Saturday, October 31, 2009

Melody and Melodies

I was sitting here with my laptop at my local coffeehouse in Long Beach, polishing the Avi interview I posted yesterday and reading the news. One headline hit home: A 16 year-old Wilson High, Long Beach honor student and athlete, Melody Ross was killed last night by a stray bullet after attending a Poly-Wilson football game; she died at the hospital half an hour later. Yet another innocent bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time. Melody's parents left Cambodia and came to Long Beach and thus escaped the infamous Killing Fields of their native country and had even recently moved to a supposedly safer Long Beach neigborhood. The epitome of tragic irony.

As I'm listening to one of Avi's favorite musicians, veteran L.A. based guitarist Nels Cline, looking out the coffeehouse windows and people watching, it hits me why I love music, why I'm doing this blog, why I sing and write songs, why music is the best thing human beings came up with - even cooler the the wheel. Because, as I watch, the notes from Cline's guitar in my headphones turn everything into poetry and an ordinary street scene becomes anything but ordinary. Yep, I confess to feeling a wee bit cynical earlier at the sight of folks dressed up for Halloween, thinking how the calendar seemingly dictates what we do at certain times of year: dressing up, giving gifts, buying flowers and chocolate. But the music silenced the cynic and let the romantic in me take over. The natural high worked its magic: couples, families, kids, dogs, all wearing masks, bunny ears, pirate get-ups, capes, and fishnet stockings suddenly seemed like a cross between a Fellini film and a music video. It was just what the doctor ordered.

Melody however is gone, and her family and friends will never be the same. I didn't know her personally, but being a Long Beach resident, I almost feel like I do. This is my tribute to Melody, to Nels Cline, to those who have lost someone, to those who compose melodies.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Interview with Avi Zahner-Isenberg of Avi Buffalo

Left to right, partying in the men's restroom: Arin Fazio (bass), Sheridan Riley (drums), Rebecca Coleman (keyboards, vocals), Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg (guitar, vocals)

Avi started recording songs three years ago during his sophomore year in high school, amidst the deterioration of his first band, Monogram (Dylan Wood of Time of Wolves, 60 Watt Kid). After being asked to play a show by Bill Cutts of Outsider Folk, Avi got together some friends to play an acoustic set in 2007 at the Zephyr Cafe, a vegetarian restaurant in downtown Long Beach. With the summer time and a local fall music festival approaching, a full electric band was in order. They were later asked to play in Los Angeles, and did, and kept doing it. A year later, Avi and Aaron Embry (Amnion) began recording the songs that would become Avi Buffalo's first record.
The band was recently signed to Sub Pop which will be releasing "What's in It for"/"Jessica" 7" vinyl single on December 8. A full album will be out in the spring of 2010.

Q & A with Avi Zahner-Isenberg of Avi Buffalo

The Nightfly: War, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Cold War Kids, Sublime, and now Avi Buffalo are all bands that were formed in Long Beach. Did all four of you grow up here?
Avi: Me, Sheridan and Rebecca all did. Arin grew up in San Pedro and Huntington Beach.

The Nightfly: Not to knock education, but it seems like a tragic waste if someone with an obvious gift for music such as yourself were to end up in law school or medical school. What would you tell a kid who wants to skip college and focus on music?
Avi: I've known a few people who have skipped college to focus on music. Sometimes it's a good thing, and sometimes it's not. It really depends on the person and the circumstances, and everything else you could possibly think of. I feel a bit wary about not being in school; I have a lot of free time right now though that will change in a few months.

The Nightfly: Did you personally have a “career” plan to begin with or did everything happen very organically?
Avi: I've always wanted to play music for a living, primarily as a guitar player. I used to play blues with old guys and I've learned a few jazz things. Once the Avi Buffalo stuff started to gain momentum I just went with it, and here we are!

