Bred in Hawaii and based in Utah, The Moss blends their island roots with an alternative rock groove to form their distinctive sound. Consisting of Tyke James (vocals and guitar), Will Fowler (drums), Caiden Jackson (bass), and Addison Sharp (guitar), The Moss provides audiences with passionate vocals and emotive lyrics.
With both sweetness and grit, the band’s poetic and healing music gives fans something they can dig into and connect with. We got to know lead singer, Tyke James, discussing inspiration behind his lyrics, his dream musical collaboration, and his favorite songs to perform.
You currently live in Salt Lake City, but grew up in Oahu. Can you tell me about your beginnings as a band?
I was 14 when me and our guitar player, Addison, started hanging out and jamming together in Oahu. Our realist gig out there was playing at this taco truck on Tuesdays. I think they paid us $100 and we’d just play and eat tacos. After that, we started playing with other people and met our drummer, Willie. He was in charge of the music club at his college in Oahu, and we met him there. When Willie and Addison were busy with college, I went on The Voice, which took up nine months of my life. After The Voice, I left Hawaii, moved into a van, and began traveling and doing shows on my own. Addison and Willie both moved to Utah, so I thought I’d travel there too in my van. From there, we started playing shows together. Addison’s brother, Brierton, had also moved out to Utah, and started jamming with us around the house. So really, the band trickled together somewhat randomly. Now, we have a new bass player Caiden.
There is obviously a culture difference moving from Hawaii to Utah. How would you say this has changed the way you view the world and write your songs?
It is very different, and I miss Hawaii every day. Even though the mountains here are beautiful, I never really stop missing the ocean. Nature has a really profound effect on me in regards to what I think about, how I do things, and how I write my songs. Being out here in Utah though, I’ve gained a relationship with nature in a different way, which is really beautiful.
Your recent single, “The Place That Makes Me Happy” focuses on the feeling of chasing the highs in life. Is there a specific place that inspired this song?
There were two places in particular. The first is Salida, Colorado. Me and my girlfriend at the time went there together. I learned a lot of things about myself on that trip. Although I still am, the trip made everything feel new and exciting, and helped me figure out a lot. So that’s a theme in the song. Another place that inspired the song is Montana. I went on a solo trip to Montana for a couple weeks to record some music of my own. One solo song I recorded was actually “The Place That Makes Me Happy” but my managers and label were like, “Yo, can we make this a Moss song?” And I said, “Yeah. Sure, why not? I’m still singing it. Who cares?”
A lot of your songs on the Insomnia EP focus on the highs and lows of romance, where you can really hear the passion and ache in your voice. Is it difficult as an artist to pour your emotions out like this, or is it more of a cathartic experience?
It’s a little bit of both. I definitely have moments where I’m like, “Oh, everyone thinks this about me now because I said it in my song.” A lot of what I say in my songs could be misunderstood, so I don’t love that side of it. On the other hand, I like how the audience can make the song their own, and be able to interpret it in a way that serves them. That’s obviously just a beautiful thing about music in general. Overall, the songwriting process is really revelational for me. I have a lot of feelings that will come out when I’m writing, before I even know what I’m feeling.
Who were some of your biggest musical inspirations growing up that led you to want to pursue a career in music?
The first indie band that I really got into was The Kooks. They were probably my first favorite band. The producer of some of their albums, Tony Hoffer, actually helped us produce “The Place That Makes Me Happy.” We were able to get him excited about the song and get in the studio with him. So, that was just a cool full circle moment.
What is the most surreal performance that you’ve experienced in your career so far?
I think the coolest opening show we’ve ever done was for Mt. Joy. Their concert was so good, and they are really good people. I don’t even remember our show that well, but just being able to talk to them was inspiring. As far as regular performances go, we did this festival called Kilby Block Party in Salt Lake City. It practically doubles in size each year, which is crazy. The past year that we played, it was just such a fun concert with the most people we’ve ever played for. Apart from that, you could see the mountains from the stage, which was awesome.
If you could imagine a dream performance with another artist, who would it be with?
I’m such a huge fan of Indigo de Souza. I think working with her and her band would be pretty amazing.
In your song, “Carousel,” you say, “Maybe shit won’t go the way you planned / Lost my head inside the carousel.” What advice would you offer someone who is struggling with the uncertainty of life and the endless carousel of thoughts you mention in the song?
Well, I too get in cycles where I’m trying to force things to go the way I wanted. It’s easy to get so tense and try to control the shit in your life. It’s good to know what you want to happen and to have an idea in mind, but you have to realize you cannot control everything. You have to let it flow. It’s really important to get in tune with your intuition, and take a step back sometimes.
The “Insomnia” animated video came out before the official music video for the song. What made you want to do an animated video for this song specifically?
When “Insomnia” started getting some real attention on different playlists and radios, we needed something visual to go along with it. We thought an animated video would be cute and fun. I had a really simple idea for one, so we just got it done.
What is your favorite part of touring?
It’s nice to get out and connect with our fans on tour. Sometimes, we’ll go out and sell merch to our fans which gives us a chance to say hi and interact with them.
Although “Insomnia” is your most streamed song on Spotify, seeming to be the fan favorite, what is your personal favorite song to perform? Why?
I love playing “Blink” because the audience really connects with it and loves singing along, which is just a beautiful thing every time. The groove of the song is also great because it’s powerful, but has a chill swing to it as well. My favorite song to play on guitar though is “Chapparal.”
You guys are touring this fall and just released “The Place That Makes Me Happy.” Are there any other releases or surprises for fans in the near future?
We have two more songs recorded right now that we also worked on with Tony Hoffer, but we are unsure of the release dates at the moment. They are definitely my favorite songs that we’ve done so far though, so get excited.