to be on the darker side, and so that comes out in my songwriting, but it’s interesting, because it doesn’t necessarily always come out in my person. I think tonally, too; I think sometimes it’s just, sonically, there is melancholy in my voice, and I tend towards that kind of sound. What I’m writing on the guitar – I don’t think of myself really as a guitar player yet; I’m still working on that – when I do more simple melodies and really focus on the sound of my voice, sometimes it tends towards this darker, melancholic sound. So, it’s interesting. I think some of it happens by accident and just because of the things that are working together.

But, I listen to some of the stuff that I’m writing, as I’m writing it, and I find a lot of hope and light that I think I’m really the only person that can see, because I know the story behind the story behind the story of the song. So it’s always funny to me. I’ll play a song and someone’s like, “Wow! That’s really sad”, but I think about the hopeful side of it. It’s always interesting for me to hear about how people interact with it. I think it’s different for everyone, but it gives me a whole new perspective on what’s happening. To be in that melancholy folk sort of space, I’m so down, you know; that’s amazing – I think it has a powerful history. But yeah, it’s just interesting because there are songs that people think are, inherently, deeply sad that I find hope in, just because of what I know about the process of it and what I know about it in its deepest form.

You mention being interested in stories and emotion from the ‘darker side’. What exactly do you mean by this?

Molly: I think the darker side of the human experience is one thing. I’ve always been into really dark comedy. This is not particularly dark, but the kinds of stories you would sit around the campfire and tell, like folk and myth, which have that bit of magic, that combination of darker events, but also the other side of it, which is just compelling storytelling. I think I tend towards what I perceive as the most vulnerable, either in myself, or just in experience of people that I’m around. I think that tends to feel darker, because typically the most vulnerable beans are probably the most deep-seeded. So, I guess it’s not dark in a scary dark or a necessarily sad dark, but maybe more just the things that people don’t want to talk about as much. I’m really interested in that, and it’s something I’m still really working on because I don’t necessarily want to talk about it either.

But, I think it’s important, and so that’s the kind of thing that I’m working towards with some of the new stuff that I’m doing, and even starting to explore in some of the music I have online already. That thing that nobody wants to talk about but everybody wants to talk about. Does that make sense? It’s like, everyone is kind of dying to talk about it… I guess I shouldn’t say everyone. I’m kind of dying to talk about that – there are these things that want to come out, but they are the most deep-seeded, vulnerable things. I’m really interested in that, and slowly working up the courage to even explore those depths myself because they’re scary. So, I think that is maybe more of the dark, and I’m only just starting to touch on that. I don’t know if I’ll ever even get there, because it is so deep-seeded.

Do you find it emotionally draining to write songs of that nature?

Molly: Sometimes, if they exist really deeply within me. Sometimes it’s really life-affirming, exciting and fulfilling to get to that place, and I think that’s where the hope comes in. You know, “We can go there and share that and stop putting a bunch of things in front of ourselves.” I think even more so when it’s inspired by the stories or the experience of other people, even if it’s fictional people; when it’s getting in touch with that depth of emotion outside of myself. It’s not really exhausting other than that sometimes making work is exhausting, but in terms of emotionally draining, I think it’s more exciting. But when I really hit on stuff that’s deeply personal, which is, I think, the most difficult for me, that’s when it’s like, “Right, I need to walk away from my guitar for maybe a day and come back to that later.”

When songs do affect you in that way, is it harder to write them or to perform them?

Molly: That’s a really good question… I don’t know, actually. My first instinct is to say it’s to write them because… Why? I don’t know why that’s my first instinct, actually. I think maybe it’s because I’m sitting alone with it, thinking about it and living with it. There’s something about the sharing of it that releases it from my consciousness a little bit. If I’m just writing it and working on it then I’m thinking about it all the time. Once I perform it for the first time, it’s out into the world and it lives in a different space besides just with me, so I think it removes that pressure to hold it and carry it by myself. But there’s always a layer of ‘it’s difficult to perform’, for me; I always get really nervous and after shows I always need to not talk to anyone for at least five minutes. [laughs] You put yourself in a pretty vulnerable position. Any performer – if you’re acting or hanging paintings in a gallery – you’re putting yourself out there in a big way, I think. But, I think that when it affects me on that level, it becomes more challenging for me to hold it in by myself and be in the construction period, because then it’s just mine and just in my brain and there’s no output, and it kinda haunts me a little bit.

Earlier in the year, on your blog, you wrote of how you had pledged to yourself to be more present and more open, both in life and in your music – what prompted this and how did you go about achieving it?

