The artist joins fellow Aussie and collaborator Banoffee to discuss web-era music making
Jamie Timony is an interdisciplinary artist at his core. The Melbourne-based artist, who goes by MOSSY, effortlessly bends electronic, pop, and punk themes while penning sincere and intimate lyrics. In his debut album N2YK (Nice To Know Ya), released in March of this year, MOSSY explores what it means to embrace growth by releasing negative weights in life — acutely attached as they may be. In his own words, “N2KY is kind of a shooing action. It’s about something I think everyone goes through in their late 20s. There’s this period where you realize you don’t need to accept all the energies that are being presented to you. You don’t need to remain friends with that person who isn’t kind. And it’s the best feeling.”
MOSSY recently sat down with his friend, collaborator, and fellow Aussie Martha Brown, known professionally as Banoffee, to chat about their new work. From studio sessions and video shoots to the wonders of YouTube production tutorials, the two shed light on their respective creative processes and what it means to work as a musician in this day and age.
Jamie Timony: Hey Martha, how are you?
Martha Brown: I’m good. I just got back from a session.
Jamie: Are you starting to put down tracks for the new album?
Martha: I am. I think I’m gonna make many tracks and then work out how I want to release them. It will either be an album or a couple of EPs. All the songs sound very different from each other.
Jamie: I find that that’s kind of how all albums or EPs, or any sort of bodies of work start in my mind as well. I remember when I was working on my debut album N2KY, there was a moment where I was panicking that all the songs sounded too disparate, and there were too many different influences and sounds, and it wasn’t sounding like a complete body of work.
Martha: Wow, that’s wild, because [when] I listen to it, it sounds so cohesive. Did you put in work to make it that way?
Jamie: Yeah, definitely. All my other early demos for that album were sounding super different from one another. I think a massive part of the task of producing that album, which took a good couple of years really to complete, was about tying them together sonically. I didn’t really go into the studio with much of an idea of how I wanted that record to sound at all. I just had these songs that were really basically recorded. And they had no usable parts. So I had to start from scratch.
Martha: What are the champion instruments of that record that sort of did that?
Jamie: Early on, I was using the Juno 60 and a Moog Sub 37. Halfway through the process, I just switched over to using software. I actually sold those because I ran out of money. I sold all three of my synths, one of which I’d had for 15 years. I downloaded a bunch of soft synths and kind of just completed it with those.
Martha: That’s so funny. I have exactly the same story. I had to sell a lot of really useful analog synths. I got down to one that I tried to sell this year, but I love it so much that no one’s offering a price high enough for it. I’m not selling it unless someone offers me a shit load of money. So then I’m like, ‘Why am I even selling it in the first place?’
Jamie: I would like to get more at some stage. But for now I’m kind of happy learning as much as I can about the software instruments that I have. I realized that I’d been sleeping on getting good at production myself.
Martha: I think soft synths are sick.
“There’s an old saying of two flowers growing side by side and not blocking each other off from the sun, and just enjoying each other’s growth. That whole image became a really central image for me and for the record. It’s about letting go of things and moving towards the light.”
Jamie: Should we double back a little bit and talk about how we met?
Martha: Well we had a couple of encounters, but the first time I believe it was Silverlake Market. That’s where I bump into all my Australian friends. And then I feel like I really got to know you quite well through working on your track. Actually, you weren’t around. But I was listening to your lyrics so intimately.
Jamie: The piano ballad version was really special. I remember listening to it the first time when I was walking alone in Albert Park, which is a golf course right near my house. I put the track on and I think I called you straight after, because I was just so impressed with how far you took it. I love your production. Before this, I was going back through some of your super early music, like from 2013. Did you produce all that back then as well?
Martha: Yeah, I did a lot of that. I co-produced that EP with Oscar Key Sung.
Jamie: I remember you guys playing shows together back then. They really were great songs, those early songs. Now your production is obviously more modern, I guess. You like to play around a bit more with sonic elements now. But the production was just amazing.
Martha: I actually learned most of it off of YouTube. I think coming to America has really pushed me to be quite socially competent. But when I made that EP, I was super shy and I just couldn’t ask anyone to help. I just didn’t want to ask a guy to teach me how to produce. And yeah, that’s such [an] age old conversation now. But in 2013, production was still so male dominated. So I just did a lot of YouTube tutorials.
Jamie: YouTube is so good for that. It’s been really helpful for me in sharpening up as a producer.
Martha: I’m thinking about collaborations, and things are going to start to be easier now that COVID things are being lifted because you can get people in the studio.
Jamie: That actually makes me more nervous than doing things over a laptop. You have to be better at writing lyrics on the spot. And I can do that sometimes. But sometimes I feel like I freeze up in the company of others, because you have to be very vulnerable to get up at the microphone in front of someone. And sometimes they won’t even have headphones on, so they can’t hear that track. They certainly can’t hear that auto tune or whatever, either. So you’re just wailing into a microphone like an idiot, these subconscious musings, that sound crap.
Martha: That’s so funny. I was in a session today with two people and one of them didn’t have headphones on and there was heavy auto tune on the track. And the whole time I was like, ‘Oh, God.’ But you know what, this is why I want you to come to LA. I think here, it’s baptism by fire. You’re suddenly in a session every day and you just have to get your chops up. And although that’s not the way for everyone, you’re such a lovable human. I think that you’d actually realize that it’s quite easy, because it’s more about getting along with people in the room than anything else.
