Roy Moller Press


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Roy Moller: Be My Baby – book review
By Gus Ironside -November 2, 2019

Dionysia Press 5/5

Scottish poet and songwriter releases his most profoundly affecting – and deeply personal – work to date.

In August this year, the much-loved Scottish cult artist Roy Moller released his first new music in four years, the typically witty and thought-provoking single, Semicolon. The Dunbar-based polymath had spent most of the preceding four years working on his second book of poetry. Published by Dionysia Press, Be My Baby is a deeply affecting narrative-based poetry book that documents Moller’s search for his roots, as the adopted poet sets out to discover, in his fifties, who his birth parents were.

Be My Baby does not merely recount the fascinating story that Moller was able to piece together, it’s also beautifully written, as Moller uses his poetic skills to bring his story to life with extraordinary tenderness and poignancy.


There is a bittersweet but accepting tone as Moller unravels the threads of the circumstances around his birth, so long shrouded in mystery while he grew up in Edinburgh, in the loving and supportive environment provided by his adoptive parents, Peter and Mollie.

It would be unfair to spoil the reader’s enjoyment of Be My Baby by revealing too many details, but suffice to say, the revelations that Moller discovers about his birth parents shed new light on this multi-faceted artist’s extraordinary creativity and deeply personal worldview.

While a brief synopsis might suggest that Be My Baby is akin to an episode of BBC One’s Who Do You Think You Are? in poetic form, the reality is rather different – this is a profoundly heartfelt work that gains new angles and perspectives from Moller’s skilful use of the medium of poetry to explore universal themes of belonging and identity.

Be My Baby is an absolute joy to read – Moller’s writing is not only precise and beautifully evocative, but also clear and accessible, making this book a thoughtful present for a friend and a gateway conduit to Moller’s always fascinating body of work.


Band:Roy Moller and The Chain Pier Group
Reviewed By:John Clarkson
Date Published:21/09/2019

Release Year:2019

Scottish singer-songwriter Roy Moller is the veteran of five albums but has spent the last few years away from music and concentrating on his alternative career as a poet. His second book of poetry, ‘Be My Baby’, which tells of his adoption in 1963 as a days-old infant and his late discovery in his early 50s of whom his natural parents were, is due out imminently.

Now he is back with a new single, ‘Semicolon’, and a new band, the Chain Pier Group. It takes its name from the Chain Pier, a pub in North Edinburgh, which is renowned for its funeral teas and its under-age drinkers from nearby secondary Trinity Academy, which is where both Moller and guitarist David Paul went to school.

A classic slab of indie pop, ‘Semicolon’ across its three minute running time exults with comeback. Its exuberant tune throws into its mix a bouncing guitar line, breezy harmonica and even at its end a brief piano solo, while Moller’s vocal, abstract on the surface, reflects on the joys of musically reinventing oneself (“Taking away the letters of my name until I am left with a semicolon/Taking away the tears and the shame until I am left with Leonard Cohen, Billy Joel and Lloyd Cole”).

Semicolon single artwork

Is This Music Logo


By Gus Ironside • Sep 4th, 2019 • Category: Single review

It’s been four years since the much-loved cult artist Roy Moller has released new music, although the Dunbar-based polymath has hardly been resting on his laurels.

Moller has focused on his poetry-writing in recent years, culminating in the release of his most accomplished work to date, ‘Be My Baby’, a deeply affecting narrative-based poetry book that documents Moller’s search for his roots.

Themes of identity are also explored – in Moller’s trademark witty fashion- on ‘Semicolon’, another Moller instant classic, co-written with long-term collaborator Gary Thoms of the Moondials and Astrid. A tightly constructed number with hooks-a-plenty, ‘Semicolon’ rocks and sways like Ray Davies on a Clyde steamer, with assured backing provided by David Paul (guitar), Alan Cloughley (keyboards), Mads Mitchell (drums) and Mike Heffron (bass).

Here’s hoping Roy and the Chain Pier group have an album in the works – it’s good to have him back.


Artist: Roy Moller
Title: Interview
Category: Interviews
Author: John Clarkson
Date Published: 06/08/2019

In May 2015, Roy Moller went to Register House in Edinburgh to have his adoption papers opened.

The Scottish singer-songwriter and poet, who was born in 1963, had been adopted as a baby, but had never learned whom his real parents were.

What he found out was remarkable. Carol Hoffman, his birth mother, had been a reporter on ‘The Toronto Telegram’ in Canada. When she had accidentally fallen pregnant, knowing the backlash that she would face for this in her then starchly conservative home country in which unmarried mothers were treated as fallen women, she had travelled to Edinburgh, where she had given birth to her baby, before handing him over for adoption and returning home.

It took more searching by Moller to confirm that he had been the product of an extra-marital affair and that his father was Jim Kennedy, a photographer on ‘The Toronto Telegram’ and a World War II veteran. Kennedy, who died in 2001, already had children, and Carol, who passed away in 2014, after returning to Toronto, eventually married and also had a family. Moller, who was brought up an only child in North Edinburgh, discovered that he has between his father and mother’s families six half siblings and a step-brother and sister, and has been over to Canada to meet them.

Roy Moller, who lives now in the town of Dunbar thirty miles outside Edinburgh, has released six albums, ‘Speak When I’m Spoken To’ (Book Club Records, 2007), ‘Playing Songs No One’s Listening To’ (The Beautiful Music, 2011), ‘The Singing’s Getting Better’ (recorded with Sporting Hero and released on the Mecca Holding Co., 2012), ‘One Domino’ (Stereogram Recordings, 2014), ‘My Week’s Better Than Your Year’ (Stereogram Recordings, 2014) and ‘There’s a Thousand Untold Stories’ (The Beautiful Music, 2016). He has also published a previous book of poetry, ‘Imports’ (Appletree Writers’ Press, 2015).

His second collection of poetry will be published by the Edinburgh publishing company Dionysia Press in September. It was originally going to be called ‘Carol’ before Moller changed its title to ‘Be My Baby’, partially in tribute to the Ronettes’ hit which was recorded in the same week that he was born.

Reflecting on the tale of his adoption, it is divided into four parts.

In the first and longest part, also titled ‘Be My Baby’, which runs across the opening half of the book, he imagines his mother’s life as a newspaper journalist in Toronto, her arrival in Edinburgh, his birth in Simpson’s Maternity hospital under his original name of James Hoffman and his adoption by Peter and Mollie Moller, a youth club leader and teacher. It concludes with his christening in St Giles’ Cathedral in mid-1964 under his new name, and Carol’s own eventual wedding to another newspaperman when he was seven.

The second part, ‘Tides’, reflects on his first trip to Toronto on a family holiday as a sixteen-year old in 1979 before he knew of his connection there, his discovery at “fifty-odd” of who his father and mother were, and Jim Kennedy’s experiences in Occupied Europe when he was the only member of his troop to survive after a personnel carrier they were travelling on was blown up on a bridge.

In the third part ‘Settler’s Song’ he recalls his upbringing with his adoptive parents, and in the fourth part ‘Hindsight’ he weighs up and considers the circumstances which led to him being adopted and brought up in a different country from Carol and Jim.


Pennyblackmusic spoke to Roy Moller about ‘Be My Baby’ and discovering who he is.
PB: ‘Imports’, your previous collection of poetry, told loosely of your upbringing in Edinburgh, and your return to the East coast of Scotland after many years spent living in Glasgow. You wrote over half the poems for that collection before you had a formal structure or theme for it. ‘Be My Baby’ has much more of a direct focus. How easy or difficult was it getting into that focus?

RM: It was easier because I knew that the poems would all deal with a particular subject matter. It was, however, difficult trying to get the sequence correct, especially as when I was writing it I started finding more about my father’s side of the family.

I had to decide then whether to concentrate on my mother’s story first and then to go on to tell about my father, or to interweave the two stories chronologically. I ended up dealing with things in the way that I found out about them because I found out about my father quite a while after I found out about my mother. I had gone over to Canada and met my family on my mother’s side before I had any proof of who my father actually was.

PB: How easy was it for you getting that proof of who your father was?

RM: What happened was that I went up to Register House in Edinburgh and had my adoption records opened. They were literally in a sealed envelope which had not been opened since 1964. There were details in there such as my mother’s middle name, and I also found out her address in Toronto from the terms of my adoption, and so I was immediately able to take things further.

Within 24 hours of that, I was emailing somebody who I thought was probably her stepson and, therefore, my stepbrother, Guy Crittenden, and that turned out to be the case. He got back in touch with me very quickly, and he sent me a lot of information and also a lot of photographs of my mother, and said, “We think that you father might have been someone who worked with her at ‘The Toronto Telegram’. We think that it might have been a photographer whose name was Jim.

So, that was the first nugget of information that I had really and a pretty good clue, but I had no absolute proof other than what was an unsubstantiated rumour. It took a lot of searching before I eventually found out more information through a family tree on an ancestry website. It mentioned a photographer on ‘The Toronto Telegram’ who was called Jim Kennedy, and from there on in everything fell into place.

PB: How long did it take you after finding out who your mother was to find out who your father was?

RM: It was probably about eighteen months. Even in this day and age with the Internet and the resources that we have, finding out proof of things that took place long ago in the past is difficult. My mother kept things very, very quiet, and there were really only a few whispers to go on. When you are tracing your own family tree quite a lot of guess work can go into it, but when it is a relation as close as your own father you don’t really want to start approaching people and intruding on their lives if they aren’t actually the people you thought they were. You have to try and be sensitive to that. You don’t want to go in first and say this is definitely the person before you have any proof.

PB: It wasn’t uncommon for girls in the early 1960s who had had babies out of wedlock to be forced to give them up. They were different times, weren’t they?

RM: In Toronto it was much more difficult than it was over here in Scotland. The way unmarried mothers were treated was quite severe. The society over there was very Presbyterian. We were more broadminded as a state at that point. We had the Welfare State with the NHS, and the taboos in Canada were stronger.

It was in 1963 that things started to change. Popular culture as we know it started then. I was born on the 3nd July, and two days before that the Beatles recorded ‘She Loves You’, and two days after that the Ronettes recorded ‘Be My Baby’. So, I was born bang in the centre of that. I tried to bring a little bit of that into the book.
PB: The book was originally going to be called ‘Carol’ after your mother, wasn’t it?
RM: It was. Then a film came out called ‘Carol’, and then I found out about my father and his story and his father’s story, and things broadened out. I decided to go with ‘Be My Baby’ instead.

PB: At the beginning of ‘Be My Baby’ and in what is the title poem you get into an imaginary conversation with the film director Martin Scorsese. You then speak to him again in the last lines of the final poem, ‘Hindsight’. His film ‘Mean Streets’ has the Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby’ on the opening credits of its soundtrack. Is that a homage to that?

RM: That’s right. I was trying to evoke that but not to over play it (Laughs). I was born at this pop culture moment, and I thought, “What is the best way to set the scene here?” and I felt, “Okay, there are certain parallels with ‘Mean Streets’”. The evocative sound of the pop music of the time is something that I love and which I am familiar with. I am a Ronettes fan. I am a Beatles fan, and I really wanted to put the fact that these two important records came out the week I was born into the backdrop of ‘Be My Baby’.

I had various drafts in which I went in wider to the Scorsese side of things and I thought, “Maybe I could work in the famous tracking shot from ‘GoodFellas’”, but I thought, “No, just bring it in here and bring it in there, but don’t over play your hand because then you will get away from your own story.”

The main idea behind ‘Be My Baby’ as a title, however, was the fact that my mother decided at one level to keep me. I don’t know what option she really had, but in ‘Selkie Baby’, one of the poems I say “She has chosen to have me…have me to give me away.” She didn’t have the pregnancy terminated. She wanted to have the baby, and then having had the baby she had to cover her tracks because she went back to Canada in a very short time after having me. In fact, she signed me off too early. In one of the papers I found amongst my adoption papers, she had to send approval of my adoption for a second time, so she was obviously in quite a hurry.

PB: How long was she actually in the UK for?

RM: I don’t know. There are whole parts of the story which are still a mystery, and I hope that is one of the things which comes through in the course of the book is that I am not an all seeing narrator. There are things which I don’t know. I don’t even know for certain if she flew to the UK. She may have sailed. The earliest date I have for her is April 1963 when she went to the adoption agency, and the last record that I have for her is mid-July 1963 when a couple of weeks after I was adopted she signed me off.

PB: The reader comes away from these poems admiring her and thinking what a brave lady. With all these odds stacked against her, she did the right thing by you.

RM: Yes, exactly. I know from speaking to her family that it would have been in her nature to secure for me the very best and she didn’t want to just offload me. She wanted to make sure that I was well catered for. She showed a lot of fortitude. She was 28 when she had me. She was obviously mature in years, but it took an awful lot of bravery to do that. I am glad that that comes through. The last lines in the book and of the poem ‘Hindsight’ are “I ask you, Mr Scorsese, what is ‘Be My Baby’ if not a song of love?” So, the book is a love song to her.

PB: You show absolutely no anger towards her at all in the book. You are in fact very philosophical about things, saying in ‘Hindsight’ “time was not ready”.

RM: No, time was not ready. I wish that I could have met her and my father before they passed. What happened happened and what didn’t happen happened, but I am of such an age now that if I can’t be philosophical in my 50s when can I be (Laughs)? The fact that I was conceived outside marriage is not something that I feel I can really take a moral position on. I love them both and I wouldn’t be here without either of them.

PB: When did you find out that you were adopted?

RM: I always knew. ‘Mum ‘and ‘Dad’ are my adopted parents in the book, and ‘Father ‘and ‘Mother’ are my blood parents. My mum Mollie used to tell me almost as a sort of lullaby thing , “We picked you out. We chose you.” I think that this is something that adopted parents say a lot to their children – “Other parents have to take what they are given but we chose you.” She told me that she and my dad had come to the ward and picked me out because I was smiling at them, and it was only when I had my adoption records opened that I found the real version of what had really happened. I use it in ‘Mollie’s Lullaby’’, one of the poems in the book. My mum and dad used a private adoption agency, and they passed the test for prospective adoptive parents, and they made a pitch looking for me. They were looking for a child to turn up from the year before I was born, so I don’t think I was chosen from lying in the cot. That was the story that I, however, grew up with.

Roy Moller #2

PB: You describe in ‘Be My Baby’ how you first went to find out who you were at Register House in Edinburgh as a teenager but were sent away as you were too young. Why did you leave it so late and until you were in your early 50s before going back there again?

RM: It wasn’t too long after I went to Register House that my dad died suddenly in 1982. It was partially because of that and then my mum became more elderly, so it didn’t seem quite the right thing to do. It wouldn’t have been unsupported in retrospect, I guess, but at the time it just didn’t feel the right thing to do.

I also didn’t know that it was now possible to have your adoption records opened, and it wasn’t until I spoke to a friend of mine, David Paul, who was interested in genealogy and he said, “Oh, you need to go up and get them opened,” that I found out that you could do that. I had no idea that that was possible until then. If I had looked into it with more focus I would have known, but I just put it into the back of my mind.

When my mum died in 2009 and I had my own infant son Peter, that piqued my own interest again. I was 44 when he was born, and that was the first time that I had looked at another face and known he was related to me. Without wanting to be sentimental about it, it was the greatest moment of my life when he was born, and when I was holding him for the first time I realised, “Wow! This is a human being that is related to me. This is a first.” That was a pretty powerful motivation for finding out more. I knew where he came from on his mother’s side, but I didn’t know where he came from on my side. I wanted to do that for me and him. I wanted to give him some back story because I had been born without any back story that I was aware of. He had only got one side, and I wanted to furnish him with both sides. For me, it means so much to me to have made contact with my kin on the Hoffman and Kennedy sides.

