Tara Dalton looks for the threads that hold together the jazzy, soulful undertones of the abundantly creative singer-songwriter.
On the outside, MOLLY GREEN is a youthful 22-year-old dripping in style from head to toe. But on the inside, she holds an old crooning soul that can grip you from the moment she opens her mouth.
The native Bristolian singer-songwriter has a past that will leave you green with envy; performing from a young age and hitting stages from Colston Hall to Glastonbury. As if that wasn’t credit to her talent enough, four years ago she decided to move north to study music at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. This year, over a Zoom call and a cuppa, we are both totally dressed to the nines, and I’m eager to dive deep.
Although we’re 100 miles away from each other, it’s crystal clear to see that Molly’s upbringing was integral to her sound. In her smooth and jazzy undertones, you can hear the entwined romance between her grandpa’s love of sax and her mother’s love of RnB. While not as obvious from the outside, even in her acoustic sets, Molly admits her late father’s love of artists such as Jack Johnson and Paul Weller crept its way into her life.
Yet, behind her old soul, Molly is at most a realist. “I’m actually pretty shit at genres for a musician,” she giggles as she attempts to describe her style to me. To Molly, music shouldn’t just be another listening process. With a middle finger to the idea of genres, it isn’t just sound that’s important, but where it will take you.
“It’s purely just from how I appreciate music, I like music to take me somewhere and I almost forget where I am. When the song finishes, you just want to be transported there again,” she replies. “I think that’s when music is at its most powerful, when you forget where you are. Especially at live gigs as well, I like being totally lost.”
We’ve all felt it. Total enchantment by an artist on stage, wrapped around their fingertips while the room around them turns. To Molly, that click into reality after a set has finished is how she wants every song of hers to end.
With Molly, it’s all her. If music was her personal paint box, she’s all authentically green as her business and pleasure are merged together. Her stage name is her own, her girlfriend is her manager, and her sister is the illustrator of the Naked EP artwork.
Created and recorded in lockdown, the acoustic EP shows a stripped-down style to Molly; her usual RnB style straddling modern neo-soul. As well as original tracks I’m Ready Now and Dusky Haze, Molly proves she’s ready to capture your heart with a slowed-down cover of Brockhampton’s SUGAR. In its delicate 13 minutes, you can feel its lockdown influences, as it transports you to a serene setting of not total isolation, but relaxation.
From the nape of a neck to the curve of a waist, all the silhouettes featured on the single artworks are a part of Molly. Each pose is based on a selfie sent to her sister in order to paint the full ‘naked’ picture. While it creates a beautiful black and white storyline, it has, however, left a mark on her photo library.
“I now have a lot of weird pictures on my phone of my ankles which I should probably delete now,” says Molly. “I’ll be showing people pictures of my holiday and go one too far and, surprise, there’s my elbow!”
From single artworks to social media, Molly isn’t just here to be heard, but to be engrained in your senses. Through her looks, she aims to capture attention. “You kind of want your fans to see you as a desirable thing, not sexually, but you want them to look up to you. There is something to be said for going a little bit extra, rather than being boring and average,” she explains.
And boring she is not. As well as being musically gifted, Molly can hear this vintage rhythm in her everyday life. Not only is she a talented songstress, but a talented seamstress, creating her own outfits for both onstage and offstage use. Having learned the skill for her Gatsby-themed 21st birthday, Molly wants Alicia Keys to be her first client. She channels her sound into her outfit because who needs genres, when you have organza? “I do think if you can pull something off, you can pull it off,” she replies. “If you go on thinking you look ridiculous, people are going to think it’s ridiculous.”
Fashion is to Molly what purple is to green; a match made in heaven. She tells me of her love for style, and even over our call you can see the twinkle in her eye as she compliments fabrics and patterns. Her latest peach piece, created for her supporting set with Abbie Ozard, was the first item she had made entirely herself, but it’s definitely not the last. To some of us, the thought of a sewing machine is too stressful, but in Molly’s eyes, it is another creative escape outside of music. “Sometimes when you’re so focused on doing the one thing, it can get a bit monotonous and you can get a bit bogged down,” she starts. “I can get into a rabbit hole where I have no motivation to write and I’ll be thinking ‘You know what, the music’s not doing it for me today, let’s make an outfit’. It sometimes feels so nice to get that bit of escapism but still be doing something I love.”
Where some artists try to maintain a persona online, Molly is here to be herself and no one else. From her socials, her connection to fans is unrivalled, letting them in to her day-to-day life to understand who she is as an artist. Her latest video Just A Girl is a “visual photo album” for fans, showing snippets of the singer-songwriter having fun and being herself.
It was quite the task during lockdown to create a music video for the acoustic sets so, as she was already looking back on old times, she delved into her library. While the track sweetly deals with parted lovers, the video encapsulates her youth through snippets of her performances and adventures faced over the past few years. Collecting these snippets from friends and family, Molly experienced the same feeling you get when you’re tidying your room and pick up that one childhood toy from underneath a cupboard. The faint nostalgia just ignited a spark that she knew she had to share with friends. With life outside the window remaining unrecognisable, to make a simple video to get lost in took on a greater importance.
“I didn’t want it to feel laborious,” she says. “You don’t have to try and figure out a meaning. Just watch it and enjoy. It is what it is.”
Being an artist is difficult at the minute, with it being an unwritten social cue that you have to be creative in lockdown or else… well, you don’t want to know. The pressure to be creative can be a motivator for some musicians, giving them free-rein to experiment. But for musicians like Molly, isolation has only widened the gap between an artist and their art and therefore, an artist and their fans.
“I was going to post on Instagram for a monthly recap in April, so I thought ‘Let’s get a few pictures of me being productive, like learning how to play the guitar’,” she explains. “But I remember turning and thinking as I waited there, who’s that helping? Just because I have been sat at home looking at everyone else doing this kind of thing, thinking, what the fuck am I doing?
“I’m not going to lie to the people that support me,” she continues. “Instead, I’m going to be straight up and say, ‘You know what, it has been shit and I don’t have any nice pictures of me because I look like shit so this is what it is’.”
While truthful to fans, Molly giggles as she lets me in on the white lies woven into her records. “No matter what I do, I always stand by one thing,” she says, “and that’s to not write a song about anyone you’re close to.” Molly learnt this lesson after a writing session with her girlfriend, when a simple brainstorm led to a romantic tune telling the story of how they got together. For the outsiders looking in, this seems like the ideal outcome, and we all do have a sneaky desire to be the character of a ballad. But the truth isn’t always desirable, as she explains. “Sometimes you bend the truth a bit or exaggerate a bit because that’s how you feel when you write the song. If somebody hears it’s about them, but you threw in that you fell in love right away, just cause that’s what worked and it made it a bit more romantic, and you have to say that you threw it in for that reason, it’s always better to never do that. Ever!”
Lockdown hasn’t hindered her on her path forwards. Even as she stumbles for a charger to save her laptop, she hasn’t stumbled once in illustrating the bright future that lies ahead of her. And we’re on the edge of our seats, waiting.
Naked is available now via Modern Sky.