Fresh after a six-showcase performance at SXSW, Austin songwriter Mobley plays The Nick tonight. With a childhood that took him from Spain to the West Coast, Anthony Watkins II, a.k.a. Mobley, approaches composition with a broad perspective and an inclination to fuse. Just as he spent his formative years near and far, his music comes together through an experimental blending, produced and composed simultaneously.
Fitting Mobley’s sound within any one genre would be beside the point. His compositions draw from a variety of styles From R&B, indie rock, electronica, it’s all there. On his single “Solo,” there’s a persistent layer of dustep wub running underneath the song as it progresses from straightforward R&B with super-clean vocals to an electronic breakdown with ear-catching effects.
“In most cases, I start by piling on as many ideas as I can think of and then stripping them away until only the most vital ones remain,” he says. “In the case of ‘Solo,’ though, I found myself adding more and more ideas and feeling as though they all needed to be there. I didn’t plan it out in any simple sense, but I had an impression of what I wanted to end up with and kept going until I arrived.”
Long before playing three shows in one day at SXSW, Mobley began experimenting with composing in college. He’d sneak into his school’s music department at night, learning various instruments before classes began in the morning. Before long, he was recording vocals in the dark and mixing tracks in the back of his car. “I found myself overcome by an irresistible urge to make music. It never went away,” he says. Influences change over time, and he’s currently soaking up the sounds of James Baldwin, Hiro Murai, and Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Taking his music out of the shadows, Mobley has toured extensively, playing festivals on the same bill as Mutemath and Wavves. In the name of experimentation, he’s compiled and scrapped two albums’ worth of material, leading up to his debut LP.
For his new record, Fresh Lies, Mobley handles all instrumental duties across the board, guitar, keys, bass, samplers, and drums. He’ll switch it up throughout his set tonight as well, though he’s currently touring with Alfredo Rios on drums.
Birmingham’s Loveislight will join Mobley tonight. The show starts at 10 p.m. The Nick is located at 2514 10th Avenue South, Birmingham, AL35205.