PB: Your father seemed to have lived quite a colourful life. He had been almost killed in the war, and his father had wound up in Canada after being sent to reform school.

RM: I don’t really go into it in the book but his father didn’t really completely reform , shall we say?) My father grew up in an unsettled home, and the family went through quite a lot of poverty. One of his brothers turned out to have a knack for business, and went from having a hard start to being a millionaire race horse owner.
My father worked as a carny for a while, and then went into the Forces in World War II. He was in the Forces for almost five years, and was almost blown up on a bridge and was the only one in his troop to survive, before ending up as a photo-journalist for the paper. If he hadn’t fallen into the river when the bridge was blown up and the river hadn’t broken his fall, he wouldn’t have survived that incident.

Everything is based on chance and fate, but that was quite a stark example of it. Of course, if his father hadn’t gone to reform school he wouldn’t have been sent to Canada and met my grandmother. It is true of everyone, but it really is quite graphically the case how big a chance has played in the whole story.

PB: Last couple of questions. How long did it take you to write ‘Be My Baby’?

RM: I would say nigh on four years. It took a long time but it went through many, many drafts and it is something which I might add to when I find out more things if there is ever a future edition or a sequel. I see it as an ongoing thing, but I think there is enough there at the moment to make it a book.

PB: You have not released an album since 2016 and that album, ‘There’s A Thousand Untold Stories’, consisted largely of material which was already a couple of years old. Is your music career on permanent or temporary hold?

RM: While I was writing ‘Be My Baby’, there was no real desire on my part to write music. It was such a focus, but almost immediately after I turned the manuscript in I had an informal song-writing session with my friend Gary Thom, who I had written songs with before. We got a couple of songs out of that, and since then I have been on a bit of a roll with it and I have got about fifteen or sixteen new songs.

I had got to a point in which I had probably written enough songs to play that nobody had ever heard, but having this manuscript out of the way it just seemed, “Oh, I used to do this,” and it is a pleasure. I am still writing poetry, but it seemed the right time to start doing it again. We have got the backing tracks done of a track ‘Semicolon’ done and just got the vocals to do, and that will be coming out on Stereogram hopefully in August.

PB: Thank you.
The main photo is from Offbeat Pictures and the lower photo is by Ryan McGoverne Photography.

My Week Beats Your Year 680 x 680

“‘My Week Beats Your Year’ is a vital, important work that keeps alight the flickering flame of Reed’s intelligent vision.
Profoundly moving and inspirational.”
Gus Ironside, Louder Than War, March 2015

“A diverse LP from the acoustic strum of LP opener ‘Capital City’ to the squalling guitars and celebratory organ of ‘Captivity’ through the horn section on ‘Under The Radar’. As with ‘One Domino’ what pulls the different elements together is Moller’s insistent melodic sense”
Mike Melville, Manic Pop Thrills, October 2014

“Sometimes spacey, always honest. An excellent blending of Roy’s own childhood and upbringing.”
Megan Helstone, Simply Thrilled, August 2014

“Roy has assimilated the blueprint but built the house himself. It’s a love letter to a friend or possibly a brother, it’s from the heart and the heart don’t lie.”
Stevie Walker, Underdog Champions, August 2014.


Once described by Marc Riley as “Scotland’s best kept secret”, Edinburgh-born but now Dunbar-based singer-songwriter Roy Moller has had a prolific twelve months.

There have been two new albums, ‘One Domino’ and ‘My Week Beats Your Year’. The former, which incorporated elements of electronica, folk and pop, is the always diverse Moller’s most eclectic album to date, while the latter is an offbeat tribute to the late Lou Reed, based upon his own experiences as an Edinburgh teenager growing up under the influence of the Velvet Underground. Moller has published as well his first volume of poetry, the similarly autobiographical ‘Imports’. Now there is also a stand-alone single, ‘Another Man’s God’.

‘Another Man’s God’ marries a furious skiffle beat with sharp squeals of discordant guitar. Initially, it appears to be a bittersweet story of rejection and of love having for Moller gone badly wrong (“She put her faith in another man’s god/She put her money in another man’s bank account/That other man is a fraud”). As always with Moller’s songwriting, however, things are both more angular and also very clever. The twist comes at the halfway point of the record. “Who is the other man?/Who is the other man?/The other man is me,” he sings with frantic venom.

Moller isn’t any less vitriolic on himself in the final verse of ‘Another Man’s God’ either (“She’s got to deal with another man’s dirty fingernails/Another man’s heavy duty problems/Another man coming in from the party/Another man hungover so often”). Comically self-mocking, Roy Moller’s lyrical and spiky alternative pop is absolutely riveting.

Roy Moller 940 x 540

“There is something hammering on my shoulder now which wasn’t there before,” says Roy Moller at one point in an interview with Pennyblackmusic. He is talking to us on the phone from his home in the picturesque small town of Dunbar, which is thirty miles down Scotland’s East Coast from Edinburgh, about his increased focus on autobiography in both his songwriting and also his new career as a poet.

An adopted child, Moller was born in Edinburgh in 1963. After leaving Trinity Academy in 1981 at the age of seventeen, he moved to Glasgow later that year, a city that he admits that he never felt especially comfortable in, to study English at Strathclyde University and then to work. Moller would spend nearly thirty-two years in Glasgow, before finally relocating to Dunbar in April 2013.

Moller’s musical career began to take off in the late 1990s with first Peel favourites Meth O.D. and then instrumental outfit the Wow Kafe. He has also since been a member of Scottish “supergroups” the Store Keys, which also featured Belle and Sebastian’s Stevie Jackson with whom he has co-written songs, and most recently Jesus, Baby!, which is led by the Fire Engines’ Davy Henderson and performs songs by poet Michael Pedersen.

Moller released his first solo album ‘Speak When I’m Spoken To’ on Book Club Records in 2007. He followed this with ‘Playing Songs No One’s Listening To’, which was released on the Ottawa-based label The Beautiful Music in 2011, and ‘The Singing’s Getting Better’ which was recorded with Sporting Hero and came out on the Mecca Holding Co. in 2012.

Last year Moller joined the roster of the Edinburgh-based label Stereogram Recordings (The Band of Holy Joy, James King and the Lone Wolves, The Cathode Ray, Milton Star, Lola in Slacks), which is owned by Cathode Ray front man Jeremy Thoms, and released two albums in quick succession.

Roy Moller has described ‘One Domino’, the first of these, which came out in May 2014 as his “Edinbralectro record”, and it name checks various Edinburgh locations. ‘My Week Beats Your Year’, which followed in July, and was released to coincide with a Edinburgh Festival Fringe show from Moller, is more autobiographical still. Written in a flurry of creativity after the death of Lou Reed the previous October, it tells of the teenage Moller’s discovery of the Velvet Underground, his purchase of their albums in reverse order from long gone Edinburgh record shops, and attending the first two dates at the Edinburgh Playhouse of their infamous and ultimately ill-fated 1993 reunion tour.

In what was a prolific few months, Moller also published his debut collection of poetry ‘Imports’ through local Dunbar-based publisher, Appletree Writers’ Press.
Pennyblackmusic spoke to Roy Moller about both ‘My Week Beats Your Year’ and ‘Imports’.

PB: Your two recent albums, ‘One Domino’ and ‘My Week Beats Your Year’, are lyrically much more centred around Edinburgh than your first three albums. How much of that do you think has been inspired by your own move back after many years living in Glasgow to the East Coast of Scotland?

RM: A lot of that has certainly been down to that, although I actually recorded ‘One Domino’ prior to moving.

I played a Simon and Garfunkel tribute night at the Community Central Halls in Maryhill in Glasgow in 2011, and did a song called ‘Fakin’ It’, and decided to do it in the style of David Bowie with a cockney accent.

Afterwards this young chap came up and introduced himself as Michael Pedersen. Michael is an Edinburgh-based poet and is the co-founder of Neu! Reekie! which was starting in Edinburgh as an arts fusion club night. He started chatting to me, said that he had enjoyed what I did and invited me to do a turn at Neu! Reekie!

It was really a revelation because I had not been out in Edinburgh to any degree for years, and to see such an energetic and vibrant multimedia night as Neu! Reekie! really got me interested in what was happening in the East. It rekindled my semi-dormant East Coast identity, and got me thinking back to the way I felt about music back when I was in my teens. When I was writing the songs that became ‘One Domino’, I was physically in Glasgow but

I felt that my sensibilities were switching back East again.

When I moved through from Glasgow to Dunbar in 2013 lots of other memories of growing up on the East Coast came back and helped to inform the writing of both ‘My Week Beats Your Year’ and also the poems in ‘Imports’ as well.

PB: To talk about ‘Imports’, it is a poetry collection of four parts. ‘Cabotage’, the first part, is loosely about your early Edinburgh upbringing and your childhood memories. ‘Roll-on/Roll-off’, which follows it, is about travelling across over Scotland, ‘Without Reserve’, which comes next, about your Glasgow years and ‘Entering Inwards’, the final part, about Edinburgh and the East Coast again but this time told from the view of a late adolescent and adult. Did you set out from the outset to write something of four distinct movements or is that something which emerged when you started writing?

RM: I was conscious that I needed to apply some sort of structure to ‘Imports’. While I already had enough for a full collection, I wanted it to have a framework and an identity. So it really came from looking at what was already there, seeing what themes were emerging and then producing more work along those themes.

Maybe half the poems were written before I ordered them in that way, and then with the others I wrote poems that explored those four movements. I thought that by dividing the book into segments it would make the book easier to read as well rather than it just being a sort of sprawl.

I wanted ‘Imports’ to reflect my East Coast identity and being both a child and young man on the East Coast and then as an older man being back there. While Glasgow and Edinburgh are less than fifty miles apart, they are very different cities and living in them is like living in two different worlds. I really wanted to examine that as well because I hadn’t read much else that has really explored that subject.

PB: Many of those poems, especially in the last movement such as ‘Lessons’, which is about being bullied in school, and ‘Eighty Two’, which is about your adopted father’s sudden death when you were nineteen, could have only been written with the degree of distance that thirty years brings. Would you agree?

RM: I would absolutely agree. I wonder what other things will eventually emerge when I sit down to write them that have been at the back of my mind and completely dormant for decades (Laughs).

It is really strange to me that I feel closer to events that happened in 1982 now when I am sitting down to write them than I did five, ten years later. Poetry can dissolve time in that way as well. It is almost like the sense of smell. You can smell something that you haven’t smelt in years, and can be taken right back to the way that you felt at that time. It is like all the intervening years and all the intervening stages that you have gone through have just fallen away.

Having said that, though, to write a poem about being shoved into the pond at the Royal Botanic Gardens, or having my cagoule gobbed on and being bullied at secondary school in the late 70s, I wouldn’t have had the tools technically or the perspective to write about it back then. I probably needed the space of three and a half decades to really express that properly.
Roy Moller 1
PB: You are now in your early 50s. When you get into late 40s or early 50s, you become conscious that time is running out, that if you are lucky you might have twenty-five good years left. How much of this shift in both your music and poetry to focusing on autobiography and this need to put things into perspective comes from that?

RM: I would say 100%. It actually lies behind the geographical shift as well. I wanted to move back beside the sea and the East Coast because I thought that as I got older I would feel more settled here in a way I had never done living in Glasgow.

I thought, “If I don’t write directly from it now, then what has my experience really been for?” I felt that I really needed to start setting things down, and that I was wasting time by doing some of the things that I had explored earlier in my songwriting, which were, to a degree, pastiches or exercises in a certain style. I felt that there wasn’t really time anymore to do a glam rock number just for the sake of doing a glam rock number, or a country number, now. There were reoccurring experiences in my life that I wanted to discuss, either in poetry or song, and I wanted to make some sort of record of it while I still could.

I think in poetry people often don’t really hit their stride until they are in their mid-40s. Norman MacCaig published two books of poetry when he was a younger man but he disowned them, and his first real book of poetry as far as he was concerned came out in his mid-40s.

PB: You wrote poetry as a young man, and when you were at Strathclyde University won the Keith Wright Poetry Competition, which is a major local writing award, yet for many years you abandoned poetry. Why did you stop? Was it because music took over?

RM: I didn`t feel that I had anything in common with local Glasgow poets. I have a memory of sitting in a pub with a guy reading his poem about losing his giro on Victoria Road, meeting a friend and getting drunk. I thought, “Just because I live here do I really have to talk about this stuff?” I was influenced by Ginsberg and the Beats at the time and I thought, “If I am writing poetry in Glasgow, people are going to want to hear stuff about living in Glasgow and I don’t really want to write about that,” so then I thought, “Whatever I do decide to write about, there probably won’t be an audience for it.”

Music seemed more universal to me, and it was something that I could create on the spot and not worry about what the potential audience was going to be, so that is why I really stopped writing poetry. I had no outlet for it at the time.

PB: There is a new documentary film ‘Big New Dream’ about the Edinburgh post-punk movement between 1977 and 1982 and bands like Josef K and the Fire Engines. It makes Edinburgh out to be a very grey, austere place in the 1970s. You make the point in ‘My Week Beats Your Year’ that much of the appeal of Lou Reed and New York to you was that it seemed much more exciting as well as decadent. Are those your memories of 70s Edinburgh too, as being bleak and dull and somewhat Calvinistic?

RM: I was, I suppose, a year or two young to experience Josef K and the Fire Engines live, or I should say to legally see Josef K (Laughs) as there were people who were my contemporaries who did. One of my classmates, Susan Buckley, married one of Josef K, Malcolm Ross, and she is on the inner sleeve of ‘The Only Fun in Town’. I missed out on that scene, though.

My memories of childhood and 70s Edinburgh are often of very sunny, happy days and of travelling on the bus for runs out to Ravelston Dykes and exotic places like that (Laughs). There is a contrast to that, however, which I was trying to invoke in ‘My Week Beats Your Year’.

Edinburgh has this Gothic side with its dark closes and Burke and Hare and hangings in the Grassmarket. I related that to the sound of the Velvet Underground. My awareness of the Velvet Underground and awareness of the history of Edinburgh more or less happened at the same time. They synchronised together in my head. I bought ‘The Velvet Underground and Nico’ from a record shop in the High Street called Phoenix. It was very much a cave within a small shop. It was surrounded by so much history, and it was just down the street from the Heart of Midlothian stone, where the old tolbooth was in Edinburgh and there again were all these hangings. There were all these different memories playing off against each other when I wrote ‘My Week Beats Your Year’.
Roy Moller 2
PB: Edinburgh-based writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson James Hogg and more recently Ian Rankin and Irvine Welsh have also written for all its outward respectability of this undercurrent of darkness in Edinburgh. You were brought up near Trinity, which is very middle class, but it is literally a walk of a few minutes from Leith and its docks, which at that time in the late 70s when you first discovered the Velvet Underground was a pretty run down part of Edinburgh. Was that part of the appeal of Lou Reed then as well, that he was tapping into not just what was going on in Edinburgh but also your own local environment, just on larger scale?

RM: Yeah, absolutely. When I started at secondary school, the lower years – which were, literally, a riot – were based in an annexe in the heart of Leith, which was, as you say, both a few minutes’ walk and also a whole world away from Trinity.

