Music & Faith: An Interview with Sam Mooney

Music & Faith: An Interview with Sam Mooney
Questions by Rachel Ishee
 On the verge of his debut album “Time Bomb” that is being released in May, Mississippi native Sam Mooney reflects on creating the album, the song writing process, and looking towards the future.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you became interested in music as a hobby and/or profession?

The idea of being a musician had been in the back of my mind since I was a kid, to be honest. I began to write music and perform in high school, and that’s when I really began to pursue a career in the music industry. It’s been a long journey, but I was fortunate enough to be able to make music my full-time career after graduation. It’s a challenging job at times, but I love it!

Can you describe your musical style in three words?

Soulful Pop Music

It’s been a couple of years since you released “Find My Way”. Why do you think now is a good time to release a new album?

After starting my career with a pair of EPs, I wanted to take a little more time to create something really special for my third project. I wanted to create a more artistic and musically expansive project than anything I’d done before. Between shows and school, I spent the last couple years writing and recording this record. I’m so excited to finally have it all out there.

What do you hope people feel when listening to this new album?

I think there are two tiers that I want people to get out of this record. Lyrically, the songs are all like snapshots into different moments and feelings. I hope people will connect to those feelings and find their own story within these songs. Secondly, I want this record to be a really rich musical experience for each listener. No matter the extent to which you relate to the lyrics, I hope you’re able to enjoy the production, arrangements, and talented musicians on this record. I worked with a musical dream-team on this album, and I’m so excited for everyone to hear their work.  

Do you have a favorite song on the record?

That’s like asking a parent to choose a favorite child! Ha! I’d say it really depends on my mood. I definitely have days where “Unhurt You” or “Coffee” hit home the most. But if I had to pick just one, I think I’m most proud of how “Time Bomb” turned out. I truly think I’d love that song even if it were someone else’s. It’s the R&B slow jam I’ve always wanted to write, and I feel like the production hit the exact mark I wanted to hit.

What was the most difficult song to write on the record?

“Unhurt You” wasn’t particularly hard to write, but it was very hard to release. It’s as vulnerable a song as you could write, so it was scary to put it out there for the world to hear. I had butterflies for days leading up to the release. But I suppose nerves are something you have to live with if you’re writing honest music. The cool thing, though, is how many people have reached out to me telling me the song encouraged them or that they went through something similar and the song made them feel understood or comforted. That was so rewarding to hear, and I’d go through all the nerves of releasing it again if it would help another person through their circumstances.

Can you tell us a little bit about the recording and song writing process?

This album was written mostly in 2017 and recorded mostly in 2018. Recording was challenging because so much of this project was made during my last semester of college when I was enrolled in some tough classes and only able to travel to the studio on the weekends. There were days where I’d put in a 12-hour studio day and then have to go work on economics homework till 3AM. I definitely don’t miss that now that I’m a graduate!

But when I was in the studio, I think I had more focus than ever on this project. I came in with a clearer vision for this record than either of my previous EPs. The scope of the project definitely expanded during production, though, and we ended up deciding to go even deeper artistically and to really lean into the idea of wanting this record to feel like a story. The preludes and postludes are great examples of ideas that we decided to pursue that weren’t on the radar initially. It’s a great reminder of the fact that you have to be open to the possibility of the album changing during production, and in my experience, those changes have always been largely positive.

How has your faith played a role in the music you create?

Without a doubt! There’s a song on this record called “Holy Water” that tells the story of my spiritual journey. It has a gospel undertone that I love and wanted to bring into the album. Even when I’m not writing about my faith directly, though, it still shapes the way I write pop songs. I have nieces and nephews now, and I often joke that I want to write pop hits that even they could sing every word to without getting in trouble!

When you look five years down the road, what do you hope to have accomplished in your music career?

My overarching desire is to have a life that allows me to create as much music as I can, whether that's as a studio musician, producer, or continuing to tour and make albums of my own. I love music and hope that I’ll be able to build my career to a point where I can provide for a family one day through my music career alone. Right now I have a career in music that sustains me individually, and I’m so thankful for that. I just pray that my career is able to grow to match the changes in my life’s circumstances as well! I’m actively working to try to make that a reality.

When will the album be released and where can people listen to it?

The album will be called “Time Bomb” and it releases Friday, May 10th. It’ll be available on Spotify, Apple Music, and everywhere digital music is found!