The Nightfly: On your MySpace page you list Neil Young, The Beach Boys, Wilco, Flaming Lips and several others. One influence that stands out on your list is jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery (1923-1968) – when did you first hear his recordings and was the guitar always your primary instrument?
Avi: I first heard Wes when I was in 8th grade: "Smokin' at the Half Note" with Wynton Kelly on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums. It was a really moving record for me at the time because Wes kind of meets blues and jazz in the middle, so I could pick out some of the licks and I had a lot of fun with that. Guitar has always been my main instrument.

The Nightfly: On “What’s in It for?” the guitar sound is vintage The Byrds – do you see it as an advantage or disadvantage if fans and critics group in Avi Buffalo with the current crop of bands that favor a late-1960s-Laurel Canyon sound?
Avi: It's both, and it's a very stressful conflict. Part of me really loves that sound and wants to emulate it, but there are so many bands that do that, and I'm very excited about sounds that are new. Being from a blues/rock background a lot of those sounds are what cling naturally to my playing, so a lot of the time I just dig in and enjoy it.

The Nightfly: Your voice is instantly recognizable which is vital if a singer (and/or a band) wants to stand out from the crowd. How did you “find” your voice?
Avi: It took me a while - in my first band I just yelled a lot. I'm not sure if I have a specific voice I use. I like singing really soft sometimes, but when I belt it - like on the infamous "What's in It for" - I usually lose my voice, so I'm looking to get voice lessons soon.

The Nightfly: Although your music is different from his, there is a certain Jeff Buckley vibe to you as a singer and performer. Are you a Buckley fan?
Avi: I've heard him before, but never listened extensively. Very good though!

The Nightfly: Thom Yorke is the singer who first comes to mind when listening to your voice. Has he and Radiohead been an influence?
Avi: I've never really gotten into Radiohead, but it's good stuff!

The Nightfly: Has your family been supportive so far and is there musical talent in your “gene pool”?
Avi: My family has been extremely supportive of the music stuff, and my whole family is into music. My uncle was a flautist in the Indiana Philharmonic for a number of years, my father sings, my cousin plays piano, etc.

The Nightfly: Does everyone in Avi Buffalo write music and lyrics or are you the sole/primary songwriter in the band?
Avi: I write the music and lyrics.

The Nightfly: Other than records, what inspires you?
Avi: Just music in general, playing music, and playing with inspiring people.

The Nightfly: How did the Buffalo part of the band name come about?
Avi: My friend Isaac Cruz suggested the two of us be called Isaac Lightning and Avi Buffalo in 8th grade. I kept Avi Buffalo because I thought it was cool.

The Nightfly: Is it intimidating or just very exciting to have the band be signed to a famous label such as Sub Pop?
Avi: It's exciting, though for the first time I do feel some pressure with the music/performance which is a bit scary, but we just have to keep practicing hard and stuff.

The Nightfly: Spike Jonze’s brilliant film “Where the Wild Things Are” has a whimsical soundtrack by Karen O the Kids [various musical friends that she enlisted for the project]. Hopefully this might signal a return to the concept album type of soundtracks of yesteryear such as “The Graduate” with music by Simon & Garfunkel where you have a single artist/band contributing songs as opposed to the more common approach of a music supervisor picking a dozen or so songs/snippets by different bands. Would you welcome the opportunity to do a soundtrack?
Avi: Yeah, that'd be kickass.

The Nightfly: What do you hope your music gives the listener and what has the music of your favorite artists/bands given you through the years?
Avi: I hope that it makes sense to people and sounds good. I've gotten so many things from music I can't really put my finger on one thing. It feels good!

The Nightfly: Which do you prefer: songwriting, recording or performing live?
Avi: It depends, but i really love recording. It can be a really fun process because you have all the time you want to stop and redo, etc.; you can just keep going forever and the possibilities are limitless.

