SMC Spotlight Artist Interview | Sallie Mood March 3rd, 2017
By Candice Anne Marshall
While setting up the World Premiere of Wall Of Orange’s’ music video for ‘Small Hour Crimes’, I made the fabulous new discovery who goes by the name: Sallie Mood. She is new to the music scene in terms of radio play but in listening to her beautiful vocals, you’d think she has been doing it for years. The Florida-born, Dallas, Texas beauty is, in fact, connected to the Gary Parks, Producer and Frontman for Wall OF Orange and has plans to work on mixing her new recordings with him. In speaking with Parks, he added, ‘She is insanely talented. Seriously, her voice is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard. She sang the bkg vox on our song “lost by the sea”. She needs exposure. I’m thrilled that you like and want to promote her!’. Coming from someone who I already hold in high regard in terms of ‘exceptional music’, I knew this meant this discovery was akin to a five-year-old discovering presents under the tree on Christmas morning.
Yes, she is truly that great.
I was lucky enough to connect right away with the lovely songbird I now refer to as #TheDarkBeauty (yes, I have been given permission) where we delve deep into the heart of just who Sallie Mood really is. Enjoy!
SMC – Hello dear! Welcome to the Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) Spotlight! I am so happy to have discovered you thanks to my boys at Wall Of Orange! Your appearance in their newest music video ‘Small Hour Crimes’ was stunning! There was something about that sixties psychedelic vibe that I loved about the video and you were amazing in it! When I saw that you shared the sneak peek video for the band I thought to myself, ‘AH-HA! I found her!’ lol! THEN I listened to your music after some digging and I knew you HAD to be on our SMC Spotlight ASAP! After my spiel, what are your thoughts on this?
SM – I truly must say, I am feeling beyond honored to have been a part of the genesis of Wall Of Orange – Gary Parks is an incredibly brilliant and hardworking human. I know he invested every ounce of his being into those songs, the whole package. When he asked me to be part of the video, that was my opportunity to travel into the beautiful universe he’s created and find my place, my role. I think our music’s come from neighboring universes, existing somewhere inside of ultraviolet light waves. I wasn’t expecting my inclusion in this project to lead me to you – what a wonderful surprise it’s been. I love keeping up with SMC and I’m feeling so blessed to be included in the Chronicles of Starlight Music.
SMC – To further this discussion, I would like to invite you to be one of our Numbered Series Artists – meaning: we follow your career journey and write frequent, (numbered, and chronicled) pieces about your progress. Would that interest you?
SM – That sounds so thrilling to me! Like a chapter book. I’ve come across so many amazing artists via your chronicles. I would love to be a part of the SMC archives.
SMC – Okay let’s get into some personal stats… how old are you?
SM – I’ve been here for 25 years. But if I didn’t know how old I was, I would guess I’m somewhere around 100 or so.
SMC – Can you tell us how you became connected to the Wall Of Orange boys? In my opinion, they are a class act and anyone involved in the WoO camp is truly stellar!
SM – I met Gary a few years ago through a mutual friend when he was looking for a singer for a commercial. Shortly thereafter, he began working on his album and called me in to sing backing vocals on ‘Lost By The Sea’. I remember feeling really inspired and motivated by his diligence toward the project feeling like ‘these are my people’. He sees this intangible universe and makes it visible so we can all experience it with him. He’s a true artist. I’m so glad he called me that day.
SMC – There is only one other Artist that I love as much as you in terms of being a solo Artist primarily and that is Hayley Richman. You both have such gorgeous, seductive, melancholy and haunting vocals. They are unforgettable! I hear some Lorde in your vocals though…. have you ever heard that before?
SM – Hayley Richman is a gem. Her lyrics are beyond her years. Your words are so kind, Candice – it’s wonderful to be spoken of in that light! I remember when Lorde released ‘Royals’. The first time I heard the track, it was still pretty underground. I remember listening to it a lot because I could really relate to the words. No one has ever told me I sound like her. But I do believe we may be seeing the world in a similar way.
SMC – Why is music your career path choice?
