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Kim Moore - Life as WOLF

It's been quite a Christmas for Kim Moore. Last week saw the Glasgow based composer's score for Little Red, Barrowland Ballet's dance theatre take on festive folk tales, praised on these pages. Barely pausing for breath, Moore has just released Black Rabbit, a digital only split single put out under the name of WOLF, the electronically inclined solo guise Moore has worked under since 2012.

Both of these are a long way from Moore's five year tenure as co-vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and arranger with Zoey Van Goey, the playful chamber pop trio she formed with Matt Brennan and Michael John McCarthy. Where Zoey Van Goey's narrative vignettes mixed melody and off-kilter charm, now Moore's work is more about atmosphere, as she combines her voice with a swathe of studio-based technology.

For Little Red, Moore's composition and sound design was led by the moves of the three dancers choreographed by Barrowland Ballet's Natasha Gilmore to a script by Robert Alan Evans. This also utilised speakers dotted at various points around the stage to chart Little Red's journey into the forest and some of the action's unseen elements.

“I wondered whether the sound of the granny being eaten by the wolf might have been too scary,” Moore reflects now the show is over, “but I didn't want to patronise them either. You have to be careful, because sometimes the things you don't see are the scariest, but it's good for kids to be scared and be challenged like that as well.”

Moore had previously worked with Barrowland Ballet on Tiger Tale, playing live in a show for children that this year toured to Japan, China and Egypt. Black Rabbit was composed and recorded during a residency in Banff, Canada, where Moore collaborated with musicians including Ben Peterson, aka Filter Network, who provides a remix to the original.

“Working in electronic music means you can put lots of layers onto a track,” she says, “but I really wanted this to be one take using live piano, a harp player and a fiddle player. It was really nice to come away with that.”

This marks the end of a two year period during which Moore has divided her time between theatre and developing as a composer in her own right. This has seen her scoring new work for Bristol Reggae Orchestra and a children's choir as part of the Adopt A Composer initiative, which pairs amateur and community choirs and ensembles with living composers for a year.

“I wanted to learn more about scoring for different instruments,” Moore says of the project. “I really wanted to work with other musicians, and think about using different palettes of sound through having

access to instruments that I would never normally have, like trombonists and flute players.

“A lot of people there were from classical backgrounds, and I'm more from a pop and electronic background. That made me realise how divided those worlds are, and how rare it is that they blend together, but I don't ever want to just be in one world and not the others.”

Moore's interest in music first developed while growing up in Shrewsbury, where her family moved after leaving Edinburgh when she was six. With a music teacher father, Moore was drafted into the school orchestra to play viola.

With Shrewsbury's local music scene consisting of little more than Green Day cover bands, Moore's teenage years were spent dancing to drum n' bass before she went on to study at the University of Glasgow. It was here she met Brennan and McCarthy, who “educated me in song,” as Moore puts it, en route to forming Zoey Van Goey.

As well as releasing two albums, the band also collaborated with composer David Paul Jones on a live soundtrack to Dolls, the National Theatre of Scotland's stage version of Japanese director Takeshi Kitano's cult 2002 film. As well as singing and playing in the show, Moore played a young pop star in the show.

“I'm definitely not an actor,” Moore says. “Dolls was an amazing experience, but trying to learn any kind of script was terrifying. I'll happily be myself onstage, but trying to embody another character is different.”

As a composer, Moore's work for theatre includes Magnetic North's production of Linda McLean's play, Sex and God. As WOLF, Moore has released a split single with electronic artist, P H O E N E to accompany a video game, and has remixed Rozi Plain, Miaoux Miaoux and Rob St John.

“I really want to perform live more next year,” she says, “and I really want to do a WOLF album. I love the idea of writing an album, even though people keep telling me they don't listen to albums anymore, but for me it absolutely feels right. It's about capturing a moment in time.”

For someone who claims to be only able to focus on one project at a time, Moore has a potentially distracting year ahead, with projects planned with Robert Softley Gale,and Christine Devaney's Curious Seed dance company. In association with Julia Eistenstein and Susie Bear, aka Glasgow-based guitar duo, Tuff Love, she will also be providing a live soundtrack for a new solo work being developed by playwright and performer, Julia Tauvedin.

There are plans afoot too for a new record label. ICOSA Records takes its name from the ancient Greek word for twenty.

“An icosahedron has twenty sides,” Moore explains, “and the idea is to try and create twenty split single collaborations. Then at the end of probably ten years you have this collection of electronic music that are snapshots of a particular moment. I have to be careful I don't let the idea run away with itself, though. I get excited about projects, and then lose sight of them, but I just want to keep on collaborating with people who inspire and challenge me.”

Moore uses the word 'challenge' a lot.

“I don't think perfectionist is the right word,” she muses, “but I always feel like I could be doing things, not better, but I'm quite a curious person, I think. I'm not good at saying when something's finished or just settling for something that's just alright. I get obsessed, and in terms of deadlines I'm my own worst enemy, but it's the only way I know how to do anything.

“A massive part of my process is to experiment and make mistakes, which sometimes makes the end of that process more stressful than it should be, but I don't like that feeling that I've only investigated something on the surface. It's about not settling for something I'm not totally happy with, otherwise what's the point?”

But why WOLF? Don't they hunt in packs?

“It's an animal I've always been slightly obsessed with,” she says, “and when I started doing stuff on my own, I felt quite strongly about not wanting to use my own name., because it has its own freedoms in terms of how the power structures disappear.

“I also like the whole metamorphosis of what a wolf can be, and how it can take on many shapes and different guises. I think I'm a bit like that as well, but that's probably because I don't really know what I'm doing.”

Black Rabbit by WOLF and a remix by Filter Network are available to download at https://thisiswolfmusic.bandcamp.com/ for January 2016. All donations will be given to The Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow. More music by WOLF can be heard at https://soundcloud.com/thisiswolfmusic/sets/wolf-music

The Herald, January 4th 2016

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