The Nightfly: Which five albums or songs are your favorites?
Avi: Right now I've been really into Ariel Pink's "Worn Copy" record, because of the beautiful songs and recordings. I also love Neil Young's "Chrome Dreams" (the unreleased record), Panda Bear's "Person Pitch", Jim O'Rourke's "Eureka", Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", Penguin Cafe's "Music from the Penguin Cafe." And I have a Fela Kuti Greatest Hits album that I'm really into right now.

The Nightfly: Do you see the band going in a different direction down the road or is it even possible to predict such things?
Avi: Probably, I feel like things go in different directions even if you don't want them to. I have a general feeling of how I want it to be, but it's just a light at the end of the tunnel sort of thing.

The Nightfly: Are there definite plans at this point for a tour and festival gigs in 2010?
Avi: Yes, there are indeed. Nothing official yet though.

The Nightfly: If a company wanted to make Avi Buffalo action figures, how should they look?
Avi: Just like the band!

Bio: Avi Buffalo/Sub Pop

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chocolate Butterfly/Me & This Japanese Guy: Mystery Duo

The Nightfly was checking out the profile of the L.A. based American/Japanese duo Chocolate Butterfly and feeling the very funky track "Perfect Paradox", its thumping bass and Michael Jackson/Prince vocals hitting the solor plexus - and a little south too. Then a link to a secondary profile with the same duo using the name Me & This Japanese Guy led down a rabbit hole and into a Wonderland of Hendrix/Prince rock.

Listen to tracks from both pages here:

Kaye-Ree: Cosmopolitan Soul

Based in Frankfurt, Germany, travels to Miami, Atlanta, Philly, NYC and Africa. International Mystery Woman, double agent? Nope, globetrotting performer. Green eyed Persian/German siren Kaye-Ree blends soul, hip hop, R&B and classical guitar and comes up with songs that recall Alica Keys, Goapele, Corrine Bailey Rae, Sade and Erykah Badu. A debut album entitled "Endless Melody" as well as a single of the same name were released on Amazon in Germany this year.

The Nightfly's favorite track: "Endless Melody": pure, effortless Alica Keys/Goapele vocals circle above a landscape of sundrenched Spanish guitar.

Photo by Jan Northoff.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

ZAMBRI: Putting Sibling Rivalry to Good Use

Sisters Jessica Z and Cristi Jo Z front New York based band ZAMBRI, their angelic vocals soaring above the doomsday synths and drums like the soundtrack of sweet dreams-turned-nightmares. Spooky - but in a good way.

The Nightfly's favorite track: "From The Starts" (sic): Cocteau Twins at the Haunted Mansion.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Amphibic: The Fab Three

Two Brits and a Swede walk into a bar...and get up on stage and play indie rock. Vocalist/guitarist Neal Hoffmann, drummer Sebastian Sternberg and bass man Joakim Persson just wrapped up a tour in Germany (the trio is on German label Haldern Pop). The Beatles played shows in Hamburg, etc. in their early days - The Nightfly thinks there could well be fame and fortune in store for Amphibic too.

The Nightfly's favorite track: "Hungry Man" - The Fab Four for the 20th Century.

Madonna Shows Us How's It's Done

47 music videos, 311 minutes. Madonna's 2-disc "Celebration" DVD is a visual and aural feast that left The Nightfly hugely satisfied and smiling like a toothless happy baby. (The only music video catalogue that can compare is Bjork's.)

Savor it, then watch it again. And again. Oh, my, oh, yum.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Owusu & Hannibal: Clubbin' in Copenhagen

Robin Hannibal and Philip Owusu began collaborating in 2005 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The highfly respected California label Ubiquity released their first album in 2006 and the duo has continued to put out outstanding tracks of soul/club/electronica.

The Nightfly's favorite track: "A Million Babies" with Philip channeling Michael Jackson in ways that send chills down the spine.

Stoney: Not a Failure

Stoney operates out of Sheffield, England - a mad scientist in his musical kitchen lab, playing all instruments, sounding one moment like Cat Stevens, then switching gears and doing vintage David Bowie, but always adding his own flavor to whatever yummy dish he's cooking. And getting away with it too.

He's swung by the SXSW convention in Austin, Texas and if we're lucky he'll do more shows stateside, calling upon friends to join him on stage so he can focus on singing and playing guitar.

The Nightfly's favorite track: "Hold the Stars" - Led Zeppelin covering the Beatles - or the other way 'round.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Joanna Cotten: Keeping The Faith

The Nightfly continues to be gobsmacked at the incredible wealth of "under the radar" talent out there. Nashville based Joanna Cotten is yet another example of an artist or a band that should be touring coast-to-coast, taking their music to The People.

Born in Memphis, raised in Forrest City, Arkansas, Joanna went to Juillard School in NYC, but returned to her Southern roots and came up with a mix of styles she calls Funkabilly. Her powerful pipes and songwriting talent got her a record deal in Nashville but she was eventually dropped because the label couldn't figure out if she was country, funk, soul, rock or pop. "All of the above" is the answer since Joanna mixes up all of those genres. (she also does stunner ballads ("Keep My Faith") of the spine-tingling kind.

The Nightfly's favorite track: "Five Crackers and an 8 Ball" - a freight train of a song barrelling down the tracks with Joanna in the engineer's seat.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Alien Chatter: Close Encounters of the Cool Kind

RODNEY LEE: Piano, Synths, and Programming
SATNAM S. RAMGOTRA : Tabla, Drums, Percussion, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, and Programming

The last show that The Nightfly attended in September of 2008 at defunct and sorely missed eclectic Santa Monica venue Temple Bar had Alien Chatter on the bill. The two master musicans had the room transfixed with their bitches brew of Indian music, jazz, rock, funk and other good stuff that have yet to be named.

Formed in 2002, L.A. based Rodney and Satnam aka Alien Chatter continue to play gigs in between their many jobs as busy session and tour musicians.

The Nightfly's favorite track (featuring outstanding guitar work by Michael Landau): the furious "Invasion". But check out the downtempo tracks too at:

Curtis Scott Whitehead: Mixing It Up

The Nightfly has a soft spot for artists and bands who boldly engage in musical cross pollination. Atlanta based multi- instrumentalist/singer/songwriter and longtime Van Hunt musical partner Curtis Scott Whitehead expertly blends funk, soul, gospel, blues and rock with country and it tastes real good.

Here is a lovely quote from Curtis' bio:

"I remembered when I was just a little boy around four or five. Sitting on the floor behind my father’s old Sears & Roebuck amplifier, I would watch the orange vacuum tubes glow brightly in the dim light of the living room. I'd place my hand on the amp to feel the heat and the vibration of his Silvertone guitar coming through the speakers. I can still look up and see my father’s contorted face as he hummed and moaned his way through a verse of “Nearer My God To Thee”. He was lost in the music and I was too. That’s when it first hit me…the power of it all, a guitar against a voice, a voice against space, and space against the words. It was the feeling of despair in the blues, the truth in gospel, the reality of the day that is so often found woven throughout soul and country music. I was much too young to understand these things then. All I knew was that it just felt good. This project is simply an honest attempt to go back to that place. "

Pops was mixing it up too back then and lucky for the rest of us, his son took it all to heart.

The Nightfly's favorite track: "Free" - Prince does country!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Niels Nielsen: Heavenly Sounds

The Nightfly is originally from Scandinavia, or to be more precise, from Copenhagen, Denmark. (directions: go to Sweden, then hang a left). ABBA, Scandinavia's most famous pop music contributors to the world have not lived in vain: Bjorn's and Benny's killer hooks are still heard in much of the music coming out of Sweden, Denmark and Norway. The sound is of course also - just as ABBA's sound was - influenced by British and American bands, but "Dancing Queen" is still shimmying her way into the ears and minds of Nordic songwriters whether they like it or not.

