By Marlena Chavira-Medford
Sipping coffee at a sidewalk cafe in jeans and trucker cap, Solana Beach musician Tyson Motsenbocker is the picture of down-to-earth ease. It’s fitting, then, that his songs have an equally authentic vibe, heavy on acoustics and personal, poetic lyrics. Here, Motsenbocker, who hails from rural Washington state, talks about his recent freshman release “Until it Lands,” and sheds some light on what’s next for this rising star.
How’d you get interested in music?
It’s a funny story. My dad was a trapeze artist and trumpet player in a circus. He stopped by the time I was a kid, but I always knew that music a part of him. My mom had a piano in our basement that I was always toying with. She must have noticed that I had an interest in music because when she found out about a good deal on guitar lessons through our church, she signed me up. And, it turned out I was pretty good at it. I’ve been playing guitar ever since then, and I also played jazz in high school and college.
When did you start writing lyrics?
I started writing pretty early, around fifth grade. I wrote a song and it ended up wining a poetry contest, so as a kid, that encouraged me to write more.
At what point did you start performing live?
That’s another funny story. In seventh grade, two of my buddies and me played at a school assembly. I’ll never forget: We played “Wonderwall” by Oasis and everyone thought it was cool. It’s funny to look back at now, but that was the single moment I can point to when an onstage performance really clicked for me.
What was the impetus behind your most recent album?
It was inspired by my Mom, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I’m happy to say she’s doing well now, but there was a time we didn’t know if she was going to make it. A lot of the lyrics were written while I processing through that time of my life. Some of it tends to be sad, but my music is an expression of what I’m feeling. I think that genuineness is part of what makes music such a beautiful thing, and what an audience can connect to. And I think there’s a lot of hope in my lyrics too, so it’s not a total downer.
How’d you pick the name “Until it Lands?”
That was based on something my sister said. She was talking about how nobody ever thinks tragedy is going to happen to them. Tragedy is something that we all know looms over us from far away, but none of us really think about it — that is, until it lands right on us. That struck me, so I went with the name.
I also noticed your album has a drawing of bicycle with handlebars at each end, going in opposite directions. What’s the story with that?
The bicycle is actually a reoccurring theme on this album. The photo on the cover is my mom at 23, when she biked from Seattle to Boston. I sing about that in one of my songs, too. But the illustrated bike pulling in opposite directions is about the tug-of-war you can feel from internal conflicts, or just being indecisive. That’s especially true for me as an artist. One day I want to be a solo artist, the next day I want to play in a band.
So, which one is it today: Do you want to be in a band or play solo?
Right now I really like the band I play with. I’ve been working with the drummer from Janu and the Whale Sharks. His name is Bumper, which is just cool. But he’s also an amazing drummer. Because of him, the drum parts are really prominent on this album, and I don’t anyone else who could play them like him.
That’s a good question. I’ve always said I don’t want to be a rock star. I just want to make a living playing my songs. That’s my dream. I’ve got some tours coming up, and I’m hoping to play more local venues, like Belly Up. I think I’m getting close to finally being able to do what I love full time. That’s all I want.
“Until it Lands” was produced by Squalrus Records/Kokua Records. It can be purchased via iTunes or amazon.com. For more information about Tyson Motsenbocker, visit tysonmotsenbocker.com