Mobley | A Class(ification) of His Own

“One day, I just woke up and realized that I’d spent the past year turning myself into a musician.”


Did you ever, say, meet someone and immediately fall in love? You love them so much that you’re sure you couldn’t love them more. Until you do.

That pretty much describes my love affair with Austin indie artist Mobley. I first heard (and reviewed) his EP Some Other Country back in April and, although his spring tour wasn’t hitting my hometown of Denver, he had planned stops in enough cities—including St. Louis, PLAYBACK’s other home base—that I wanted to tell as many people as possible.

Now, much to my delight, the genre-bending solo artist has embarked on a longer U.S. tour. (I get to see him July 15!) This time around, I reached out to Mobley to learn a little more—and, of course, take the opportunity to tell even more people to get the EP and go to the show.

When did you realize you wanted to play music for a living? Was there a defining moment of clarity?

I’ve probably wanted to be a musician since I was a child, but it took a while for me to admit it to myself. That happened by degrees. I can’t remember a discrete point; one day, when I was about 20, I just woke up and realized that I’d spent the past year turning myself into a musician.

Why do you choose to play every instrument on your recordings rather than hire or join a full band? How does this solitude translate to a live show?

I think it all comes down to disposition. I was always a pretty shy and solitary kid. I write my music by myself and I enjoy the challenge of bringing it to life myself, both in the studio and on stage (and in the videos and visual art). I like the ways it makes me stretch and grow as an artist, and I think it infuses every aspect of my work with…well, me. It’s gratifying to get to express myself so totally.

Your music is impossible to classify, different from one song to the next. Can you coin a word or phrase to capture the Mobley “genre”?

Your timing is impeccable; we’ve been talking about this all week. I agree with you that, taken as a whole, my music is impossible to classify using conventional genre labels. For that reason, I think we’ve settled on calling it “post-genre pop.”

I make “pop” music that I’m interested in, “popular song” as an art form, but the “post-genre” bit is kind of a rejection of notion that genre labels are necessary (or even helpful) for every artist. I draw from the traditions of lots of genres, but they can vary wildly from song to song, and saying them in the wrong order or to the wrong person could mean my work gets pigeonholed in costly ways. We live in a time where the majority of people can access and start listening to my latest single more quickly than I can rattle off a list of words with no clear definitions. Why not let people decide for themselves?

Honestly, we could talk for hours about the complex, troubling history of musical “genre” in the United States, but I won’t subject your readers to that.

You’re based in Austin now. Why did you choose that city to settle down? What does Austin give you that no other place you’ve lived can or did?

When I moved to Austin, cost of living was a big consideration. I wanted to live in an affordable city with a vibrant music scene. Things have changed a lot here, in terms of affordability. What keep me here now are the roots I’ve put down in the community and the connections that help sustain me, both personally and professionally.

Any release date for the full-length?

Not yet, but we’re working hard on finding the right label to partner with. I just want to make sure that we can get it in as many ears as possible. | Laura Hamlett

Mobley’s Night Sweat Tour runs into late August, with barely a night off. Many of the dates are co-headliners with The Peach Kings. Visit Mobley’s website for updates and details.

06.29 | Club Dada, Dallas
06.30 | Scoot Inn, Austin
07.01 | Festival de la Cerveza, Monterrey MEX
07.02 | Average Joe’s, Laredo TX
07.05 | Low Brow Palace, El Paso TX
07.06 | The Rebel Lounge, Phoenix
07.07 | The Divebar, Las Vegas
07.08 | The Satellite, Los Angeles
07.10 | DNA Lounge, San Francisco
07.11 | Velo Cult Bike Shop, Portland
07.12 | El Corazon, Seattle
07.13 | Neurolux Lounge, Boise
07.14 | Liquid Joe’s, Salt Lake City
07.15 | Lost Lake Lounge, Denver
07.17 | Prohibition Hall, Kansas City
07.18 | Down Under Lounge, Omaha
07.20 | Amsterdam Bar & Hall, St. Paul
07.21 | Cactus Club, Milwaukee
07.22 | The Firebird, St. Louis
07.23 | Live Wire Lounge, Chicago
07.24 | Melody Inn, Indianapolis
07.25 | Pike Room @ the Crofoot, Pontiac MI
07.26 | Beachland Tavern, Cleveland
07.27 | Diesel, Pittsburgh
07.28 | Lizard Lounge, Cambridge
07.29 | Café Nine, New Haven
07.30 | Knitting Factory, Brooklyn
08.01 | IOTA Club & Cafe, Arlington VA
08.02 | World Café Live, Philadelphia
08.03 | The Evening Muse, Charlotte
08.05 | Backbooth, Orlando
08.06 | The Local 662, St. Petersburg
08.10 | Jack Rabbits, Jacksonville
08.12 | Smith’s Olde Bar, Atlanta
08.13 | The Nick, Birmingham
08.18 | White Oak Music Hall, Houston
08.19 | Lola’s Saloon, Ft. Worth
08.20 | Spider House Ballroom, Austin
08.21 | Limelight, San Antonio

About Laura Hamlett 436 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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