Niels Nielsen, whose grandfather was Danish, hails from Northern Sweden where he makes the kind of gorgeous music that you are likely to hear when you reach the Pearly Gates - a big, airy sound, with nods to legendary producer (and now convicted killer!) Phil Spector as well as to the biggest Swedish act of late, Peter Bjorn and John.

Donny Hathaway Live

There are live recordings that are so intimate you feel like you're right there in the room with the band/the singer. One of The Nightfly's favorite examples of this type of listening experience is Donny Hathaway's "These Songs for You - Live!"

Several tracks collected for this album were recorded in August of 1971 at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, others at The Bitter End in New York City in October of the same year.

It was at The Bitter End that Donny covered a song by Al Kooper (of Blood Sweat and Tears, etc.): "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know". Stand outs among the tight band: drummer Fred White who was just sweet sixteen - not a bad way to start out in the music business - and guitarist Cornell Dupre. (Note: other tracks on the album have Phil Upchurch doing the guitar work).

And then there's Donny himself. He occasionally has trouble reaching the lower notes, but over all the vocal performance is spine-tingly-kind-of-stunning - one of the finest ever recorded; tender and forceful at the same time. He was also an outstanding keyboard player, arranger and band leader - we get to hear all of that on the album. He has his fans in the room alternately rapt and goin'-to-church - the connection between artist and audience is truly beautiful. Normally The Nightfly would be going crazy listening to audience members "interupting" the singer with whoops and hollers, but in this case it adds much intimacy to the show.

For short sound samples from the album, go here:

Complete songs (but sadly not the Al Kooper cover) can be found at:

To read more about Donny, go to:

Lemon Sun: L.A.'s Best Band?

They've been compared to Eric Burdon and the Animals and David Bowie - I also hear distinct and lovely echoes of The Doors and The Clash, an intoxicating sound with lead singer Rob Kolar acting the part of male siren - or pied piper if you will.

Lemon Sun is a super tight band with very strong material and a superb lead singer: this is the kind of band that under normal circumstances would get snapped up by a major label, but of course nothing is normal in the record business these days and maybe they are better off with a smaller label anyway. Or maybe the word will spread and they won't need a label at all.

Favorite track: "Nobody Knows" - Jim Morrison-meets-the Clash and makes a beautiful baby.

Photos by: Elliot Glass.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Prefix: Not Lost in Translation

Tokyo based Prefix has a unabashed love of soul, dance, rock and pop and they put it all together in a way that only a cool duo from Japan could. Tk (on the left) and Mairi share songwriting/arranging duties and both play instruments.

The Nightfly's favorite track: "Groovin' Movin' On" - Hello Kitty does House music!

Nicole Jane: London Calling!

The buzz is building: The King of Pop in the flesh is sadly gone, but South East London princes Jace B, Alfie-J, and Dieu Carreira are more than happy to be a 21st century mix of Michael and The Jackson Five. The brothers go by the name of Nicole Jane. Yep, The Nightfly was confused too at first, but the name doesn’t seem to be hurting them so far – they’re touring all of this month in England, including Liverpool, the birthplace of the original British Invasion.

Not sure if the Beatles would have gone very far with a girly name, but the guys in Nicole Jane make that thing work, baby. They got the vocals, the look, and the right kind of sweet-but-not-yucky pop confections to make it big. Really, really big. And we all know what that means: breaking into the all-important US market. Not to knock being big in Japan or in Germany, but the US remains the holy grail for artists/bands in terms of sales and prestige.

Nicole Jane opened for Ne-Jo in the UK in 2007 - don’t need a crystal ball to “predict” that Nicole Jane will soon have American tweeners screaming like their grandmothers did when John, Paul, George and Ringo came calling in 1964.

The Nightfly's favorite track: "Is It Me", a song so catchy it makes Jingle Bells sound like your ten year-old newphew tuning his souped up electric ukulele.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Interview with Mozez

If Mozez’ butter-smooth vocals sound heaven sent, it’s with good reason. The singer-songwriter spent the first half of his life singing exclusively in churches. Born Osmond Wright in Jamaica, the singer looked towards American greats for inspiration - Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra were his idols. When Mozez was in his late teens he was invited to England for a short tour, and despite his reservations with the English weather he decided to stay, studying theology in West Hampstead.

