We had the good fortune of connecting with Joe “Songbird” Moralez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joe “Songbird”, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
There was never any other path I ever thought to consider. I wasn’t tall or good enough to play in the NBA. I tried to put myself in the shoes of a salesman. A banker. A doctor. As a kid, the thought of me in these professions didn’t sit right. I loved to play the piano and I loved to sing but was really shy when I was young. I just thought if I could be a part of something creative I’d be happy. The life of an artist isn’t easy, but if you just trust yourself and stay on course, you’ll eventually figure out how to survive. Creating something from nothing has always been a fun way to experience the world as well as a necessary part of how I process reality.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I got my true professional start in music when I was hired to play keys and sing background vocals for singer-songwriter, Brandon Heath. I eventually settled down in Nashville, Tn for several years while I toured the country with major label artists. Traveling enabled me to save up as much money as I could so I could start releasing my own records, eventually signing an exclusive licensing deal. After the success of my second album, The Way It Goes, I left the touring industry and moved to Los Angeles to continue my path as a recording artist and producer. I started my music publishing company (Elf Tree Publishing) in 2009 when I released my first record, If I Could. Since 2013, I’ve been releasing music under the indie-pop moniker, Awake or Sleeping, working alongside many Grammy award winning producers and engineers, including Steven Solomon (James Arthur, 5 Seconds of Summer, The Score), David Hodges (Blink-182, Christina Aguilera, Keith Urban), James Gabbie (Ed Kowalczyk, Goldspot), Benjamin Rice (Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez, Nick Jonas), Miguel Lara (Coldplay, Frank Ocean, Pearl Jam), Josh Hawkins (Mat Kearney, Super Duper) and many others on what has become a growing catalog of sparkly commercial pop EPs. In August, I released my first “official” cinematic-pop EP, We Can Be, featuring a small collection of moody ballads written for television/film. In 2014, I started two companies, ElfTree Media and ElfTree Podcast Network with a focus on post-production and podcast development. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of working on set as well as putting the final sound design touches on various films, episodics and commercials. I’ve developed, produced and hosted several podcasts (High-Dere, 3Amoviegos, Earthship Radio, Millie McCormick Listening Hour) featuring over 140 hours of entertaining casual conversation. I’ve always been a huge fan of open and honest conversations when listening to podcasts so EPN provided me the opportunity to explore that more personal and vulnerable side of myself. Giving recorded opinions on issues in the world isn’t always easy, especially when those opinions can change over time. I wanted to allow myself that room for growth while giving others the same space to discover new ideas through these experiences. In 2018, I started releasing pop singles under the name, Songbird. I chose this moniker because it resonated perfectly with who I am and how I see the world. The Urban Dictionary describes a Songbird as “Anyone who consciously looks for the best in all people, places, and things; who has acknowledged and released the pains of their soul and who energetically helps others release the pain of their souls so that the healing of the planet will occur. Songbirds love everyone.” So far I’ve released four singles, “Wildflower,” “Burnin’,” “Pour Me Another,” and “My Everything” and am currently putting the final touches on my first self-produced solo EP, “2020,” due out Thanksgiving Day. “2020” is a mix of sassy love anthems with a twist of sour grapes. I started working on this project at the beginning of the quarantine and wrote several songs for consideration. After months of writing and tweaking production, I’m in the final stages of mixing and mastering, working with Mike Post at MooseCat Recording. “Too Late” is a song that speaks to anyone who’s had to put their foot in their mouth over an argument. “Sun shining can you feel it on your skin / I’ve been thinking about some things you said I had to let it sink in / Crushing flowers in my garden / Feeling all the spiders crawling / Sometimes I just have to bite my tongue / Sometimes I just feel like screaming / It’s too late, too late / How you gonna take it back?” The 2020 Pandemic has taught us all a ton about ourselves and the world we live in. We’re in a fragile social, political, economic and environmental climate and I wanted to create something that reflected my feelings and experience. I hope others will resonate with the quirky tone and message of the EP. My biggest challenges have always come from within. I’ve struggled with A.D.D. and other mental health issues my whole life, so I’ve had to constantly counter the hard days with things that make me happy. I can easily go down rabbit holes and often find myself paralyzed by the amount of injustices in the world. I’m very empathetic so I have to be careful when I try to carry the burden of things that aren’t in my control. Music has always been my therapy and guiding light when shit gets real. Channeling a melody has become my drug of choice and is an addiction I’m okay with. I feel like I’ve learned who I really am through the ups and downs as an artist. Whether it’s financial or personal hardships, I’m constantly pushing my boundaries and allowing myself the space to grow. I know when I look in the mirror the most critical person is always looking back at me. This has caused me to be more compassionate and forgiving of myself and others. If art is a reflection of who we are, I want mine to reflect the little bits and pieces of who I am so others can see, feel and hear the unexplainable love within. All of my music is available on all digital download and streaming platforms.
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?
If Covid wasn’t an issue, this would be my almost perfect week… Mon – Venice Beach. Biking, swimming with lunch at Tocaya Organica, Dinner/drinks at The Rose Venice. Tues – Getty Museum day followed by dinner at Shojin. Wed – Disneyland! Thur – Morning hike at Griffith Park before the Observatory. Dinner/drinks at Clifton’s Republic. Fri – Universal Studios with dinner at Royal Curry Cafe. Drinks at Idol Hour or Tiki No. Sat – Trip to Big Bear Lake for hiking and kayaking. Sun – Chill Malibu beach day. Brunch at Malibu Farm Pier Cafe. Dinner at Mercado.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would have to start by thanking my Mom. She always encouraged me to play music growing up, putting me in piano lessons when I was around 8. After my first recital, the thought of having to do it again gave me immense anxiety. I was terrified to make a mistake in front of a room full of strangers. Learning the music wasn’t easy for me because I just wanted to write and sing the songs I was hearing in my head. After several weeks of begging, she finally let me quit. At the time, I remember feeling both really disappointed in myself for “giving up” but also relieved I didn’t have to perform in another recital. She gave me the space to be able to leave something and come back to it when I was ready. That was a huge lesson for me. I also learned how to sing harmonies because she would sing them whenever we were in the car. That skill would be my greatest asset as a touring musician later on in life. My first real experience in music was with my high school indie-rock band, Space Man Spiff. Shout out to Bill Spellman and Jake Kreifels for giving me the opportunity to join their group. I was brought in as a background singer but soon became the keyboardist and founding member. This was how I learned to perform and write with others. I was also exposed to a ton of great records my bandmates introduced to me to over the years. We were really determined to “make it big” so we rehearsed nonstop every week, eventually packing out clubs and opening for bands like OKGO, 30 Seconds to Mars, The Nixons, and many others around Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, Tx.
Instagram: @songbirdofficial, @joemoralez, @awakeorsleeping
Other: Spotify: Songbird – https://open.spotify.com/artist/6kdRyctneMp27CBfFhbShi Awake or Sleeping – https://open.spotify.com/artist/5CpfXVfLWVhA38cZrr45zJ Joe Moralez – https://open.spotify.com/artist/1I8NiJoD4vmHXywpFZYSd6 Soundcloud: Songbird – https://soundcloud.com/officialsongbird Awake or Sleeping – https://soundcloud.com/awake-or-sleeping Joe Moralez – https://soundcloud.com/joemoralez Bandcamp: Awake or Sleeping – https://awakeorsleeping.bandcamp.com/ Joe Moralez – https://joemoralez.bandcamp.com/ ElfTree Media (Reel) – https://vimeo.com/458658868 ElfTree Podcast Network – https://soundcloud.com/elftree-podcast-network/popular-tracks
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