Featuring: MOLLIE ORR
When one steps into Mollie Orr’s dorm room, their eyes are immediately drawn to her desk, which has on it, amongst various papers and school supplies, a tiny keyboard with buttons that glow red upon the slightest touch. This is only one of the tools that Mollie uses to create her music (which can be found on her Youtube channel that she shares with her father.) Her other instrument, her beloved guitar, is safely sitting inside of its guitar case next to her bed.
I immediately began to snap photos of her instruments, and Mollie took it all in with a good-natured smile. Although at the beginning of her music career she was reluctant in sharing her songs with others, now she is completely ready to open up to the world and show them her talents.
Mollie is eighteen years old and a freshman here at Union College, with an undecided major, and a love and passion for singing and songwriting. She is a native of Schenectady, NY, and thus, in the future is planning on performing in some of the local hot spots, such a Bombers restaurant! Despite the day being rainy and cold, Mollie and I took a walk out to the Visual Arts building so that she could serenade me on the guitar, and we could have a nice quiet spot for our interview to ensue.
My first few questions for Mollie were easy ones. I began by asking her when she had started getting into music. She immediately laughed, and shook her head. “I’ve always been into singing.” Just by her reaction, I could tell that singing was definitely not something new to her; it was apart of her life. Mollie continued saying, “I grew up with a musical family. Both of my parents were extremely musical, [so as a child,] I had bedtime stories, but we would also sing songs before bed. That’s how I learned to harmonize. My Mom and I would play the ‘Pretty Note Game’ where she would sing a note and I would have to harmonize with it.” Mollie notes that her mother is also an alto. She begins laughing again and says, “Music has always been apart of my life. My family and the members of my church know us as the Orr family singers.” That in itself says a lot!
Following this question, I asked Mollie when she had started playing guitar, when she had started with her keyboard, and where her talent for developing music on computer programs had come from. These she answered easily. Her guitar-playing career began when she was in the 6th grade. She smiles and says, “My Mom taught me a lot of chords, but the other stuff, I really taught myself. I’m still teaching myself.” Her keyboard on the other hand is another story. “It’s actually called a MIDI [Musical Instrument Digital Interface] controller, and it essentially works as a keyboard that talks to the computer and only the computer. So I use a program called Logic Pro and the keyboard is used to activate the instrument software. It’s like an electronic composition tool.” This interest in electronic composition came from when Mollie’s family got a Mac computer when she was in middle school. “You know how Macs come with Garage Band? Well I started to play around. I would loop stuff and record myself doing crazy little things and it was the first time I really worked with computer software.” Cool! Mollie was further inspired by her brother, who went to college for music and began to get into electronic-based music. “It was around that time when you start looking up music on your own and you stop listening to your parents music. My brother became the source for my musical education in what artists are out there, and then what is out there to help me with my own music. So he definitely opened the door to electronic music.”
Mollie’s actual performing, on the other hand, started when she was a freshman in high school. She tells the story with a slight smirk on her face. “In one of my classes I had a final project on the 60’s (a time when music became a large outlet for protesting) where we had to study a music group and write a song in the style of those musicians. I had Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young and so I wrote a song protesting war called ‘Alice’. I was totally freaking out and I didn’t want to do it, but then I performed it in front of the class, and the reaction was shocking. People were crying, my teacher was sobbing, and I got so many compliments after class, and it was just shocking that people enjoyed what I wrote. It was kind of the push that I needed to perform.” Later on in high school, Mollie performed in The Composers Forum at her school, and her father recorded her and posted her song to Youtube. “That’s the thing that’s hidden about Schenectady high school – There’s so much support and opportunities and I wouldn’t be a performing artist today if it wasn’t for my high school.” Mollie also attributes her church (The Eastern Parkway United Methodist Church), in which her parents have been leaders of the Youth Choir for 17 years, for helping her to get the ball rolling with her performances.
When I asked what musicians inspired Mollie, she really began to laugh. “I never know what to say!” She further explains saying, “I just like so much music and I go through phrases of listening to certain musicians. If you ask me about a specific song that I wrote, I could tell you what musician inspired it.” Upon more prompting she listed a few of her favorites off of the top of her head. India Arie, Ingrid Michaelson, Stevie Wonder, Fleet Foxes, and her brother’s band SonnyMoon.
Lastly, I asked Mollie about her plans for the future. “Well my dream goal is to become a signed musician,” she states. “Going into the upcoming break I’m going to try to do a lot of gigging [open mic nights, bars, Bombers] and promoting what I’ve been working on for 4 months, which is my album.” She pauses here and laughs. “That’s really weird to say, that I’m coming out with an album…It’s weird because I never thought that I would be in the place that I am now trying to be a musician. I guess I always thought that I’d have a job and music would just be my passion, but now it’s my main goal. I’ve tried a different path and found that I can’t not have music as apart of my life. My parents and my brother are really supporting the decision.”
Although I pried and tried to get Mollie to give me some sneak peaks of songs on her album, she wouldn’t give in, although she did let me know that some of the songs on her Youtube channel [Get On With It and My Day] will be on her new album.
And now you know thanks to Who Knew Wednesdays!
If you want to check out more photos from the day, click here.