MOSE (+ THE FMLY): I'm Me
Feeling different and alien to those around us is a common theme on The Pin.
At some point or another, maybe you have allowed others to define you and moulded to those expectations or maybe you have found your fit through other means, outside of the mainstream, and stuck with what feels right.
MOSE is one such kid. Brought up on a diet of '90s hip-hop and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, he reveled in the similarities he saw and heard coming out of the U.S, while still maintaining his Indian roots through Bollywood music and his parents influence.
THE PIN. Where did you grow up?
MOSE. Melbourne is my hometown. Born in the West, raised in the North.
What was your Australian childhood like?
M. I went to a really Anglo-Saxon school, till primary school at least. I was one of maybe four other ethnic kids. I had to adjust, or just accept I was the different kid. It wasn’t bad in any way, that’s just how it was, I had to accept I was always going to be different.
Was there a culture within your household that was different to the outside world?
M. My parents were first generation immigrants from India and all they really knew was the Indian way of life. I have to give it to my parents, they came here wanting to amalgamate into Australian society and the great things it promotes. It was a massive culture shock for them.
For your family were there values and traditions that were held around your parents’ culture?
M. In addition to being Indian, I grew up in church as well, with a whole lot of other values and traditions. We got a lot of our morals and ethics from that. For me personally, many of those have changed, but it's still a part of me. It’s culturally ingrained, what my parents have taught me.
Was music a big part of your childhood and growing up?
M. Yeah, it was massive. In my household I was an only child but we had a whole bunch of cousins and extended family. I’m the only musically inclined one in my immediate family but all of my cousins were always pumping something, even if it was old-school Bollywood music. There was a whole bunch of influences and it was really cool.
Do you remember how old you were when you became aware of race?
M. I remember going to kindergarten and from the get-go everyone there was so different. Even though I was only four years old I could tell that I lived my life a lot differently to most of the other kids. When I rocked up I knew I was the only brown person; a lot of other kids had probably never seen anyone like me before. It was their first introduction to a person of colour or someone of a different race or culture.
Who are your role models?
M. I can name one off the top of my head...musically, Nas.
Do you remember when you first listened to Nas and how it impacted you?
M. Trains were a big part of my formative years. Melbourne’s train network is extensive and quite good. I remember the sound the train made and that exact sound is on the first track of Illmatic, his debut studio album. I just remember gravitating toward that. Every track was executed perfectly and you could really feel it. Back then I probably understood about 25% of what he was saying, but now I really take on the meaning. It's different to what a lot of mainstream hip-hop and rap promotes, it's real life. It's emotive. It's a guy, who has darker skin than I, talking about emotion. It's something I do in my music today as well.
What drew you to the particular style of music you play?
M. To be honest, I think if you grew up as a ‘90s kid in Australia and you were different, you were influenced by American culture on TV. Especially with hip-hop and shows like Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Characters like that were a huge influence because they looked like us and they had similar upbringings. Even if it was just TV, and they were fictional characters, it resonated. I definitely feel like that had a lot to do with it, and with the music that I make as well.
Mose + THE FMLY have been playing on the live scene for a while. Do you prefer being on stage or in the studio?
M. Definitely on stage. I love being in the studio, I love the creative process, and trying to get everything right, but on stage is where it all comes together. All of your hard work, it becomes real. I'm up there playing music that has impacted my life and hopefully it can impact someone else's life in a positive way.
Do you have an onstage persona?
M. I think I used to, but I don’t think I do anymore. I’m just me. What you get with me in real life, and how I’m talking to you right now, is what you get on stage. I’d probably crack a few more jokes [laughs].
What does music allow you to do that you can’t do in the everyday?
M. You can say whatever you want with music. You can feel whatever you want. I used to be the kind of person that said you have to write for certain radio stations, write what they want to hear. Now, it’s all about how you want to do it and where you want it to sit in the grand scheme of things. The way I want to convey my feelings and what I want to say is how I am going to do it. I’m not going to let anyone else dictate that process and realisation.
What does it mean to be an Indian man in Australia today?
M. It’s tough. I won’t lie to you. People can be straight-up racist. I’ve experienced it and I've been subjected to it. Indian people are very much stereotyped but I feel like I break a lot of those stereotypes. A friend of mine, L-Fresh the Lion, is in a similar position. We both approach life with positivity though and push the envelope for other young Indian men experiencing the same thing.
THE PIN. If you could give your younger self one piece of advice about being in the skin you’re in, what would it be?
MOSE. That it’s all good. You don't need to worry about anything, don't stress, it's all good. Just keep doing what you’re doing and don't fold to the outside pressure.
Just keep doing what you’re doing.
- This interview has been edited and condensed.
Photo credit: Andrew Clifforth