Molly Cottrell is a talented musician and performer who is currently living and working in Los Angeles. When we first checked out Molly’s work at Song Revelation we were really keen to share her experiences and music with you, and were delighted when she agreed! Read the full interview below where Molly discusses what she’s been doing for the last 12 months, her musical inspirations and what she does to relax when not working.
Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?
That is such an impossible request! Describe not only my music but who i am in less than 20 words?? I feel that would be doing anyone involved (readers, myself, all my influences, etc) a great disservice.
Q: What is your musical background?
I have been involved in music my entire life, including dance, musical theater, choirs, piano lessons, voice lessons, talent shows etc. It didn’t take me long to realize that singing was my thing and from there I turned my piano and voice lessons into songwriting. I have been writing my songs for about 9 years and performing them live for the last 4-5 years around Denver and Los Angeles. I studied vocal performance in Denver and moved out to Los Angeles after graduation.
Q: How have the last 12 months been for you?
The last 12 months of my life have been some of the most unpredictable, exciting, and rough ones yet. One year ago, actually even 9 months ago, I had no idea where I was going to be 3 months from then. I didn’t know where I’d be living, how I would be making money, what steps I would be making towards my career, who I would be living with…it was a bit overwhelming to say the least. In the last year I have gone from being in school in Denver to packing everything I own into my car, driving by myself across the country to Los Angeles without a lease on an apartment, no roommate, no real friends in LA, or even a job, to finding a job, apartment, roommate, and steadily working my way through the web that is the music industry. It has been unbelievably exciting and at times extremely hard. I can say without a doubt that this has been the hardest, most unpredictable, and most exciting year of my life thus far.
Q: Who inspires you musically?
Soul music is what does it for me. I’m fairly certain that my favorite voice of all time is Otis Redding. Of course the classics like Aretha, Ray Charles, and Sam Cooke all influence me greatly in my songwriting and performance. I’m also greatly moved by modern artists such as Adele, Cee Lo Green, and Mark Ronson who combine retro and old school vibes with current grooves and new takes on what has stood the test of time. To be honest, it doesn’t necessarily matter if an artist is a performer of my genre or not though, what really matters is the heart they put into their work. The emotion that pours from Nirvana’s music, the wisdom that comes through Paul Simon’s lyrics…it can come from anywhere and any kind of music. But when it’s there you know it.
Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?
I greatly admire Adele (who doesn’t these days). The thing is, I’ve been admiring her for the past 4 years before many in the U.S. really knew who she was. Her international breakthrough with this year’s album has been incredible to watch. It has restored my faith in humanity to tell you the truth; people recognize, respect, and desire authenticity – it’s just a matter of whether or not they are handed it. She is the real deal. She has such an iconic, raw, authentic voice and seeing the world’s welcoming reaction to it has been a real boost to my hopes for the music industry in general. There is still good music out there being written and performed by real artists and, most importantly, it is being acknowledged, rewarded, admired, and adored by people all over the world.
Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?
My ideal collaboration would be with producer Mark Ronson. After seeing him work his magic with Amy Winehouse and seeing his tastes in styles/arrangements/genres, I am certain that he could do wonders with my songs and we could have a really great product if I ever get my dream opportunity to work with him!
Q: What songs are on your ipod at the moment?
Besides absolutely everything…. What has been on repeat lately has been the Black Keys (in my top two for favorite bands!), Mayer Hawthorne, Nirvana’s “Nevermind”, all kinds of Frank Sinatra, Tracy Chapman, and Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black album as well.
Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?
The trigger for what starts a certain song is always different, it could be a phrase, a riff, a melody line, a bass line…anything really. But once it begins, I find that I tend to choose a chord or some chord progression and from there the lyrics and melody seem to simultaneously come out. I don’t even always know what it is I’m writing about until maybe half way through or even sometimes weeks or months after the song is written. It sounds odd, but sometimes the words come out as if they’re sneaking out of some unknown corridor. I read a quote somewhere by Paul Simon that I loved and he said, “I’m always more interested in finding what it is that I have to say by discovering it by accident”. I read that and immediately smiled because it was validation from one of (in my opinion) today’s most talented wordsmiths that saying things you didn’t expect to say doesn’t make them any less valid.
Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?
I don’t know if I can actually answer that. I suppose it depends on what your goal is as a songwriter…if you’re aiming for a more commercial “hit”, then I could easily argue that it’s the melody that must be catchy above all else, but if you’re aiming to tell a story or impart your thoughts more, then it would clearly be the lyrics. It’s very obviously both that create a truly great song. When I think about it, I tend to write them simultaneously actually…there are exceptions of course, but in general, I seem to produce the melody and lyrics all at once. I believe that is most likely because I see them as one entity.
