Feature: The Ingredients of Private Prophet with Moniker

Thursday, March 7, 2019

To celebrate the release of Moniker’s brand new EP Private ProphetJordan Scott gets in-depth about what inspired him when writing and creating the release. Learn more about the story behind Private Prophet below.

Blondie / car culture:
In downtown Richmond, there are a few overpasses that weave in and out of each other and right next to some of the buildings. One summer I was more obsessed with the song 'Heart of Glass' than usual and was blasting it in my car to the point I almost missed one of the turns. The voice in the back of my head went 'hey you could have flipped over that and died' and so, Dewey Cox-style, I wrote the pre-chorus to 'Tidal Wave.' That movie (Walk Hard) really captured the creative process.

Jellybelly and Diamond Dogs / “So there are two schools of thought….”:
'Jellybelly' by Smashing Pumpkins is the song I listened to as a teen mostly because it was right after 'Tonight Tonight,' but I still come back to it because it’s like an ur-text for stacking 50 fuzzy guitars and folding them into one massive sounding instrument. 'Diamond Dogs' by Bowie, on the other hand, is a perfect example of the opposite approach—they don’t blend together at all and clang against each other in a really satisfying way.  Depending on the moment in a song on the EP, I would try to channel one of those approaches when I was overdubbing multiple guitars.

Minor Keys:
"I’ve always had a soft spot for big shiny pop songs in major keys—a former bandmate used to tease me for only writing songs in major keys, so I defiantly wrote 'Kicking and Screaming.' The chorus is still in a major key though so I guess he was right."

Handshakes / the terror and the bliss of physical contact:
The idea for the album art started with the visual of a person grabbing another by the arm—to me it was equal parts reaching out to save someone, grabbing them aggressively to start a fight, or concluding a business deal. There’s also something unusual about physical touch in our lives today—we hardly do it and it feels like we’re trained not to, and so to me, it often gets associated with another time and place—and often with significant religious gestures. So the album art transformed from a picture of the arm-grabbing itself to a figurative and symbolic representation of it, which gave it a bit more weight to me."

Any albums I write tend to identify themselves as being about one of two categories, either love (positive, keyboards) or death (negative, guitars)—I wouldn’t have picked those distinctions myself, but that’s how it goes I guess. 'Private Prophet' ended up firmly as the latter. Perhaps because of that, I ended up using the word “No” as the default backup vocal sound, across all the songs—either an aesthetic choice or a subconscious cry from the wilderness, impossible to say which. For balance, this also means we’ll have to make 'Yes' the default sound on the next album, which is far more grating on the ears, unfortunately.

Listen to Private Prophet by Moniker below: