Songwriting is personal, but it also has to be a conversation with people, according to UT alum Jeremy Burchard, who is one half of the two-member band Moonlight Social.
Burchard and fellow UT graduate Jennica Scott formed Moonlight Social in 2011 and recently released their debut album, Heading South. Burchard and Scott perform at The Domain Lonestar Court on Thursday.
“Jeremy has this deep, booming male vocal, and Jennica is like the Texas country version of Christina Aguilera,” said Matt Noveskey, record producer at Orb Recording Studios.
Noveskey produced Heading South for the band and serves as a mentor for the duo.
“When I met them, they were trying to figure out their voices,” Noveskey said. “Now their work is stronger. They have figured out who they are.”
Scott and Burchard’s friendship was nurtured when they both began playing with the Longhorn marching band in 2009. Burchard is also a former associate editor of The Daily Texan.
“When you go into a band, they ask you to try a bunch of things, and you can play what you are the best at,” Scott said. “For me, it was a choice among French horn, percussion and trumpet, and I asked my mom, ‘What instrument will give me the most solos?’ She said trumpet, and I decided to play the trumpet.”
Scott, born in Illinois, moved around all over the country and eventually moved to Austin in 2008 to pursue a degree in sociology. Having been raised in a musical family, Scott loved singing and knew she would pursue a career in music. In her junior year, she joined
“I never had a problem in getting up on stage in front of people,” Scott said. “Being in Longhorn Singers taught me about the fundamentals of singing. I also knew I was just singing as opposed to giving a performance, and that’s what Longhorn Singers helped me with. It taught me about performance.”
While in college, Burchard and Scott began penning lyrics and playing covers and soon landed their first gig at New World Deli in December 2010.
“I was terrified,” Scott said. “I had written some of the songs, and Jeremy had written some. It’s a deeply emotional thing to write a song, and this was the first time I was sharing it with other people. I was afraid people wouldn’t like it.”
But the gig was a success, and that’s when Scott and Burchard decided that this was something they could do — that they could start their own band.
Their first song that they are both proud of, “Weight Off My Shoulders,” is included on Heading South.
“It’s about meeting someone who always gets his way,” Scott said. “The idea of the song is [that] you are walking away from that person. You are getting the weight off, knowing that you are better off without being involved with that person.”
For Scott, inspiration for songwriting has often stemmed from strong emotions and, at times, from anger. She said she can never really write happy songs. Love songs are harder to write.
“Love songs can be about something that you genuinely love or connect with, and I don’t think I’ve found that subject matter,” Scott said.
In 2009, Burchard and Scott both joined GRAMMY U, a college program conceptualized by the Texas Chapter of the Recording Academy to help college students get started in the music industry. Burchard served as the UT ambassador for GRAMMY U while Scott used the program to foster connections in the music business and participate in program events.
“It’s one of those things where college kids have no idea of all of the different possibilities in the music industry,” Burchard said. “And these really opened up for us.”
Starting June, Moonlight Social begins the band’s first out-of-state tour in Wisconsin, where they will perform at the Country USA Music Festival, followed by performances in Indiana and Chicago, and later in October, they perform in Toronto at the Indie Music Festival.
“Music can always get better,” Scott said. “You always have to grow by exposing yourself to all kinds of music and surrounding yourself with people who are better than you.”