His first break came with the duo Spirits - they reached the Top 20 with the single “Don’t Bring Me Down” and he found himself in a whole new world. A follow-up, “Spirit Inside” also charted, but he was not entirely satisfied with the project and left to concentrate on his own compositions. It was at this time that Mozez developed his own laid back, heartfelt, and deeply soulful style.

It turned out to be a style that blended perfectly with that of Zero 7’s Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker. Mozez co-wrote and sang the title track as well as “This World” on Zero 7’s debut album “Simple Things”, released in 2001. The album was a smash hit, capturing the zeitgeist of the post-millennial, post-clubbing era. Another Zero 7 album, ”When It Falls” followed in 2004 and featured three additional vocalists, Sia, Sophie Barker and Tina Dico who all joined Mozez, Binns/Hardaker and a full band on an extensive tour – they played numerous US shows to great acclaim and “When It Falls” has since gone platinum.

In the meantime, Mozez worked in his studio, writing and recording. Having scored a publishing deal with Universal Publishing, Mozez recruited friends including Alex Morris, Tom Quick, Ben Chapman, Guy Sigsworth, Nightmares On Wax and Binns/Hardaker to assist with his 14-track debut solo album “So Still” which was released in 2005. In the US the album received heavy air play on influential Los Angeles radio station KCRW and the track “Feel Free” was placed in both TV (“CSI”) and film (“Running for Time”).

The much anticipated follow-up album “The Absolute” features Melanie Blatt (All Saints) and production from George Evelyn (Nightmares on Wax), Tony White plus other writers and producers. Mozez has imparted more of his production ability on this album, giving us a slightly harder edge to this soft-spoken man. He describes “The Absolute” as “a journey into a multi floral expanse of colored sounds”. It will be released in the US in the early part of 2010. The first single “Signs of Happiness” has already been released in the UK and will be released in the US in January. A number of US shows are also in the works.

Q & A with Mozez

The Nightfly: When did you take the name Mozez and why?
Mozez: It was in 1996. I concluded that Osmond Wright was not a strong enough name for an artist and that a change would be necessary. I came upon the name Mozez by playing around with some words that came to my head at the time – I decided it was a cool name and have been using it ever since.

The Nightfly: Jamaica is primarily known for giving the world reggae and ska music – how large a role have gospel music and soul music played?
Mozez: Soul and gospel music have not been given their place in the ever evolving styles of music from Jamaica, but they have both been instrumental in the creation of almost every artist from the island.

The Nightfly: Can you recall the moment when you decided to pursue a music career?
Mozez: Not specifically. I was singing in churches from the age of twelve, moved on to set up a gospel band before becoming fully involved in music, so for me it has been a rather smooth process.

The Nightfly: Was your family supportive of your musical ambitions?
Mozez: I cannot wholly say yes as it was not my father’s first choice for me. However, I think my family is pleased that I have made a success of my chosen path.

The Nightfly: Was there a distinct soul music scene in London at the time of your arrival?
Mozez: There was, but it took me a while to gravitate to it as it was very different from what I was used to. When I left Jamaica I was heavily into music like the Commodores, the Manhattans, the Chi-Lites, Air Supply, the Carpenters, etc. When I arrived in the UK soul was much more about Jazzy B, Omar, Sade, etc. The sounds, instrumentation, melodies were not the same.

The Nightfly: Was there ever a time when you felt like giving up on your music career?
Mozez: There have been many times like that over the last ten years, but I am happy that I have persevered.

The Nightfly: What advice would you give to an aspiring singer/musician?
Mozez: Believe in yourself, follow your dream, develop an entrepreneurial spirit. The era of depending on contracts from companies is slowly coming to and end. To make it today you need to be able to create your own space, and develop a unique style.

