ARTIST NAME: Liz Moss
SONG TITLE: Smoke Alarms
RELEASE DATE: June 25, 2021
GENRE: Indie-Folk, Singer-Songwriter, Bedroom-Pop
Liz Moss is a stunning and emerging artist, capturing the essence of her youth in a beautiful and melodic way. She is a breath of fresh air that uses her lucid voice and poetic lyrics to touch the hearts of all listeners. Influenced by the works of Dodie, Ed Sheeran, and Phoebe Bridgers, Liz tightly packs personal lyrics into flowing and memorable melodies. Liz began writing and playing after she was gifted a blue Johnson guitar by a family friend at the age of fifteen, and she immediately began practicing and learning Ed Sheeran songs in the basement of her childhood home in Indianapolis. The following year she broke into the local music scene by performing at venues and festivals such as Square Cat Vinyl, Sofar Sounds Indy, Midway Music Festival, Carmel Porchfest, and more.
In 2019 she was the winner of the Bloomington “Rising Star” contest, and in 2020 she was accepted into Belmont University’s highly selective Songwriting program. She currently studies Songwriting and Video Production at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.
Smoke alarm went off on Tuesday night
From my room, everyone heard it
The source of fire: my desire
To keep my dorm room candle burning
I, I, I, I hoped I’d see your face
Glowing in the icy cold glaze
While smoke dissipates I thought we’d fuel a flame
But it went away
It went away
Bum ba dum
Bum ba dum
Bum bum ba dum
Bum ba dum
I found out everything you like
Tattered books and cheap red wine
Maybe if I know enough
I can fool the guards that gate your heart off
And I just wanna know you
I’d make the wildest excuse
Until the smoke smell says it’s no use
Bum ba dum
Bum ba dum
Bum bum ba dum
Bum ba dum
Discuss your recording experience with your producer.
I wrote and recorded this song alone in my dorm room at midnight after a smoke alarm went off in my building. I recorded the vocals, guitar, and midi keyboard all in my tiny dorm, not intending to release the song on streaming platforms. After uploading the song onto Reddit and YouTube; and receiving positive support, I decided to get the song re-mixed using the same vocal and guitar takes, as I felt they captured that bedroom-pop charm. My mixer, Scott Borel, added vinyl cracks, which I thought was a nice touch. It was so satisfying to release something that I recorded and produced entirely myself. I’d love to get to the point where I’m able to fully produce and mix myself because there is so much freedom and creative fulfillment in that.
Discuss what comes first and last while creating a song.
I start with finding the chords and melodies, and the lyrics usually come into place during that process. I always want my lyrics to fit tightly into my melody so that the listener has that satisfaction when a word or rhyme falls perfectly into place. Story-wise, I’ll typically start a song from either the hook/main idea (which generally evolves into the chorus), or I’ll start right off the bat with verse one. Finishing the second verse and bridge usually comes last for me, since I often find it difficult to come up with more lyrics of substance if I’ve covered most of my ground in the first verse and chorus.
Tell us the piece of advice you will give to a new artist.
I’d tell them to start playing music writing and developing their sound as soon as possible. Don’t worry about securing success or about developing a “brand” just yet. The best part of the creative process is available to you now. You don’t have to call yourself an “aspiring” writer or musician. You can write now. You can make music now. Creation is the part you will receive most gratification from, and that is the one thing that will remain consistent if you do become successful.
Discuss your worst experience in the music business.
I think my worst experience with the music business isn’t so much a specific time or event, but rather a general feeling I encounter. I’ve wrestled with social anxiety and general anxiety from a young age, and in the music industry, I often move about like a kid walking down the hallway on the first day of classes at a new school. I frequently feel nervous and uncomfortable around others in the business, unable to avoid constant comparison. So many people in the business speak with such authority, to the point where it can brainwash you to accept their opinions as fact and change the way you make your music. I try to remember that my music will be good and valid the moment I believe it is, not because someone else says it is or isn’t.
