One to grow on

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Moriah Haven celebrates 33 years of life and art at Taffy’s of Eaton

By Joey Ferber

Photo: Moriah Haven showcases her ongoing recording, The Growth Project, at Taffy’s Jan. 7; photo: Alex Grodkiewicz, Alex G. Photography

Moriah Haven makes music that matters.

Dayton City Paper had a chance to speak with the Dayton-based artist while she was on her way to a benefit show in Richmond, Indiana. She is simultaneously preparing for an artist showcase at Taffy’s in Eaton, where she will perform and host as different characters from the recently released first chapter of her ongoing recording, The Growth Project. Haven hosts these showcases four times a year and each performance is hardly a conventional concert. The night will welcome performance artists, poets, and arts and crafts vendors.

“I host it as Django, who has a handle bar mustache—and he’s kind of this ornery man. Maya is the main character from the project, and I’ll usually perform as her, as well.” Of the venue itself, Haven says, “Taffy’s has this atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re in a safe place. It’s family friendly, and there’s also loads of craft beers and wines. It’s really a fun and quirky place. There’s a mannequin flying over the stage. The venue owner is always wonderful to work with.”

The interactive qualities of the showcase reflect the music Haven creates. The Growth Project is a journey of working through limits.

Haven’s music blends folk traditions with more recent explorations into midi-electronic textures. Haven notes Tori Amos as an artist whose music has made a profound impact on her own life and work.

When asked about her inspiration, Haven says, “I have found that I create my best art when I force myself out of my comfort zone.” When offering advice to aspiring artists, she advocates for “setting up small goals” and “compartmentalizing large projects into attainable goals so you can check ’em off.” “Before you know it you’ll be done,” she adds.

She notes the importance of “going somewhere you’ve never been and surrounding yourself with people you’ve never seen.”

Like any other profession, the life of a working artist is grounded in a social, economic reality. Haven shares her experience of balancing her creative inclinations with businesswoman necessities, explaining, “It’s been hard the past few years being the businesswoman and not just the 24/7 artist. I feel like I live to be creative and solve problems with creative solutions. I have to always be expressive and push myself to a standard that maybe I can’t achieve—but dammit, I’m gonna try. If there’s one thing I have it’s tenacity.”

Haven’s music is empowering; its strength seems to emanate from her personal ability to work through pain. Her honesty, in her music and in sharing parts of her life story, is heartfelt and inspiring:

The Growth Project was a project I had to do to heal. A few years after one of my shows, I was drugged and raped. It brought back all this trauma that I thought I had conquered, and I knew that the only way I was going to heal was with music and art. If there was anything that needed to be talked about, there’s the victim-shaming. It’s a condition of a problem we’ve had in our society for too long. They don’t want to talk about it. The problem is that if you repress a subject to the point that it’s a taboo to even speak of, no one is going to reach out. People will suffer in silence.”

Both The Growth Project and Haven’s performances contain moments where art has the power to jumpstart bravery.

“You have to start your healing journey at some point,” Haven says. “I wanted to make songs that invited that conversation and that invited people to start their healing journey, too. I didn’t know if anyone would hear it, but I hoped that if it helped one person that it was worth every bit of blood, sweat, and tears, and money that I spent on it.”

And listeners responded.

“I started getting these messages from people telling me that they were telling me for the first time about their experience,” she says. “It meant the world that they had found their bravery to do that. It’s so hard to tell somebody for the first time. Because when you do, you can start picking up the pieces and going forward. And I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t made that project. It was going head-first through all the pain. Singing it out and composing it out. And spending hours in the studio trying to find that peace and achieving that. And coming out on the other side, I feel like I’ve finally hit my stride. If it wasn’t for art and music, I could tell you—almost for certain—that I’d be dead. And I just want to share with people and help them find their bravery too.”

Moriah Haven’s birthday bash takes place Saturday, Jan. 7 at Taffy’s, 123 E. Main St. in Eaton. Show starts at 8 p.m. For more information, please visit MHaven.com or TaffysOfEaton.com.

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Joey Ferber
Joey Ferber works out of St. Louis and Dayton as a musician and writer. You can hear him on electric guitar with St. Louis jazz-rap collective LOOPRAT at Looprat.Bandcamp.com and on his original theme song for the Dayton-based podcast series Unwritten at UnwrittenPodcast.com, for which he also contributed to as a scriptwriter. Reach him at JoeyFerber@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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