Jamie: That’s why I wanted to do more collabs for this second album. There’s this great David Bowie quote, where he talks about that feeling when you walk out into the ocean, and your feet kind of start to leave the ground a little bit and you’re on your tippy toes. That’s where you should create music from. And I think that’s really true. It can be very easy to get super comfortable in your own surroundings, but it’s also nice, and scary, and energizing to be working with other people and hearing new ideas and fresh takes on things.
Martha: God, that is such a beautiful quote. I’ve heard that. And I agree, nothing’s really worth it if you’re not a little bit scared. Totally better things happen in life in that way in general. I’m terrified over here all the time. Because everyone’s fucking cool. And everyone’s been working in the industry for such a long time. I’m constantly just feeling like a bit of a loser. But it’s a good feeling for that reason when I’m making music.
Anyway, so I know you’ve been asked this question a million times, and I’m sure it’s annoying, but can I ask you about the title of your debut album? What does it mean?
Jamie: Yeah, it’s called N2YK, which stands for ‘Nice to Know Ya.’
Martha: I should know that because it’s on the record.
Jamie: Well, the song on the record is also called N2KY, but all it says [is], ‘It’s nice to know you’ the whole time.
Martha: I really liked the title because it looks like a clothing brand from the ’90s.
Jamie: It does. I’ll tell you which one it looks like. You’re ready? DKNY.
Martha: Oh yeah! It does!
Jamie: I was kind of debating whether to call the album that, but it really ended up sort of tying everything in nicely thematically for me. I didn’t really know what the album was saying, or whether it even had a theme. And then I think ‘N2YK’ was the song that kind of glued it all together and made it make sense for me, which made it seem like an appropriate title for the album—it’s kind of a shooing action, like, ‘Fuck off.’ It’s about something I think everyone goes through in their late 20s. There’s this period where you realize you don’t need to accept all the energies that are being presented to you. You don’t need to remain friends with that person who isn’t kind. And it’s the best feeling. In relationships as well, where rather than sort of supporting each other’s growth and enjoying each other’s successes, people sort of slowly strangle each other and gray out each other’s personalities. It’s probably one of my biggest fears. I really strive to be in a relationship where both parties are, well—there’s an old saying of two flowers growing side by side and not blocking each other off from the sun, and just enjoying each other’s growth. That whole image became a really central image for me and for the record. It’s about letting go of things and moving towards the light.
Martha: That’s beautiful. I also think that, on a really shallow level, the title is so fashion [laughs]. You give me this beautiful response and all I can say is, ‘Wow, the title is so fashion.’
Jamie: No, but you’re right. It would look really good on a t-shirt.
Martha: It would look great on a t-shirt. It would look great on a cap. I want all of it. But about what you said, a couple years ago, I do remember doing that same thing. There’s always a couple friends where you’re like, ‘Why am I friends with someone who doesn’t want me to succeed?’
Jamie: And maybe they would want you to succeed in a couple of years, once they’ve reconciled some things with their own selves. But right now, they might not be the right friend or partner or whatever.
Martha: Listeners can tune into our psychology podcast.
Jamie: Shall we talk about your videos? Because you direct a lot of your videos and that is something we share in common.
Martha: Well, I think we should talk about your videos. And on that matter, I have a curiosity about videos. Riddle me this. I often have an idea for a video within the first couple of minutes of writing a song and it’s part of the writing process for the song. Do video ideas lead you into how you write?
Jamie: I wish they did, but they don’t. I think that would be really useful. There was a great interview I read, I think it was with Trent Reznor and the producer that he works with. They said they can barely even start a song until they have an image, like a painting in their minds, or a particular street at night or a beach or something. I definitely have that with some writing, sometimes. One lyric will trigger a scene or an image, and then it makes all the rest of the lyrics far easier to access. But I wish I had video ideas from the get-go, because then it wouldn’t be so fucking difficult when it comes time to actually make a video. I find coming up with videos to be like pulling teeth. Then one idea really kind of strikes and I end up running with that.
Martha: Do you collaborate with different directors when you make videos or do you do it all yourself?
Jamie: I did four videos for N2YK. Three of them are co-directed with my little brother who’s a filmmaker. We’ve got a really good working relationship. I like jamming ideas with him. He’s very practical. Like, I’ll say we should do something and immediately he just asks how much money we have.
Martha: What about the helicopter?
Jamie: That clip was really cheap. My brother is crafty. And he’d been working with a helicopter company at work and just hooked up something. We just booked the helicopter for three hours and shot it and it was done.
Martha: It’s such a good video. That’s such a good example of how simplicity is often the best way to go and makes the most sense of disarming visuals.
Jamie: I think so as well. And I think some people were nervous and asking, ‘Are you sure this simple idea is gonna hold for three and a half minutes?’ And we were a little bit scared, but we just backed ourselves in and said, ‘Yeah, of course it is.’ Three hours was a tight timeline to shoot that but we got it done.
Martha: Three hours is super, super short. I don’t think I’ve ever done a shoot in less than eight or nine hours.
Jamie: What draws you to working in more studio-based environments for your videos?
Martha: For that record, I had lighting in mind. I wanted very specific lighting and color. And it was more about that than anything else. I find it so stressful trying to work with making an entire video concept, having no idea what the weather is going to be. Whether it’s going to be gray, or it’s going to be super sunny. Things just had to be planned to a tee which meant that the studio was best. Doing it in the studio, you can control every aspect. It was really a breath of fresh air knowing exactly what things would look like.
Jamie: I did two of the videos in the studio, and those were far more relaxing days.