TreePeople is interviewing artists that are actively trying to bring people into the environmental movement through their art. This series includes musicians, visual artists, poets and more.
Formed in Oahu, HI, before finding a home in Salt Lake City, UT, The Moss are a fast-rising alternative rock band whose blend of fuzzed-out riffs and surf-inspired vibes are finding a home on radio dials across the US. We talked to singer/guitarist Tyke James about the band’s beginnings, how nature influences his music and how we can all be involved in taking care of the Earth — even if it’s starting small.
TreePeople: Tell me about the band? How did The Moss start? What pushed you towards music and that creative spirit?
Tyke James: I moved to Oahu when I was 13. I met my friend Addison out there. Our friendship was founded on the fact that we both liked music but didn’t have anyone to play it with. He moved there about a year or two before me and was one of my first close friends there. We wanted to play music and play songs together. Playing music and surfing was all we did when we were younger. It started as the two of us just playing restaurants and stuff. We played with kind of a full band before, but the first time officially played as the Moss was when we moved to Utah in 2018 and early 2019.
TP: Where did your connection to nature start?
TJ: Before I moved to Hawaii I lived in Arizona and Montana. I learned to ski living in Montana but my connection to nature really began when I started surfing when I was 14. That was the strongest connection I’ve ever had not only to nature but to a sport and finding a flow state and being able to be alone in it. There was a surf break by my house that was pretty far offshore, and Hawaii is already a pretty quiet place, so just being able to surf like a mile out from shore is just a crazy thing to be able to do in your formative years. I feel like being in the ocean is the most immersive way you can get into nature because you’re literally in [it]. Since moving to Utah I’ve been able to find that experience as well in the mountains. It’s just horrible what people are doing to the world.
TP: How does the outdoors and nature influence your creativity?
TJ: I feel like the outdoors is an inspiring place to be. The balance of nature is the most creative thing in the world, really… how everything works together and how intricate and detailed it is. Getting to a place where you’re either, like, meditating or surfing or hiking, I think it’s really easy to find a place where you can tap into that energy where your mind isn’t busy. The things that don’t matter disappear. That happens with music as well. There’s something else to it. There’s something else to it then what it really is. It’s a human need.
TP: What are some ways that you would like to people get involved with when it comes to taking care of the planet? What inspires you to raise awareness.
TJ: Growing up in Hawaii, it’s crazy how in Utah things like recycling are pretty non-existent. It’s becoming such a populated state, too. It’s wild how when you’re in Salt Lake, if there’s not a building in your way, you’re going to see mountains, but the awareness to protect that and be sustainable, use plastic alternatives is non-existent. I think it’s something that’s becoming more and more prominent with our generation. Younger people are more aware of these issues. They totally understand the why.