SONGBIRD (born Joseph Ryan Moralez) is an American singer-songwriter, producer, and artist currently residing in Los Angeles, California. His most successful songs have been featured around the world through various commercial licensing campaigns and have garnered over a million streams on various music streaming platforms. In September 2017, under his previous venture named “Moralez,” Songbird flew to Tokyo, Japan to play his first sold out show, while also filming his first official music video for "Owls in the Night."
SONGBIRD’s lyrics incorporate a broad range of political, social and philosophical influences while centering most of his work around self-empowerment and love. He grew up playing the drums, cello, trumpet and piano, eventually writing his own music by the time he was nine years old. Originally inspired by artists such as The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Sufjan Stevens, Toad the Wet Sprocket and Pete Yorn, Songbird has managed to find his own sound over the years while experimenting with different styles in the folk, singer-songwriter, electronic, EDM, and pop genres. He is most notable for the texture and high tenor range of his voice, which has been often described as “angelic” and “soothing” by listeners. You can hear Songbird's debut single "WILDFLOWER" wherever music is streamed or sold, Fall 2018.
Moralez has been releasing music independently since 2009 starting with his debut album, If I Could, under the nickname “Joe Moralez” followed by his most successful 2012 release, The Way It Goes. In 2013, Moralez released his first official side project EP, A Million Years, under the indie-pop moniker, Awake or Sleeping (AoS). Since 2013, Awake or Sleeping has released 6 EPs, Constellations (2014), Interstellar Hearts (2015), Lost at Sea (2016), Imagination (2016), Owls in the Night (2018) and one single, Falling (2017).
Moralez was born in Houston, Tx but his family moved to San Antonio before the age of 2, where he was raised for the majority of his childhood. He grew up playing the drums, cello, trumpet and piano, eventually writing his own music by the time he was nine years old. When Moralez was thirteen, his mother remarried moving the family 30 miles north outside of San Antonio to the small and quiet town of Boerne, Tx where he would finish grade school. As a high school sophomore, he joined his best friends forming indie-pop/rock band, Space Man Spiff, as the keyboardist, vocalist and one of the core songwriters in the group. Between 1999-2004 his band went on to record several studio albums quickly gaining notoriety throughout Texas for their high energetic and novelty performances, garnering exclusive opening slots for popular acts like 30 Seconds to Mars, Reverend Horton Heat, The Nixons and OKGO.
While in high school, Moralez began his spiritual path, first attending the local Catholic youth group but eventually joining the Baptist church where most of his close friends attended. Over the next several years he became involved with his church holding small leadership positions while playing percussion and singing background vocals for the youth worship band. Just before graduation, he and his closest friends were involved in a rollover car accident while on the way into San Antonio to see a concert. Fortunately, no one was critically injured in the accident, but it shook Moralez at his core, giving him a renewed sense of self while he spent the next several months healing from a few fractured ribs and post traumatic stress.
Moralez attended Dallas Baptist University for three years where he continued to write and perform with Space Man Spiff while simultaneously forming his first side project, We Are Texas Lovers, who only played a handful of shows and college radio appearances. In 2003, Moralez dropped out of college after the sudden passing of his longtime friend and bassist, Seneca “Matt” Luevano. This triggered the end of his childhood band and set him on a road that would change his life forever.
In 2007, Moralez took the opportunity to move to Nashville, Tennessee to play keys and tour as a professional and studio musician, working with many Grammy Award winning Christian artists and bands including, Brandon Heath, Jars of Clay, Francesca Battistelli, MercyMe, Brit Nicole, TobyMac and Third Day. He spent the next five years heavily touring while writing material for his next record. Moralez recorded background vocals and trumpet on Brandon Heath's 2011 release, Leaving Eden, produced by Dan Muckala (Backstreet Boys, Nick Lachey, Mandy Moore, LeAnne Rymes).
