A Childhood Obsession With Jazz and Pop Vocalists Led Molly Burch to Discover her Own Voice
Molly Burch was eleven when she realized she liked to sing. With a distinct voice that’s now fawned over by critics, the Austin-based indie-pop musician describes herself as a shy kid who was captivated by a diverse set of vocalists, ranging from Nina Simone and Billie Holiday to modern pop icons like Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, and Christina Aguilera. “I remember obsessively listening to artists I admired and trying to imitate them,” says Burch, who credits her early singing days as integral for discovering the boundaries and unique characteristics of her own voice. In college, she studied jazz vocal performance, developing practical performance and songwriting experience that was crucial for the successful music career she would launch just a few years later. After moving to Austin, she met guitarist Dailey Toliver, who went on to become her boyfriend and musical collaborator.
Today, Burch is part of an exciting cast of musicians that is bringing new energy and ideas to alternative music through songwriting that draws inspiration everywhere, from contemporary pop to old country music staples. Led by her syrupy, understated vocals, Burch’s songs often unfold slowly and serve as storytelling vehicles for topics like romantic despair and anxiety. In 2017, Burch’s debut album Please Be Mine was released by the Captured Tracks record label and quickly became a favorite among music bloggers. Remarkably, most of the album was recorded in just one day, though Burch says the decision to record quickly was born of necessity, not creative urgency. “Now it seems crazy we did it like that. It was my first time recording, and this was before I was signed to a label. I funded it all myself, so it was definitely about not having enough money to be in the studio for longer than a day.”
After the commercial success of Please Be Mine, Burch released her follow-up album, First Flower, a collection of songs that delved deeper into the songwriter’s personal life but maintained the same lounge-y musical trappings that colored her debut. In November 2019, The Molly Burch Christmas Album was released by Captured Tracks. “My whole goal was to have a balance of classic Christmas songs and others that most people don’t know.” Burch’s take on Christmas music highlights her affinity for R&B, weepy slide guitars, and ’80s pop. On her cover of “Last Christmas,” she enlisted the help of her friends John Early and Kate Berlant, two LA-based comedians who recorded speaking and background vocals for the track. Unlike the fast-paced experience recording her debut, Burch’s label now gives her all the time she needs to record.
Beginning in February, Burch will embark on a four-month-long tour with the indie-rock duo Tennis as a three-piece band instead of the five musicians she’s used to recording and performing with. “We’ve never played as a three-piece before, so I think it will be really special.”
Molly Burch performs at Meow Wolf with Tennis on March 4, 2020. For tickets and more information, visit Meow Wolf’s website.