From the bridge in Newhaven Road, near where I lived, you could see ships in the harbour from Leith Docks. When I first heard ‘Heroin’ and the line “I wish that I’d sail the darkened seas/On a great big clipper ship/Going from this land here to that/In a sailor’s suit and cap” it was so real to me. The old sailor’s missions and things like that were on my doorstep.

It all just started to fuse with me about the time I began listening to the Velvet Underground.

PB: Would you say then that ‘My Weeks Beats Your Year’ is as much about the synchronicity about 70s Edinburgh and 70s New York as it is about your own discovery of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground?

RM: I tried to make it so. There are these other parallels as well, which I also tried to tap into on the album. Nico lived in St Stephen’s Street in Stockbridge for a while, and I have got a line in there about that. When Lou Reed reformed the Velvet Underground in 1993 he wanted to play the Edinburgh Playhouse because it was one of his favourite venues in the world, and I have lyrics about that and going to see the Velvet Underground at the two gigs they played there as the opening nights of the tour.

PB: You imply on ‘Electrify Me’ on ‘My Week Beats Your Year’ that it was a totally eureka moment when you first heard ‘Sweet Jane’ and the Velvet Underground for the first time after David Bowie played it on a radio show. Was it as instant and life-defining as that?

RM: It was. David Bowie was a guest DJ on a show on Radio 1 called ‘Star Special’. This was a series where people would come on and play DJ for two hours and thirty of their favourite discs. I have since found out that it was the 20th May 1979 (Laughs), and I taped the programme on my Boots cassette recorder. One of the songs he played was ‘Sweet Jane’, and I just kept coming back to it and back to it. It just blew me away, and it became my favourite record and still is.

PB: How quickly after that did you discover the Velvet Underground albums. Was it very quickly?

RM: It was quite quickly. It was amazing the number of people on ‘Star Special’ that played the Velvet Underground. Tim Curry was on a couple of weeks later and he played ‘Rock and Roll’, and then Frank Zappa was on and he played ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’ which was again a sonic revelation for me that I couldn’t believe.

Within a month or two of hearing ‘Sweet Jane’ I bought Lou’s solo album, ‘Live; Take No Prisoners’. He does this Jewish stand-up comedy thing on it, which I love too. It was the only album that I could get that had ‘Sweet Jane’ on it, and it is a very different version, a kind of post ‘Street Hassle’ version.

A couple of months after that I was in Ezy Ryder record shop in Greyfriars Market in Forrest Road, and I was browsing through the bins and found ‘Loaded’ and bought that.

I got into the Velvets backwards and then the “The Banana Album” came about a year and a half later, which was another revelation. While they were an anti-psychedelic band in some ways, it was also the most psychedelic thing that I had ever heard. I remember my mind being blown by the toilet flushing of the last track on ‘European Son’ and thinking, “This is outrageous” (Laughs). When things make that much of an impression on you, they never leave you. When I put ‘Sweet Jane’ on now that almost African Hi-Life introduction takes me right back, and I still find it inspires in me the same sense of freedom music can bring.

PB: Why did you decide to release ‘My Weeks Beats Your Year’ out as a download in contrast to ‘One Domino’ which came out as well on CD?

RM: It was because of financial reasons, really. Both time and money prohibited us from putting it out on CD so soon after we had done ‘One Domino’. We made it a download for immediacy’s sake. If I could have my absolute wish I think it would be a nice thing to put it out on 10” vinyl. It’s very short. I did an Edinburgh Fringe show with Appletree Writers for ‘My Week Beats Your Year’, and we wanted the show to support the download and the download to support the show.

I wrote it and recorded ‘My Week Beats Your Year’ in a two-week period. It was Christmas 2013, Lou Reed had died in October of that year, and I had ten days in a row off work and knuckled down to it and wrote and recorded it at home. I have never had an experience like that before, and I probably will never have an experience like that again (Laughs). It dictated its own purpose, and it will always remain quite special to me in that sense because it came together so quickly.

PB: You have got another album in the pipeline with the Canadian label The Beautiful Music, who released your 2011 album ‘Playing Songs No One’s Listening To’.

RM: I sent Wally Salem, who runs The Beautiful Music, about thirty tracks a couple of years ago and he picked twelve of them for an album and that album is still to come out, so I made my selection for ‘One Domino’ out of the ones which I had left. They were all recorded at the same time. There will be an album coming out on The Beautiful Music eventually.

PB: Will that be your next album?

RM: Yeah, I think so. I am very happy to have people like Jeremy Thoms at Stereogram Recordings and Wally in my musical life. I have never really been in that position before where I have had people really pushing for the music, and they have both been great, as has Appletree’s Hannah Lavery.

A few weeks ago I was in Register House to have my adoption papers opened. I touch upon my adoption in ‘Mother Edinburgh’, the first poem in ‘Imports’ and I have found out that although I was born in Edinburgh, my actual mother came from Toronto and probably my birth father did as well. I hope that I can go over to Toronto soon to visit relations that I never knew I had. To have an Edinburgh outlet and a Canadian outlet seems very appropriate to my life at the moment.

PB: Finally, what other plans do you have for the future?

RM: I have enough things in my locker to create another album but Jeremy and I feel we are still to maximise the potential of ‘My Week Beats Your Year’, and that is our main priority at the moment. And there will be more poetry for Appletree Writers.

PB: Thank you.

Footnote: Shortly after this interview with Roy Moller took place in early June, he met his Canadian family for the first time. “I met my stepsister in London later on in June and then went over to Toronto in July to meet my stepbrother and their extended family,” he explains in an email. “I met four full cousins, one of whom, Chris Staig, leads a great band called the Marquee Players and plays guitar behind his head like T-Bone Walker. I also met one of my mother’s sisters and spoke to her other sister on the phone. Having only really discovered my birth mother’s full identity in May, to be doing this less than ten weeks later was an incredible experience for me. If my birth father was who we think he was I may have five Canadian half-sisters.”

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Cult singer-songwriter and poet Roy Moller releases an intelligent and warm-hearted collection of songs examining Lou Reed’s lasting influence.

Based in Dunbar on the east coast of Scotland, Roy Moller released one of the best albums of 2014, the astonishing ‘One Domino’. That album was the perfect crystallisation of Moller’s scuzzy Outsidercore psych-pop. Naturally, it went almost unnoticed by the mainstream music press, but Louder Than War championed the album and its creator, who joined John Robb for his Anarchy chat show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Moller also had his own Lou Reed-inspired show at the Fringe, ‘My Week Beats Your Year’, hosted by Appletree Writers. Joined on stage by legendary New York anti-folk pioneer Lach, Roy delivered a deeply moving show which examined exactly why Lou Reed means so much to every misfit and troubled soul who has ever identified with the poet laureate of outsiders everywhere.

This album contains the songs from that show, recorded fast and loose in a spontaneous, playful manner. With its spunky, lo-fi feel, ‘My Week Beats Your Year’ feels like a kindred spirit to recent albums by Ty Segall, White Fence and New York Junk as well as Julian Cope’s cult classics ‘Skellington’ and ‘Droolian’.

Aficionados of buffed and polished production may baulk, but ‘My Week Beats Your Year’ is a triumph of creativity over meagre financial resources, and a vitally important study of our relationship to one of the 20th Century’s greatest and most influential artists.
Lou Reed changed my world, your world – the whole damned world. Moller is viscerally aware of this and exposes Lou’s influence on our collective psyche with the skill, sensitivity and precision of a dedicated neurosurgeon.

Album opener ‘Capital City’ introduces the teenage Roy Moller, struggling with the trials of adolescence and wistfully looking to Reed’s New York for escape and meaning: ‘When you’re growing up in a capital city, it’s a long long way from Union Square, but something makes you want to run run run there’. The song also introduces the theme of Edinburgh’s post-punk relationship to NYC, a powerful energetic connection which remains potent to this day.

‘Don’t Understand’ follows, its frantic cut-time rhythm driving Moller’s bewilderment at the brutality of Reed’s treatment by 1950s psychiatrists. Moller struggles to comprehend why Reed’s parents would “betray’ him due to their fear of his emerging homosexuality. “Oh Lou, don’t swallow your tongue, swing the way you’ve always swung” Moller consoles, “we won’t let go your hand”. The tenderness and humanity of the song recalls Reed’s ‘Halloween Parade’, his beautifully rendered reflection on the devastation inflicted on New York’s gay community by AIDS in the 1980s.
‘Electrify Me’ details Moller’s purchase and first listen of ‘The Banana Album’, the name by which many Velvets fans of a certain age will always know ‘The Velvet Underground and Nico’. Still wide-eyed at the memory all these years later, Moller marvels that “It seems to run on gnarled electricity, siphoned off rickety 1920s projectors flickering in and out of the ether”.

Moller delves further into his own seduction by Reed’s demi-monde on ‘Hello Lou’. A propulsive eighth-note bass line plays off a swinging shuffle rhythm as the former Leither conjures up a wryly evocative image of adolescence: “And I’m lying on the bedroom floor; sometimes it’s best to close the door, at the age where you seek and you hide and the radio sets up the ride.”

‘Captivity’ is the album’s centrepiece, a glorious, churning garage rocker which again brings to mind Joe Sztabnik’s New York Junk, current lynchpins of the downtown NYC scene. Moller is in his element as he reels off priceless couplets with the Lenny Bruce swagger of Lou on ‘Take No Prisoners’: “Who comes on tough as a lifer in jail? Who’s got a lover called Rachel (she’s male)?”; “Who puts journalists on a skewer? Who is tender and brutal and pure?” The backing vocal response is of course an emphatic “Lou Reed!”

Pinning one of the key innovations Reed brought from his literature background, Moller quips “Don’t let detachment scare ya, it doesn’t mean you’re insincere, this is a rock ‘n’ roll catchment area, Syracuse and the Coney Island pier”. With gutter junk guitars spewing white noise, Moller wistfully concludes “And I wish that it was me…”.

Riding a loping T-Rex groove,’Stranger Things’ asks “can you separate the art from the life of Lewis Allan Reed, without the use of a knife?” Moller isn’t interested in doing so here; in the manner of Yukio Mishima’s aphorism, Reed made his life “a line of poetry with a splash of blood”. The possibility of reinvention is open to us all, a fact that clearly stirred the youthful Roy Moller.

‘Reality’ kicks in with a sweet jazz swing as Moller recalls the Velvets reunion performance in Edinburgh: “Somebody remembering- Robert from The Scars- shouts ‘It’s Nico’s town’ at the Velvet New York Stars”. Once again, Moller underscores Edinburgh’s Velvet love affair with an affectionate doffing of the cap to one of the city’s greatest post-punk bands and its adopted femme narcotique daughter.

Addressing our generation’s own day John Kennedy died, Moller opines “Don’t talk to me about fantasy, Facebook’s not reality, but that’s how we cried, the day that you died…it’s good to know that somebody cares about the so-called Godfather of Punk.”

On the title track, Moller returns to his adolescent attempts at Velvets-inspired decadence, recalling “Smoking some grass, it’s not really drugs, the girls I’m in love with just want brotherly hugs”, before concluding that “It’s abundantly clear that anyone’s week beats my year”. As a summary of a commonly painful stage in life, it’s all too familiar to many of us.

Repeated listens reveal subtle musical and lyrical allusions to Reed and the Velvets, skilfully threaded through every song. Moller weaves these references in with much humour and poignancy, adding further warmth and resonance to the songs, rather than over-burdening them. Reed’s conflicted sexuality is central to ‘My Week Beats Your Year’, a title lifted from the sleeve-notes of Lou’s notorious 1975 release ‘Metal Machine Music’, referring to the rock ‘n’ roll animal’s notorious methamphetamine habit. How many other 70s rock stars would have had the sheer balls to lavish the sleeve of their first “Best of” album with polaroids of themself blissfully entwined with their transgender lover? Reed’s proudly provocative display of his Queer identity turned the rock world on its head and redefined established notions of cool and subversion.

Very much in keeping with Reed’s celebration of misfits and the marginalised, Moller cuts to the heart of Reed’s intentions, a continuation of Hubert Selby Jr’s tender humanism: “We all bang our heads on separate beams, in the attic of sexual dreams, that’s called…fun”. A perfect mirror to Lou’s own “No kinds of love are better than others.”

Throughout the album, Moller’s electric guitar-playing is let off the leash, further exploring the spiky post-punk thrills of ‘One Domno’, taking in wrenching Johnny Thunders licks and all manner of Reedisms, from feral skronk to subtle country-jazz licks. Moller’s baritone croon resembles that of Iggy Pop circa ‘The Idiot’, with inflections of Alex Chilton, Ray Davies and the album’s hero.
In dreams begin responsibilities, and Moller has taken to heart the lessons and opportunities that Lou imparted to us. The plain truth is that this snappy 27 minute album is a more thorough, heartfelt examination of Lou Reed’s impact on us as human beings than a landfill site of Victor Bockris biographies. Despite its playfulness and wry humour, ‘My Week Beats Your Year’ is a vital, important work that keeps alight the flickering flame of Reed’s intelligent vision.

Profoundly moving and inspirational. 10/10
Gus Ironside, Louder Than War, March 2015
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I was introduced a few months ago to Roy Moller through his excellent ‘One Domino’ album released on Stereogram early in the summer. Rather remarkably there’s already been another Moller album – ‘My Week Beats Your Year’ which followed in a matter of weeks (even if it’s taken me a couple of months to catch up).Musically it’s more of a consistent set than its wildly eclectic predecessor ‘One Domino’ taking the New York influences from that record as its template.Which is in no way intended to pigeonhole MWBYY. On the contrary it’s a diverse LP from the acoustic strum of LP opener ‘Capital City’ to the squalling guitars and celebratory organ of ‘Captivity’ through the horn section on ‘Under The Radar’. As with ‘One Domino’ what pulls the different elements together is Moller’s insistent melodic sense whilst the production remains pleasingly lived in.
Mike Melville, Manic Pop Thrills, October 2014

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The sometimes spacey, always honest soundtrack of My Week Beats Your Year (is) an excellent blending of Roy’s own childhood and upbringing, melting together with Lou Reed’s shaky history, taking on Reed’s electroshock therapy inflicted by his parents to “cure” his bisexual tendencies head on without turning an eyelash. The man who once claimed “My god is rock n roll” is portrayed like a religious icon on young Roy’s wall, a hallowed portrait hanging where most would have a portrait of the Virgin Mary, and something that young Roy would often look to for guidance in his formative years. Ever present in the lyrics are Roy’s double meanings and clever puns, singing about his visions of New York and Andy Warhol’s Factory, seeing “My vision of New York, Union Square, and Andy Warhol’s Pork – I’m a plastic fork, You’re a gay blade and sharp, too.”
Megan Helstone, Simply Thrilled, August 2014

“Let’s get this straight” (as Lou’s parents may well have said), Lou Reed was a massive influence on many people. It’s fair to say that Lou was and is a massive influence on Roy Møller. That sassy street jargon, that love of the city beat, attempting a strut when a walk won’t do. Roy has assimilated the blueprint but built the house himself. It’s a love letter to a friend or possibly a brother, it’s from the heart and the heart don’t lie. Leith is Brooklyn and there is sand in the oyster. A song is a story set to music and the only song worth singing is autobiographical. Plucking your eyebrows is not obligatory, an open mind is….Roy wants to do it for the coach.
Stevie Walker, Underdog Champions, August 2014.

