• Subscribe To Keep Up
    We package a sweet bundle of content for you monthly. We promise, we're not clingy.

The elusive Sandra Davalos talked to us about creating music as Moth Face and starting a global art collective and movement.

sit island 2
All photos/collage work by Janeth Davalos, Cemetery Sisters

You seem like someone who doesn’t like a lot of attention, how did you bring yourself to release your work to the world?

True, I don’t care for attention, but recognition and respect are important to me. Knowing that others can connect with my art, mission or message is more than enough. My art expresses far more than I could ever say with words and holds all that I wish to share with the world. Though it’s easy, I put my soul in all that I do and I believe others can recognize it. I’ve learned that vulnerability is a vital step towards acceptance, liberation, and progression. It’s refreshing to gift ones creations to the world. As for the work I’ve “released” thus far, it consists of a vast collection of first drafts I captured live in my living room using an app on my phone. It wasn’t my intention for anyone to hear them or even know it was me. However, the universe has other plans for me because within five months of uploading my demos online and playing my first show as Moth Face, I gained the attention of D Magazine, The Dallas Observer and Gorilla vs. Bear. If it wasn’t for the sudden and unexpected growing support I received from both the local and then global community I probably would have kept this facet of myself hidden for all of my life. The acceptance of my art, which I believe to be raw, honest and imperfect, paved a magical road on which I want to continue to travel and explore confidently. This experience awakened a higher perspective and purpose in me. I realize that through music I will give back to the world and make a genuine positive change in my community and beyond. I’ve yet to officially release an album, but it is the next step in this journey of mine.

I realize that through music I will give back to the world and make a genuine positive change in my community and beyond.

 

cove

What can you say about your progression through your music?

I am still fairly new at creating music but I’m proud of the progress I’ve made with the little I’ve taught myself. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but that has made me appreciate all that I’ve accomplished. When I first began creating music the theme of my lyrics would flux between longing and letting go. Through these songs I was able to heal the pain I held inside myself due to past disappointments. My next writing phase expressed my fulfillment through the unconditional harmony, balance and beauty nature provides in all. Then there are songs which clearly express my frustration with the illusions, sabotage and division that exist in society. It is clear to me that music is a way for me to release my pent up emotions as well as a means by which to explore my inner depth, truth and light.

Can you tell us about your writing process?

I would say that I don’t have a conventional writing process. My process is unique because I don’t write my lyrics down, I actually create them in the moment and remember them. It wasn’t until recently that I typed the lyrics to all my songs just in case I forget them because I’m up to 40+ demos now. To begin the writing process I start by creating a rhythm that resonates with me using drums and synth. Beat is incredibly important to me. Once I have that down, I play it over and over in order to feel it through and to connect with my inner self. My lyrics and style emerge from within my subconscious. Before I vocalize anything, I hear it first inside of my mind. This is a crucial step because this is where the melody is born as well as the first line which I rarely ever change. It usually take me about 20 to 30 minutes from start to finish.

11

Why do you create and what does being an artist mean to you?

I create because it enriches my life and keeps me connected to my purpose here on Earth. It is a natural force  in me and it’s benefits abundant. It would be in vain for me to breathe and love, if not also to create. For me, I find joy and inner peace through drawing, singing, and writing poetry. To me artists represent hope for a better world and future in it. It is through us where true freedom lives on and happiness, creativity and imagination thrive. I feel a true artist shares a profound connection to everything living, including earth and  humanity. To me artists are the ones who brave this harsh world while finding beauty all around and especially within. As an artist it is important for me to express my originality and bring to light the inner truth I feel we all share. I believe with all my heart that all human beings are artists in their own special way. We each can contribute something wonderful to this world  from each of our perspectives that will be appreciated by others and that can serve the goodwill of all.

When did it click that creating art is what you wanted to do?

I would say ever since I was young I knew. My early education definitely helped me discover my strong artistic inclinations. However growing up poor did limit me in some ways. For example, when I was five I asked my parents for a keyboard but they couldn’t afford to get me one. Same goes for a guitar when I was twelve. However, I didn’t let that discourage or hold me back. In fact it made me more curious about music and essentially lead to my profound love for it. By age twelve I was listening to the local jazz and classical stations every night before bed. By age fifteen I had established my personal music taste and had a vast library featuring artists like Boards of Canada, The Knife, CocoRosie, and Black Moth Super Rainbow.

