Moses Sumney likes his alone time. “I never have enough,” says the 28-year-old singer-songwriter. “Inject it into my goddamn veins.” Sumney’s 2017 debut album Aromanticism, a falsetto-laced electro-soul dissertation on love and loneliness, quickly established him as a critical darling, making his quiet life a lot busier. When the time came to work on his follow-up, Sumney decamped from Los Angeles to a mountain town in North Carolina, where he found the solitude to write græ, an ambitious, two-part album that straddles genres and explores sexual fluidity, blackness, and the sting of a lover’s cold shoulder. In græ’s lead single, “Polly,” Sumney sings, “I want to be cotton candy/In the mouth of many a lover/Saccharine and slick technicolor/I’ll dissolve.” For the accompanying lyric video, he simply stares into his webcam and cries. “My budget Timothée Chalamet,” he calls it.
Sumney is further widening the scope of his expression. In the video for “Virile,” which he directed, styled, and choreographed, he writhes, half-naked, through a meatpacking warehouse. “There’s something to be said about the male body as a piece of meat,” he says. “The way we consume the body as an image, mass consumerism, consumption, production, blah, blah, blah. That shit.” It marks Sumney’s directorial debut, but it won’t be his last. The reliably amorphous artist finds comfort in the in-between, dipping his toes in projects of every stripe. “I think very few of us are into just one thing, right? If somewhere laced into your DNA is the ability to craft narratives using different means and modes, you probably should. We’re all going to expire at some point. Why not get it all out?”
“Romance is complicated, and my relationship to romance is incredibly complex,” says Moses Sumney. “I feel more or less romantic depending on how early the moon rises and how full it is.”
When asked where he sees himself in 20 years, Sumney, who recently released the song “Me in 20 Years,” has modest goals. “I want to have a home,” he says. “A place with a big, big couch. I want to feel like I’ve had a diverse career of art-making. I want to be able to look back on a portfolio of having made a lot of different types of art with a lot of different types of people. That would thrill me deeply.”
This article appears in the March 2020 issue of Interview magazine. Subscribe here.
Grooming: Shin Arima using R+Co and Clinique for Men/Home Agency
Photo Assistant: Danny Lim
Production: Home Agency
Producer: Emma Yun/Home Agency