Back in 2013, Molly Burch found herself at a crossroads that would trigger a series of changes in her life. Some of these changes she ran towards, others she did her best to cope with, but all would inspire her 2017 debut, Please Be Mine. Made up of heartsick paeans to a former flame who haunts each arrangement like a ghost, the ten song collection retraces the arc of a relationship with the aid of pleading choruses and a hazy, reverb tinged production. Directly influenced by how her move to a new city had coincided with a shattering breakup, she pieced together the timeline that inspired the album during a phone conversation with Pancakes and Whiskey. Now settled in Austin, the LA raised Burch explained how she moved to North Carolina to attend college, and had separated from her boyfriend and fellow musician, Dailey Toliver, just before deciding to relocate again. “Well when I moved, I was sort of going through I guess like a crisis after graduating and not knowing what to do with my life,” she said. “I had broke up with Dailey and then moved here on a whim -I didn’t know anybody- and then started dating someone new. It definitely inspired the record just because I was so alone, even though I was dating someone. I just felt this really intense loneliness because I was in this new place.” Now reconciled, Toliver played lead guitar on the album and is a member of Burch’s band.
Reminiscing on the road that led her towards Please Be Mine, she described how she first became interested in harmonizing as a kid. Influenced by classic vocalists like Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and Patsy Cline, Burch explained how she spent a lot of time listening to their music and performing without an audience in order to essentially teach herself how to sing. “I definitely studied their technique and the tone of their voices,” she said after discussing how her shy nature initially held her back from singing in public. “It took me a really long time to gain confidence even in singing, but I did feel like it was something that I wanted to do. It took probably until later on in high school to feel comfortable with performing in front of people.” Though after a burgeoning sense of courage during her teenage years had renewed her determination, she decided to concentrate on letting go of that nervousness for good. “I think at the very end of high school I gained more confidence. Then I spent one year at Sarah Lawrence College and they don’t have majors there, but a friend of mine was going to focus on music. And I don’t know, I think it was very much on a whim, of like, ‘Ok, I’m going to do that, too,’ and then I just sort of stuck with it, like forced myself to do it. Just forced myself to face the fear of performing.” Eventually ending up at the University of North Carolina to study jazz vocal performance and music theory, she talked about how she has always been equally inspired by both old and new sounds. “I feel like a mixture of pop and old standards [have] been my main influence,” she said, before citing Solange and Natalie Prass as two of her favorite current vocalists.
Beginning to write her own material soon after becoming more comfortable onstage, Burch spoke about the process and how it had felt too intimidating when she was younger. “I think that I had such a writers block that I just never let myself try to write, so yeah, I was just like a really late bloomer with that,” she said. “I guess I just didn’t feel as scared of singing because they weren’t my words, they weren’t my songs.” Yet the mood of the city she currently calls home has been instrumental in providing an atmosphere that practically encourages its residents to make music. “Austin is just very peaceful and kind of like a low key place to live, so I feel like it does help a lot with finding the time to be creative and write,” she said. “It’s not a hustle and bustle kind of place.” And while it was a few years before all of the songs chosen for the album were finished, recording was completed in a matter of days.
“We played out probably six months, then went into the studio,” the musician remembered of the live shows that doubled as the band’s rehearsal for the sessions. “We recorded all live together in one room. It took a couple of days, it wasn’t one day, but we did all the main tracks in a day. Then Dailey and I went back to overdub some things, but the vocals and instruments are live together.” Discussing how the fast pace was decided in part by hourly rates, she spoke about the creative benefits of recording quickly when compared to a more gradual process that could have left too much time to tinker. “I definitely don’t like to labor over something, so I feel like even if I wasn’t concerned about money, I would have wanted to record that way. And we didn’t feel rushed, I just knew that I had saved up a certain amount of money so I knew we were going to get it done on that date because there was no other option,” she laughed. “And no one felt pressure or anything, it was fun.” Alluding to the decidedly longer chronology that occurred over the span of the three years that the songs were written in, she spoke about how the time was finally right to enter the studio and get to work. “I just feel like it’s nice to capture the moment and just get it done,” she explained with a laugh. “I don’t like to wait.”
Article: Caitlin Phillips
Cover Image: Dailey Toliver