Tell us how you make the instrumentation to your song.
Adding instrumentation is one of my favorite steps in the creation of a song. I’m still quite new to using DAWs and producing myself, so lately I’ve been experimenting with a bunch of new sounds and plugins. I usually just play around with effects until I land on something I like. In terms of recording analog instruments, I always start with guitar and vocals. I love adding electric guitar riffs, violin harmonies on choruses, and sometimes ukulele strums for added texture. The great thing about today’s technology is that, as long as I know the notes on a midi keyboard, I can easily add any instrument I want to my mix.
Tell us how you feel when you sing and your fans sing along to your song.
Oh my… I’ve never experienced this, but I’ve dreamed of it, and I imagine it’d be absolutely magical. I cry every time I watch the clip of Ed Sheeran performing “A Team” at Wembley stadium and stepping back from the mic, the fans on the stage growing louder as he puts his head back and closes his eyes… Absolutely beautiful…
Tell us the goals you aim to achieve when creating a song.
I always want to tell a story in a way that is detailed and emotive. Instead of saying “I love you” I try to come up with unique analogies or descriptions that haven’t been used before. Songwriters that do that always pull me into their songs much more than those who use recycled language. But whatever language I choose to use, my biggest goal is to write a song that can effectively and deeply connect to listeners.
Tell us your approach to writing.
I always try to be economic in my word use. I ask myself: How can I clearly communicate my message using the least amount of words possible? Once I figure that out, I’ll go about structuring the verses and chorus, making sure each line is as poetic as possible and fits nicely into the rhythm.
Tell us how you plan to develop a unique music style.
This is a great question and is something I have struggled with. I’m still developing my sound, but I’m a lot farther than I was back in 2016 when I wanted everything I wrote to sound just like Ed Sheeran. I think listening to a diverse range of artists has given me a better idea as to how I want my songs to be produced -I love airy, atmospheric sounds and making use of digital as well as analog instruments. I want people to listen to my music and wonder how certain parts were recorded or what effects were used. Overall, I think I’ve settled into my own category, mixing the wordiness and rhythmic lyrics of Ed Sheeran and Alec Benjamin with the soft vocals and dreamy atmosphere of Dodie and Phoebe Bridgers.
Tell us how you record your song.
I record and produce my music in my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), which is currently Studio One. I record guitar and vocals with my condenser microphone and use my midi keyboard to record digital instruments.
Tell us if you are collaborating with other songwriters or you write alone.
I love collaborating with others! I write alone most of the time, and that is when I am most vulnerable and honest, but I’ve learned a great deal from co-writing this past year. Studying Songwriting at Belmont University has allowed me to create music with some really creative people and grow as an artist and as a person.
Discuss your experience with fans.
As a small, young, indie artist, I haven’t encountered fans in the traditional sense. Most of my fan interactions come in the form of sweet direct messages or stories and compliments after live shows. Getting messages like that always makes my day.
Elaborate on the song.
I wrote and recorded ‘Smoke Alarms’ on the floor of my dorm room at midnight after a smoke alarm went off in my building. I was thinking about how, if I got in trouble for anything, it’d probably be for breaking our no-candle policy and setting off the fire alarm. This little story came out about fifteen minutes later. I initially intended to not put the song onto streaming platforms, since it served more as an interlude or a short lullaby, but it received a positive reception online, so I decided to upload it after all. ‘Smoke Alarms’ is, in the simplest telling, a bittersweet vignette about unrequited love. It follows a girl who sets off her building’s fire alarm in hopes that she’ll see her crush during the evacuation. To her dissatisfaction, they do not make the connection she’d hoped to forge, even after doing everything she could to get to know her crush.
Elaborate on your artist’s name and the title of the album.
The song title ‘Smoke Alarms’ is pretty self-explanatory… The events in the song all follow a smoke alarm getting set off. As for my artist’s name, it is just a shortened version of my full name, since the actress Elisabeth Moss stole it. I can’t believe her (she’s great).