Matt Moran is a songwriter and performer based in Southern California. He performs solo in house concerts around the country as well as with his band. Their musical genre is Roots Rock/Modern Americana – a true melodic rock/country crossover sound. Learn more here.
1. What is your favorite tool for songwriting?
My guitar and a pad of paper. I have written a few songs – lyrically and even melody while driving. I don’t recommend this. Several years ago I purchased a digital recorder and need to get a new one. This made my driving and writing safer for everyone. But in the end, I tend to tinker on the guitar, finding chord patterns. Other times I come to the guitar with a specific theme or story in mind.
2. What is your musical guilty pleasure?
I don’t think I have one… I have a man-crush on Ray LaMontagne’s voice and his lyrics.
3. How has your career changed from what you thought it would? Or, where are you now compared to where you thought you would be?
I have been writing for many years… starting when I was probably 8 or 9 but I didn’t do anything musically with a professional focus until a couple years ago. I’m not satisfied with where I am but I am happy with the strides I’ve taken.
4. What has been hard for you (or, frustrating), as a songwriter?
I haven’t been frustrated as a songwriter but as a performer.. yes. Maintaining an effective schedule of performing and promoting the performance is a struggle. I don’t really experience writer’s block and I am pretty happy with the words I’m putting down. Making time to contact venues and then promote those shows is more my challenge.
5. If you could talk to your teenager-self, what would you tell yourself to prepare yourself for this career?
Don’t wait! And build a team as quickly as you can. You don’t need to own it all.
6. How do you (or have you) break through writing slumps?
I don’t really have them. If I sit down to write, I can write pretty effectively on queue. I am a professional (published) author and wrote columns for a few years. You had to be “creative on demand”. In Stephen King’s book, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” he boo hoos the whole idea of waiting on your muse. Instead, he recommends you show up at the same time, same place, every day and do the heavy lifting. Then, your muse knows where to find you. And if she does not show up (your muse is a fickle bitch), at least you’ve done the heavy lifting.
7. What characteristics does your idea cowriter have?
Co-writer? I’ve only tried it a few times – from a distance. Sent words and ideas back and forth. I liked it well-enough but never completed the songs.
8. Who would you LOVE to cowrite with (specific person)?
9. What’s one of your favorite songs that you’ve written, and why is it one of your favorites?
Oh.. so many. they are all so good! Everyday Lies. I wrote it a few years before my separation and divorce but it captures the pain of “the breakup” and third party, so nicely in my opinion. An economy of words that say a LOT!
10. What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Use fewer words. Use shorter sentences. It is good advice and I seldom heed it.
11. What’s the worst advice you’ve gotten, as a songwriter?
To attend a songwriting critique group. They are the same as writing (author) critique groups. Mostly frustrated writers who just don’t write that well (sorry). Instead, I strongly suggest that you find songwriters you like and create relationships with them. If you want someone to critique your songs, send them to a select few – your brain trust. And understand that if you send your song to 5 songwriters you respect, you might get 5 different feedbacks… Don’t change your song just because they felt you should.