By Joseph Hawkins
Pursuing music is a terrifying prospect, particularly for newer musicians drowning in insecurity and a lack of technical know-how. Not every musician’s path needs to look the same, but for some, the “full send” approach is irreplaceable in fueling rapid growth. For Joseph Moore, going all in is the only way to do it.
His latest leap of faith is taking him to London to study film, a move that he openly admits doesn’t make much sense to an outsider looking in. But for him, this step is non-negotiable and part of a deeper pattern his life has reflected.
Like two ships passing in the night, I was returning home from a couple of years living in good ‘ole England just as Moore was headed in that direction. We sat down to share wisdom and stories and to pull back the curtain on our journeys. Moore and I first connected through social media happenstance, so at first, I worried I was forming some strange parasocial relationship with someone I had already “met.” But within seconds of being with Moore, I felt at ease.
That’s the kind of person Moore is – you instantly feel at home around him. That’s easily evidenced by the number of people at his album release shows the following Monday; the roots of his impact run deep in the Utah music scene, and for a good reason. Moore is one of the most humble, kind, gracious, and genuine people I have ever met. And he’s insanely talented. He’s been in Utah for the last ten years and saw the early days of Velour during the Imagine Dragons and Neon Trees era. He’s a recording artist, teaches voice, sings on many local records, and writes songs with some of the best around. But like anyone else, his road to where he is now has taken time and significant experience.
Originally from Colorado, Moore studied Classical Vocal Performance at BYU Hawaii. The Vocal Music Chair heard him audition elsewhere and was so impressed that he offered Moore a scholarship to study at their school – somewhere he hadn’t even applied. Moore described the experience of studying there as “life-altering,” teaching him needed skills and things about himself and the world around him, and was very much a leap of faith for a homebody.
“I’ve always wanted to go into mainstream music, doing pop and soul music,” says Moore. “So I decided to go Berklee College of Music after graduating from BYU-Hawaii for six months.” And though he loved his time there, performing with names such as Mario Jose, Liz Longley, David Wyatt, and Loren Allred (you know, singer of “Never Enough” from The Greatest Showman?!), Moore describes wanting to get his boots on the ground – really learning and working in the field.
“So I moved to Nashville,” he says. “I knew one person who lived an hour away. I moved in and slept on a couch for a month until I found some contacts and some work. I started by going to events and writer’s rounds to just speak with people, eventually allowing me to work with and perform alongside some incredible singer/songwriters out there.”
Nashville wasn’t the end of the road for Moore, however. After three years and what he describes as “divine intervention,” he moved here to Utah. “I was so worried at first to move here,” he says. “I thought, ‘they don’t even have a music scene; what am I doing?’ But when I got here, I realized that there was a great community of artists pursuing music and that there was ALWAYS music happening.”
For ten years, Moore has refined his craft, struggled to overcome the pressure of putting music out, and found ways to help elevate the music scene. From my perspective, he certainly has! Seriously, if you ask almost anyone that’s been around in Provo for a while, they know Moore and respect him deeply for the connections he seems innate at bridging. Despite all of this, he had a deeper ambition to fulfill.
“I’ve always dreamed of releasing an album, but I didn’t want to release an album of mediocre music, whether it’s the writing, performances, production, instrumentation, you name it. But I got to a point because of the overwhelming, self-imposed pressure where I needed the help of one of my friends, Mitch Davis (who is one of the most supportive people of artists locally). I said, ‘I’m at a crossroads, and I need to figure out how to move forward with my music.’ So you know what he told me? He said, ‘Look, Joseph, forget about the promotion or this or that or the other. Focus on the songwriting right now. Make your songs the best they can be, do a ton of writing, and then move on to the next step. Write a great album, record a great album, release a great album.’ So that’s what I focused on doing.”
And the result? Moore’s 2020 album, The Deep End. You’ll find it littered with stories and lessons he learned from his lifetime of diving in headfirst. Feeling inspired by his journey and his art, I asked Moore as we wrapped up what advice he would give to those seeking to improve and help grow the music scene locally:
“I think we just have to continually be open to growth and constructive critique so the music can keep getting better. We have to take our craft seriously, but without taking ourselves too seriously,” he says. “We need to take educated risks; moving to London, in some ways, doesn’t make sense to many people, but it’s a risk I feel I have to take. I also think it’s important as musicians that we’re not so precious about our art. We put way too much pressure on ourselves for the music to be perfect. There’s great value in just putting ourselves out there. It helps overcome the fear of failure and move on to the next stage. There’s always more you can do with a song. Definitely take the time to get the song right. Make sure what you’re releasing is top-notch. But there’s a point where you just have to get it out there. The world needs your music.”
Joseph Moore is not the kind of man you meet and quickly forget; his absence from the music scene will be felt while he pursues music and film in London. But his impact will continually be felt by those of us remaining, as he reminds us by example to live life intentionally, fearlessly, and with a deep respect for others, ourselves, and the art that binds us together.
You can stream his album The Deep End here, and connect with him on Instagram here. Check out the album’s title track below.