Molly: I still think I’m working on achieving it, actually. I spent a lot of time in the studio recently with my former band, which was wonderful but really challenging, because I felt really separate from everything they were doing. It felt like I couldn’t fully be present with what we were working on and what we were recording. I hadn’t really done anything in the studio – it was a lot more bedroom recordings and things like that. That sort of made me feel really far away, and so it was a combination of that and just personal goals and personal desire to be a little more transparent with the work that I’m doing, but also why I’m doing it and why I care about it so much.

So, I think it sort of came out of that, and the way I’ve done it is to try and not put too much importance on finished product and playing normal venues. To still participate in that world of playing music, but to also play music in the way that I think my music is best heard; because it is so intimate and quiet, it’s best heard in situations that are outside of that world and are less presentational and are a lot more about the conversation that you have when you listen to or play music. I think I like the idea of putting it directly in front of people as opposed to having the sound system and the cover charge and all that stuff that gets in between you and who’s listening to you, and also you and what you’re playing.

I started posting recordings that are rough drafts and just trying to be a little bit more open about the process, because that’s my favourite part, and I think that’s more inclusive and more what it’s about – sharing with people and conversing with people in that way.

You also touched upon – again, on your blog – how intimately you know your songs, but the way it read, it was as if this surprised you a little. Would you say that the connection between yourself and your work is something that has grown over time?

Molly: Absolutely; it’s really new for me. I think that’s like a ‘in the last few months’ thing with a certain section of my songs. Because I started to perform live by myself, I think that’s really where the transition was. When I was performing with my band, I tended to… I just got so lucky; I was working with, and still work with, these really talented human beings. I think they’re probably my biggest musical inspiration. They were the people that encouraged me to express myself this way, which led me to find new things that I think I’m the most passionate about creatively, because I’ve worked in so many different formats in my life. So, I kinda was able to focus on their energy a lot when I was performing and even when I was writing. I think that was an amazing experience and really good for me, and I don’t diminish that because it made me able to do other things, and now I have lifelong collaborators, but… I don’t think until I started performing solo and pushing myself in that direction, which was a big step for me – I don’t think it was until then that I started to actually get to know my songs and how I play them alone, which I think makes sense.

So, it does surprise me and still surprises me when I’m suddenly playing a song on stage, live, and I don’t have to think about it as hard, and I can play a little bit more, and that I know the ins and outs so well from playing it for so long and playing it alone for so long that it just kinda appears in front of me, as opposed to me thinking every step of the way and feeling like I have to really focus. I can let myself experience it also with whoever’s listening, or if I’m playing in my room alone, I can experience the song instead of thinking, “How does this song go?” So, it’s really nice, but it’s definitely new; it’s definitely in like the last two or three months that I’ve had the realisation that it was starting to happen.

I get the impression that setting an atmosphere in your work is very important to you.

Molly: Yeah, I think so. I think when I’m writing that’s true. I think that the location that I’m performing in affects the performance and the vibe that you get. I don’t think that’s unique to me, I think that’s just an important thing always for people. If they’re having problems with the sound and people are screaming at the bar, it’s always going to affect… I think I’m not at the place yet where I can perform through anything. I feel like, although I can get through a show, I think that it becomes more exhausting or more scary – I don’t get to experience the music or have the opportunity to perform as well. There are some really stellar musicians who can just connect with their music through anything. It doesn’t matter what’s happening around them, they’re able to connect so deeply with what they’re doing. I think that’s definitely something that’s a lifelong learning process.

So, for me, I tend to play wherever I get the opportunity to play – I think it’s important. Meet other musicians and go out into the world and meet people and try and engage different people with what you’re doing and find out what they’re doing. It inspires more music. I’ve started to believe in the process of creating opportunities for yourself and playing where you feel like you can be best heard; even more importantly, where you feel like you can share on a level where you can hear the people that you’re playing to, where you can feel the presence of other people and share it with them and it can be more of an exchange and less about, “I’m standing on this stage playing a song. Watch me.” I think I’ve found that I need to create those opportunities and that I get lucky.

So, I think that’s kinda where it is in setting the atmosphere. It’s a lot more putting myself in a situation in performing where I know I can experience and share with people, and just continually working on being in a venue with unknown factors. Which happens. Like, if you’re gonna play music, that’s gonna be a big part of your life, and to just remember to reconnect with, “I’m playing these songs that are really important to me; how do I go back to that space?”, even if somebody’s drunkenly yelling from the bar. That’s okay; they can do that. That’s awesome; they’re having a good time. Just because someone’s yelling at the bar, it doesn’t diminish what you’re doing. As long as you can go back into that space. That’s the harder thing for me, I think. The thing for me that’s a little bit easier is creating situations where I know that my music will be heard the best.

