“Do you have to be depressed to write a sad song? Do you have to be in love to write a love song?” These lines were uttered by the character William Miller in the movie Almost Famous. German artist Mogli (aka Selima Taibi) has written a full EP of sad songs as she has run through a full gamut of emotions during the past two years including a breakup, a move back to Berlin, and a battle with depression. You can hear it in the melancholy tunes from her latest EP Patience. Mogli’s voice reminds me of singer/songwriter Dido, a quiet clear voice that cuts straight to the heart. She visited Rough Trade in Brooklyn on May 7th as she kicked off her “Mirrors” tour.
I had a chance to speak to Mogli briefly by the waterfront before the show. It’s just her second time in New York City and she very much enjoyed the festive atmosphere when she was last here during the holidays. We talked about some of the differences between Europe and the US: the food (the band are a bunch of foodies), how there’s more grass and trees in European cities, how young people spend their time (study or weed?), and why more people don’t picnic here, etc.
Opening for Mogli was fellow German singer/songwriter Josin (aka Arabella Rauch). Josin’s parents, like Mogli’s mother, were opera singers and her brand of trance has a certain melancholy even during dance numbers, making her the perfect opener for Mogli. She played in almost darkness with heavy smoke, lending even more weight to the somber mood of the music.
Even though this is Mogli’s first tour in the US, her New York fans were evident in the crowd, singing along to the songs, even the background vocals! She played her new EP in full, songs from throughout her discography, as well as some new ones. Mogli wanted to make sure she performed them while they were still fresh since that’s when they have the most emotional impact. So do you have to be sad to write a sad song? Yes, it seems so, but she also says that playing those songs actually make her happy. A seeming contradiction but perhaps that is the power of music; putting those feelings into your songs and coming out a new person on the other side.
Even though Patience was just released recently, many of the songs for a future LP have already been written. As fans continue to discover this talented songwriter, I expect we’ll have even more to talk about the next time she visits New York.
Article: Howard Shiau