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Cutting vocals in the woods behind his college dorm.

Mixing in the backseat of a sedan.

Sneaking into the music department after hours to teach himself to play new instruments (and sneaking out before the faculty arrived in the morning).

From the start, Mobley’s work has been marked by solitude, ingenuity, and a drive that could only be called obsessive.

Whether you experience the Austin-based artist on record or at one of his incomparable one-man band concerts, the passion is palpable in every aspect.

He singlehandedly writes, performs, & produces his music, designs his artwork, directs his videos, produces his multimedia live shows, and even builds new instruments to carry out his vision.

Most recently, he’s composed dozens of pieces for stage and television (HBO, Fox, NBC), played hundreds of US and international tour dates (with the likes of Phantogram, JUNGLE, Cold War Kids, Mutemath & Robert Delong and at festivals like ACL, SXSW, CMJt), and recorded (then scrapped) two albums in pursuit of the songs that would become his next release, ‘Fresh Lies, Vol. I’.

The music — which Mobley calls “post-genre pop” — defies easy classification, but uses the familiar form of love songs to explore the intricacies of his relationship with his country.

The project is the first installment of what Mobley envisions as a career-spanning song cycle dealing with the theme, with plans to release a volume for each generation of his family since his ancestors were first brought to the continent.

Can you tell us more about your upcoming album “Fresh Lies Vol 1”?
It’s actually not an album. I’m calling it a “song cycle,” because it’s going to be the first installment in what I hope to be a career-spanning work.
The entire collection will use the familiar form of love songs to explore the intricacies of my relationship to my country. I plan to release a volume for each generation of my family since my ancestors were first brought to the continent.
Can you share with us some funny/unusual behind the scene of its preparation?
When I was filming the music video for my single “Swoon,” I was hanging upside-down, suspended from a doorway in inversion boots, with my head in a large fish tank that was slowly being filled with water.
In the video, at the end of the song, my head becomes completely submerged. We had a little scare where I actually started to take in water into my nose and lungs, and I had to be helped out of the tank. I was coughing up water for a week.
My videographer on the project tells everyone I almost drowned.
How do you usually write the lyrics of your songs?
What is the best verse you ever wrote?
I don’t think that’s for me to decide, but I’m always really into the last thing I wrote.
What was the soundtrack to your childhood?
James Taylor’s “New Moon Shine” was the first album I knew by heart. I listened to a lot of pop-punk and ska as a teenager.
What inspired “Torch”?
“Torch” came to me at a pretty low point in my personal life, so the lyrics are about as melancholy as it gets. It’s about the disorientation that can occur when passion burns hot and is abruptly extinguished.
But I like to explore tensions in songs between melodies, soundscapes, and lyrics, so musically, the song is probably one of the happiest-sounding I’ve written.
What is your favorite Sunday morning record?
Lately’s it’s been the rhythm ’n strings mix of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” I got the vinyl as a Christmas gift. His production on that record is so beautiful.
Are you ever scared of revealing aspects of your personal experience, to strangers through your music?
I seldom write about myself in a straightforward way. I always appreciate it when my favorite artists preserve a little mystery.
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Do you remember the day you wrote “Tell You?
It was the last song I wrote for the record.
It’s a companion to another song on Fresh Lies, “Tell Me,” which tells the tale of two troubled young loves running away together.
When I first sat down to write, I was motivated by a curiosity to know how their story played out.
What is the best show you ever played?
Hopefully that’s still ahead of me.
What are you planning for 2018?
Putting out Fresh Lies, Vol. I, touring the record, and as ever, continuing to write new music.
My first tour of the year, the Fresh Lies Spring Tour, kicks off in LA at The Roxy next week; you can find tour dates and ticket links at mobleywho.com.
Photo Credit: Adam Moroz
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