“Nothing’s ever wasted.” Rising star Mog Jones discusses lessons learnt on creativity
For someone who describes herself as “quite reserved and nervous”, Mog Jones is making some bold creative choices with her music.
In her debut album On The Run, the young artist decides to kill off national icon Ringo Starr in ‘Oh Ringo’, and has just created a sweary, no-nonsense punk alter-ego as she begins works on her next set of tracks.
The musician will already be a familiar name to many in the South West, having played at numerous festivals in the region, as well as gigging at virtually every pub in Cornwall that houses live music. And her work isn’t going unnoticed; On The Run has already made its way into the hallowed ears of Gorillaz, Goldfrapp and Massive Attack.
Mog has spent the last three years studying BA(Hons) Popular Music and will graduate from Falmouth next month. Ahead of her departure, we spoke to Mog about the lessons she’s learnt from pursuing her creative endeavours.
“Music is about evolution”
With country music forming an important element of her musical mood board, Mog had initially planned a dream trip to Nashville to record the tracks that would have become On The Run. “I’d booked a studio for a month – I was going to have a month-long writing session and record the album”, Mog explains. “Then, coronavirus kicked in.”
The pandemic put Mog’s plans on hold, and also made her reconsider her track list. “The first set of songs was a lot more poppy”, Mog reflects. “It just wasn’t as good!”
Rather than fly to the States to record a pop album, Mog ditched her songs in favour of a bluesy indie-rock record, which she recorded in her bedroom during lockdown.
“Music is about evolution, and this project is the perfect example”, Mog says.
“I think everything happens for a reason. Without coronavirus, I would’ve made an album that I wouldn’t have been so pleased with.”
“Viva is the next stage of my cycle - it’s going to be a blood bath!”
Mog’s constant gigging has helped her become a household name in the South-West, but the musician doesn’t want her audience to pigeonhole her music.
Mog’s tastes have shifted towards punk rock; PJ Harvey, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith and Siouxsie and the Bandits are just a handful of names plucked from a bucket of influences during our conversation.
But as someone who describes herself as naturally shy, Mog has decided to create a foul-mouthed alter ego to belt out the aggressive, raunchy tracks that have been percolating in her mind. Introducing, Viva Valentine.
“I feel like everyone knows who Mog is now. She has her place at a festival or a gig night”, Mog explains. “Viva is me tearing all of those preconceptions down.
“Viva says everything that Mog would love to have the guts to say, wears all the things that Mog wishes she was brave enough to model and doesn’t take shit from anybody!” For anybody still confused as to the kind of vibe Viva brings onto stage, Viva decided to close her last set with the new single, ‘F*** Off’.
Overcoming creative blocks
Despite already boasting an impressive body of work, Mog is constantly presented with hurdles to her creativity.
As Mog explains “I’ve gone through dry spells before where I haven’t written a song in three or four months. It’s horrible, but it happens.
“When it does, I try to immerse myself in something new. If I’ve only been listening to a certain type of music, I’ll listen to different genres. And it’s the same thing with films and books.
“I try to not put too much pressure on myself. One of the best bits of advice I’ve got at university was from my lecturer, who told me to stop overthinking my music. For me, if I’m going to write a good song, I’ll write it in five minutes. If I’m still wrestling with something after half an hour, I put it to one side. You can always come back to it.
“Nothing’s ever wasted. Prince used to write three songs a day. Dolly Parton has like 3000 songs or something ridiculous. For every 10 terrible songs you write, you might make one great one.”
Falmouth’s creative lure
Falmouth’s location is often credited for inspiring the creatives it houses. But Mog is quick to point out that Falmouth’s creative lure far surpasses the beautiful beaches and picturesque landscapes that surround the campus grounds.
As Mog explains, “I think that right now, the South is flourishing. It’s properly become its own kind of creative hub, and I do think it’s because of the university. It’s become a much more diverse place, and Falmouth is being shaped by that.
“We have lots of cool little venues that are hosting live music and support the arts in general; if you’re a comedian, musician, any kind of performer, there’s a stage here that you can get onto. In the last ten years it’s really come into its own
“The Cornish Bank is absolutely incredible. The Killigrew Inn, which we’re playing on Saturday, will host anyone and everyone. These places make Cornwall more vibrant.”
Mog is looking forward to performing as Viva Valentine at all of the above during the summer. While graduating from university brings with it an element of uncertainty, the singer is excited to see what comes next.
“I'll be organising a few tours and really putting in every effort into getting that fandangled music career that everybody so desperately wants!
“But honestly, I don’t know what the future holds. I suppose that’s kind of exciting.”