Moxie Raia grew up around music. “My dad used to leave music on in the house when we left so that when we walked in music was always playing in the house,” she says. “He didn’t want a time where the house was quiet, so music was always playing.” The sounds of Frank Sinatra, Motown, and soul raised Raia. And, she’s not letting a rising pop career take that away from her.
The New Jersey native’s debut mixtape, 931, is rich with soul and productions that make you want to hit play over and over again. Pusha T, Post Malone, and Wyclef Jean all make appearances on it. That’s not too shabby for a musician who has yet to drop a proper LP. Her jazz education puts her in a league of her own. It informs how she writes her music and, really, how she approaches life. “That was something I’ve been infatuated with since I was really young—people really involving societal issues in music,” Raia says. “That’s really important to jazz culture and to jazz in general.”
Now, with the re-release of her debut, appropriately called 931 Reloaded, Raia is gearing up for world domination. Her recent Def Jam contract means big things ahead, and Reloaded is just the beginning. Many may know her as the girl who toured with Justin Bieber’s Purpose tour, but Moxie Raia is way more than that. She’s got, well, moxie and the drive to do the most. Get to know her in our exclusive interview, below.
Was there ever a show, concert, video, or something that you saw that solidified in your head “I want to pursue music”?
There has not been a conscious moment in my life that I did not know that I wanted to pursue music. I think I decided so young that I don’t even remember ever wanting to be anything else or do anything else. It’s just so weird, I really can’t remember. I knew at one point I wanted to be a vet and a singer, but I always wanted to be a singer.
You’ve toured with Justin Bieber, but have you ever been starstruck? And, if so, by who?
Yes, a few times. Once meeting Stevie Wonder because he was probably my biggest musical influence growing up. I met Beyoncé and Jay Z really quickly before I was going on stage at Made in America two years ago and I knew they were going to be watching me sing so I was pretty starstruck.
How would you describe your brand of pop?
My sound is something that’s always come out of me naturally, so it’s just a mix of all my different influences. I’m really influenced by jazz, and I grew up listening to pop music and soul and R&B and Motown. I never consciously add things into my music. I feel like I’ve always written the same type of music.
Are you working with producers who are helping you write or is it all you?
I have a partner. His name is Dan, and we’ve been working together for 10 years. He and I basically do everything together; it’s a collaborative effort and sometimes other people come into the mix. Generally, I start it and we finish it together.
When you released 931, why did you initially do it for free?
I knew that nobody knew who I was and I didn’t know how I was going to sell them a product when they didn’t really know what it was yet. I wanted to give everybody a taste of who I was and start playing shows and getting myself out there.
Do you think you’re going to continue to do that?