SM- I honestly can’t image life without music. Words speak. Add a melody and you’re suddenly saying so much more. I grew up in musical theatre. I was constantly getting into the minds of the characters I was portraying. Singing their songs. Three times a year for almost 10 years. Then I turned 18 and went to college to study architecture and I realized I had no earthly clue who I was. I felt directionless and confused. Everything in my world was suddenly forced and didn’t fit right. I loved architecture but I missed living in those fantasy worlds that exist in the theatre. After a couple years of college, I found myself in a really dark place – unbelievably dark. I was empty. Completely empty. I got a keyboard and painted the keys like a rainbow with some nail polish I had. I thought it was kind of ugly but I think that was my way of trying to bring myself back to life. I started writing poems with melodies. I wrote 89 of them in one month. I would type them up and spend hours organizing them into acts and scenes in Word documents – kind of like a playbill crossed with a script. And then I would just read through them. A million times. Studying and editing the words, over and over, wondering how the story would continue. It was like I was turning my life into a musical production so it felt meaningful again. But secretly. Only for me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but writing those songs pulled me out of that darkness and, for the first time, I felt like I was getting to know myself. So, I never stopped.
SMC – I have looked at all your branding and it’s stunning! Do you do all your own graphics, photography, and branding?
SM – Thank you so much! I do it all myself. A while ago, I realized it’s very difficult for me to explain what’s in my head to another person. So, I’m constantly trying to learn more about every aspect of my craft.
SMC – I do have to say that I sense there is a dual personality thing going on in your presentation. Is that intentional? Riley O’Riley A.K.A. Sallie Mood being the precursor of this perception on my part. Can you tell us a little bit more about these two lovely characters?
SM – Well, to begin with, Riley O’Riley is me in the purest form. Sallie Mood is an extension of the part of myself that overwhelmingly believes in love, hope, peace and truth. We are similar in a lot of ways, but Sallie Mood is more of an observer of humankind, whereas Riley O is walking in it. Years ago, I went through a phase when the songs pouring out of my brain were so hallow and dark, it made me uncomfortable – I realized that whatever I was singing about became embedded in my being. I was sowing seeds of hopelessness. In retrospect, I know I had to endure that phase for the purposes of personal healing, but it left me thinking: if I believe that love never fails, I need to walk in that; if I believe that hope always endures, I need to walk in that; if I believe peace can always be found in the midst of chaos, I need to walk in that; if I know the truth is unchanging, I need to walk in that. I believe these things all the time, but sometimes, when things happen unexpectedly and suddenly nothing makes sense, it’s easy to forget the truth of the matter. Emotions take over. Sallie Mood feels like I do, but she never forgets the truth.
SMC – Your videos are overwhelmingly emotional and deep – in the very best way. I feel like there is some sadness in your vocals and they are reflected in your videos. Can you tell us who is responsible for the creation of your music video content?
SM – At a young age, I walked through a series of unfortunate events. I seemed to be enduring one horrible thing after another with no time to take a breath in between. The theatre was my safe haven – I found refuge in the characters. For me, life has never felt weightless or happy-go-lucky. It’s always been so heavy. When I started making videos, I just set the stage, wallowed in whatever mood I was in, and turned on the camera. If I look sad, it’s because I was sad. If I’m acting coy, it’s because I was feeling that way. So, I just hit record and go with it. My lens are dark, sad and weird. But there’s this bright white light shining on everything now and I think that’s what makes my videos dramatic – there will always be darkness, but a light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. I also find public domain videos on the Internet of old documentaries. I love old footage of fauna and flora and war. There’s a pattern language there that the newer footage doesn’t possess. I just find images I like that help tell the story.
SMC – You have that voice that one wants to listen to when they are having the worst possible day. Honestly, its calming and pleasing to the soul. I loved the video for ‘Rigor Mortis’ and I feel it reflects the mood of the song. When you begin the songwriting process, do you already envision how you will execute it to the final presentation?
SM – I’m so glad to know the music comes off that way. When I write a song, I have no idea what I’m doing. I usually hear a melody at first. No words. But I’ll only hear a melody if it comes to me. The music doesn’t come from me. Rather, it’s sent to me and I act as a conduit. Sometimes it comes at really inconvenient times but I have so much respect for the music, I’ll put everything else on the back burner until I’ve exhausted all efforts to understand what the music is trying to tell me in that moment. I have a list of words and phrases that stand out to me. If I hear something that should be on that list, I will drop whatever I’m doing and write it down. After I get a handle on a melody, there’s usually one thing on that list that says “this song is about me!” And then everything falls into place. When I wrote ‘Rigor Mortis’, I was in limbo. I knew I was at a turning point in my life – it was time for the darkest part of me to die off so I could grow spiritually. Rigor mortis was not a phrase I had written down though. My beautiful friend Amy had just passed away and I guess I was trying to swallow the reality of the situation. At that time, nothing made sense again. Those words wouldn’t leave my head. I had to use them.
SMC – I was told by a little birdie that you may be doing some work with him soon… (ahem, Gary Parks) and I also saw a clip you just posted on your Artist Facebook page called ‘Clementine’ when can we expect that to drop?
