Marlaena Moore Confronts Her Imposter Syndrome Head-On

Photo: Levi Manchak

Imposter syndrome isn’t just a buzzword for being uncomfortable in a particular job or role, or even your own skin. Edmonton-based singer-songwriter Marlaena Moore has recently contended with that slippery intellectual slope and talks about her struggles embracing personal confidence despite having numerous accolades and two solid LPs, Beginner (2014) and Gaze (2016), to her credit.

“The past year has been marvellous. Everything got completely flipped upside-down in my life for the best possible outcome. After Gaze was released, and after I toured that record, I fell into a little bit of a slump creatively and life-wise, as well. I felt a little stuck,” says Moore. ”Eventually, I realized I was having some mental health issues. After getting diagnosed with BPD, dealing with it and confronting myself a little bit, I realized I needed to start writing again.”

Setting aside time in the early morning hours to practice her craft, Moore connected with her creative spirit and rekindled her passion for weaving poetic pop-rock tales that leave an indelible impression on all who encounter them. It wasn’t long before the potent emotions she had been fermenting were ready to distill for public consumption and Moore approached trusted collaborators, grant-writer/manager Jesse Northey and musician/engineer Chris Dadge, for guidance in making her vision a reality.

“I said, ‘This might sound kinda wild, but I’d really like Chad VanGaalen to produce the record.’ It took a little bit of convincing but we managed to get him into the studio and he was very generous with his space and his time. He was really involved as a producer, so I felt really lucky to get to borrow his brain for my songs!”

As Moore puts it, the resulting album, Pay Attention, Be Amazed, “flourished,” displaying her ever-evolving style as a guitar-wielding romance novelist and autobiographical graffiti artist rolled into one. It’s hard to imagine there’s any deception or shortcomings to be had among the immaculate melodies, swooning vocals and deeply cut love letters she inhabits in the nine painterly tracks that stretch from “I Miss You” to “Tiger Water.”

“If you listen to the whole record you’ll hear the voice of someone who feels they’re really lacking in a relationship, like they are the ones not pulling their weight. The song ‘Imposter’ is about feeling as if people don’t really know the true you is the dark version and that’s the only version that is real. That song is an imposter itself: it has jangly guitars and an upbeat tempo, and it’s really fun and has this bright L.A. pop-groove sound, but it’s about a relationship completely falling apart,” Moore says.

“The thing that kept coming up with Pay Attention, Be Amazed is that, something could be coming and it might not look like you expect it to. Be present and pay attention to what’s going on around you. In those moments, you can feel this clear, lucid high where you see everything for what it is. It’s beautiful and interesting and you can start pulling things apart and looking underneath. Look close enough to see the signs. Maybe everything is not as it seems when you’re going through darker times.”

Marlaena Moore’s Pay Attention, Be Amazed is available now.