It comes across in your recorded material too – whether you intend it or not, your work certainly sets a mood.

Molly: Yeah, I think it was unintentional in the beginning, but it’s becoming more of a thing that I’m thinking about. With one of my former bandmates – we’ve worked on many different projects together – right now we’re collaborating on a short film score. One of our friends from college wrote a screenplay and got some funding to make it – it’s like a fifteen-minute film – and so asked us to do an original score for it, which has been amazing. But that is so focussed on atmosphere. It’s just a different kind of storytelling, like, it’s making me think about creating music from a more sonic, atmospheric place, and a lot more about, “Okay, this is the mood and setting of the film – how do you score that? How do you enhance that with this other form of storytelling or the music that’s going to be in the film?”

So, I’ve been thinking about that in comparison to a lot of the work I’ve been doing recently, and I think it’s becoming more intentional, like, it’s interesting to me to put myself in a space where I’m able to walk on stage with my music and radically change the mood, which I think I sort of do in general because I have more of a melancholy, meditative sound. I think that most musicians do that – or all musicians, in some way. If you’re a big dance band, you’re going to radically shift the atmosphere with what you’re doing. Music is such a visceral thing, so I think it sort of happens by accident if you are true to the way you write and perform, but I’ve been thinking about it more intentionally recently because I think it’s really interesting. I have no idea what effect they actually have. I’ve no perspective unless I converse with people about it, but I think it’s interesting for me to think about that idea when I take things into performance – to be okay with being melancholy, to be excited about bringing everyone into more of an introverted, thoughtful space. It’s interesting to think about what shift in mood can happen when I play my music for people.

Purely in relation to your recorded material, how successful do you feel you’ve been thus far in creating an emotional connection with your audience?

Molly: I have no idea… The first album felt like it really did come from a more selfish place, and I don’t even mean that negatively. I think ‘selfish’ has a negative connotation, but I think it came from a place of really needing to step back from being in the studio and step back from thinking about any perception of my music or what I’m doing, just in order to free myself from pressure that I put on myself to make the product perfect and to think more about that process of creating one whole album and that’s it. It sort of turned into this deeply personal journey that I was not expecting, and because all of that happened with the first album, when I released it, I sort-of ran away. [laughs] It was this huge project for me and this huge transition into, “Okay, now I’m doing it alone”, and – I’m never alone, I have so many people in my life that directly support and encourage it – but I don’t have that band with me, and the songs I’m writing are a lot more stripped down and I’m not shouting into a mic, but I’m finger-picking and whispering. All of a sudden, it just became more deeply personal and a lot more intimate, so when I released that actual album, I was like, “I can’t know. I can’t find out because it’s too much. I don’t wanna know.” I had a lot of people closer to me and some random people that just connected with it online – like, lots of positive feedback and feedback on how it affected them, which I loved and really appreciated – but I never really got a full sense of what impact it had on even just people close to me. Obviously, it doesn’t have this great impact. I’ve a very small circle of people around me that I love, but yeah, I don’t really know.

With the second one, I released it and really needed to release it, and then I was moving and making this huge life transition, so again, it was sort of like, “I wanna put this out there for posterity because I love these songs and I loved the process of working on them in the studio” – because it was a very different process from anything else I’d done – “and I’m just gonna put those out there and run away again.” I never got the full scope of what that is or what it was. It just kinda now exists online. It’s kinda weird. They were much more process orientated and journey orientated for me. So yeah, I don’t want to know. I’m too scared, I guess, to ask that question more seriously.

And is that because you’re scared to know the answer?

Molly: I don’t know! I don’t know that it would matter – I think it would matter from certain people, like my collaborators. If they were like, “Ooh, you should take that off the internet.” I think that would be really devastating. If a complete stranger were to walk up to me and tell me I was terrible, I don’t know that it would affect me that much. I think it’s more people who are very close to me, and that’s most of my audience anyway. People that know me or have known me in the past and then also my close inner circle. Those are the opinions that matter the most, so I’m not sure if it’s that I’m afraid of the answer or if it’s just that I don’t need to know that part of it. I am always happy to talk about it and engage with people about work that I’m doing or they’re doing, and talk about the work in general – not just my songs but talk about making music and art, having those conversations. I don’t think I need to know the impact, I think I need to work on it and release it and put it into the world. I think that’s enough. I think what may be scary is thinking about any situation that would make me ‘whatever strong emotion’. That I would stop. That I would just be like, “I can’t do this anymore”, and so maybe that’s where the fear comes from – if you get enough of a certain type of feedback, maybe you won’t persevere. That might just be because I’m more interested in the bigger conversation and then just continuing on with the ideas and the work.