SM – ‘Clementine’ is an 8-minute song I’ve been working on for almost a year. It’s a love letter to someone I don’t know yet. But it’s also a love letter to the world. I have a really clear vision of what that song and video should look like and that’s why I’ve been so slow – I don’t want to settle. I want to do it justice. Gary and I have a little trade going and his end of the deal is to help me mix some songs I’ve been working on. I’m hoping to get the chance to work on that with him sometime in the next few weeks. I think he really understands where I’m coming from, so the opportunity I have to work with him on this is really the opportunity of a lifetime for me.
SMC – We would LOVE to host the video on our website as a world premiere like we did for Wall Of Orange. Would that me something of interest for you?
SM – Oh, I would absolutely love that. ‘Clementine’ is one of the songs I’m most passionate about. I recently acquired a new video editing software so I’m excited to explore what I can do with the footage I’ve gathered for this video. To drop the world premiere on SMC would be a dream.
SMC – You are admired by me and I equivocate you to singer/songwriter Jake Bugg. In my opinion, you two are right up there in terms of being extremely unique with your lyrics and style of vocals. Have you heard of Jake Bugg? I would LOVE to hear a duet with both of you! That would be like heaven meets earth!
SM – I saw Jake Bugg live at the House of Blues a few years back – he’s incredible. He has this coolness about him that’s different from other kinds of coolness. His voice is so raw and his lyrics are poetic. To do a duet with him might be a nice experience. He’s kind of created his own genre – he’s bold and fearless. Bold and fearless is always a good combo.
SMC – Can you tell me what you feel is the most important thing in the creation of your music in terms of its overall sound?
SM – I want to create music that is universal; music that the younger generations, the older generations and everyone in between can all find relatable. Simultaneously, I want to create music that is thoroughly true. Facts can be violent and hard to swallow, but the truth is always loving, forgiving and unchanging. The yoke of truth is easy and its burden is light. That’s what I want my music to sound like.
SMC – Can you tell me about that ‘Ah Ha’ moment when you realized this was the career path you want to take?
SM – After I spent awhile writing poems and songs for myself at college, I met this woman, Lynn Clark-Geiner. It was 2011. She invited me to go to Chicago and sing in front of some music producers. That led me to the opportunity to go to Nashville and record an EP with producer Nick Trevisick. I started feeling like my life had a real purpose. I think Lynn was sent to me from God.
SMC- I ask this in most all my interviews because each Artist has a different answer. This also gives our readers a way to connect to you aside from being an Artist. Can you tell us five things about yourself that no one else knows?
SM – I am not a night person – I love waking up before the sun. My favorite color changes daily but is usually some variation of gold, pink or blue. I love plants – I think they have feelings. My mood is very dependent upon the weather. I’d usually rather stay in than go out.
SMC – What is a deal breaker in terms of your career and what you are willing to do or not do for fame?
SM – I’m only willing to do what I know is right. Although the world is colorful, I see things in black and white. I immediately know if something is not good, not right – at this point, I don’t think anyone could convince me to do something that I know is not right. In this industry, I think fame might just be a byproduct of hard work. The goal for me is to do what I know I have to do in order to sleep well at night.
SMC – What does the term ‘Success’ mean to you?
SM – For me, success is a word that separates genius from insanity. I think if enough people relate to my music, I’ll know I’m not completely insane.
SMC – Which designer or store do you get those wicked clothes from?
SM – Buffalo Exchange and The Salvation Army are my stomping grounds. Almost everything in my wardrobe is from one of those two stores. It’s like walking into a treasure chest when you go to places like those.
SMC – What is the one thing you hear most consistently from fans when they first discover your music?
SM – I’ve noticed a lot of people use the word “beautiful” when responding to my music. I don’t think people like to be told what to feel, but I think people like to be told what to pay attention to. I love the juxtaposition of a heavy, thought provoking topic and a simple, timeless chord progression. I feel like that’s what the old music does. That’s the kind of music I think is beautiful.
SMC – Have you received radio play yet?
SM – I have not received radio play. I don’t think I’ve created anything worthy of the radio waves as of yet. Maybe one day that will happen.
SMC – I know that currently, you are based in Texas, were you born somewhere else or have you always lived in Texas?
SM – I was born in Hollywood, FL. I grew up all along the Atlantic Coast of Florida. The colors there are unspeakable. I still think of the east coast of Florida as a home. But Dallas is a cornerstone in my upbringing. I know Dallas.
SMC – How have other media platforms been in terms of acceptance of your music?