Mothface_sandra_davalos

How would you describe Moth Face to those who have yet to hear your music?

Moth Face is magic. It’s nonconforming, diverse and totally free to be whatever it will be. What sets Moth Face apart is that there is no set genre or language. My sound ranges from heavenly ukulele melodies with gentle vocals, to euphoric dream pop with rich vocals, to dark electronic rhythms with haunting vocals that pull at one’s heart strings. I consider moth face to be mainly a minimal electronic project, with high experimental overtones. All my songs thus far are raw recordings of live performances I’ve captured in my living room. Each unique in feeling and message, yet deeply rooted to me. Soon I will purchase an interface which will open up a whole new world of recording and release possibilities. I know it’s such a simple step, but it will have profound impact on my creative process.

How did Cemetery Sisters start?

For a while I wanted to find a way to unite artists from all around the world through our combined passion for the arts. I feel art is the gateway to unifying humanity since it can be so personal, yet touch so many in unique and profound ways. One day an opportunity arose when Tyler DuBois came to me for help duplicating cassettes of his new solo album for his project Flirt. His album was a beat tape infused with philosophical verse. I liked it so much I figured why not release it and thus the tape label was born. Since then Cemetery Sisters has expanded into a global humanitarian art collective and movement where art is the new currency and collaboration is key. Cemetery Sisters started in early 2014 and is based in Dallas, TX with connections all over the world. My sister Janeth Davalos, a talented illustrator, graphic designer and writer, is my partner in Cemetery Sisters. We are a dynamic duo with complimenting artistic interests ranging from different spectrums of the art world. I am curator of all the releases and am fortunate because my sister and I can design anything needed for a release such as final product and package design. We specialize in releasing the best underground artists from around the world in every genre and art form there is and will be inspired to be. We hope that leading by example will serve as one of many catalyst for inspiration amongst peers to start their own creative endeavors, big or small!

What’s an average day making music for you?

A day in the studio with Moth Face is fruitful. I spend my time creating minimal beats on my drum machine and trying out vocals. I feel my voice is the most powerful attribute in my music, besides the rhythms I create. Originally I began as Moth Face with the use of an electronic drum kit, a drum machine, and a mic. It’s a minimal set up. In the beginning I used to play the drum kit with my left hand, the synth with my right hand, and sing into a microphone situated in between. It was frustrating and took a lot of patience, determination and endurance to arrive anywhere with a song. Eventually I learned how to record on the drum machine and that helped me expand my reach. I could then easily play other instruments over it and have more freedom with vocals. With each new practice, I continue to learn and discover something about myself and style. To me it says a lot about my artistic potential and future in music because it feels like I’ve worked so hard, with so little. As of now I am totally ready to evolve into the next stage of my journey are singer-songwriter.

Can you discuss your writing process?

I would say that I don’t have a conventional writing process. My process is unique because I don’t write my lyrics down, I actually create them in the moment and remember them. It wasn’t until recently that I typed the lyrics to all my songs just in case I forget them because I’m up to 40+ demos now. To begin the writing process I start by creating a rhythm that resonates with me using drums and synth. Beat is incredibly important to me. Once I have that down, I play it over and over in order to feel it through and to connect with my inner self. My lyrics and style emerge from within my subconscious. Before I vocalize anything, I hear it first inside of my mind. This is a crucial step because this is where the melody is born as well as the the first line which I rarely ever change. It usually take me about 20 to 30 minutes from start to finish.

I create because it enriches my life and keeps me connected to my purpose here on Earth. It is a natural force  in me and its benefits abundant.

Why do you create and what does being an artist mean to you?

I create because it enriches my life and keeps me connected to my purpose here on Earth. It is a natural force  in me and its benefits abundant. It would be in vain for me to breathe and love, if not also to create. For me, I find joy and inner peace through drawing, singing, and writing poetry. To me artists represent hope for a better world and future in it. It is through us where true freedom lives on and happiness, creativity and imagination thrive. I feel a true artist shares a profound connection to everything living, including earth and  humanity. To me artists are the ones who brave this harsh world while finding beauty all around and especially within. As an artist it is important for me to express my originality and bring to light the inner truth I feel we all share. I believe with all my heart that all human beings are artists in their own special way. We each can contribute something wonderful to this world  from each of our perspectives that will be appreciated by others and that can serve the goodwill of all.

As seen in Austere Made.