To what extent do you feel that your musical output defines you as a person?

Molly: Oh… You have hard questions. [laughs] I want to say that… It helps me to discover what the definition is. I think, maybe, being an artistic person, doing creative work is a huge part of who I am, and doing that work reveals to me other parts of who I am, but I don’t think necessarily it creates the definition, I think it just helps me articulate it. Does that make sense? [laughs] I mean, it’s part of the actual definition, because I do feel that if people ask me to define myself in the bluntest form, I would say an artistic, creative person.

From what non-musical sources do you take inspiration?

Molly: Reading; myth, folktales, folklore – that’s a huge one for me. Other people, interacting with other people, their experiences, and observation of people moving through the world is a big thing. I get really fixated and fascinated on different things that I see, mostly based on human experience. Yeah, I think those are the big things – reading and then interacting with other human beings, even if it’s just on the level of observation.

You mention myths and folktales – is there any particular collection that would be at the forefront of that?

Molly: No, it’s sort of been like a piecemeal thing, like, when I encounter things that I really like. It’s also more of a recent thing, an idea… Well no, that’s not true; it’s always been something that’s affected me, but it spans a wide range. It also extends to other literary… I’m an extremely literary person, so I think that it influences me on a wide scope. I have projects that I’ve developed and still have on the radar that are more myth-specific, like, different mythological beings and very specific stories. But I think it’s more just generally doing a lot of reading and having those literary experiences. Hearing people tell stories from their past – not just stories about their life, but stories that have been a part of their life on a literary level, like, “My mum always told me this story” or whatever. That kind-of stuff too has a big effect on me.

What about musical inspirations?

Molly: In terms of the folk singer-songwriter type people, I mean, Colin Meloy, The Decemberists. They were the first band that impacted me on a storytelling level in particular, because their songs are so narrative. Anais Mitchell – she wrote this concept album musical called Hadestown, which is about the Eurydice myth, and she wrote it as a concept album and brought other artists into it and has also performed it in various forms. I think she’s started to hand it over to other performers, but she plays Eurydice on the album. I love that kind of stuff. I’ve always been interested in the concept album format and always been interested in tying my music with theatre, because theatre is such a huge part of my life. So, she’s a big inspiration. Also, recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of Neil Young, Justin Vernon from Bon Iver, because he does all sorts of different projects and just lets himself sink into different formats; that’s really inspiring to me. Sam Beam from Iron & Wine, Phil Elvrum from The Microphones, John Darnielle – he’s from the Mountain Goats. He’s an incredible, incredible storyteller, and their songs are just really well orchestrated. Yann Tiersen is another guy – he’s done a lot of film scores and lots of really expansive music. Jenny Lewis. Keaton Henson. Yeah, I think that’s a good list.

Is there anything completely from leftfield that perhaps people wouldn’t expect you to cite?

Molly: Probably. Maybe not completely from leftfield, but I’m a huge Dixieland jazz fan, because my grandfather is a Dixieland jazz guy – he played the piano growing up and was just an amazing musician himself. He used to run a festival in Orange County in California, which was a Dixieland jazz festival, and I went from the time I was a little kid. I don’t really have any jazz in my sound. There are times when you can kind of hear it a little bit, but mostly it’s folk. But, I’d say that’d be the most leftfield. I mean, I do listen to some stuff, like, I really love pop music. I love good pop music. I’m a huge Beyonce fan – maybe that’s really surprising? She inspires me because I just think she’s a powerful business woman and artist, but her music doesn’t influence my music. I just love blasting it when I’m taking the subway.

You’ve recently been involved in the Habitat Tour – what was this exactly, and what was the thinking behind it?

Molly: So, that goes back to earlier in the conversation. I mean, that’s really the epitome of creating your own performance space. I moved out to New York; my best friend who lives out here is also a musician, and she and I have worked on a lot of projects when I was living in California. We did a lot of long distance – she affectionately named it our ‘Long Distance Creationship’, because we were on Skype all the time and in the process of writing a concept album and trying to do all this work. Finally, I moved out here and we were like, “We can actually do projects!” We wanted to think of something we could do to get in the habit of working every week and making it a priority to be creative and start to develop things. My first week out here I got a show at a coffee shop and it was lovely, but I realised that there were probably other opportunities, out here especially, because there are so many people interested in playing and being creative. So, we developed this idea to bring music to people’s habitats; living rooms, gardens, rooftops – wherever people wanted us to perform in their home spaces in order to create more intimate, connective experience. Making it less presentational and about, “Let’s all sit on a rooftop as the sun is going down and drink wine and listen to music. Let’s all experience this together, from the person inviting us into their home to play, to everybody who’s coming.” Bringing food to share and actually engaging with the music and actually listening to the music and then having other people share.