One Domino 680 x 680

“There’s real wit in the lyrics, and steel guitar adds poignancy to the decrepit majesty of the title track”.7/10.
Alastair McKay, Uncut, August 2014

“the scuffed magnificence of the guitars on ‘Street Oblique’ and the pounding disco of ‘Edinburgh City Control’… One constant throughout is the nagging melodies… unquestionably an accomplished record”.
Mike Melville, Manic Pop Thrills, June 2014

“One thing you’ll find is that he‘s not afraid to try his hand at different styles and indeed maybe he’s “…in the lap of the gods“. ‘One Domino‘ is really worth shelling out a few pounds and investigating. A cool 8/10”.
StevoMusicMan, June 2014

“On a scale from “borrow from a friend” to “paper the walls and ceilings with these lyrics and own every copy available,” One Domino is a rabid “buy a copy, then buy up Roy’s entire discography, then find yourself still hungry for more.”
Megan Helstone, Piggledy Pop, June 2014

“One Domino is a fine collection of varying styles, and the closing title track caps off an impressive collection of lo-fi pop gems from Moller”. Tony Gaughan, PennyBlackMusic, May 2014

“This great album dips a toe in many musical seas and washes up a heady mix of angular pop, electro vibes, baroque folk, country twang and ready wit. A mighty fine album by any standards”.
Paul Johnston, Jocknroll Ain’t Noise Pollution, April, 2014

“The range of songs on Roy Moller’s new album One Domino travel through time, space and the arts, speaking of the past, from Edinburgh to Berlin, from architecture to painting with a lot of poetry…Each song a story, narrated by Roy Moller, depicts a varied universe with a gift for melodic creation and interpretation”.
Marie-agnès Hallé, Piggledy Pop, April 2014

“Perhaps the closest comparison would be a post-punk Dylan, spiked with the literate poetics of Lou Reed and Richard Hell. Following the recent devastating loss of Lou, there’s a vacancy for Poet Laureate of the misfits and outsiders; with One Domino- a strong contender for Album of the Year- Roy Moller has just staked his claim” 9/10.
Gus Ironside, Louder Than War, April 2014


UNCUT, July 2014One Domino Uucut review
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This is Moller’s fourth album, having released his debut in 2005. The opener ‘Honey Berlin’ features catchy guitar licks, and ‘Redpath’ is an acoustic strum-along with some cheeky handclaps thrown in for good measure.
‘Street Oblique’ is the album’s lead single, a spiky offering built on a jauty piano grove. It also features Moller’s stylish lyricism, with the line. ‘I could never dance through life, for fear I might land on an knife’ proving particularly arresting. ‘Where I Am Is Here’ is a pleasingly rocky affair, with Moller’s vocals sounding like a drunk Bob Dylan.
The title track is the last track, and its country-stylings close the album in laid-back, contemplative fashion with the line ‘we’re in the lap of the God’s’. In just over half an hour, Roy Moller has delivered a collection of songs that cover a range of styles with wit and panache. Clearly influenced by the Postcard aesthetic, ‘One Domino’ carries on the same tradition of erudite pop. 4/5.
Gavin Porter, isthismusic?, August 2014

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Roy Moller’s CV is one of impressive collaboration as well as memorable solo work. Meth O.D., Stevie Jackson, and Davy Henderson are just a few of the people with whom he has worked. One Domino is an album that shows off all his talents as a musician and songwriter, as well as his influences. Berlin period Bowie, Reed and Pop are all channelled, as well as the Sound of Young Scotland that was Postcard Records, particularly Orange Juice and Josef K. Elsewhere you can hear The Sparks and Talking Heads, but this is no exercise in musical nostalgia. Moller mixes all these influences together, and brings them right up to date.
Scots Whay Hae, August 2014

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MANIC POP THRILLS Review – “Watch Where You Tread”
Roy Moller was pretty much a new name to me when a promo CD arrived from Stereogram for his new L.P. ‘One Domino’. However his past credits include a number of solo LPs as well as collaborations with the likes of Edinburgh legend Davy Henderson and Stevie Jackson of Belle & Sebastian.
It’s fair to say that the Henderson link throws more light on the contents of ‘One Domino’ than B&S. But for my money the only other Stereogram act that I’m aware of, the Cathode Ray, are a much better starting point because ‘One Domino’ isn’t that far removed the Cathode Ray’s avowed manifesto of melding the rock and dance music of late 1970’s New York. As a consequence there’s ample pleasures to be found within the album’s 11 songs.
Some of the links to late` 70s NYC are more obvious than others. There’s the scuffed magnificence of the guitars on ‘Street Oblique’ and the pounding disco of ‘Edinburgh City Control’. But the album also wanders down some less well travelled back streets in particular the new wave C&W of the title track which closes the album. Or for that matter the peculiar cut-up instrumental ‘A Glorious Sunset Mistaken For Dawn’. It’s fair to say that ‘One Domino’ covers a lot of ground.
One constant throughout is the nagging melodies exemplified on the likes of the opening ‘Honey Berlin’ and ‘Where I Am Is Here’. ‘One Domino’ may not (thankfully!) boast a polished sound but it’s unquestionably an accomplished record.
Mike Melville, June 2014
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“STEVOMUSICMAN – Ramblings Of A Music Man” Review. 8/10
In a city which spawned the iconic label, Postcard Records, over thirty years ago we still can hear its legacy in the shape of Roy Moller’s new album ‘One Domino‘. Surprisingly outside his native city of Edinburgh he’s still relatively unknown. Maybe this is the record to open a few more door for him only time will tell. He has his admirers too, no more so than in the shape of former Fall member and current BBC 6 Music DJ, Marc Riley, who described him as ‘Scotland best-kept secret’.
The catchy ‘Honey Berlin‘ kicks off this eleven track album with some slick guitar riffs hooks and from the onset it won’t let go of you easily. ‘When I Paint My Mantlepiece‘ is a more relaxed creature with quite a sparse feel to it. It sometimes almost whispered lyrics deliberately make your ears home in to listen intently. Whereas ‘Obelisk‘ starts slowly and gradually winds up beautifully with some fairground keyboard sounds that hark back to an era long gone. The Moroder inspired discotheque beat of ‘Edinburgh City Control‘ swooshes up at you from “a million mile away“. In fact I’m sure some clever Indie DJ’s could mix this ditty for the clubs.
It’s good to see a wordsmith like Moller exhibit his talents expertly on ‘Redpath‘ that has an uncanny knack of sounding like a long-lost Divine Comedy song. That is good surely? ‘Textbook, Textbook‘ is an upbeat number which has that brash quirkiness of those cult Postcard Record singles, yes it has spiky guitar riffs. The tambourine led ‘Street Oblique‘ is next up which incidentally was chosen as the lead single. It’s not long before you can see why as he demonstrates some well crafted guitar sounds. For me ‘Where I Am Is Here‘ is the icing on the cake. It has everything mixed within a cool production and a subject he loves to sing about, his beloved hometown which he returned to, Edinburgh.
You’re hoodwinked by a false piano start that falls away to some very clever electronic noises and mixed up sound-bites that heralds the instrumental ‘A Glorious Sunset Mistaken For Dawn‘. Possibly the most radio friendly foot tapping track comes in the shape of ‘Vincent‘. If it has a fault it’s too short but if you’re like me I just play it again. Within it Roy sings “…dismissive too“, well he’s certainly isn’t. The country sounds of the title track concludes the album. One thing you’ll find is that he‘s not afraid to try his hand at different styles and indeed maybe he’s “…in the lap of the gods“. ‘One Domino‘ is really worth shelling out a few pounds and investigating. A cool 8/10.
StevoMusicMan, June 2014
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SIMPLY THRILLED Review – “Some Rave Newies”
Roy Moller is an old friend of mine, to be perfectly honest. A true friend, actually, a gentleman, and most definitely a scholar. I first discovered him many years ago, when I followed the Hermit Crabs on MySpace, and they announced they would be releasing a limited edition split single on volume 1 of Searching for the Now through Slumberland Records. When I put the record on, though, I wasn’t paying attention, and accidentally started with the other group, The Company Presents Roy Moller. I was completely addicted, captivated, mesmerized by what came out of my tinny speakers. Even now, years later, I will break into a grin every time “Join the Dots” comes on because it’s scientifically impossible not to.
That’s all it took. I found him on MySpace and we began talking, and just kept in touch over the years, finally meeting in person when I visited England and Scotland in 2010. The afternoon I spent with Roy and his family at their home will always be the highlight of that trip.
Which brings us to now, today, where Roy has released a new album. More importantly, it’s a new album that shows a major break for him as a musician, and the overwhelming feeling I get with One Domino is that this is a man that’s finally shaken off the shadows of others and has finally stepped into the light of his own accord, with nothing hindering him.
Don’t get me wrong, his past collaborations and albums have been marked by excellence. His 2012 album with Sporting Hero, The Singing’s Getting Better, is nothing short of a triumph, and the previous album, 2011’s Playing Songs No One’s Listening To, was picked up by BBC6 Music’s Marc Riley, who promptly proclaimed Roy to be “Scotland’s best-kept secret.” For god’s sake, this is a man that had a question about him on Mastermind!
Yet it’s only recently that Roy’s name has been on everyone’s lips without being tied to someone or something else. It took too long. He takes it in stride, though, like he takes everything that life has thrown at him, and turns it into true art. While in the past Roy’s music has been tinged with a 60s country-rock type feel, and his vocals were often compared to Ray Davies of the Kinks, with One Domino Roy has jumped a decade to land in Berlin with Bowie (and Lou Reed hanging around in the periphery). In fact, the catchy opening track, “Honey Berlin,” name checks the Brandenburg Gate, in case you weren’t certain. From the first, this album pulls back the curtain on Roy to show us what he’s really capable of. We’ve only seen fits and starts of his rocker persona in live shows, typically sharing the stage with others, but this is the first time Roy’s shown that those more raw performances were only touching the surface of a deep pool within him.
Roy hasn’t totally abandoned his pop persona, though, as evinced by one of my favorite tracks off the album, “Redpath.” Full of soaring harmonies, handclaps, and a downright lovely acoustic guitar, if “Join the Dots” had been a proper Roy Moller single, “Redpath” could have been the B-side. It reminds me that the wistful Scotsman who saw so much of his country in his solitary rambles is still alive and well.
Other highlights from One Domino include the New Order-esque “Edinburgh City Control,” and “Textbook, Textbook.” The chorus especially, with the line “You’re not around, it hurts like hell, but you put me down so well” make this another stand out track in a strong album. “Where I Am Is Here” immediately invokes the breathy intimacy of Serge Gainsbourg at his most seductive, whispering confidences in our ear about the inspiration of this track, Margaret Tait.
Closing the album is the title track, “One Domino,” and it’s a strong one, bringing us full circle to the older Roy we’ve seen in past albums, but wiser and somehow different. To me, it sounds as if he’s more confident, and has really hit his stride in who he is and what he wants to express to the world. The closing chant of “we’re in the lap of the gods” is divine in and of itself, and shows just how much Roy has grown and changed since I first started listening all those years ago.
Rating: On a scale from “borrow from a friend” to “paper the walls and ceilings with these lyrics and own every copy available,” One Domino is a rabid “buy a copy, then buy up Roy’s entire discography, then find yourself still hungry for more.”
Megan Helstone, June 2014

Roy Moller, having returned to his native Edinburgh after many years living in Glasgow, celebrates this by name checking the Capital city in no less than three songs on this release on local label Stereogram. Clearly the city had a big impact on the Leith-born singer-songwriter. Moller’s previous efforts have met with critical acclaim, and particularly ‘Byres Road Saturday’ from his 2011 record ‘Playing Songs No One’s Listening To’.
‘Honey Berlin’, the opening track, is an obvious tribute to the brilliance of the late Lou Reed. Roy continues this theme by similarly wearing his heart on his sleeve on the also Reed-influenced ‘When I Paint My Mantelpiece’, but he does it in a subtle rather than a blatant way.
This record has been referred to by Moller as his “Edinbrolectric” record,and the next track ‘Obelisque’ has synths and a drum machine driving it along. ‘Edinburgh City Control’ is another electro track, and, like the album’s single ‘Street Oblique’, uses slabs of synths and disco beats. ‘Redpath’ finds Roy again name checking his native city and,acoustic in style, recalls Glasgow artist Edwyn Collins.
Roy appears to have found his niche after many successful collaborations with other fellow Scottish artists including Belle and Sebastian’s Stevie Jackson and the Wellgreen in the Store Keys, where he penned the rather splendid’ Daddy Was a Mod in the R.A.F’, and also Scottish supergroup Jesus, Baby! which included the Fire Engines and Nectarine No. 9’s Davy Henderson.
‘One Domino’ is a fine collection of varying styles, and the closing title track caps off an impressive collection of lo-fi pop gems from Moller.
Tony Gaughan, May 2014

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LOUDER THAN WAR review 9/10
“I’m addicted to her like I’m allergic to gin” croons Roy Moller on “Honey Berlin”, the opening track of One Domino, an album that’s as intoxicating and compulsively habit-forming as the “blue ruin” which brought Victorian London to its knees.
Dunbar-based Moller is in bold, expansive form throughout this instant classic, flirting with the decadent myths of 70s Berlin on the compelling opener, evoking eerie Cold War dislocation on the driving post-punk of “Edinburgh City Control”, and morphing into Iggy Pop fronting a Kim Fowley-esque psych-country gallop on the weirdly triumphant “Vincent”.
Throughout, his guitar-playing is louche and unfettered, with the spontaneous swagger of John Lee Hooker spliced with the dissonant thrills of mid-70s New York and Berlin Bowie. Moller’s lyrics are intelligent and witty, studded with intriguing cultural references. This makes the experience of listening to One Domino akin to watching a particularly fine episode of Mad Men, as the listener is sent scurrying to Wikipedia to unpick the threads and trails.
While the album crackles with scuzzy post-punk angularity, it also encompasses seductively beautiful psych-pop slow-burners. “Redpath” is gorgeous, folksy gospel-delia and features the arresting and multi-layered line “A Protestant looks at Catholic and sees a world of magic”, a quote from the song’s inspiration, the Scottish artist Anne Redpath.
“Where I Am is Here” starts with a blast of gritty-glam blues-riffing before twisting into a beautifully melodic and romantic evocation of old Edinburgh and Leith. It’s another stunning example of Moller’s world class song-writing and a reminder of why BBC6 Music’s Marc Riley dubbed him “Scotland’s best-kept secret”. Elsewhere, “When I Paint My Mantlepiece” (sic) combines skewed freak-folk with flashbacks of Neu! and The Red Krayola, while “Obelisk” would sit perfectly on one of Julian Cope’s early acid-fried albums, its catchy pop hooks snaring the listener into a surreal parable of awkwardness.
Awkwardness and how to slip its shackles is a recurring motif; the strutting rowche rumba of lead single, “Street Oblique” encapsulates this theme musically and lyrically, as Moller surges into full-on Billy MacKenzie mode to deliver subtly loaded lines like “I could never dance through life, for fear I might land on a knife”. This flamboyant cat-walk around the edge of the void is punctuated by guitar spurts and squalls worthy of the late Robert Quine, the volatile, visionary guitarist of Voidoids and Lou Reed infamy.
Another potential single, “Textbook, Textbook” bristles with spiky guitar and observational lyrics that make the connection between New York cool and Edinburgh post-punk wit. Its recently dumped protagonist could well be Waldo Jeffers, relocated in time and space to Scotland’s East Coast in the present day.
The country-tinged title track closes the album on a wryly contemplative note. Moller’s tangential musings on the Cold War-birthed Domino Theory reference Operation Eiche, the airborne rescue of Benito Mussolini by Waffen-SS commandos, en route to a tender and reflective conclusion on the frailty of human endeavours, forever prone to unravel due to chance factors.
Moller’s personal experiences of disability underpin the butterfly-bursting-from-its-cocoon feeling which permeates and links together the kaleidoscopic pop experimentation of One Domino. Throughout, Moller deploys his encyclopaedic knowledge of pop culture and razor-sharp wordplay to delightful effect; rather than going down the path of arch smart-arsery, One Domino is infused with playfulness and the inviting, sexy swagger evoked by Honey Berlin’s glamorous moniker.
Moller has a similarly playful word for his scuzzy-sweet angular psych-pop: Outsidercore. It makes sense, placing him in the same elliptical orbit as kindred free sprits Scott Walker, Mark E Smith, Ivor Cutler and Julian Cope.
Perhaps the closest comparison would be a post-punk Dylan, spiked with the literate poetics of Lou Reed and Richard Hell. Following the recent devastating loss of Lou, there’s a vacancy for Poet Laureate of the misfits and outsiders; with One Domino- a strong contender for Album of the Year- Roy Moller has just staked his claim. 9/10.
Gus Ironside, April 2014

