Growing up in LA’s San Fernando Valley, Molly Williams, known by her stage name MOONZz, started playing piano and developed a love for music at a young age. By the time she was 25, she’d released “Satisfy,” a flirty, empowering electronic hit that ended up in a Victoria’s Secret commercial. She then went on to perform at Coachella and Electric Forest, open for Jai Wolf and ODESZA, and release two EPs, Trust Cycles (2016) and Aftershock (2018).
Her latest EP, Modern Ritual (out March 6), explores “the patterns and actions that define your life as well as the lives of your network and beyond,” she explains. The EP’s eponymous song, “Modern Ritual,” for instance, was originally written about the LA “ritual” of canceling plans — though she ended up giving it a more positive spin, her sultry voice singing about “webs of my forgotten friends / sending love to all of them.” The EP is danceable and catchy from beginning to end, and among its other themes are “self-love, letting go of expectations, feeling helpless and empowered, and falling in love,” says Williams.
“Runnin’,” the first single off Modern Ritual, does what MOONZz does best: inspires and uplifts. “I’ve been cut down like a diamond / trying to move with the lightning / always been quick on my toes / follow where the chaos goes,” it opens, building toward a chorus that assures listeners, “I’m not done running.”
“The song is a message to myself to keep on fighting for what I want and what I deserve,” she says. “I think a big part of MOONZz is showing the duality of struggle and breakthrough and all that comes from the struggle.” The new album is full of motivational messages like this; the fun, upbeat “Love Myself” features melodic “oohs” alongside the refrain “I just gotta love myself,” and “Battles” reminds listeners, “I gotta pick and choose my battles” and “I look for blessings in my life.”
Women’s empowerment has always been part of MOONZz’s platform, but she doesn’t limit that message to women. “My music is for everyone, and I’ve always felt that way,” she says. “I preach empowerment because everyone should get support, opportunities, resources, and encouragement. I want to be that resource for people.” She accomplishes this not just through her music but also on social media, with fun Instagram posts about individuality, overcoming self-doubt, and gratitude.
MOONZz, who will soon announce several shows around LA and elsewhere, cites her biggest influences as Thom Yorke, Kevin Parker, Greg Kurstin/The Bird and The Bee, and Fiona Apple. But her latest album was also inspired by the music of Sudan Archives, Victoria Canal, Moses Sumney, Emily King, and Garden City Movement. She describes Modern Ritual as “more cohesive” than her previous albums. “The harmonies are more fluid and I feel vibrationally connected to the details and colors of each record,” she explains. “I’m in a really happy place in my life, and it shows.”