NewTracks New Artist: Mozie

NewTracks New Artist: Mozie

Wairarapa-raised singer-songwriter Mozie is touching hearts with her debut single Not Done Loving, a soulful song about holding onto love that she sings with equal parts strength and vulnerability, to an RnB pop beat. NZ On Air Music included it on their NewTracks compilation this May.

What’s your full name, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

Kia Ora! My name is Moana Leota aka Mozie. I’m 23 years old, half-Samoan, half-Pakeha. I was born in Wellington but I grew up in the Wairarapa, and the Wairarapa will always be home to me. I play the ukulele and a teeny bit of guitar! 

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

I value all of my schooling/training experiences for various reasons. Everywhere I have been I have either learned something about music, other people, or myself, and I am so grateful for that. I studied at three different universities and although it was tough moving around and trying to make choices for my future, I wouldn’t change it for the world. The resilience and growth that has given me, as well as the learnings I spoke of above, is beyond any struggle. And being resilient is such an important thing to have in creative spaces and industries. 

Any other projects we might know you from?

I am currently a backing vocalist for both Louis Baker and Bret Mckenzie.  I was the voice of the Interislander ad for 10 years! 🙂 (Until it was changed last year.)

What’s the background story of how Mozie came to be? 

Mozie was created to house my solo projects. Up until now I have been studying, performing at commercial events, and singing for other amazing and inspiring artists. I knew I wanted to branch out and share my own art and this is how Mozie came to be.

Most of my music/writing today has been done alongside my friend Hunter Paranihi. He produces the music and I write the lyrics and create the melodies, but it’s always an even collaborative process. 

How did you come up with the name for the new project?

Mozie is my nickname! When choosing an artist name, I wanted to be sure that it was a name I was familiar with, and my family and friends were familiar with too. I also have some loved ones who no longer walk this earth, and I wanted to make sure to choose a name that I had heard them call me before passing on. So it’s a nickname, but a super special one.

How has your music evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

The main change in my music over time has been what I am singing/writing about. Each song I write is based on a new life experience, new feelings I have felt, or past life events – so my music is always evolving as life moves forward and I hope that it continues to. I also want to keep evolving with my sound.

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date?

I have loved every step of releasing Not Done Loving and I have learned a crazy amount along the way, but a couple of highlights would be 1. Getting to chat to Randy [Sjafrie] on MaiFM – this was a major goal of mine as I LOVE Mai, so it felt pretty epic to get onto their airwaves! 2. Getting to work alongside Kate Orgias at Lil Sister PR, I have learned so much from her, she has made this daunting experience so thoroughly enjoyable and really encouraged me throughout the process. 

What makes Not Done Loving stand out for you as a single?

Vulnerability is always a stand-out for me when listening to music. I was so nervous to release this song into the world because it’s such a personal story, which in turn left me open to judgment. But the amount of touching feedback I have received from people saying that they have been in the same position as me, and that Not Done Loving makes them feel less alone, makes me so glad I was brave enough to share and sing the song. So, the way that my vulnerability has helped a few people feel seen, is what makes it stand out for me 🙂 I also seriously admire the musicians who are playing on the track; James Illingworth, Johnny Lawrence, Hunter Paranihi and Ato Baido. I think they’ve helped create a pretty tight track and their skills are definitely standouts. 

What’s the story behind you writing Not Done Loving?

Without giving too much away, Not Done Loving is a song about being in love with the right person at the wrong time – about the one that got away. I try not to say too much about my experience with the background story as I want people to listen to the track and connect it to their own feelings, thoughts, and stories.  

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

I’m gonna have to sneak in two moments, but I love the vocal part with stacked harmonies where I’m singing, “know it, loving”. It was a last-minute offer I came up with in the car late one night when trying to figure out how to create more volume/oomph for the chorus. It’s the cherry on top and I think it rounded the song up nicely. I also love Johnny’s bass line in the second pre-chorus, it’s phaaaat!

Who did you write/record the single with and where?

I wrote the song with Hunter Paranihi, he also did the initial production of the demo. We then recorded the single at The Surgery Studios with the one and only, Lee Prebble, who also mixed the track. As mentioned above, I had James Illingworth on keys, Johnny Lawrence on the bass, Hunter Paranihi on guitar, and Ato Baido on the drums and percussion as my musos. 

The track was then mastered by Mike Gibson and Munki Music. I was very fortunate to get great guidance from James Illingworth and Kirsten Te Rito throughout this process. They had some amazing suggestions and offers that the song (and Mozie) has thoroughly benefited from. 

What would you like listeners to take away from the song?

I would like people to have a good time listening to this song, or at least feel seen if they are not having a great time! Music has always been a friend to me, through the good times and the bad! I would love to know that Not Done Loving could provide the same comfort to others (or even just one person – that would be rad) as it has for me. 

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

I feel like listening to music is a huge help. I listen to music at least 1-2 hours a day some days wayyyyy more. I try to listen to a good variety of music but I also hone in on artists who inspire me and create similar music to me. I’ll often play a couple of those artists’ songs, then play my own song and see if it fits in nicely. But I mean, if you have something to say, and you want to say it, and you believe in your creation/single, just get it out there! 🙂 

Who else is on your team?

I’m a self-managed artist (woo!) As I mentioned I’ve worked a lot with Hunter. I am also lucky enough to be working alongside Kate at Lil Sister PR which has been absolutely invaluable for the release of this single. I’ve also had some awesome mentoring yarns with Paula Yeoman, which I’m super grateful for. I also consider my family to be part of my team. They are ridiculously supportive and I wouldn’t have been able to do anything without them. 

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for? 

I am working on some new singles for Mozie that I will hopefully have out by the end of the year! Also, I will soon be preparing to head off on tour around Aotearoa, the UK and the USA with Bret Mckenzie in September. (Crazzzzzy excited for this.) 

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song. 

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? 

Not Done Loving was my first single put forward for funding, and I am beyond grateful that the application was successful as well as being added to NewTracks. But I definitely have missed out on lots of things before the success of this funding. I just kept grinding until I felt as though I was ready to share my own story and then I went for the NZOA New Music Pasifika funding. If you’re getting into funding, be patient with yourself, the people around you and your hustle. Your time will come, but just be ready because it may come and sweep you off your feet! 

Were there any NZOA criteria you struggled with in the application? 

The application itself was extremely user-friendly and easy to follow. The main thing I struggled with was meeting the criteria because I am a new artist I haven’t done a huge amount specifically in the music industry. Because I went through the Pasifika funding round I had just enough points to get me over the line! With this said, I would definitely say to be prepared for those questions and figure out what gaps you may need to fill before you get going with your app! 

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

NPR Tiny Desk is what I live for! 

Any last words?

If you are reading through these articles as encouragement for your own art or just encouragement in general, I would just like to say, keep going and keep creating, you are amazing. Your story is valuable and valid and I hope all your dreams come true!! xx

I would also love to say thank you to everyone who has listened to and/or watched Not Done Loving, I feel so honoured I get to share this new experience with you all! 

Last but not least, thank you so much to NZ Musician and NZOA New Tracks for having me! I hope we can do this again soon. xx