You might remember Denai Moore from SBTRKT’s 2014 hit ‘The Light’ – a vocal that added some emotive soul to the track’s otherwise industrial sound. Since then, Moore has released not one, but two solo albums, filtering this softness through her evolution as a songwriter and performer.
This year’s We Used To Bloom is an exploration of what makes us human. From tackling issues with self-confidence on opener ‘Let It Happen’, to describing the crippling aspects of anxiety on ‘Trickle’, We Used To Bloom allows Moore to untangle herself from genre labels, offering up an album of universal truths. It was a process that took time, patience and perseverance – something that Moore learnt from her experience while writing and recording her 2015 debut, Elsewhere.
“The process of making Elsewhere was really the first time I was pushed beyond my musical abilities. I asked a lot more than I thought I could of myself. I think we always underestimate where our limits are,” she explains. “I definitely took that spirit into the second record and played even more. At the moment I’m writing new stuff and am still recording, I just want to grow even more as a musician. The studio is almost the musical gym for me.”
This musical gym also resulted in a cover of Elliott Smith’s ‘Twilight’, which seamlessly slots into the tracklisting of We Used To Bloom through Moore’s ability to reinterpret the 2004 track with a delicate yet powerful rendition. “The Elliott Smith cover was never planned at all, it kind of just happened. I think in the studio space you are your best self when you allow for no limits or boundaries,” she adds. “In my head I’ve always wanted to cover that song, the lyrics and the melody are beautiful.”
It’s perhaps their shared vulnerability that proves the cover to be a perfect fit. Vulnerability is something Moore has always incorporated into her work, allowing her to say something true and meaningful with everything she creates. It wasn’t – and isn’t – always this easy to communicate this way, but as Moore continues, she explains that it’s all about learning to love your flaws. By embracing them, there’s a catharsis that can reach far beyond your own four walls.
“I used to be so self-critical after each vocal take and it really put a dim on studio sessions,” she says. “When the takes were fine, I actually missed the mistakes, morning croaks and accidentally whispered vocals; I love them really. I think it makes the songs breathe more. My relationship with myself is the healthiest it’s ever been, so I think I sound more self-assured on this record.”
However it’s more than a relationship with herself that she’s been nurturing on this journey, having rallied a team of friends which, she says, allows her to better communicate who she is: “I think it’s been really important to me to work more with my friends. I strongly believe that the people you love capture you in the best light,” she says. “I love to be involved with the process as much as I can. I think it’s really important that the visuals represent me as well as possible.”
Moore will be blooming her way into Bristol at the end of the month and urges those who will be experiencing her live show for the first-time, or even not, to expect “something different.” “I’m always trying new things live, and my show is constantly changing,” she says. “I’m very excited to be back on the road with this record.”
Denai Moore plays The Louisiana on 27th September. Her latest album We Used To Bloom is out now. Check out ‘Desolately Devoted’ below.