Q: Where are you based?
I’m currently based out of Los Angeles. I’ve lived here for only about 6 months now.
Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?
I’m from a small town in Washington not too far from Seattle. I absolutely love the Northwest and Seattle in particular, however my town is one that I never grew attached to. I moved there when I was 12 so it isn’t exactly my hometown where I spent my whole life, it was more of a temporary place until I went away to college. Growing up I was lucky enough to be able to travel the world with my parents and brother, which opened my eyes to the bigger picture and allowed me to grow as in independent, ambitious, and curious citizen of the world as opposed to someone who is locked down by location. The way I see it, I’m “from” many different places. And to truly be able to say that is a great feeling.
Q: What are you currently working on?
I’m of course writing as much as I can, as well as performing around the area at venues like The Whisky A-Go-Go, Hotel Cafe, and House of Blues. However, my next project is a collaboration with producer and writer Kelvin Wooten. He has worked with a number of phenomenal artists such as Macy Gray, Jill Scott, Earth Wind & Fire, and Anthony Hamilton. We’re hoping to form a creative partnership that includes writing as well as fine tuning songs already written. That is coming up in a few months and I’m very much looking forward to it.
Q: What are you hoping to achieve in over the next 12 months?
Besides continuing to get my music out there into the hands of everyone possible, my main focus is industry networking and getting my music into the hands and ears of those in the industry who have not only the power but the desire to elevate a new musician to the next level if it is someone they truly believe in as an artist. Whether that means a record deal or a production deal…whatever it may be, I’m looking (like everyone else in this crazy town is) to bring my craft to the masses. In the next year alone that may include playing a festival or convention such as SXSW, networking with industry professionals who believe in what it is I’m doing, and, needless to say, continuing to write and do the best I can to relate myself to this world and those in it.
Q: Do you have any gigs or shows that you’d like to tell us about?
Locally, I have played at Hotel Cafe, House of Blues, The Whisky A-Go-Go, The Foundry, and others. My next shows will all be posted on my social media sites, specifically my Facebook music page: http://facebook.com/mollycottrellmusic
Q: What do you do to relax?
Anyone who knows me would not hesitate before saying: coffee shop. I can go to one and literally spend hours with my latte and book or journal just reading/writing and relaxing. It grounds me and brings me back to my core when I’m becoming a little scattered (as well as enabling my extreme addiction to coffee). I have thought about this before and have come to the conclusion that I would be a very unpleasant, depressed, mess of a person if I didn’t have my time in coffee shops, however short. It is a necessity for my vitality.
Q: Where would your favourite holiday (vacation) be and why?
My ideal vacation would be an extended trip (i’m talking months) that included extended stays in multiple countries around the world. I have a list of places I want to go…and although, yes, that list includes every single place on earth, there is an order to it and I would like to check off the next ones on my list as well as revisit some of my favorites Around the world travel. I’ll take one ticket to everywhere please.
Q: If you could give a little piece of advice for new or aspiring musicians what would it be?
That’s a funny question because you’re basically asking me to give myself advice… I think, to break it down to the simplest form of what is necessary for an aspiring musician, I would say do not ever for a second let go of the fact that this is what you need to do. Because that’s what this is for me, it’s something I need to do. And it is because of that that I know it will work out. I’m following my most basic of human instincts and simply doing what I have to do.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?
Hear my music on iTunes and Spotify as well. Check my Facebook and other websites for upcoming shows and tracks! I have a number of new songs that I will be working on with some phenomenal musicians/producers in the next couple months so keep checking in! Please pass my music along to anyone you feel may enjoy what it is I do. Without anyone else, this career is an impossible feat for anyone. So if you truly like what I do then please do me the biggest favor you could and pass it along. It means the world to someone like me.
Editor’s Note: Molly Cottrell has the drive, determination and talent to forge a successful career in the music industry. If you’re around Los Angeles make sure you check out one of her live shows.
If you’d like to learn more about or contact Molly Cottrell just follow the links below:
twitter link: https://twitter.com/#!/MollyCottrell
facebook link: http://www.facebook.com/mollycottrellmusic
web page link: http://mollycottrell.webstarts.com
soundcloud link: http://soundcloud.com/molly_cottrell
Youtube embeds: http://www.youtube.com/user/mollycottrell/videos