Respect The Neighbors • Moses Sumney

Photo by Jake Michaels

Photo by Jake Michaels

Age: 26  •  Hometown: Los Angeles  •  Follow: Twitter // Soundcloud

Essential Listens

Moses Sumney's music is a painting, taking small brushstrokes with his voice that slowly build up around you, nothing but Sumney's mindspace remaining at the end of a song. A singer, songwriter and instrumentalist, he's an artist who's music doesn't require labeling. If you had to choose, he's breathing life back into the once lively but now fading indie-rock scene, helping resuscitate a once dominant and recently toothless genre. His last primary release was Mid City Island EP in 2014, and while some considerable time has passed since then, the buzz has kept right on. And while he’s mostly kept quiet outside of periodic loosies, people’s curiosity has clearly been piqued by the young artist's career. Thankfully, Chicago fans or future-fans will be able to see Moses Sumney perform at Pitchfork Fest 2016 this summer, along with a multitude of other cutting-edge artists from around the world. 

It’s been a long and winding road for Moses Sumney to get where he is today. Born and raised in San Bernardino, Los Angeles to Ghanaian parents, he split his time between the west coast and the African west coast, attending some of his schooling in Accra, Ghana's capital once he was ten. Even with the distance, Moses had indie-rock on the mind and on his father's visits to Accra, he would bring Moses CDs of his favorite indie-rock bands, such as Vampire Weekend or Dirty Projectors. As a student at UCLA, he experimented with the more mainstream sounds of the other local bands performing around the college scene. Finding little success or inspiration assimilating to their styles, he wisely threw that strategy out the window. Upon graduating college, Sumney found himself working as social media director for restaurant chain California Pizza Kitchen, an unfulfilling creative outlet for his universal language that isn’t properly conveyed over 140 characters, regardless of how many pizza get sold. Moses took the leap and quit that job in 2013,  playing more and more shows around LA with a full-time focus and eventually finding himself on the road touring with Los Angeles indie-rockers Local Natives. There’s no deal yet, nor an album. But Moses Sumney’s business has changed from pizza tweeting to self-discovery as an artist, a mental industry that requires patience.

And Moses Sumney’s music is an argument for patience as a virtue, because what he’s released to date has the rare slow-burn quality that every artist wants but few ever achieve. The intangible ingredient that makes you hang onto every word. Even more impressive, because this neighbor is armed with nothing more than his voice and a guitar, some loops plus a heaping dash of stage presence. Sumney is able to take the minimal and gradually build layer upon layer onto it, waiting for the listener to eventually notice the scene that’s been constructed around their ears. It’s pure music. “Seeds” is likely his biggest drop to date, a 2015 release that’s a quiet, beautiful assault of drones, loops, and Sumney's softly powerful voice. We've gathered the essential Moses Sumney tracks for new listeners, so take a chance and hear something different. It's the only way Moses Sumney knows.