You’ve likely heard me talking about how WMOT is a great place for music discovery. Today’s Liner Notes is a perfect example of that. I received an email a few months ago from Molly Murphy, an artist I hadn’t heard of and was pleasantly surprised when I listened to her song, “Wildflower Girl”, the first single from her debut EP, What You’re Living For, out today. It’s exciting to see a young artist embarking on their career, releasing music for the first time and trying to find their way in a town full of people releasing music constantly. She’s a recent Nashvillian, originally from Fairfield, Connecticut, she moved to town shortly after graduating from Notre Dame. Molly’s also a visual artist, animal lover (me too!) and is writing and illustrating a children’s book with her sister.
AnaLee: Hi Molly, thanks for reaching out to me, I’m looking forward to learning more about you! Tell us about the grant you received while attending the University of Notre Dame and how that led you to Carnival Music here in Nashville?
Molly: Absolutely! The grant was actually a multi-step process. To get that grant I first had to get an internship, and then prove to Notre Dame that it was going to help me towards my long term career goals. I cold emailed a couple of music companies and ended up getting the internship at Carnival, which was great because it was my first choice after driving down to Nashville to interview! I then had to put together a series of videos explaining to Notre Dame why working at Carnival was pivotal to my dreams of being a singer-songwriter. I am still grateful for that summer because it really built a foundation for me here in Nashville. I learned so much about the business and got to talk with some of the songwriters at Carnival, as well as the head of the company, Frank Liddell, who gave me advice that I draw on constantly. Additionally, part of my duties as an intern was listening to demos and typing up the lyrics, so I listened to high quality music for hours on end, which I think was really good for me to be exposed to that level of craftmanship and the process behind it.
AnaLee: Congratulations on releasing your first EP, What You’re Living For. Tell us a little about the artists that have inspired and influenced your writing and your sound. Did you grow up in a musical home?
Molly: I didn’t grow up in a musical home but my parents are huge music fans. They were both born in the 60’s so that 60’s and 70’s sound, particularly Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac, The Temptations and The Supremes, was always playing in the background. As far as songwriting goes, Joni Mitchell is a big influence on me as is Stevie Nicks. They both are incredible story tellers and their stories are seamless; they’re never predictable and you can’t tell where their ideas begin and end like you can with less skilled songwriters. Modern day influences would be Hailey Whitters and Kacey Musgraves. Hailey was a Carnival songwriter when I worked there and it’s been so cool to see her journey. I also admire Kacey’s commitment to her unique voice and the way she’s unafraid to just sound like herself without much anxiety about exactly how she sounds. It’s very authentic.
AnaLee: You have a few outlets for creativity, I mentioned that you and your sister are writing and illustrating a children’s book! You’ve also been creating the art for your music, including the album art for What You’re Living For. Did the visual art inform the songwriting, or was it the other way around or have you always done both?
Molly: I definitely started with visual art. My mom is a visual artist so my sister and I would spend a lot of time in her studio making things. I think there’s a reason a lot of great musicians like The Talking Heads and John Lennon were visual artists first. Visual art is all about seeing things in a different way and about trusting what you see. It taught me a lot about expressing myself in a unique way but also about how to identify what artistic merit really is. Music is just another medium to me, which is why I wanted to visually represent these songs with cover art I made myself. The children’s book was a fun quarantine project for me and my sister. She’s a professional writer so we teamed up! We’re looking for an agent for the book and keeping our fingers crossed! It’s about an octopus named Otto who somehow finds his way to New York City and has a big adventure.
AnaLee: It sounds like the 60s and 70s really were a big influence on you, even through the recording process. Tell us about recording the ep and the video for the song, “Farsighted”.
Molly: The 60’s and 70’s were big influences. My producer, Connor Gehlert, suggested we record to tape after we had a conversation about what my vision was for the project. I love that era because things were raw and real in the recording process back then and it just sounds more organic. There also can be a lot of beauty in the imperfections which is something I tried to keep in mind while we were recording these songs. The recording date kept getting pushed back and pushed back because of covid but that ended up being what the project needed, I think. I ended up rethinking the songs I was going to record and I got a lot more time to practice my vocal delivery and my acoustic guitar. It just all kind of came together when it was supposed to. The video for “Farsighted” was recorded by my friend Dylan Reeves. I love that the background is so green and woodsy and that it was almost dark. It really captures the bittersweet meditation in that song.
Molly Murphy, “Farsighted”