Advertisement

get the lowdown on plan b's protégé denai moore

These are things you need to know about the singer with the most beautiful voice you'll hear all year.

by Hattie Collins
|
Mar 16 2015, 3:40pm

We couldn't love a woman's voice more than we do Denai Moore's. Born in Jamaica and brought up in Stratford, the 21-year-old has an utterly arresting vocal that can be found gliding over self-penned tracks like "Gone and Blame," premiered on i-D recently, as well as SBTRKT's "The Light." All we want now from Denai is Moore, Moore, Moore...

I moved from Jamaica when I was…
Really young, maybe eight or nine. My family lived in Spanish Town and Kingston.

I wrote my first song…
When I was in sixth grade. It was called "Changes" and it was really serious. When I think about it now, it's kind of weird coming from a 12-year-old. Like why would I write a song that serious? I think I was a bit of a dramatic kid. The song was about someone running away from home. I played it for my parents and they were really shocked, but from there they've always been supportive of whatever I wanted to do.

Losing interest in my education was actually helpful because…
There was this massive pressure with university and doing well in my exams, and I just didn't care. That was the time when I was discovering all these artists and building this catalogue of songs that were exciting, and it was different from anything I'd ever written before. That was when I wrote "Gone." So instead of revising for exams, like everyone else, I was out playing open mic nights, and that's when I met Clare McGuire who has had a massive impact on my life.

Clare Maguire is…
A no-BS kind of a person, she's really honest. I played this open mic at someone's house and she was there and she asked me for my email, which I thought was really random. A couple of weeks later, I was at her house, doing some demos. Her experience in music is really valuable to me, because she's really protective, making sure that everything I'm doing is what I want to do, as opposed to me being unhappy.

Then I met Plan B…
My manager, Dan, played him some of my stuff and I got a call saying that he wanted to meet me. It was really funny, because the year before, I was randomly in this Glee club, and we chose to sing She Said. We rehearsed it and sang it so many times, that I started to hate the song. I haven't told him that.

The person that made me want to do music was…
Lauryn Hill. As a person she's so honest — some people would say that's she's a bit too honest, brutally honest — in her songwriting. And she's very uncompromising; she seems like someone who won't allow anything to come in the way of her songs or anything. I remember watching Unplugged and she just completely blew me away. Some years ago I got into folk music, and was listening to Bon Iver and Fiest, and they kind of opened that world to me, because before I was only really listening to whatever my Dad was listening to. That's when I developed my own musical identity.

My first EP is called Saudade and is about…
The repressed knowledge that the object or thing that a person is longing for will never return. I think the wording itself is something that resonated in the songs I was writing, especially Gone.

With my new EP, I Swear
I kind of knew that it was the beginning of a different musical journey. I think the songs I was writing were making me really nervous, because they were a bit different from anything I'd done, and I remember when I went to record the first demo of I Swear, I was terrified and didn't want to play it, I didn't want to record it because it was a different style, but I knew when I wrote that that it was going to be the first song that I wanted people to hear, because I think it's a good introduction to what I'm doing. The records that have come out while I was writing, like Yeezus, or St Vincent's last album, I think artists are really bold and they're pushing themselves, and I think this record has been that.

I feature on SBTRKT'S new album after…
I got an email asking if I wanted to write with him, because he was eager to. SBTRKT is one of the nicest people I've met, and he's influenced my whole thought process with recording, just because as a person he pushes himself. Every time I see him he shows me something new that he's excited about, like an instrument or something. The way he makes music is so ridiculous.

I don't have huge plans as an artist…
Because I think I'm very unambitious. I just want to continue making music and collaborating with people, because I think it's really interesting and really different from what I do.

The first record I bought was…
The first Corinne Bailey Rae album when I was seven. I used to cover Like a Star quite a lot. I really like that album, although I haven't listened to it in a long time.

The last gig I went to was…
Nao ­— she's an R&B artist. She has a bit of a Prince vibe.

If I were stranded on the moon for eternity, I would want the entire catalogue of who and why
Kanye, becuase he hasn't made a bad album, and I wouldn't be bored. I love the last album, which is just so weird and ridiculous and good, and My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy Is incredible as well.

My karaoke song of choice is…
"Hollaback Girl." I love Gwen Stefani.

The three biggest influences on me as an artist are…
1) Film always really inspires me. 2) I'm obsessed with photography. 3) Sometimes I'll be on Tumblr, and a picture really sparks something in me and I'll get really inspired to write a song.

As an artist I want to stand for…
Consistency. Or not really consistency actually, just being really honest in my songwriting and really bold and uncompromising.

I want to work with…
Lorde and Raury. I'm obsessed with Raury, he's so talented. Some of the stuff he says blows me away. "Indigo Child" is so amazing. And I'd love to meet Willow and Jaiden Smith.

My celebrity crush is…
Shia Lebouf. He's definitely nuts, but I find it quite funny.

The best to happen to me recently is…
Playing in New York, I went to New York for the first time, and that was probably one of the best things that's ever happened to me. The worst thing was maybe when I fell onstage. That was pretty embarrassing.

The song that sums me up best is…
"I Swear" because I think it's a good balance between what I'm doing now but still similar to what I did before.

For 2015, I'm tipping…
Raury. I'm obsessed with him. And my friend Moses Samuel.

@denaimoore

Credits


Text Hattie Collins
Photography Matteo Montanari

Tagged:
The Music Issue
denai moore
music interviews