The Nightfly: How did Sam Hardaker and Harry Binns come to hear your work with the duo Spirits?
Mozez: Working with Zero 7 came about purely by chance. At the time I was working with another company and was introduced to the guys as they were asked to produce a song for that company. We worked together on a number of songs. “This World” was one of them.

The Nightfly: Has it been a challenge to get record buyers to separate your work with Zero 7 from your solo output?
Mozez: Not really. The sound I have created is a bit more up-tempo and electronic than Zero 7 and I think we occupy a different space within the market.

The Nightfly: Your first solo album “So Still” from 2005 is a seamless, flawless album – how long did it take to make the record, from conception to release?
Mozez: I tend to take a while to create my albums as I am a bit fussy regarding production and the whole feel of what I put out. I started working on “So Still” probably before I met Zero 7, but I can’t give a definitive date as the tracks on the album were chosen from a number of songs I wrote over the years.

The Nightfly: How large a role has the worldwide web played in your career since the release of “So Still” in terms of digital distribution and promotion?
Mozez: It has been instrumental in the promotion of Mozez and has been a very effective tool I believe. Over seventy percent of sold copies of “So Still” were purchased primarily directly or indirectly via the web.

The Nightfly: Was the songwriting process and recording process different the second time around?
Mozez: “So Still” was less about creating an album and more about relating my experiences, “The Absolute” is primarily about trying to create an effective piece of work and hoping that people will buy into what I have created. With “The Absolute” I have for the most part created everything in my studio. “So Still” on the other hand was recorded with a number of friends in various studios.

The Nightfly: Why did you choose the title “The Absolute”?
Mozez: I am trying to relate through my songs a sense of freedom from everything that limits us to the self. The title was chosen as I could not find another term or word to describe the sense of triumph knowing that we are instilled with a sovereign nature.

The Nightfly: The stunning first single from the new album “Signs of Happiness” is a welcome upbeat tonic in our troubled day and age – was the positive vibe of the title and the song deliberate or a coincidence?
Mozez: I stumble on a lot of things while I go along - I’m not sure I wrote it as a deliberate medicine for the time.

The Nightfly: Do you have favorite tracks on either your first solo album “So Still” or on the new solo album “The Absolute” and if so, why are they your favorites?
Mozez: On “So Still” my favorite song is the title track because of the picture it paints in my mind. “Philia”, a song about friendship or the lack thereof, is my favorite track on “The Absolute” because it was a pleasure creating it.

The Nightfly: When you write does the music or do the lyrics come first and where do you usually find the inspiration?
Mozez: Sixty percent of the time the lyrics are written before the music is created. I am easily inspired I guess, just being and feeling the sense of love, hate, peace, war, justice, injustice, life, death, knowing and not knowing, God, darkness, light, beauty, intellect.

The Nightfly: Do you enjoy songwriting, recording, and performing equally?
Mozez: Performing is my greatest joy as it is less solitary - I enjoy the reaction, the feel and the power while relating a song to an audience, but I enjoy the creative process of writing and recording as well.

The Nightfly: Would you prefer to be known as a singer, period, or do you welcome the label “soul singer”?
Mozez: I am not truly worried one way or the other as over the years I’ve been called worse things. However, given the choice I would prefer just being a singer.

The Nightfly: Which songs in music history have had the most profound effect on you and why?
Mozez: “Inner City Blues” by Marvin Gaye because the song is lyrically profound and is sung by the best singer who ever walked the planet. “War” by Bob Marley because of its power, truth and simplicity. “Careless Whisper” by George Michael because it has an undying melody and a seamless quality.

The Nightfly: Which established and newer artists/bands are you currently listening to?
Mozez: Coldplay, Kanye West, Black Eyed Peas, System of a Down. I’m also a fan of a new UK trio of three brothers who go by the name of Nicole Jane – I think they could be huge if given the opportunity.