We got really lucky, and somehow had other performers at every show we did, which was amazing. Two of my friends from California were out here touring together. They have a band that you should look up – Brother Grand – they’re amazing. They came out and played a show with us because they happened to be in New York our first week of Habitat tour. We did a show in a living room and the host made us this huge dinner, so we were sitting with our audience having dinner, and before we played a bunch of people stood up and shared their writing and their poetry – a bunch of different people did performances – and then we played our music.

It’s been a really powerful thing, and the other thing that’s so great about it is that we can do it anytime. We had our last scheduled show last weekend, but it’s open-ended. If we happen to schedule a show then we can go bring this project into somebody’s space. It was really about that kind of intimacy and performing, and also taking away some of the layers and making it about this straightforward, create-your-own environment. We’re in these spaces that are personal and important to people, and bringing what’s important to us into that space. So, it was great, and it’s ongoing, so we’re hoping that more people open up their homes and we’ll continue to do it.

Collaboration is clearly hugely important to you, so would you care to elaborate on what other projects you’re involved with and how they differ to what you do under the ‘a million creatures’ banner?

Molly: Sure. So, I’m working on Habitat tour with Dani, which is a big thing and it’s sort of been under the a million creatures thing, but we also sort of have our own identity in doing that and in performing together. I’m working on a film score with Robert – my collaborator back in California – and we’ve worked on some other projects. We had a project that went under the name of Lanterns, and we only ended up releasing three songs, but I really want to revive it – we can still work on it on different coasts, because he does lots of the instrumental work and then I’ll do lots of the melody and vocal arranging work. That was mainly electronic-sounding dance music, and we’re thinking of potentially getting that going again. I did some vocal work on other musicians albums, which is similar to what I do with a million creatures in that I’m singing and using my voice in the same way, and they’re sort-of in the same genre, but it’s a different hat. I don’t go in to write, I go in to add support to people’s work.

And I just moved into this house with a lot of other creative people who are doing really interesting work, and I’m in New York now which is like… there are just so many people and so many inspiring things happening here. Dani and I are thinking about what our next project is going to be, so I think, what’s coming up is really exciting for me, because there’s a lot of opportunity for me to start to do the things that I’ve been interested in doing for a long time, and now I think I’m starting to have the capacity to do that and I’m getting really inspired by the work that’s happening directly around me, which is not necessarily how it’s been, even when I was making the album. There were a lot of creative people around, but this is just like a different atmosphere – I’m in an apartment with performance artists and musicians and people making art. I’m in a city filled with people making really exciting work, so the answer to that question might be different even in a few months when more things get developed.

So, moving back to your recorded material – on reflection, is there anything you would change about your first two releases?

Molly: I haven’t listened to them in a long time, so probably. There’s probably a lot I would change. I have a hard time saying it about those two in particular because they were so much less about the product. They were so much less about how the album turned out and a lot more about pushing myself into the journey of exploring what my music is solo. It was a lot less about finished product, so I think the way it came out is the way it came out, and that was how it was supposed to come out. But, I’m sure I would go back and listen to it and just be like, “Well, everything needs to change.” [laughs] I think that’s sort of a common artist flaw, that nothing’s ever good enough. But I can’t think of anything specifically, just because the space in which the development of that came from, and also because I haven’t listened to it in a very long time.

Finally, looking forward, how would you like to see your music develop as a million creatures?

Molly: I think a really basic thing is that I would love to bring in more musicians. I would love to do more narrative sets – thinking about sets as whole narrative stories and performing them that way and having more supporting musicians to collaborate with. I haven’t had that in a long time, and I’m interested in seeing what would happen if I could actually put forth the things that I hear in my head, like, if I could actually have some other string players and some other singers and seeing how far I can go with making things sound fully produced in live performance – more orchestral and having more musicians involved – I’m really interested in that. Also, really deeply going into the storytelling realm. I think I’m there with individual songs, but I’m always sort of right outside the level that I want to be, and I want to be in more of a storytelling-centric space and just really, really go there, I guess.

Thank you for your time!

In This Hour, the debut album from a million creatures, as well as follow-up EP, Fugitives, are both available for purchase over on Bandcamp.

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a million creatures featured on...

... our second Beautiful Songwriting compilation. Free download (and streaming) available from Bandcamp & Noisetrade.