She recently won SOCAN’s prestigious 2011 ECHO Songwriting Prize, but that certainly hasn’t gone to Katie Moore’s head. The self-deprecating, Montreal-based, roots songstress says “it’d be sad if I thought ‘Wake Up Like This’ was the best song written in Canada this year, ’cause I’m sure it’s not.”
But that tune, taken from her current, highly-acclaimed sophomore album Montebello, does, in fact, showcase Moore’s compositional craftsmanship, as well as the pure vocals that are her trademark. Moore does call the ECHO victory (over such strong contenders as Arcade Fire and Handsome Furs) “very flattering. I’m in the process of trying to become a good songwriter, so it’s nice to get this nod of encouragement that I’m on the right track.”
Her potential was apparent on 2007 debut album Only Thing Worse. Moore’s records seamlessly incorporate elements of folk, bluegrass, alt-country and Americana, while she’s also found herself in demand by artists working outside these genres, including Patrick Watson, Socalled, Gonzales, and Plants and Animals.
“Gonzales and Socalled are always making me do things I think I can’t do,” says Moore. “If I only played by myself, I don’t think I’d grow at all, so that’s been instrumental to my musical growth.” She calls this outside work “a good complement… Mostly, it’s just great to be busy all the time.”
Usually the melody and lyrics come at the same time.”
Moore likes varying her songwriting methods. “I try to find different instruments,” she says.” The song ‘Montebello’ was written on a ukulele I’d bought when I was on tour because it’s a little instrument. I got a piano about two years ago so I started writing on that. Mostly it happens on the guitar. I don’t have any real musical training, so I just fumble around with chords until I sing a melody. Usually the melody and lyrics come at the same time.”
The singer laughingly recalls that her first writing experiments consisted of “taking people’s melodies, changing a word or two, and thinking I’d made a major artistic achievement. I re-wrote the words to a Rod Stewart song because I was madly in love with him. I felt a huge surge of emotion from doing it. Maybe that’s when I caught the bug!”
• Moore grew up in Hudson, Quebec, just outside Montreal. She knew fellow Hudsonian Patrick Watson from an early age.
• The $5,000 ECHO prize money has already been earmarked for the recording of her third album. “As an independent musician I always need to come up with ways to finance a new album. I don’t have to this time!” she says.
• She is now working on writing songs in French. “I’m proficient in French but not creative in it, so it’s an interesting challenge.”