The first time we heard 29 year old Nino Moschella we knew he
had a magic touch. Gritty, soulful, and honest, his vocal styling
and unique funk productions were a must-have for Ubiquity. Imagine
our surprise when we learned that this golden voice belonged to
a rough n'tumble Irish-Italian-American character from around
Fellow Bay Area crooner Bart Davenport bought Nino Moschella to
our attention. He mailed us a demo of tracks that had been recorded
at Moschella's home studio. Working on only a 4-track tape
machine, hand claps and broom-stick banging took the place of
the usual computer driven drum loops. Innovating with limited
resources his lo-fi studio situation provided the perfect gritty
back-drop to a big and bold vocal talent. Moschella's demo
was a series of well-written songs with a unique and blend of
1960s soul and funk mixed with even a little bit of indie-pop
Moschella carries his DIY demo spirit through to his debut album,
The Fix, to be released late May 2006. His first official release
from this album is, "The Real Better Believe EP",
which the influential music blog Music For Robots calls "absolutely
fabulous...a record that Steve Wonder should be making in 2006."
It also caused DJ Mag to label the EP "Single of the month"
and state, "Cut from the same cloth as soul/funk legends
Stevie Wonder, Prince, Betty Davis and Sly Stone, 29 year old,
multi-instrumentalist Nino Moschella is what they call in A&R
circles "a right f*cking find"."
Leading off with "Better Off", Nino plays almost all
the instruments (as with most of his tracks) and makes most of
the noises from drums to beat boxing. It's a minimal production
keeping only the most essential elements in a bass-line driven
rock n'soul style. On "Are You For Real" lo-fi
stoner grooves on top are backdrop for Moschella who starts off
subtle in falsetto but slowly builds to climatic scream. And on
"Believe In Yourself" he adds a little gospel to the
mix with a trippy organ section mid-way through.
The Fix album continues the EP's fusion of genres and eras.
With one foot firmly planted in the present Moschella's
musical mash-up is also a reminder that there were days when bands
like Jimi Hendrix played on the same bill as Led Zepplin, The
Grateful Dead and Sly and The Family Stone. On The Fix
he has found his own way of blending rock, soul, and funk and
blurring the lines between electronic and acoustic music.
Born into a musical family Moschella's father was perhaps
his first musical influence. "My dad sings and plays guitar.
He started out in the choir and singing doo-wop in the Bronx,"
explains Moschella. "My mom sings lullabies, I had a great
uncle Nino who played the violin and my grand folks were always
singin'. You know, typical loud Sicilian folks always carrying
on." Nino Moschella now lives with his wife Mia and recently
born daughter in Friant, California, close to Yosemite, in a round
house his father built with friends in the late 1960s. They also
built a music studio on the property which is where most of his
album is being recorded. There's nothing much but trees,
creeks, coyotes, the sun, moon and stars to keep them company.
Moschella's first musical outing was at the tender age of
5 years old. His father told him to keep time on the snare drum
for his rhythm and blues band because their drummer failed to
show up for practice. "It was a rim shot on the three. I
couldn't reach any of the peddles, so I kept it simple,"
jokes Moschella. But his drumming aspirations grew, and before
deciding he'd write and sing, Moschella was set on being
a jazz drummer. In fact he plays drums, beatboxes and bangs random
items around the studio all over the album in-progress in addition
to playing the majority of the instrumentation, too. "I
play drums, bass, guitar, stuff with strings, stuff with skin,
hand claps, string bass on my sweat shirt tassels," lists
Moschella. "I'm workin' on my keys. I'm
workin' on all that shitâ€¦always."
When Ubiquity Records first made contact with Moschella, propping
up the bar at local East Bay haunt The Ivy Room, it was clear
that he had not previously heard of Ubiquity and was someone with
musical influences that didn't include the typical list
of current funk and soul faves. He even suggested we might file
his records between Caruso and Louie Prima, "In with the
other Italian soul singers," he joked. Of his influences
Moschella says, "In the last couple of years I discovered
Donny Hathaway's music and voice. That dude was incredible,"
and added, "If I find myself getting clouded or too heady,
I'll put on some Miles or Oscar Peterson or the Montgomery
Bros. or Jimmy Smith. That seems to help center me on why I do
this. You know, to play, express, communicate, and have fun. It
seems like every other day something blows my mind even if I've
heard it a thousand times. If American culture is blessed in only
one way it is definitely the depth and richness of our music."
Playing the demos to a few label friends earned Moschella comparisons
to everyone from classic soul artists like Michael Jackson to
Little Beaver, and new acts like Little Barrie or Amp Fiddler.
A new addition to his family, a bouncing baby girl called Estrella
Icilda Rosemary Moschella Birdsong (!), has helped shape his recent
recordings. And when he's not in the studio, or playing
Poppa he confesses he's probably carrying out other Sicilian
traditions either "Making love or making food."