The range of songs on Roy Moller’s new album One Domino travels through time, space and the arts, speaking of the past, from Edinburgh to Berlin, from architecture to painting with a lot of poetry…Roy Moller is a brilliant guitarist, refining Honey Berlin on electric guitar with a boisterous rhythm on the theme of Brigid Polk aka Brigid Berlin…a close friend of Andy Warhol… The arty atmospheric whoosh of keyboards and guitars continues on When I Paint My Mantelpiece, recalling Dylan’s When I Paint My Masterpiece and referring to Henry Robb, famous Scottish shipbuilder, active between 1930 and 1970, and quoting cargo cult prophet, John Frum.
The electro-pop Obelisk is a metaphor for both Cleopatra’s Needles, one found in London ,the other in New York. It sounds like an ’80s pop tribute to New Order’s Your Silent Face. Its new-age feel is very present on the danceable Edinburgh City Control which opens Roy’s ardent homage to Edinburgh. Redpath continues in this theme recalling painters like Gustav Klimt and Redpath (displayed at the National Galleries of Scotland), the beatnik era of inhaling various products and a droll vision of religion. With a flick of the wrist, Textbook, Textbook restarts the rock guitars, immediate and attractive singing from Roy accompanying thorny lyrics about being abandoned by his girlfriend while Street Oblique with its romantic keyboards and playful guitar…brings us back to Berlin for a declaration of love. Then sharp guitars and psychedelic keyboard return us to Edinburgh on Where I Am Is Here, underlining favourites places for Roy like Princess Street and The Old Chain Pier pub where he drank his first pint, honouring the beautiful eyes of the filmmaker Margaret Tait who made a film about the city. A Glorious Sunset Mistaken For Dawn, more electro -disco, is a soundtrack hewn from Edinburgh, a title borrowed from Debussy to describe the Wagner’s Das Rheingold, while the vigorous Vincent emerges with vagabond rhythms and distorted guitars. Vincent was a friend who, unlike Van Gogh, told Roy he had both his ears…
Title track One Domino, folky and sumptuous, evokes the domino theory…and events during the Second World War in 1943. Each song is a story narrated by Roy Moller depicts a varied universe with a gift for melodic creation and interpretation, so pop and “Scottish”.
Marie-agnès Hallé, April 2014

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“Jocknroll Ain’t Noise Pollution” review
This great album dips a toe in many musical seas and washes up a heady mix of angular pop, electro vibes, baroque folk, country twang and ready wit aplenty to come up with a wonderful collection which doffs its cap to Edinburgh, Berlin and the world beyond. A mighty fine album by any standards. Paul Johnston, April, 2014


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“LOUDER THAN WAR” Interview by Gus Ironside: “Roy Moller- Outsider Now!”

“The idea of an album being a hallowed thing that you have to pass through some portal to make, that’s gone. Anyone can make an album.”
2014 finds Scottish outsider songwriter and poet Roy Moller – described by BBC 6 Music’s Marc Riley as “Scotland Best Kept Secret” – primed to detonate his cult status and break on through to the wider public consciousness. Maybe, as he says, anyone can make an album, but the wired trips of Moller’s new album One Domino are the product of his own singular visions and life experiences. Based in the rugged coastal landscape of Dunbar, east of Edinburgh, Moller appears to have embraced the famous aphorism of the town’s most celebrated son, pioneering conservationist John Muir, and concluded that “Wild is Superior”. One Domino revels in freewheeling wit and intelligence, addictive melodies and gloriously spontaneous shards of guitar skronk. Louder than War’s Gus Ironside spoke with Roy to find out more about his motivations. The wide ranging discussion took in quintessential Outsider subjects of disability, age and location, with numerous diversions and digressions via Dansette record players, Edinburgh post-punk, and the melting pot of music, poetry and writing in the Scottish East Coast’s underground arts scene.
What were your early musical influences? I first really heard melodies and lyrics, comic songs and narrative songs on my Dad’s 78s, people like Phil Harris and Nellie Lutcher and also R&B records on the Brunswick label. This was on Dansette style record players; if you put the lid down you’d get this amazingly bass-enhanced sound. I started buying 45s from the newsagent; having 3 or 4 singles, those singles felt like they were really yours, almost like the feeling of being back in the crib that you can occasionally get echoes of, and can never be replicated by CDs or digital. Woolworth’s used to sell these double album compilations on Pickwick Records which a two inch scratch could obliterate, all these rockabilly sides: Billy Lee Riley, Little Junior Parker, Lonely Weekends by Charlie Rich – just mind-blowing records – the sound of it just blew me away. I was 14 when I got the Elvis Presley Sun collection; I thought it was an incredible body of work. That was a huge influence on me. In 1980 I went into a head shop in Edinburgh to buy a bong and emerged instead with a copy of Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division. That was another key moment in my musical development. Edinburgh was great for record shops. Ezy Ryder was where I bought Loaded for the first time; I still have my first copy. It had a studio underneath it where I cut my first demo in 82, which I unsuccessfully submitted to John Peel. I remember recording it quite well. The band name was The Rhino Disciples, with my friend Mark Smith, and we made one bona fide studio recording in the basement of Ezy Ryder. That was the first recording I put my name to.
Were you into punk when it kicked off? Yes and no. I was put off punk to a certain degree by some of the guys at school who were early adopters of punk but just in it for the shock value. That wasn’t what I was into. Rockabilly was my punk really; I used to get a biscuit tin and stick it onto a broom handle to try to get a rockabilly reverb on my first home recordings.
That sounds very Joe Meek! Yeah, I was struck by that parallel later on; that was my touchstone, really. Then I heard Totally Wired on Peel and bought it the next day. The Fall brought rockabilly with a punk DIY element. I think Mark E Smith was very liberating, like when I first heard Ivor Cutler. There was something real and tangible about Totally Wired: “You don’t have to be weird to be wired” ….. ”I drank a jar of coffee and took some of these” ….. that kind of spontaneous stuff. I took a long way round to write in that way, although I always thought that way. I started writing poetry quite young, but the songs…I couldn’t quite get there (that level of freedom) and I’m not sure why. I thought I had to chip away to get away from the self-consciousness. It’s that freedom that always attracted me to the records that became my favourites; it was quite a process to work myself free. The seminal rock and roll moment in my life was when David Bowie, as guest DJ on Star Special, played Sweet Jane on Radio One on Sunday, 20th May, 1979. The freedom and just sexiness of it – the way it seemed to ooze – really caught my ear ..… Like a Rolling Stone and Spanish Stroll by Mink De Ville had the same effect on me. He introduced me to 96 Tears by ? & The Mysterions and loads of great stuff.
Your new album One Domino feels like you’ve really made the album you wanted to make I was redoing lots of other stuff at the same time and I wasn’t sure what shape the songs would go in. I ran into Jeremy Thoms at a gig – Vic Godard and the Sexual Objects, doing the What’s the Matter Boy album. Jeremy wanted to expand the artists’ roster for his label, Stereogram Recordings, and asked if I would like to put out a release. I wanted to use different songs that I really liked, that might not be the best crafted, but were ones that I most wanted to present to the world. The running order came together really quickly – 31 minutes from start to finish. I’m happy with One Domino as a user friendly slice of what I do and it represents where my head is. The music on One Domino was all recorded in Glasgow with my Edinburgh head on already. It feels like a personal, mythical version of myself that sort of got lost in all my decades in Glasgow; slightly more angular, less harmonic. There’s a contradiction. I felt that somehow I was getting back to the boy that bought the rockabilly records out of Woolie’s when I made this album. One Domino feels like – in a Mike Yarwood way – “And this is me” ….. it’s got the most Roy Moller DNA.
Street Oblique is a fantastic choice of single, with almost a Latin feel to it, but a New York swagger… The biggest influence on that song was I was given for my birthday, a few weeks before I recorded the song, The Glamour Chase, the biography of Billy Mackenzie. I’m one of the legions of vocalists who wishes he had Billy Mackenzie pipes. I could never get close to that, but when I was reading the book tuned into that sort of sensibility. I want to use some of that feeling, remembering when I’d watched him perform, and catch a wee bit of that vibe. The night I recorded Street Oblique, I’d come back from working with some disabled musicians. I just switched on the recording gear and found a rhythm in the drum machine part of it – and I was off. It was pretty much written and recorded within an hour, including the guitar. I don’t know where that came from, a sort of inner Tom Verlaine, an angular freedom which seemed to happen that one time only. I’ve never sat down and tried to learn what I recorded that night. When I was asked to provide a track with a lead off single it seemed the most natural because the rhumba rhythm lends to it a sort of Weimar/Cabaret vibe. If I’d tried to make it strictly motorik it wouldn’t have had the charm that having a slightly displaced Latin rhythm gives it.
You mention Tom Verlaine. I was thinking more Reed/Quine when I heard it, but Tom Verlaine came to mind when I heard Honey Berlin because you have that Verlaine baritone, but then you go into a Bowie-esque vocal. (Singing) “I’m not the only one…” Yes, that was deliberately Bowie-esque, as was one of the guitar riffs in particular. Hopefully it’s redolent of the whole record where you could say there’s elements of pastiche but it’s kind of played through gritted teeth, in a good way. I was reading about the Factory and about Brigid Polk. Her real name is Brigid Berlin and her mother was called Honey Berlin, who was not in any way a funky, decadent person, despite her name which was quite deliciously suggestive and exotic. Yet in the context of the Factory she was quite a prudish individual. I was also thinking of Amanda Lear (enigmatically gendered model/singer and Dali muse). In the backdrop of the song I’m playing with gender ideas and I thought I’d have an air force sergeant from Lou Reed’s Berlin in there, smoking her pipe, which is quite Marlene Dietrich-ish.
One of my favourite songs is Vincent. Vincent was pretty much a two chord song and I never thought much of it. It dates back to a party I was at in Glasgow in 1983. There was a guy there, an artist, who was announcing “See I’m Vincent, Vincent with two ears!”, unlike Van Gogh. When my son Peter heard the song, he said “Dad, that’s your best one so far”. That is the only validation you need; if it makes a 5 year old or 6 year old dance then it’s going on the album. There’s a little bit of virtual pedal steel, which would make it less incongruous to have the (country-tinged) song One Domino close the album. Sometimes I think the last song on an album should sound like Science Fiction/Double Feature (final song on TheRocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack), that’s why that’s the last song. I thought I’d call the album One Domino, ‘cos I could imagine it written down.
Redpath is another stand out, a beautiful song. That’s about Anne Redpath (Edinburgh-based landscape artist). I was given the idea for it when I was at a low key gig in Glasgow where Stevie Jackson (Occasional Moller collaborator, solo artist and Belle and Sebastian guitarist) and I were playing ..… one of our party pieces is a song by Bob Neuwirth called Vincent Van Gogh – no relation to the song on the album – and a friend of mine, Nicola was there and she said “Why are there so many songs about male artists, but not female artists?”, so I sort of took the commission, really. Nicola suggested that I write a song about Eva Hesse, which I did the next day. That was one of the songs on the “great lost album” (recorded at same time as One Domino and not yet released) and there were some other people mentioned, including Anne Redpath. She was brought up in a Protestant background, went on travels to Europe and had her mind expanded by other people’s cultures including religious cultures.There’s also the bit “See the magic art can do” at the end, which is totally heartfelt. It’s all about incongruity – it’s from the perspective of a Beatnik in 1965 who’s into Tuinal and finds solace in Redpath’s art! There was an Edinburgh bohemian hipster tradition. To me it makes sense/doesn’t make sense. The album has some slow burners in there, but it holds together and is sort of playful and more direct ..… I quite like listening to it when I’m hoovering.
It’s noticeable that many musicians who are recording and performing great music in Glasgow and Edinburgh now are older than would have been considered acceptable in the past; what’s your take on this? Well, I felt quite old when I had my first record released; I was in a band called Meth OD, I was playing guitar and I was 31. I thought I was quite old. Orange Juice had their first single out when Edwyn was 20 ..… all those years go by and you can’t even think in those terms anymore. I’ve now realised that I wasn’t particularly late and it’s a trade off with the modern way of doing things – we’ve gained something and lost something. The idea of an album being a hallowed thing that you have to pass through some portal to make – that’s gone. Anyone can make an album, maybe not on vinyl. People on social media talk about their “album” coming out; anybody can self publish now and some of the special feeling about making an album has now gone. The trade off of that is that anyone can make an album and you’re not going to be laughed at in your 40s, 50s, or 60s in the way people were before, when you could not work in this area with credibility at that age. I can’t imagine doing what I’m doing now in any other era. But still, something has been lost as you have to go through other channels. The glamour has been lost but the opportunities have become wide open. If I’d been trying to do this a decade and a half ago it would have been an uphill struggle. I’m more conscious of my age than the people who come to see me are. I guess with poetry and writing, age has never been an issue; part of the rock ‘n’ roll myth is to do with youth, so I think when I was keeping going in my 30s was most difficult, there wasn’t really that culture of people willing to forge ahead. There’s never been a better time to be an older musician – you’re still trying to carve out a body of work, not a career because that’s gone ..… before I would have been very lucky to find a record company to back me. It’s made everything hobbyist, in a way. The best thing that happened to me was through very traditional lines; I sent off a CD of my second solo album to Marc Riley in a Jiffy bag with an A4 information sheet. He eventually, in the John Peel tradition, opened it, mislaid it, eventually listened to it and then got in touch with me through social media. It was heartening to me that that was done in traditional means, just going on what he’d heard. I don’t think I’d have reached that sort of exposure just through social media, there are too many people playing that game. One night I came back from a shift, entered the house though the kitchen and heard a familiar piece of music on the radio – I thought it was some kind of freak of physics that one of my songs was coming through the radio! Then Marc Riley announced “That was Byres Road Saturday, by Roy Moller”. I had finally made it onto BBC 6 Music! I went onto Facebook to tell the world and Jackie McKeown (The 1990s) told me Marc Riley had been asking for my phone number as he wanted me to do a session. There’s such a minute number of people doing that (getting signed); it’s like that Kinks’ song, Celluloid Heroes- “up every close, everybody’s in show biz, everybody’s a star”. Some people can make that work for them .…. you read these articles where people say their video went viral and it got into the news ..… theoretically, everyone’s a star. But you’re risking compassion fatigue; it’s like trying to get people to come to your gig – 50 people come to the first one, 20 come to the next and then 3 of your mates come to the third one and where do you go from there? It’s still hard for your archetypal young band to get people to come to gigs because going to a gig is not what it used to be. I love the idea of being on stage and mixing and matching your back catalogues of songs through the filter of what you’re doing now.
Another common strand to Outsider art and music is the issue of disability. Street Oblique appears to contain references and metaphors inspired by your personal experience of dyspraxia – is that the case? For example, the line “Baby, when I write, I hold my pen too tight”? It’s true specifically and it’s also indicative of the tension that can come from battling something like that. I always knew that I was clumsy and there were things that marked me out as different. I didn’t know until I was 42 that there was an umbrella reason for this, Dyspraxia. I didn’t even know it existed for all that time – the life-time of Elvis! I couldn’t do certain things on guitar, such as fast strums. Certain noises would sound to me like a bomb going off – a balloon bursting, Peter shutting the door ..… someone with dyspraxia sometimes doesn’t have that shell of protection against loud noises. What you have to do is compensate with the other hemisphere. Various things marked me out as different; my shoes laces not being tied and my shirt tail hanging out, hating jumping into the swimming pool at school. I was told I couldn’t go on a school outing to a ski slope as (due to my clumsiness) I’d be a danger to other kids! That, coupled with having a strange surname and being adopted. I remember being covered in gob one day at secondary school because I was adopted.A lady in Edinburgh kept a Scottish dyspraxia website. We tried to promote dyspraxia but it was very difficult ….. it’s all a matter of degree in the end and there’s a difficulty in how to put across the problems of dyspraxia, because a common reaction is “If you can do all this, and you can do that, what are you drawing attention to? Why should we bother supporting you?”.
There’s definitely an Outsider aspect to the album and yet you collaborate with a lot of people. Well, they don’t need me for the technical stuff; I come to things from a different angle – I’ve got an outsider artist mentality, but also collaborative, it’s the only way to get through.
Another classic Outsider leitmotif is location. You’ve recently relocated from Glasgow to Dunbar on Scotland’s East coast and reconnected with the Edinburgh Scene; has that had an influence on your work yet? Neu! Reekie (Edinburgh club night) ripped the scales from my eyes; it’s a mixed arts format; for example, an animation at the beginning (anything is up for grabs), then some spoken word and then finishing with some music. It starts early and finishes early and it’s a very sustaining atmosphere. Edinburgh tuned into the more abrasive elements of New York rock; I sense that energy in Edinburgh and I wish it could harness it; there’s a kind of spiky intelligence. The Scars (influential Edinburgh post-punk band) had that element. Scars’ frontman Robert King speaks several languages. There was a whole burgeoning scene in Edinburgh and where that all went, I have no idea. I’d be the first to admit the Edinburgh live scene needs a shot in the arm but I played a couple of songs at a Lou Reed tribute at the Citrus Club recently, organised by Murray Ramone, and it could have been Stereo (hip Glasgow venue) – the crowd was up for it and the vibe was cracking – a great bona fide rock audience. There’s a chap called Lach, the New York anti-folk instigator, who’s been building up a scene at Henry’s Cellar Bar over the last couple of years with his anti-hoots. I play in his band when I can – about every five weeks – and I find him very inspiring. He calls Edinburgh “Eden, bro” and I’m reminded how Lou Reed, Richard Hell and Mark E Smith are on record enthusing about Edinburgh, and of Iggy Pop photographed next to Mons Meg (iconic giant cannon at Edinburgh Castle). Why are we (ie people in general) obsessed with music? It confirms things you’ve always thought and never been able put into words; it takes you places you would never visit without putting your body and mind in danger. My favourite music, the stuff that I come back to, is stuff that’s “street”, for want of a much better word – “in the gutter but looking at the stars” music. I get that from the Velvets and some periods of Dylan. That’s the continuum that I get through a lot of my favourite music. It gives me a feeling that I’m both sane and a misfit, in a way that I can handle…I’m one of many misfits. We all fit in in slightly different, misshapen ways. And I still get that, for all my experiences and all the times that I’ve invested certain beliefs in certain artists, maybe in my teenage years I’ve invested some of my own persona in other people and they’ve changed directions ….. I just know that for certain points, maybe it’s only for 3 minutes, just that connection for 3 minutes when you think it’s EXACTLY right. Kevin Ayers’ Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes would be another example, Serge Gainsbourg’s Bonnie and Clyde, every note seems absolutely right. It’s that connection that makes you laugh out loud. Carried Away by Television is another one – “my thoughts dissolved as the light revolved” ..… that always makes me think of lying awake in my bed as a wee boy, watching the play of light outside. Madame George by Van Morrison is another. It’s about the re-affirmation that I’m not just having certain thoughts and feelings in isolation. It’s a switch you can turn on and it will either enhance a mood or create a mood. There’s no other medium for me that can do that.
Gus Ironside, June 2014

