Checking In: Mobley Processes Isolation & Interconnectedness
Tune in Wednesdays, 8pm, to the multimedia maven’s livestream
By Raoul Hernandez,
10:10AM, Wed. May 20, 2020
Mobley cuts a charismatic lead in the video for his new single “Nobody’s Favourite,” re-experiencing some psychic event and its ratcheting chain reaction. Riding point on the Austinite’s forthcoming album/film, Young & Dying in the Occident Supreme, the track snaps and crackles a serious R&P – rhythm & pop. Bullseye.
Austin Chronicle: Where are you sheltering and under what circumstances? Who else is there and how’s that going?
Mobley: I’ve been sheltering at home in Austin since early March. I played a show in New York at Bowery Ballroom, then took a red-eye to L.A. that night, because I was supposed to play a show at Troubadour later that week. That wasn’t to be.
I watched from my hotel room as the federal government made its first official statements acknowledging the scale of the pandemic. California shut down all public gatherings shortly thereafter. I flew home and have been social distancing ever since.
I’m sheltering with my family, which now includes my new dog, Kakashi. In terms of how it’s going, I’m fortunate in that I have a safe, comfortable place to stay, and that I’m accustomed to working from home.
AC: At what point did C-19 shut down operations for you, and what went down with the ship, so to speak, both personally & professionally?
M: After that L.A. show cancelled, my other tour dates and private shows quickly followed. Even when SXSW was cancelled, it still felt unclear how other levels of government and localities would respond. Unfortunately, the appalling lack of leadership at the highest levels has left me (like so many other workers) with basically no income, support, or clarity about how to move forward.
I had just released the first single and music video, “Nobody’s Favourite,” off of my forthcoming record/film, Young & Dying in the Occident Supreme, in late February. The second single and video, “James Crow,” was supposed to come out last month, but it’s been delayed because of the pandemic. The record and film were initially scheduled to come out next week, but of course, that’s been put on hold, as well.
AC: As a global culture, people employ music for every purpose imaginable, obviously spanning religion to entertainment and everything in between. What happens to communities like ours when people can no longer access it in person?
M: Honestly, I’m still processing this question myself. Obviously, this pause is necessary, but I imagine that it’s taking some kind of spiritual toll on us. I hope that, when we’re able to safely gather again, we all can more fully appreciate what an honor it is to participate in the experience of live shows together.
Many people have expressed to me how much they miss live music, and so I’m hopeful that this will translate into all of us being more present and more appreciative of the value of arts and culture in our lives – as well as the human beings and relationships without which art couldn’t exist.
AC: Everyone’s had to shift or drastically alter their work situation. What does that look like for you?
M: As I mentioned, I’ve had to delay release dates and tours, which is a huge disappointment, because I’m so eager to share the new stuff with everyone. I had been really looking forward to seeing familiar faces on the road. As soon as we’re all safely able to gather, I want to, first, throw a big party in which I share the music with my Austin family, and then jump in the touring van and drive to any city where there’s a crowd that’ll have me.
In the meantime, I’ve been staying busy with creative work. I’m doing a weekly livestream on Wednesdays at 8pm. And later this month, we’ll be unveiling a project called “A Home Unfamiliar.”
I’ve gathered 30 musicians and filmmakers to create a collaborative visual album together, but from our respective homes. Over the month of April, each artist had two days to create their part, having seen or heard only a small portion of the previous artist’s contribution and without any direct coordination. The finished product is a collective work that explores this unique moment of both isolation and interconnectedness.
Our hope is to use the project to raise funds and awareness for pandemic relief efforts.
AC: What’s your soundtrack for the apocalypse and what role does music play for you as a fan and scholar of it in times of hardship?
M: I’m not sure whether this is how you meant it, but the word “apocalypse” originally referred to a thing being “uncovered” or “revealed.” I hope this isn’t the end of the world, but I do think that a lot is being revealed about our society, who and what it prioritizes, and where its vulnerabilities lie. For me, at its best, music can be a part of that uncovering.
Earlier today, I was listening to “Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution” by Tracy Chapman. Music can sometimes deliver messages with a force and clarity that would be impossible in another form. I hope that we music-makers are able to meet the moment.