SM – This really cool blogger called Queen Beetch shared my song and video called ‘Up In Smoke’ at the end of last year. It was such an honor to be shared on her blog because you can get on her site and scroll for days – everything she posts is some underground music brilliance. It was a really good feeling.
SMC – What is your peer support like among your friends?
SM – My number one music companion is Colin Boyd A.K.A. Coin Boy. He’s an incredible performer, singer/songwriter/guitarist/ukulele maestro. He gave me my first ever gig in 2012 at a dive bar in Dallas called J. Pepe’s. Now we perform together on a weekly basis and I just love it. We are working on an EP for our duo band called The American Dreamers. He’s out there floating in space with me so it’s a nice partnership.
SMC – Has the music industry jaded you in any way? If so, how? And how did you react to it going forward?
SM – I can’t say I’m at all jaded toward the music industry. I have definitely gone through some totally bizarre experiences that have left me mentally paralyzed for periods of time. Those times were rough because it felt like the life had been sucked out of me and I didn’t know if I’d ever feel the music again. But then I start to hear the music again and I sing a new song. I know bizarre things will continue to happen and throw me into dark places, but I have a peace in knowing that the music comes back. It always comes back.
SMC – What is the coolest fan experience you can recall?
SM – My first follower on Instagram is called @sheccxd. I immediately followed her back because I saw myself in her. Based on her Internet persona, she loves the challenge of a good old fashioned heartbreak – it hurts, you don’t want it, but there something about the beauty you find in that pain that makes it all worthwhile. She seems to see through a lens of mellow drama and finds glimmers of light in dark places. She had a photo of me as her profile picture for a while – it was surreal when I first stumbled upon it.
SMC – What do the next 6-12 months look like for you in terms of your career?
SM – In the near future, I hope to have some recordings of my newer songs ready to share with people. I’d also like to share some more visually stimulating videos and digital art.
SMC – Do you have any tour plans for this year?
SM – I don’t have any tour plans. I do perform around town as Riley O’Riley, but Sallie Mood really only exists on the Internet and in my mind. I would love to travel around singing songs one day. I’m such an introvert though. I have never boldly sought that out.
SMC – Are there any instruments that you enjoy playing?
SM – I grew up playing the piano. My parents bought me a 66 key keyboard when I was young. A few years ago, I was gifted an Oscar Schmidt tenor ukulele. That’s now my instrument of choice. It inspires an entirely different world of music than the piano. Recently, I removed the bottom 2 strings from all my guitars so I can play them like a baritone ukulele – I’m really enjoying playing those altered guitars as well.
SMC – After delving further into your music, I feel there’s a little bit of a Janis Joplin vibe happening too – Have you ever been compared to her?
SM – Oh man, Janis. A pioneer of soul wrenching music and hippie-glam. Her sense of fashion and her fearlessness left an impression on me when I was in my teenage years. People have told me I give off a similar vibration as her. I don’t consciously try to embody that though. It’s not often that I find someone or something that makes me feel at home inside of my mind, so when I find that I study it. Janis is one of those people. If she was still alive, we’d probably be friends.
SMC – Okay, last question: I feel you would also make a great Actress as well. If given the choice to only do one or the other (career), which one would you choose and why?
SM – I’ll sing forever. Putting on a show comes with singing. You have to be able to tell the story visually and sonically, melodically. I’ll never forget the first time I made a grown man cry while I was singing a song – he approached me after the gig and thanked me. After that night, I knew I never wanted to stop making grown men cry. I knew I never wanted to stop inviting people to a sonic avenue where they could shamelessly experience their emotions. People want to go to that place but the world encourages us to put on this ‘I’m okay, you’re okay’ mask. I know a fake smile when I see one. Music can penetrate the soul of a person in a way that nothing else can, for better or for worse. I don’t know what it was, but I know that man faced something monumental that night. Not because the music was sad but because the music was true. A broken world makes for broken hearts – this world needs music that speaks truth and life. If my music can help only one person heal from within, then I’ll just keep doing it for that one person.
SMC – Thank you Dear! This has been a pleasure! I look forward to seeing you go all the way. Reach for the stars and stay uniquely you all the way because that is evident in the music you are producing. I am interested to see where this takes you next!
SM – Thank you so much for this wonderful experience, Candice. This has been a joy. I look forward to keeping up with you and all the amazing artists you post about on SMC.
SMC – Ps: I think I am going to hashtag you as #TheDarkBeauty from now on. It’s fitting xo
SM – The Dark Beauty, that’s a stellar name.
Sallie Mood Social Media (click to view):