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“Simply Thrilled” Interview by Megan Helstone

I recently reviewed Roy Moller’s new album, One Domino, here on Simply Thrilled. What you may not know about Roy, though, is that he’s also an emerging force on the Scottish poetry scene, and a man filled to overflowing with great musical references. Roy set aside some time to answer my questions via email about life, art, Lou Reed, and the future.
You moved away from Glasgow after living there for a number of years. How has that move affected you creatively?
I now live from twenty-six miles where I grew up, and visiting places with my son where my Dad took me at the same age has stirred a lot of memories. We live yards from Dunbar Harbour and looking at the sea helps me think backwards and forwards simultaneously, which is a good frame of mind from which to write. Over Christmas, I wrote a batch of songs for a show about Lou Reed and my younger self getting into him and I think the environment shaped them differently than had I still lived in Glasgow, it freed me to be more personal.
You’ve also started producing more poetry regularly. How does that play off of your songwriting, or influence your music?
They affect each other in the sense that I’m not trying to squeeze everything in through the conduit of song now and I can trust the music to develop via free association while I see the poetry as more of a discipline, whittling away till I uncover the essence of what I’m trying to say. I do have disciplined songs and freewheeling poems but generally I want to purr like Alan Vega on record and speak like Norman MacCaig on the page.
Tell us how you came to be involved with Neu! Reekie!
Michael Pedersen approached me at a Simon & Garfunkel tribute night after I’d sung “Fakin’ It” in the style of David Bowie. He invited me to play at the night he had started co-hosting with Kevin Williamson, Neu! Reekie! which I did and it was a mindblower for me. Film, spoken word and song blasting off beautifully a few cobblestones away from my old stamping ground.
What made you decide to focus more on your poetry, and work towards being published and being involved in public readings?
I’d spent so long around the fringes of the music scene in Glasgow until eventually getting my own music out. But I was half-aware I was keeping some part of myself in check. When I played at Neu! Reekie! I saw there was another way forward, right back where I started from. I wrote poetry before I wrote songs but I lost heart in my mid-twenties. I couldn’t conform to what I thought was expected of a Glasgow writer. I knew I had a different heritage and while that was cool in music, as a poet I’d lost touch with my east coast roots which I needed to give me a starting point to write from. I was also too close in time to a lot of painful things that happened or I had caused to happen around the age of nineteen so I wasn’t ready to be honest in my work or mature enough to approach these issues with any rigor or objectivity.
The example set by Michael has been a mighty influence on me getting back into poetry. He’s the young, straight, curly-haired, clean-shaven Allen Ginsberg of today and instilled in me by example a “can-do” attitude to writing and performing the written word. Hannah Lavery at Appletree Writers in Dunbar has really encouraged me and helped me develop and I’m working with Sheree Mack, a highly talented poet from Tyneside, as my mentor.
One Domino is a marked difference from your previous albums. What was the main factor that decided the change in sound and style?
Making that east coast connection again, in my head to start with, before we moved. That was the catalyst. I started listening a lot to groups like the Associates, Nectarine No. 9 and also Paul Haig. In my twenties I used to sing with a Paul Haig/Iggy croon and I wanted to again. Plus the tools I use to record suit working on more electro sound which linked in geographically as, to me, Edinburgh feels like an electro city. It’s the first place people ever danced to Suicide, back when they were supporting the Clash on tour.
In the past, you’ve collaborated on songwriting with a few different partners. One Domino is strictly you (barring the fourth track, Edinburgh City Control, being co-written with Gary Thom). Was it a conscious effort on your part to stand on this album alone?
It was more by circumstance than design. My job involved a lot of late shifts and afforded less opportunity to get together with the folk I got together with before and when I saw how things were going I went with the singular vision. I love teamwork and any notoriety I had prior to my own first records is thanks to collaborations, but I also enjoy seeing where my own psyche leads me and I play guitar best either when left to my own devices or as part of Henry’s Cellar Dive Bar Band where I spar with Lach, the inventor of Antifolk who fetched up in Edinburgh from NYC. He calls Edinburgh “Eden, bro” and I agree with him.
In One Domino, I still see glimpses of the observer Roy that used to be pretty prevalent in your songs. The Roy that would go out walking and just watch the world and the people in it – yet there’s a change in this album. Do you feel as if you’ve integrated more with the east coast, or are more actively involved than you were in Glasgow?
Yes, I do. I saw Chomet’s The Illusionist, set in Edinburgh five years before I was born, I left as the lights came up in floods of tears. I love Stockholm and I love London but Edinburgh is ultra-special to me as a city. I feel connected to my own history and the history beyond me that I sensed as boy when I’m walking around town. I photograph a lot of stuff there because the light is beautiful, like Paris, and it’s a gorgeous twenty-minute train trip from Dunbar. I became integrated in Dunbar faster than I thought I would, especially as I work away. It’s been very rewarding to become involved with the CoastWord literary festival and Appletree Writers.
I love living by the sea as I grew up in Leith, Edinburgh’s port, once threatened with bombardment by John Paul Jones, the man who started the American Navy. “Henry Robb” in “When I Paint My Mantelpiece” off of One Domino is a reference to the shipyard that used to operate in Leith Docks. It closed in 1984, as did some many manufacturing industries. “Can I speak to Andy?” is a reference to Father Andy Monaghan, an agony uncle on a Radio Forth phone–in called Open Line. At seventeen, I used to come back from the pub on a Saturday night, take off my Gannex overcoat, lay my hair-gelled head on the pillow and listen in to people’s problems and the Father’s sage and down-to-earth advice. I wouldn’t have let this personal history in before, it’s true.
You’ve previously opened up on the story behind one of my favourite tracks off of One Domino, “Redpath.” What’s the story behind one of my other favourites, “Textbook, Textbook”?
It’s great to hear you dig those two because they’re ones I like, too. “Textbook, Textbook” came from something that Emma, my wife, said one evening. The context was totally different but when she said the word “textbook” the songwriting bell in my head went “Ding – that’s a title!” I was heavily into the Associates that week in particular and they had a song called “Helicopter, Helicopter” – hence the repetition in the title line. When I came to record it, I was going for a sort of squeezed distortion playing off the nagging keyboard figure and making the chorus sort of rueful yet liberating. The aching elegance of being chucked in style. It’s the next single, released on Bastille Day.
I know One Domino just dropped, but are there any plans for the next album yet?
There are plans although the timescale isn’t set. I have an album for Ottawa-based label The Beautiful Music, which I was working on with Wally Salem who runs the label prior to One Domino being assembled. To quote Leonard Cohen, it was a love we could never get right. It’s 90% there, though, and I’m keen to finish it using what I’ve learned from putting One Domino together. I hope to follow up One Domino on Stereogram, too. It’s a great label to be working with its boss, Jeremy Thoms, is a pleasure to work with, too. There’s an album of the Lou Reed songs recorded as they were written, ready to go in some format.
And speaking of what’s happening next, what’s in the immediate future for you, as far as your art goes?
Well, I’m working on film and spoken word scenes for My Week Beats Your Year, the Lou show. It’ll be on in August as part of Appletree Writers’ contribution to the Edinburgh Fringe. And in December Appletree are releasing my first poetry collection, called Imports. Before then, I’ll be doing my best to spread the word on One Domino and launching “Textbook, Textbook” with a party in Edinburgh on July 17th at the Safari Lounge.
A bit of a random question, but I really and truly love it when you and Monica Queen work together. Is there any hope of an entire album with the two of you?
Wow, there’s a thought! If we could work it out time-wise I’d love to, actually. I think our Jim Reid/Hope Sandoval moment may still be ahead of us. I’ll leave you to guess which one is Hope.
What are you most looking forward to right now?
I would say my poetry collection coming out because it’s a long-cherished ambition that’s suddenly upon me quicker than I could have imagined. Because I’m a late-starter it’s the book of my life, it has to be. I can’t waste the opportunity by being too lateral and avoiding confronting myself head-on. But then I can’t be too literal either. The harder I work at it, the harder I realise I have to work on it, keeping it spare to the point where I feel quite monastic about it. I’m learning how to write as I write. The knockbacks I get from various magazines far outweigh the acceptances but they help shape the work, show me what sings and what falls flat.
What 5 records do you currently love?
I’ll go for individual tracks if I may because that’s where the love lies for me. “Sukiyaki” by Kyu Sakamoto is my favourite melody. A hit the year I was born, it sounds like the opening of a movie, and the vocal reverb is perfect. An impeccable arrangement; the little instrumental skip out of the middle section is so lightly done it’s almost heartbreaking. For sheer piercing beauty, “I Am Not Willing” by Moby Grape destroys me – every voice and instrument is a sweet assassin. I’m also in love with “Peace in the End” by Fotheringay, featuring Sandy Denny and Trevor Lucas on vocals. If Monica and I ever did an album I’d lobby for us to cover that one. Serge Gainsbourg’s “La Chanson de Prévert” is one of the most beautiful recordings ever created, it’s a perennial love of mine with added lustre every autumn. And while it’s still summer, “(Return to the Valley) of Out Come The Freaks” by Was (Not Was) is intoxicating.
Any famous last words?
I’d rather not know what his last words were but when Marc Bolan sang “I drive a Rolls-Royce cos it’s good for my voice”, he sang the glam truth. That’s an important part of what music’s for to me, the glam truth. Megan Helstone. June 2014


Appletree Writers
Roy Moller’s rollicking good poems swept us along, culminating in a masterpiece of self-deprecation concerning being ridiculed and mistreated as a schoolboy for having a Danish name and being poorly co-ordinated.
SCOTTISH WRITERS CENTRE, Appletree Writers event, November 2013


Is This Music Logo
It’s time to draw a veil over Wicker for another year, but the cleansing of my musical palette is achieved by a quick visit to see Roy Moller in the Acoustic tent. The Belle and Sebastian collaborator’s ‘The Singing’s Getting Better’ sums up the weekend nicely – rather more ‘indie’ than most of the main stage fare, but for many here, that is really what The Wickerman is all about.
Stuart McHugh, isthismusic, August 2013.

