This feature began over a year ago. The seed was started many years ago when I met Heather Baker. She’d had a striking song in a film called Holy Ghost People. I ended up meeting her when she toured with Bonnie McKee playing both guitar and keys.
What is a Hired Gun? A Hired Gun, for the purpose of this feature, is a musician who tours with other artists but may not be involved in the album that spurred the tour. They have their own music and may be studio musicians as well. This feature made a specific point of not asking for background vocalists. I think their story was given light in the film 50 Feet From Stardom.
As with our prior features on touring managers & women in studio production this feature asks broad questions. This feature is a continuing and growing piece and we welcome any recommendations for other artists who may fit into it. I also have too long a list of people to thank for their help and recommendations.
Are you a musician who is skilled and wants to travel? Can you adapt to new music easily? Do you want to be on stage but not under the spotlight of the lead? Then being a Hired Gun may be the life for you.
Posted in Special Features Tagged with: Hired Guns
Artists Worked With: I’ve toured as a sideman with Ingrid Michaelson since 2007 and in more recent years William Fitzsimmons, Joshua Radin and Rosi Golan.
instagram @alliemoss, alliemoss.com, thinkingoutsidetheblocks.net
FEMMUSIC: How did you become involved in music?
AM: In the early 2000s, I lived in Jersey City and would go to as many open mics and shows in Manhattan as I could. I frequented venues like Pianos, The Living Room and Rockwood Music Hall. I was new at songwriting, a sponge for new music and was looking for people I could learn from and collaborate with. I met some wonderful artists and musicians (including Ingrid), eventually joined her band and got lucky that just a year later she asked me to tour with her playing and tour managing.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique? How does that change with a band vs solo?
AM: It’s been years since I’ve written in a band setting; I usually write alone or in a collaborative session with 1 or 2 other songwriters or producers. I most often start with a progression and melody, singing nonsense lyrics. Other times I’ll have an idea for a bigger lyrical concept. Either way, I have a seed and then chase down the rest of the song. I’m a good editor, so my biggest hurdle in songwriting is quieting my inner critic long enough to have a song to even edit. I’ve overcome that block by making writing a frequent practice, so mentally I’ve become OK with writing bad or ‘just OK’ ideas. This mentality shift is the reason I started Thinking Outside the Blocks (with my longtime friend and bandmate Bess Rogers) and it’s a major part of what we share with other writers.
FEMMUSIC: What has been your biggest challenge touring?
AM: Probably being absent for important friend and family functions. I’ve missed a lot of birthdays and weddings. It can also sometimes take a physical toll, so I have to put extra effort and money into staying as healthy as I can on the road, finding gyms and saunas or going out of my way to find a healthier meal. On an independent level (touring for myself), the overall cost of touring has been the biggest challenge.
FEMMUSIC: How much studio work to you do?
AM: I love recording. Starting out, I did a lot of work-for-hire sessions singing demos and BGVs. Now, I’m more often in the studio singing songs I’ve co-written or demoing songs at home, and just occasionally do WFH. But I love harmonies and the creative element of arranging BGVs.
FEMMUSIC: How do you separate projects? Personal? Studio? Band Touring?
AM: I love all the hats I get to wear as an artist, sideman, songwriter and teacher. They can all coexist, but often one will be my main focus and the others take a backseat for a bit.
FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them? Are those challenges increased or decreased when touring?
AM: I’m grateful to have worked alongside a great crew of people (including lots of women) the last 10 years, where gender has not presented an issue. But I do wish there were more female producers and engineers to work with!
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you change about the music industry?
AM: I would like to see songwriters and artists get paid more from streaming sites. The value of a song has changed, and that’s tough because the same amount of work goes into making it.
Posted in Special Features Tagged with: Allie Moss, Hired Guns