We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Moraca and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
One that has been resonating with me lately is from Jeff Tweedy’s book “How to Write One Song.” He says “That’s one of the problems with humans—that we can be talked out of loving something. That we can be talked out of loving something that we do, and we can be talked out of loving ourselves. Easily, unfortunately”
I think a lot of creative people struggle to value our own work and it’s so hard to be able to look at what we make and think about whether we like it honestly. We even forget or dismiss the people who tell us that they love what we make. For me, all the times and ways people have told me that what I made wasn’t good sticks with me so much more. This is a pretty basic human instinct when you get down to it–we remember what hurts, emotionally or physically, because it helps us avoid pain in the future.
I’ve faced a lot of rejection and a lot of discouragement from a lot of people in my past and my gut reaction to my own art, especially something new, is “It’s bad and no one’s going to like it. I don’t like it.” That quote helps me keep that perspective–that I need to really think about where my feelings toward what I make are coming from. Am I objectively looking at what I’ve just made or am I just letting the voices of my past talk me out of loving it before even has a chance to grow up?
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My partner Ron and I have an Americana/folk/country duo, The Odd Birds. We both play instruments (I play guitars and Ron plays basically everything), but we are also very heavy on vocals and vocal harmonies in particular. We have kind of a unique combination of voices; Ron has a rougher twangy voice and I have more classical training as a singer so we contrast each other in an interesting way.
We just released our first full-length album (“Tremolo Heart”) in September and I think we really grew from where we were when we released our EP (“Better Days”) in 2020. I’m so proud of the work we did on it in terms of the songwriting and the arrangements and the production.
It’s definitely been a journey to get where we are today. The creative world is so full of opportunities to get knocked down and we’ve both faced a lot of rejection and discouragement from people. It’s comes with the territory and it’s definitely not unique to us but that doesn’t make it easy, especially when you go through long dry spells, where you just can’t seem to catch a break or get a response to from anyone or where you’re playing to nearly empty rooms. You need a really thick skin, but the irony is that I think a lot of creatives and artists tend to have thinner skins than normal, because it takes a lot of vulnerability to create honest art.
It makes it hard to keep going sometimes, but that’s really what you have to do. You have to keep showing up. And you’ll hear that advice a lot and it always makes me roll my eyes, because I think people say it without acknowledging how hard it is. Because showing up is sometimes the hardest thing in the world. When you’ve played an absolutely awful show where the audience was not into you AT ALL, when you’ve gotten your third “no” in as many days, when you’ve been trying to write a song for weeks and you just can’t nail it down–it can start to feel like you’re never going to get anywhere. I have had more than one moment in the twelve years I’ve been doing this where I really wanted to just stop. And I think people think that makes you less dedicated, but really, it’s just being human. We don’t like to be rejected, we don’t like to get our feelings hurt, and our art is so personal that it can be hard not to take it personally when it’s not received like we want it to be.
And then you’ll have a show and someone will hear you and tell you that your music meant a lot. And it’s cliché to say “that’s why you keep going”, but it’s also true. Because those moments, where someone has really listened to you and connected with you really mean everything. But those moments only happen when you show up.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’d definitely want to take them to see a show at The Groundlings and to go get late-night food at Canters or at The Original Pantry. I’d love to take them to the pier and Main Street in Seal Beach–it’s my favorite beach area because it’s small and quaint with a lot of small restaurants and usually has a buskers and live music around. And I’d take them to 4th Street in Long Beach where we’d go thrifting and eat mole at Lola’s. And we go to the Orange Circle in Orange for all the antique stores and consignments shops and then we’d eat at Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen or Felix’s and we’d go have beers at Chapman Crafted Brewery. And I’d spend a day with them in the Silverado Canyon area–there’s some nice hiking and a wildlife preserve that we love spending time at.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My partner Ron Grigsby deserves all the medals. He’s incredibly patient and supportive and has encouraged me as an artist and a partner since day one. He’s the optimistic dreamer in the band and I’m more of a realist. I think we end up with a nice balance–I keep us grounded but he keeps us reaching. He’s also an immensely talented songwriter, musician, and artist; The Odd Birds would not be what it is without his contributions.
And we both owe a huge debt of gratitude to our producer, Bobbo Byrnes. He produced both of our albums (“Better Days” and “Tremolo Heart”) and they would not sound as beautiful as they do without his work. He’s also been an invaluable mentor when it comes navigating the music business in general and he’s taught me more than a little about being a better guitarist. Honestly, our little circle of the music community in Orange County has been a really warm and encouraging place to grow–we’ve been fortunate to find a talented and supportive group of fellow musicians and it’s a beautiful thing.
Tracy Byrnes Doug Schmude Colleen Kinnick