Moller is in teasing, sardonic mood as, playing acoustically and largely unaccompanied, he occasionally stops to check his set list on his mobile phone. His seven song set opens with a short, abrasive version of Lou Reed’s 1978 ode to masochism, ‘Gimme Some Good Times, Gimme Some Pain’. There are several tracks including the title number from his third album, ‘The Singing’s Getting Better’, and the set concludes with ‘A Meeting’, a furious attack on televangelism and fundamentalist hypocrisy, which is one of two songs tonight to involve local poet Michael Pedersen. They make an eccentric, but appealing duo, the young poet bent over almost double as he spits out his metaphor-lavished poems, while the considerably older Moller happily hammers out his acoustic chords and weaves in and out of his own songs with his lyrics.
John Clarkson, pennyblackmusic reviewing support set to The Cathode Ray, The Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh 07.09.12

Shameless genius songwriting…60s influenced, killer melodies, proper choruses and hooks to make you wet yourself. Twice. The Winchester Club, Glasgow, U.K.


The usual Moller hallmarks of eccentricity and brilliance are present in abundance. Andy Cassidy, pennyblackmusic, September 2013.

I like those WTF moments when you’re half listening to something and a song or a sound just cuts through and connects. Roy Moller’s Hidden Realms caught my ear with its Iggy in Berlin croon and some of the coolest lines I’ve heard in a longtime. Andy Wake, Songs From Under The Floorboards, August 2013


With the evocative title, it is little surprise to find an album including powerful “Royal” ballads, signatures of its author, bearer of good vibrations of folk and rock on Mis-Spent Youth, excellent pop on Pop Music Bores. All that is good to the ear is present – the handclaps, violin of Heather Wellcoat, harmonica, glockenspiel, the dynamic drumming of Ian Stoddart and the superb voice of Monica Queen on I Remember Dreams and the velvety All The World. The orchestrations contain sixties soul and traditional folk, blended to perfection. Twirling his words, with The Singing’s Getting Better’s twelve melodious pieces Roy Moller has climbed to the highest rank of singer-songwriters in independent music. A beautiful gift to give to friends at the end of the year. At the top of Piggledy Pop’s albums. Piggledy Pop, Paris, France, November 2012

That Roy Moller can still be described as Scotland’s best kept secret is a mystery to me. His abilities are obvious and this, his third LP, is yet another cracker from one of Scotland’s most original contemporary songwriters.The album opens with ‘All the World’, the first of two duets with Thrum’s Monica Queen. Dylan-esque and reminiscent in places of Love Hurts, Moller and Queen evoke Gram and Emmylou effortlessly and the pair’s delivery of a superb set of lyrics is truly inspired.Second track, Losin’ the Will to Give. is a more upbeat number, and, like much of Moller’s previous work, is full of great hooks, a superb melody, fantastic lyrics and a superb power-pop arrangement. Moller’s gift for lyrics is equalled only by his incredible ear for a catchy tune, and this track illustrates both gifts to full effect. Kink-esque Close Enough For Jazz is one of the highlights of the album. Lyrically it is every bit as quirky as the very best of Ray Davies and musically the track is a jaunty toe-tapper. It’s the perfect song for summer, a fact that is hinted at in the lyric “take off your winter dress.” Moller’s lyrics are wonderfully ironic at times (“I’m not a sentimental guy/I’ve been that way since the good old days”), and the self-deprecating humour of the album’s title is a continual thread throughout the set. Personally my favourite track is Pop Music Bores. Having been described as a pop music bore myself (more times than I care to remember), the song made me smile through-out: it’s nice to see us geeks getting some recognition at last (especially, I suspect, when it comes from one of our own!). The Singing’s Getting Better is a more acoustic and country-tinged affair than Moller’s previous albums, but he seems completely at home with any genre. Even despite the prevailing acoustic mood, tracks like Losing the Will to Give and Beneath the Tarmac show that he is as comfortable when rocking as he is when singing a plaintive ballad.This album is a superb addition to Moller’s already impressive canon. Musically and lyrically he is clearly at the top of his game. I hope that this will be the album that brings Moller’s work to the wider audience that it deserves. Andy Cassidy, Pennyblackmusic, May 2012

Hints of 1950s picking, Ray Davies at his 60s best and a country-mood Jagger and Richards gel with modern folk to capture a free-wheeling spirit…as if Glasgow and Muswell Hill had relocated just east of Memphis… a fabulous alternative to saccharine pop, pompous rock and bland soul for the most world-weary Earth dweller. A wonderful album. Keith Ames, The Musician, Summer 2012

A heartfelt third album, this time a collaboration with Northern Irishman Sporting Hero. This is a cracker of an album, highlighted by Moller’s ability to both write great songs and perform them in a way that connects with the listener. Hints of rock, country, folk, rockabilly and even psychedelia are all evident over the 36-minute running time.The album starts with the harmonica-laden All the World, a duet with Thrum singer Monica Queen, who also pops up again later on I Remember Dreams. Both songs are straight from the heart, highlighting Moller’s ability as a songwriter. Losing the Will to Giveis acoustic-pop, whereas Close Enough for Jazz is folk-rock all the way. The country folk-rock Golden Grey sounds like a lost gem from the sixties. Mis-Spent Youth is an acoustic rockabilly number that gets the toe-tapping but it’s deep moments like the piano-led ‘Beneath the Tarmac’ and the acoustic simplicity of ‘If I Was Like You that really stand out. On the latter Moller laments “everything I touch turns to silver”, an indication of his own perception of others’ dissatisfaction in him. The title-track is a folkie sing-along, with Moller declaring ‘the singing’s getting better but the songs are getting worse’ – if only.Moller has once again delivered an album of real quality and one that improves with every listen. This is definitely a record worth checking out. Rik Wolters, The Sound Project Album Of The Month, May 2012 A collection of pleasing songs that range from sunny to sombre.There’s a great range of songs here that take what he learned in crafting well-orchestrated numbers, and injects more of himself into it. It’s not silly little love songs, it’s something a lot more personal… Great songs, and smart arrangements. Matthew Slater, Ravechild, July 2012

This is an album where songwriting comes first and the actual delivery is irrelevant – the fact that it all comes together is a bonus. Pop Music Bores’s title belies the subject matter and it sounds like Moller and pals are having a rare old time. He’s not afraid to call on pals to help out – the Monica Queen duet is particularly lovely – though you suspect that they’re as happy to be here as he is to have them. Whether it’s acoustic tunes like If I Was Like You, or the title track, it’s largely enormous fun – the latter a barroom singalong that requires no outside help, but is all the better for it. “The singing’s getting better but the songs are getting worse he declares – well, he’s right on one count. Bernhard Bessing, isthismusic, June 26th 2012

..Songwriting that would bear comparison with your more mature pop aristocrats like Nick Lowe. A wry humour pervades the lyrics and, indeed escapes into the production with Monica Queen’s Suzi Jane Hokum style contribution to All The World standing right amongst the chef’s selection of seasonal vegetables. Talking of Nick Lowe, you would wonder if Pop Music Bores had instead come from the pen of said scribe than the Belle and Sebastian associated Mr Moller while the laconic charm of title track The Singing’s Getting Better is similarly hard to deny. Maturity shines through the songs of The Singing’s Getting Better … You won’t be leaving anything on your plate after listening to this one. Bluesbunny, June 2012

If Bob Geldof fronted Squeeze during a folky phase, he’d sound like Roy Moller & Sporting Hero.The third album from Roy is a must for anyone who likes sitting on a sun lounger listening to real, stirring music rather than repetitive beats. It starts with the harmonica drenched All The World which features Thrum vocalist Monica Queen.The 60s hippy-esque Golden Grey could be a lost Monkees track. But it’s not all chirpiness, the piano-led Beneath The Tarmac finger wags to an ego-maniac “you think the world revolves around you” to a prowling, dissatisfied beat. This is a beautiful, well crafted album that soars ever higher with joy at every play. Rick Fulton, Daily Record April 27th, 2012


A wonderful album. Marc Riley, BBC 6Music.

Scottish performer Roy Moller is a genius . That’s the only way you can explain a disc like No One’s Listening. Echoes? Jonathan Richman, fairground music, campfire sing-alongs, Robyn Hitchcock, calliope, Television Personalities, The Kinks, toys, Dylan, Bowie… you get the picture. Clearly recorded over a span of time, the tunes have a demolish quality, but that’s part of the charm, with the tracks piled on top of each other in an amazing mix. Favourite track is More Fool You, a Mersey-ish rocker with terrific Zombies-like middle eight, but there’s not a bad track here. Wonder Understand is true acoustic strummed primitive cool.I’d be curious to hear this recorded in a big time studio, but somehow I don’t think it would be as good. As ramshackle at this at times, it’s a minor masterpiece. Bart,

All the brilliance of Roy Moller is back on Playing Songs No One’s Listening To which reveals his writing still spiritually funny. This troubadour has written collections of poems, articles in magazines, and his pen spins lyrically on 10 tracks that are adorned with harmonica and guitars reminiscent at times of psychedelic Beatles, Kinks, Cohen and Dylan, with a touch of Bacharach and Kevin Ayers. Piggledy Pop, Paris, France

Dubbed “Scotland’s best-kept secret” by avuncular BBC DJ (and former member of The Fall) Marc Riley, the Glasgow-based Moller dishes up 10 enjoyable tracks of folky, countryish pop overlaid with his idiosyncratic, occasionally sardonic, vocals. While plowing its own path, Moller’s stuff isn’t a million miles away from the day-job band of his sometimes musical collaborator, Stevie Jackson of Belle and Sebastian. The Big Takeover, May 2012

Fantastic Sixties-influenced Americana on second album from Glasgow-based singer-songwriter Roy Moller. I found an immediate connection with this, Roy Moller’s second LP. The opening track, Byres Road Saturday could have been written about one of my favourite weekend pastimes – a wander along Glasgow’s Byres Road. At the heart of the city’s West End, Byres Road is home to many of Glasgow’s cooler bars and more colourful characters, and it is this air of exotica which is perfectly summarised in this pop paean. The album continues with Downstate Upstate, a psychedelic chunk of Technicolor perfection. Musically, and, in places, vocally, Playing Songs… sounds like the Byrds’ early material, with a very heavy David Crosby influence evident throughout. Add to this spiky Stephen Stills style guitar work and a heavy smattering of unbelievably catchy hooks, and you are some way towards Moller’s sound. More Fool You sounds like the Buffalo Springfield playing a track from the Beatles’ ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ album while the shuffling beat and casual precision of If You Knew Where to Look is a fabulous example of what might be called playing it cool. Out Of Print is vintage Dylan, from the opening harmonica to the storytelling quality of the lyrics. Indeed, throughout the album, the lyrics are by no means secondary to the, admittedly fantastic, music. Wonder Understand opens with the charming line “And when we argue it’s a lonely sound,” which struck me with its innocence and profundity.Despite growing up in Edinburgh and then living in Glasgow, Moller has somehow tapped into a rich vein of classic Americana and excels in its execution. Andy Cassidy, pennyblackmusic 14.09.11

Scottish guy on a Canadian label playing music that is uniquely American! Moller apparently grew up in Edinburgh but these 10 songs waver between 60′s garage pop and more Americana influenced gunk. The songwriting is strong and boy do I love that old-school organ. Dagger Magazine, January 2012

…shows his strengths both as a songwriter and as a musician… the songwriting really is excellent. Like the work of early Belle & Sebastian, it’s a record that references Glasgow very strongly. Not least on the opening Byres Road Saturday’which references the road at the heart of Glasgow’s West End… an album well worth dipping into. Ed Jupp, isthismusic? 15.09.11

Roy Moller… plies his trade in a mutant psychedelic variation of the classic Americana sound, he’s pretty darn good at it too. I’ve always found it rather strange how Scottish artists have such a fine knack for aping the sound of American music so accurately. Saying that, there are hints of 60’s Carnaby Street psychedelia to found on tracks like ‘Downstate Update’. Roy Moller is clearly an impressive talent with a keen ear for melody and a mischievous lyric writing approach…Enjoy. 4/5 Business Lady, Norman Records, 28th September, 2011


…A perfect portrait of Roy Moller: a hymn to life and curiosity, an album alive and quivering with joy, that proclaims introspection delivering the pure spirit of the sixties that banishes the common sense, the problems, the disappointments of adult life. And therefore “Speak…” is rich with sixties elegance filtered by the rose coloured spectacles of spring: from the British sixties pop Roy takes the lighter psychedelia, some bits of the Kinks, the Beatles and the Zombies, because he knows that certain emotions don’t have a sell-by date; and in spite of the heavyweight group of friends rushing to help out… Roy’s album is the product of a knight of romantic pop, a residue of the lonely optimism found in the intense works of Emitt Rhodes at the beginning of the seventies. And therefore, with guitars and keyboards, a harmonica and many harmonies, Roy constructs songs that turn on rhythmic patterns in constant rotation, that cite Dylan (Baby, Look No Further, Great Wall of China) and the Merry-Go-Round’s American version of Merseybeat (the excellent First You Fall In Love) with an adult touch , right up to the remastered Maximum Smile, even more splendid than we remembered it, woven from a base of oriental fabric and with that chorus, “Once in a while, Maximum Smile” that explodes right on time like the spring. And at the end, when Mr Moller comes to wish us all goodnight, (Goodnight Everyone), his is the sweetest of all goodbyes. Salvatore,, April 2007

The majority of the songs fall in a sunny pop vein, somewhere between Donovan and Belle & Sebastian, but I can hear hints of the Beach Boys and Simon And Garfunkel in places, as well. Even with all the cooks in the kitchen, the album still comes out sounding great, with quite a few instant favorites, like Six Degrees, First You Fall In Love, Maximum Smile and Train Your Thoughts On Love peppered throughout. A not-so-sleepy sleeper hit! 11/11, Seattle, U.S.A., March 2007

How long is it since the great single Maximum Smile appeared on Hamburg’s Felicité singles Club? Definitely three years! However, a good thing is worth the wait and now it’s is ready – the debut album from Roy Moller has appeared… mixing timeless sunny 60′s sounds and British guitar pop! Pleasing stuff! Marco Floess February 2007

Sounding a bit like a psychedelic Nick Heyward (oh alright then, an even more psychedelic Nick Heyward), with breezy sixties-influenced arrangements that fall somewhere between Kevin Ayers’ Joy Of A Toy and Petula Clark’s Colour My World, Speak When I’m Spoken To is worth a listen for its relentless upbeat-ness alone. As it’s also crammed full of punchy pop hooks decorated with backwards guitars and radio-friendly sitars, it sits several miles above most of the other miserable Deacon Blue-a-like dullards currently masquerading as ‘indie’ and getting all the plaudits, and anyone with even half a liking for Belle & Sebastian or others of similar quality is directed towards this superb album. Out On Blue Six, January 2007

Speak When I’m Spoken To contains really good traditional pop music. It seems to be very 60′s/70′s orientated pop album and for example The Kinks comes to mind a few times. As does some 70′s power pop bands and even Finnish Ben’s Diapers in the chorus of Her Collected Poems. Six Degrees is a great 60′s influenced track that brings to mind that chap who has a gap between his two front teeth. If you happen to love Scottish guitar pop like TFC, BMX Bandits, Speedboat, Nice Man & The Bad Boys…you will surely love the song Maximum Smile. First You Fall In Love is a great power pop track and Her Collected Poems is a really beautiful pop song. And well the list of really good songs could go on and on.. Baby, Look No Further, Train Your Thoughts On Love, David Niven…. a delightful pop record. Kind of down-to-earth album that can still charm you with great arrangements. you don’t need an orchestra or big soundwalls to create hook-filled good pop record. Just a skilful and talented songwriter with a perfect pop sense is usually enough and that proves to be the case with Roy Moller. 4/5 One Chord To Another, Finland, February 2007

