Putting Love into Words with Moxie Raia
By Chioma Nwana
Putting love into words is challenging for most of us. Some will argue that it is an indescribable feeling, and some will say that it is wrong to reduce such a complex emotion to a definition. Although love remains one of the hardest feelings to articulate, Moxie Raia has made a career of painting vivid pictures of the many sides of love with her music. This singer-songwriter makes music for puppy love, lost love, tough love, and unrequited love. Moxie’s vocal range and versatility allow her to approach love from several different angles, but her honest and emotive lyrics invite all of us into the ride through all of its varying stages. Even as a toddler, Moxie knew that she was called to make music, and years later, here she is. Having worked closely with some of the largest names in hip-hop, R&B, pop, and electronic music, Moxie seems to have already reached her goal, but she doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon.
For our readers who may not know: tell us your name, where you’re from, and what you do.
My name is Moxie Raia, I’m from New Jersey, and I’m a singer-songwriter.
Songwriting and singing are your main things, like you said, and you dance, too. Is there anything else that you do? Am I missing anything?
I love creating in general. I edit videos, I choreograph, I like to produce music. I really like learning all parts of it, probably because I’m a control freak. I like to know how to do everything so that I can do it myself.
Kind of like Now that I have the tools, vocabulary, and experience with these things, I can tell people what I want in a way that they’ll understand it.It’s very hard to talk to a producer, for example, if you don’t know the actual language.
Or talking to an editor, and he’s like No, you can’t do this shot and this shot next to each other. Once you learn how to edit, it makes sense. Then you’re like Oh, that’s why you can’t put them together. You don’t sound like an idiot like Why can’t you make that work?
Have you ever had a difficult time balancing all of the things that you do? Or are you able to do them all equally?
It’s definitely a balancing act, but I like doing them all.
Let’s talk about your timeline. You started writing music at 10, and then you went to a performing arts school at 13 – I heard you applied without telling your parents, which is pretty awesome. From there, things basically took off: you went on tour with Justin Bieber, and since then, you’ve worked with Pusha-T, Wyclef [Jean], Post Malone, and Steve Aoki. Can you speak to that a little bit? Tell us about the journey that you had to get here.
My mom always makes this joke that people say overnight success, but people actually work a lifetime to be an overnight success. I’ve been wanting this, practicing for it, and aiming for it since I was cognizant of myself – since I was 2 or 3 years old. This is all that I’ve wanted. There have been so many huge lessons and formative moments. Touring was definitely a crash course.
How was that?
It was amazing. It was like college. I learned so much so quickly. You’re up in front of that many people every night in an arena. You can’t fake the funk. You have to be in it 100%. I learned a lot on tour. The past six months have also been an extreme growing period: I left my label, and I really wanted to take things into my own hands and create my own path and not fit into any mold. I’ve been getting to know myself even more and creating my own world.
What has your experience within the music industry looked like so far? Are there any challenges that you’ve dealt with specifically?
One thing we were talking about earlier, which put into words how I felt: I’ve always liked to be really independent, but when you’re in the music business, it is the music business. So sometimes, you can lose a little bit of that creative control or independence because you have to make the music within a business model. That’s something that you don’t really think about when you’re on the outside, but it’s definitely something to balance. I think that because I like to be so independent, being with a label was tough for me, and I much prefer doing how I’m doing it now.
So you’re currently indie.
I’m sure being in the spotlight, especially in connection to some of these super well-known artists, can be very difficult. How do you manage to keep yourself levelheaded, keep yourself humble, and hang on to your integrity?
Faith and the belief that I’m just a vessel, which is really what I believe. I always joke that I don’t feel like I’m a good songwriter if God isn’t in the room. I’m not religious – I don’t belong to any religion – but it’s this spark of inspiration. The song just writes itself. It just comes out. It just happens. I don’t sit there and think about it. It’s just these moments of inspiration that come, and I think that’s just some sort of energy. That’s why I believe. I don’t think I’m anything unless I’m humble and grounded. I also find that when I’m not following my intuition, I’m much less inspired, and I can’t write as much. And to pick myself back up, it’s just faith. It’s exhausting. I’ve failed a lot, but someone once said that a concrete roadblock is a step. Step on it and go higher.
Jacket by Navré Studios.
Have you had any major milestones or memorable moments yet? I know your song I Love It When You Cry with Steve Aoki was number 22 on Billboard for Electronic/Hot Dance Songs, but were there any other big moments for you?
Definitely being on tour with Justin [Bieber]. That was pretty surreal every night. I’ve actually met Stevie Wonder like three times in the past few years. I’ve had really beautiful conversations with him. He’s been my idol since I was 13. When I was 13, my big brother made me 7 or 8 burned CDs of every song Stevie Wonder ever recorded because I loved him so much. It was my favorite gift ever. I listened to those CDs – they were like my Bible for a very long time. I just loved how genuine his music was. To meet him was surreal. He held my hand, and we talked about love, actually.
I was lucky enough to have listened to your recent single Cold Outside. I know it was about you meeting an old lover, and the actual conversation was neither here nor there, but then you thought about it and realized that you had more to say. Can you expand upon the story behind that song?
Yeah, so we met up at this diner to have closure–
I think closure is a scam.
It’s a scam! It’s an opener, to be honest. It definitely opened. We hadn’t talked in three months, and he was just liking my tweets and stuff. I texted him Why are you liking my tweets? Leave me alone! And he was like We should meet up for coffee and have pizza, and I was like Okay! We just talked about surface level stuff. Then I left, and I started writing lyrics. I thought about the idea of that person knowing you so well and so deeply that they provide this comfort that not many other people in the world can provide for you because you’ve been so close to them. So I started writing lyrics in my phone, and then that week, I went to the studio to meet with Che Pope, one of the producers on the song, and he put me in a room and gave me a bunch of tracks. I wrote like 5 songs that day. I was really inspired. He works with G.O.O.D Music. He’s one of my idols. He worked on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill with her. He’s amazing. So I was really inspired and really excited. He played me this track, and I just started – that song, I threw it up.
You gave a little bit of advice earlier, but if I were to ask you for one piece of advice that you would give to every up-and-coming artist as they navigate the music industry, develop as artists, and interact with people who are going to try to change their sound, what would it be?
I think, going off of what you just said, people are going to try to mold them and shape them. The most amazing thing is to create their own mold. All the different parts that make them who they are should be the new mold. New molds are being created all the time. Just stick to your own shape and make that the new mold.
Finally, in addition to the single that’s coming out soon, what else can we expect from you?
I’m gonna be putting out a lot of new music between now and 2019, almost every month.