from teen actor to dreamy musician, mossy proves you can grow up and have it all
Mermaids, mythology, poetry and personal awakening—MOSSY’s music is as magic as his life.
Photography Mclean Stephenson
Jamie Timony is MOSSY. If you were a teenager in the 2000s with a taste for mermaid-fantasy-television-dramas, then he is also the dude from H2O: Just Add Water. But for everyone else he's a man who makes a beautiful kind of soulful, psychedelic pop music. It's a testament to his work that conversations don't decent into questions about working with a baby Phoebe Tonkin, but rather hover on ancient Greek mythology, poetry and paranoia.
With Ginsberg, the second single from his forthcoming self titled debut EP, out today, we caught up with MOSSY in Los Angeles to discuss the thinking, inspiration and process behind his music.
i-D: The music video for Electric Chair is inspired by Narcissus, who in Greek mythology was disabled by his own beauty. It's an interesting concept considering modern society's obsession with social media and the idea of image. Can you tell me how this relates to the song or to yourself personally?
Jamie: Electric Chair, in my eyes at least, is about self destruction by means of self obsession. It poses the question whether there is an experience to be had that could lift you up above these things to a place where pure freedom from self could exist. Talking about the meaning behind a song can be sketchy territory though because it lends itself to the idea that writing the song in the first place was a conscious attempt to convey some message that was important to you. That wasn't the intention.
Mossy, Electric Chair
You've spoken in the past about wanting to make music that is expansive and inclusive...
Yeah, I'm often attracted to songs that sound kind of grandiose or melancholy in a big and pretty way. I like the feeling they give you. Your heart opens up in this way where you feel sad and happy simultaneously and like anything is possible.
You were a child actor and now you're making music. Was it something you always wanted to do and will you continue to act?
Music came first and is something I've always been attracted to. As a teenager all I wanted to be was an actor. Over the last couple of years music has been my focus but acting is something that I will continue to pursue, most definitely. It's a lot of fun, exciting and I enjoy the challenge of it. Film in particular is such a beautiful, expressive medium.
Do any of your methods cross between acting and music?
Drawing on characters is something a lot of musicians posture around. The main thing that I would take from my acting training is the ability to improvise and experiment freely when I'm writing. Also a commitment to ideas or impulses is key in both. Creating the world of a song is similar to creating a character. There are certainly a few characters or distinct POVs I notice when I'm working on MOSSY stuff but none of them are overly pronounced at this point.
Are there similarities in the creative processes of music and acting?
They're similar in the sense they both require a willingness to follow and trust your instincts and to be vulnerable and playful. Generally, I find music to be a more satisfying form of expression. Usually with acting, unless it's something you've written or created yourself, you are bringing someone else's vision to life. That said, the catharsis that performing brings in both disciplines feels the same.
The song was largely inspired by two of my favourite Allen Ginsberg poems. One is called An Eastern Ballad, the other is Cosmopolitan Greetings. At the end of Cosmopolitan Greetings there is a line that says "Candour ends paranoia". For whatever reason, that line and idea made a huge impact on me. It resonated. I wrote it on a piece of paper and stuck it on my bedroom wall where I could see it everyday. Around that time, my friend Will (guitar) had this beautiful progression and the song took shape quite quickly. I was quite paranoid and anxious at the time and there was stuff in my life I wasn't looking at honestly. That coupled with the idea of a profound awakening ("so long my sleep") that An Eastern Ballad deals with with, were dynamite for me.
Did it lead to some sort of personal awakening?
It did. I got honest with myself about certain things in my life which were affecting me quite negatively. It was quite profound for me because I didn't choose to come these realisations. In fact, in a lot of ways I would have preferred at the time to have kept my head in the sand. But that's not how it worked out and I'm grateful for that every day.
Text Britt McCamey
Photography Mclean Stephenson