…an album of no- nonsense near-perfect pop… a mix of classic pop (Six Degrees), rolling rock riffs (the title track), Dylanisms (Baby, Look No Further), 60s go-go (Teachers), and hook-filled energetic numbers that Belle & Sebastian themselves would surely sacrifice a half-dozen members to have (First You Fall In Love, Train Your Thoughts On Love). Moller’s voice is a decidedly less fey instrument than Stuart Murdoch’s, sidestepping reservations some may have about the Scots tweesters. Similarly, Moller shies from the overt bookishness of his contemporaries’ lyrics, opting instead for sunny directness that serves his songs well. It’s a delightful musical train-ride through a host of influences – without ever becoming less than Moller’s own – unencumbered by expectations or unnecessary flourishes.
4/5 (Topher Healy) Rave Magazine, Brisbane, Australia Jan 07

The inspiration here is not to be found in any old or recent Scottish scene: tunes, melodies, harmonies and choruses are clearly 60’s California Coast influenced – sometimes also reminiscent of the Kinks… while instrumentation and sounds sometimes send back to good old British psychedelic works. Great work from a very gifted and unconventional artist!! Pop’n’Cherries January 2007

Speak When I’m Spoken To has a fantastically wide range of era influences, gained from decades of experience in the buisness. The powerpop sound adds energy and excitment to the feel of the songs. While some tracks are more chill-out-laid-back kind of tunes, others are clearly animated dynamic groove inspired numbers. Rose On A Thorn, February 2007

Roy Moller certainly has something that raises him above mere connections.This baroque popster’s current record… does indeed have B&S members helping out behind the scenes…but Moller’s vision is more upbeat here- a Kinksian, harmonic labour of love. Metro, Jan 2007


…a three song EP of catchy Zombies-esque fairy-pop, an impressive follow up to his first 7” Maximum Smile (a two song EP of pure genius and Beach Boys calibre pop) will rip you out of your mundane world and into a place where all is sunny and upbeat, surrounded by frolicking lovers in fields of sunflowers. The strongest track, First You Fall In Love, with 1960s era guitar parts and an abundance of shakers (!) admits “First you Fall in Love. Then you find a girl. Then you find another girl.” Yet the song remains cheerful, as Roy’s beautiful vocals mix with the instrumentals in a way that would suggest this song is the “love child” of George Harrison and David Cassidy. But it works, and the child is stunning. Kelsey Ciatti-Miller, The Felix, Imperial College, London

Bouncy bubblegum pop, with a sound that echoes the Kinks and George Harrison. First You Fall in Love adds in the Modern Lovers and Of Montreal, and Speak When I’m Spoken To has a hook that won’t leave you alone. Meredith, 75 Or Less, USA, Feb 2006

Fermez La Bouche features three sublime master class cuts of drifting wide-eyed West Coast shimmer pop that opens with the exquisitely crafted First You Fall In Love that hazily beams with an alarmingly hip swinging British pop psychedelia mentality rather than the usual West Coast vibe that seems to be happening these days and blessed with a catchy as hell late 60’s summer tang a la Traffic/ Spencer Davis Group (Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush) and replete with enough sultry sun baked keys as to have the most ardent retro aficionado cooing in delight. Flip the disc for the ultra cool Leave It Well Alone – softly baked to such a point that it ‘s not until it’s over that its charms hit you straight in the face as though some kind of delayed reaction is at force. And well Speak When I’m Spoken To – what can I say, by far the best of the pack – if this doesn’t suck you in and have you falling head over heels in love then by rights you shouldn’t own a record player. Remember the Busy Signals kaleidoscope psyche pop being teased and tousled by elements of softly stirring top drawer lounge as found on Baby’s First Beats ? Well, magnify that ten fold, add in an army of serenading strings, melting arrangements and the euphoric pop brain of Pete (“look I know how to create a memorable epic to floor the listener”) Wylie and you have a cut so irresistibly fetching and sun dazed you swear the wax it’s cut into is melting. Mark Barton,, UK 31.05.05

Opener First You Fall In Love has all the swagger of a young swinger striding down ‘60s Carnaby Street… The Scott Walker-esque Leave It Well Alone shows Moller demonstrating a vocal range that has previously eluded him, but it would appear that we are now dealing with a far more confident artist. Bravely leaving the best for last, ‘Speak When I’m Spoken To’s catchy guitar hook is begging to be sampled, Moller’s assertive vocal married to it skilfully. All in all, an impressive effort that’s well worth the price of a pint. Any association with B&S casts a lengthy shadow, but Moller seems ready to step out of it to find his own audience. Ed Hales, Speakerspushtheair, UK, Oct 2005

Roy Moller … does a lovely mid-sixties jangle and isn’t ashamed of it. First You Fall In Love is head bobbing 60s bubblegum, all chiming guitars, ooh ooh vocals, and girls girls girls. Right away it had me thinking Monkees or maybe even early Lovin’ Spoonful. Leave It Well Alone has a more pensive feel, tinged with regret, but is otherwise brisk and Beatlesque. Speak When I’m Spoken To seems strange after the first two songs until you realize that it’s 60s pop filtered through a thin layer of grunge, which turns out to be an interesting twist., USA Nov 05

A psychedelic folk pop sound, where the arrangement works, pushed up to a special position, is splendid. Shop Escalator, Japan.

This is his second single and, the first greatly being a favourite, the buying of this was necessary. This is the equal of the first with a mod/power-pop flavour. Hatena: In Harmony, Japan

bouncy indiepop ramble with grittier vocals over an understated backing (given the fact it’s a 7-piece band). Mention too of First You Fall In Love, a meatier, Spectoresque sound. 4/5 Bernhard Bessing, isthismusic? August 2005
Fermez La Bouche consists of three great songs which count on Roy’s beautiful voice in sweet and soft melodies… (First You Fall In Love) opens with drumming that goes growing in intensity/rhythm followed by a keyboard that gives the tone of retro/sixties of music, clean guitars, and Roy’s delicious vocal appears, making this the best track. With the refrain “girl, girl” prominent in the “backing”. It’s one of those songs that sticks in your mind never to leave. The B side has two more excellent tracks. Calmest, Leave It Well Alone is led by prompt drumming and uses a perfect deep synthesizer. “Oh, oh, oh” s create the climate reminiscent of the best songs of bands such as Zombies, Left Banke and, not without reason, of the Beatles. The second track of side “B” was for me a great surprise. A little different to Roy’s previous songs (on the earlier record), this track possesses a line of guitars and rather intense “rock” drumming with rhythms that go in a more 70s direction, recalling the Paul McCartney of the period. Speak When I’m Spoken To is the type of song that grows on each hearing! One of best 7″ that I have had the pleasure and luck to listen to this year. Brazil

This single combines details that go from sunny Californian pop to soul, from the aromas 60s to the sounds of the 90s. Roy Moller gives all one. Lejos Discos, Santiago, Spain

First You Fall In Love is “heavy” pop that covers its every square centimetre with more instruments than is lawful…upbeat pop with vinage guitars – that freakbeat spirit intrinsic to the sun of the California coast, taking the best from both sides of the ocean. Compared to his debut single (Beach Boys and Belle & Sebastian on the throttle) there is a greater knowledge in the choice of sounds and the type of artistic progression rare to witness within POP. No more music with a clean face but a slice of concentrated chaos by which means melodies of organ, drums, bass, tambourine etc wallow in a happy groove… Better still (is) Leave It Well Alone – a 60s ballad…the chorus and structure are both Zombies-esque for by far the best piece on the disc. Speak When I’m Spoken To is in a dazed and confused fog on an amazingly sharp riff, probably the 70s equivalent of the two tracks that precede it… A beautiful step ahead for the progress of Roy – a step back for pure & simple pop functionality, but this is a single that will bear its fruit at the right moment. For now it has completed the transformation of Roy into a damned hippie and that doesn’t displease us completely., July 2005

Another three melodic pop songs from Glasgow-based indie favourite Roy Moller grace this new EP. A-side First You Fall In Love… is undeniably catchy, well paced and generally happy, in that slightly over-layered Belle And Sebastian pop style and it wouldn’t sound out of place on one of the better Belle And Sebastian albums. The band’s Stevie Jackson appears as a highly touted guest guitarist…Moller’s gentle melodies and pretty pop tunes could become a favourite with indie fans, and they are easily good enought to justify this… Daniel Creasey, PennyblackmusicDripping with harmony, melody and West Coast 60s pop shimmer Rough Trade, London…like a poppy upbeat Belle & Sebastian tune with hints of the Monkees and 60′s pop in there. It’s a cheeky one indeed. A rather bouncy, playful and enjoyable affair. Norman Records, Leeds, UK

Six rare home recordings from the talented Roy Moller that will appeal to all those who love theirsounds uncomplicated and unobtrusive, and when we say talented we mean talented because across the course of this release’s 14 minute duration Moller seductively draws together the varying strands of West Coast pop and 60′s shimmer and when aligned to his frail strokes of melodic classicism, radiate with such warmth and disarming guile as to have you breathless. Mis-Spent Youth opens the set almost stumbling misty-eyed in a hazy countrified Fable Factory meets Of Montreal via Moviola kinda way before moving for a brief excursion to take in the dusty paths that lead towards Nashville for the simply exquisite Bolan and Everly Brothers stand off that is You Did Ask. Elsewhere it soon becomes apparent vocal wise that there’s a Lloyd Cole thing going on here especially on the exquisitely formed summery nugget Wonder Understand where the tender jangle of Byrds-esque guitars sweetly fall away with Clock Strikes 13 romanticism nibbling gently into latter period Ray Davies musical hall realms. Then there’s the haunting fix of lost memories rekindled on the simply arresting Golden Grey where Moller treads softly into pop corridors more associated with Justin Hayward but it’s the stuttering baroque delivery of the harpsichord effects within the EP’s only instrumental The New Third Lanark that’ll melt the coldest of hearts couched as they are in the melancholic essence of the Beatles Eleanor Rigby. A simply special release. Mark Barton,

Surely a record destined to be traded by indie kids on eBay at vastly inflated prices at some point in the future, this clear 8″ contains a number of pop gems. Moller’s previous work has been produced by Belle and Sebastian member Stevie Jackson, who is also a sometime collaborator. Whilst that link alone will ensure Moller sells a few copies of this, the songs are good enough to stand on their own… Thankfully he also shares with (Belle and Sebastian) the knack of crafting a great song when he sets his mind to it. These home recordings have definite bedroom production values but the merit shines through. Opener “Mis-Spent Youth” is particularly good. A different perspective of the value of youth, it manages to be catchy without being annoying and cute without being twee…Daniel Cressey, Pennyblackmusic

…Mis-Spent Youth arrives directly from the West Coast of 1967 but is obviously not born to be wild – it leans on its guitars like an old man on his little stick before ascending along the nearest fast freeway and is an attractive surprise, more authentic than all the Elephant Sixes of the world. You Did Ask further simplifies the melody and overlays it with fleeting Beatlesque touches…Wonder Understand almost suggests Paint It Black immersed in a sort of reflective psych and a solid refrain…. It’s like listening to one of those old bootlegs of the Beatles for the minimalist effectiveness, such as the baroque harpsichord of The New Third Lanark., July 2005


An upbeat storming chorus and the original sitar from Legal Man played by Stevie Jackson who co-produced….Rough Trade, London

“I was born in Edinburgh at the same hospital as most of the Bay City Rollers” – great, formidable… ROY MOLLER is in any case a genius and by this single on the famous Félicité label my love for Guitar pop again was anyhow awakened. A spring rain poured over me, and old, stunted impulses saw the beckoning light of the world. Do you recall the feeling the first time you heard Odessey & Oracle by THE ZOMBIES This prickling in your body? With this disc, both the label and ROY MOLLER have achieved a highly compressed masterpiece. Soulful Pop with Groovefactor with Maximum Smile, continuing in a West Coast vein with David Niven. One of the best records for a long time and somehow such an AHA effect for me. Yes, there it is, pop music with warmth, with desire – ….and one shouldn’t sound any differently if one wanted to write the perfect Popsong in the practice room…. Roy’s been swarming around Glasgow for a long time… has his record CO-PRODUCED by Stevie Jackson and captivates by an excellent musical taste. Its tally of influences/favourite tracks clearly earns top marks with a star. Buy this record!

Fantastic pop! Delicious Goldfish, Sweden

…Truly a little pop pearl…Marco Floess, Revolver Club, Hamburg

…The single is produced by Stevie Jackson (from Belle & Sebastian), and after listening to the B-side, David Niven, I would have guessed it without looking at the sleeve. It sounds pretty much like a song that Belle & Sebastian could have included on their Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant album, with the piano being a notable instrument in the mix. ..Actually, when I first listened to the single, I listened to David Niven first, thinking it was the A-side, but I soon realised I was wrong and flipped the coloured piece of vinyl over and listened to the proper title track, Maximum Smile, and it strikes me that it’s not as good as the flipside. Sure, it’s still good, but the song about the deceased actor is even better. So, maybe you could switch the labels? Well, you shouldn’t bother, really. This is a very good single as it is. And a very nice sleeve too! Tommy Gunnarsson, Pennyblackmusic, UK

Maximum Smile resonates with sixties echoes & has a killer refrain & a bassline that seems like one of pino palladino’s..with sitar (played by stevie jackson…) this (is a) delight in paradise.…David Niven…is made to appreciate. think of a cross between paul mccartney & sam cooke sounding like the bee gees. delicious…, Italy

Stevie Jackson participated as a producer in this, the first solo debut single from Roy, a graduate of the Glasgow scene, who also does the band the Wow Kafé as well as solo. On seeing this, with the cover of the two girls, anticipation increased. The sound is very pop with use of piano, organ and trumpet. Slow Graffiti, Japan

This is from Germany’s Felicite label, a first single release. Indie pop with an effective organ – which the lover of expectation certainly likes. Hatena: In Harmony, Japan

…Belle & Sebastian connections aside, is the record any good? well, yes, it’s sodding great. Roy decides to lead us through a 70′s pop romp with maximum smile. the members of belle & sebastian are clearly here for a reason & have exerted some influence into the very assured pop song that flows along quite brilliantly….Richard Collings, Do Something Pretty fanzine, U.K.

…This is like the Beach Boys…make(s) for a sound that is good and fresh…isthismusic?, Scotland

This single…contains two terrific pop songs! The a-side has a bit of a Northern Soul influence, and a really great chorus. The flip is a more upbeat tune that sounds a little like Belle & Sebastian (surprise, surprise), but I wouldn’t call it derivative at all. smashing debut! , Seattle

…My personal favourite: Roy Moller with “Maximum Smile”. Whoever christens the B-side “David Niven” cannot be a bad person. Felicite Singles Club review, Intro magazine, Germany


…An excellent 60s mod-pop tune…very much recommended.Charles Dickens, Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation

A plaintive pop tune that doesn’t forget the melody., December 2008
So catchy…brilliant! Glasgow PodcArt, 21st August 2009

…A clear example of how to make good pop, with precious vocal harmonies reminiscent of the 70s. Lito Music, Spain

…A peppy rock tune guaranteed to lift your mood and get you psyched for the next such release from Slumberland. Humana, KFJC FM, July 6, 2009


My favourite though doesn’t sound like indiepop at all; The Company Presents Roy Moller’s Brother Love is catchy hoedown, all fiddles, yodels and refried beans.


A pretty convincing slice of Hammond-driven, blue-eyed soul worthy of a young Roy Wood CD Times, December 2008

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