Tuesday, April 8, 2014

1/2 Dozen for Anthony Mossburg

Singer-songwriter, Anthony Mossburg, has recently released his latest CD, and is here to talk about persistence, frustration, the divinity of creativity, as well as some Johnny Cash and June Carter. 

(And he reminds me of what I believe to be a fact: if you can watch Johnny Cash's cover of Nine in Nails'  "Hurt" without crying, there might be something wrong with you.)

Here goes: 

Current obsessions -- literary or otherwise.

My current obsession has to be Ben Howard’s music. Whether it be reading his lyrics or just focusing mainly on the music, it is something that I connect with on a level that hasn’t really been reached before. I think that is something that most writers would hope to achieve one day, having someone connect to what you have written, not just by reading, but by feeling it.

Pep talk (or bootie-kicking) for the downhearted writer. Let fly.

My talk to the downhearted is definitely something that I need a lot of times as well. I think that being discouraged is part of the territory as a songwriter. I tend to see what other people are doing and think that they pushed out their work in one evening with a smile on their face. In reality it is a battle, fighting with ideas, fighting with your expectations, fighting with comparing yourself to others. The list goes on and on. The thing that I have found most helpful in situations like that is to just keep going. Keep pushing through the idea you have. I have come to know that writing is one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it is worth it. You may run in to ninety-nine walls while writing, but that one breakthrough will be worth every struggle.

Criticism. It’s part of the territory. How do you handle it? Is this the way you’ve always handled it?

I handle criticism the same way that I handle compliments. I never want to let one person's opinion (good or bad) dictate how I view myself or my work. Receiving criticism can be a great thing, and most times it spurs you on to push yourself harder and make yourself better, but sometimes it can be damaging. The same goes with compliments, just because one person claims you are the best writer doesn’t actually make you the best writer in the world. To me, it all comes down to knowing who you are; if not you will shift to fit what everyone else wants you to be. I think once you start to find yourself as a writer, then you have a firm foundation to take both criticism and compliments without either breaking you.

Research. We all have to do it. Sometimes it’s delicious, sometimes brutal. Tell us a tale from the research trenches.

My latest story coming from research happens to be a delicious one, ha! I wrote a song called “Whiskey & Wine”, and the song is mostly about the difference between two people in a relationship, yet how they still make it work. I reference Johnny Cash and June Carter as a couple that portrays this formula. One a rebel, the other more saintlike. While writing this song I really wanted to stay true to who the two were. Even though I had followed Cash’s music for some time, I didn’t know that much about his personal life. I was in a coffee shop working on the song watching a documentary on his life. The documentary was extremely powerful, and ended with his version of “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails. I had been so invested in his life and story that I was a mess by the end of it. I was in this coffee shop with my hat pulled way down on my face so no one would see me balling my eyes out. Sometimes research can be a pain, but in this case it was a very powerful time for me and helped me connect with  my writing and the song that much more!

What kind of child were you, inside of what kind of childhood, and how did it shape you as a writer?

My childhood was probably a little different than most. I was raised by my mom out in the country. I spent a lot of time by myself and have always been a little bit of a loner. Quiet, but always taking everything in. I wasn’t really taught a ton growing up. Most of what I have learned was from just diving in and figuring things out on my own. Growing up that way definitely had its ups and downs, but ultimately I think it was the best situation for me. As far as writing goes, I think it has helped me be very connected and real. I don’t write to impress people or because someone wants me to, I write because it’s a natural way for me to release and vent. I think growing up the way I did was exactly what I needed to learn who I am, not only as a songwriter, but as a person.

Faith. Do you consider yourself religious? If so, how does that manifest in your work and/or your process?

I don’t know if I would say religious, however I definitely think creativity is a divine thing. I believe it is a gift that no one can really claim to have gotten on their own. My faith is a big part of my life, and because I believe creativity is a gift, I take it seriously. I’m extremely thankful to be able to have the ability to write and communicate what I feel through writings and song. It is also what I believe I was created to do. Whether my work gets noticed by millions, or just my close friends and family, I honestly believe this is what I’m supposed to do. So, I continue to push forward and grow as a writer, not to “make it," but to be true to what I believe and what I believe I’m supposed to do.

What's your worst writerly habit?

My worst habit as a writer is definitely laziness. I want everything to come out in one take. I would like to be able to sit down and bust out what I am trying to say in 45 minutes, but that isn’t the way it goes. A few songs have come out quickly like that, however the tightening and tuning that they need take much longer. My attention span isn’t the best either, ha! So I could be in the middle of working on one project and then switch to something completely different. It is a constant battle to keep my mind focused and keep from letting my laziness come through.

Anthony Mossburg's latest CD made the “featured” and “bestsellers” lists on iTunes and placed in the top eight of singer/songwriter CDs. 
He's known for writing moving lyrics, creating melodies 
that stick with you long after the songs are over, and for his deep, rich, unforgettable voice. His first single, “Whiskey and Wine” placed in the top 50 for singer/songwriters on iTunes.

CLICK HERE to follow him on Twitter.