In 2009, Moralez released his first full length album, If I Could, which was recorded over a four month period at producer Jon Meyer's studio in Dallas, Texas. The opening track "Take Me To California" caught the attention of Grammy Award winning producer, Charlie Peacock (The Civil Wars) who eventually remixed the song alongside producer and engineer, Richie Biggs. The song “Balloons in the Sky” was written as a tribute to his late friend, Seneca Luevano.
Over the next several years Moralez continued touring as a side player but focused the majority of his off time writing what would become his most successful album to date, The Way It Goes. Recorded from the basement of producer Jacob Schrodt's home studio in Nashville, the two worked for several months on the album while securing some of Music City’s top session players to record on the project. Halfway through production, Moralez quickly realized he had spent his entire savings to make this record so he decided to start a Kickstarter campaign to see if his fanbase would help fund the entire album. Much to his surprise, 125 backers exceeded the $15,000 goal and successfully raised $17,127.
“As a music listener, I know the importance of music in my life. I know what it does for my soul and attitude on a daily basis. There are songs and entire albums I listen to that define moments of my life through the words, melodies and rhythms that found my soul at the right time. I want my music to do that for you.” - Joe Moralez (Kickstarter Campaign)
The last track of the album, "Love Will Be Enough For Us," was co-written with songwriters Dave Barnes (“God Gave Me You”) and Brandon Heath (“Give Me Your Eyes”), both of which went on to record their own versions of the song for their own releases. Barnes' version on his 2012 release, Stories to Tell, and Heath's on his 4th studio album, Blue Mountain, from that same year. All three versions of the song feature different lyrics in the first verse.
"I had this song tucked away for about three years. I was in love with the opening verse and melody but didn't really like my original chorus so I never knew how to move forward with it. I just put in my back pocket. One day while I was on tour, I started messing around with it on an old upright piano backstage of this really rad theater. The piano happened to be right next to Dave’s (Barnes) dressing room so when he heard me writing he loved it and asked if he could help me finish it because he was also writing for a new album at the time. Dave, Brandon (Heath) and I ended up finishing the song that afternoon in our bus and the rest is history. I think we ended up performing the song on that same tour." -Moralez
The albums opening track, "Boy With A Kite" grabbed the attention of Omni Hotel's marketing team and soon became the background music for several of their their in-room entertainment commercials featured throughout their hotels and resorts around the world. Shortly after the February 2012 release of The Way It Goes, Moralez sold the majority of his belongings and moved from Nashville back to Dallas to spend the next two years writing new music while working on his personal health. During this time, Moralez secured an exclusive licensing agreement between his publishing company, Elf Tree Publishing (ASCAP), and music licensing firm, Musicbed.
In 2013, Moralez began work on a new side project under the moniker, Awake or Sleeping, releasing his first acoustic-pop EP titled, A Million Years. It was a more stripped down acoustic centered project produced by Aaron Carpenter at fifty50studios in Dallas, Texas. A Million Years featured a new version of “Boy With a Kite” which quickly became a fan favorite during live performances. Many of the songs on this EP were featured in several online commercials and ad campaigns. That same year, Moralez composed the music for his first independent feature film, Fields Afire.
By 2014, Moralez had written his next two EPs and partnered with Nashville producer, Josh Hawkins (Super Duper), to bring the next series of songs to life. Hawkins, a well known Nashville electronic and pop producer, focused his sights on this collaboration for the next several months. The majority of his Constellations EP was recorded out of Hawkins’ home studio in Nashville while vocals were tracked back at fifty50studios as well as ElfTree Studios in Dallas. “Dancing to the Radio” has become a highlight from the project and has been featured in several films and commercials.
On April 1, 2014, Moralez packed his things in Oak Cliff in Dallas and made his way out west to Los Angeles with his dog Maddie. Shortly after his arrival, Moralez partnered with friend, Ian McNeny, to form the ElfTree Podcast Network (EPN), eventually registering their production company in 2015 with the City of Los Angeles under the name, ElfTree Media. EPN comprised of three main shows, High-Dere, 3Amoviegos, and Earthship Radio, all hosted by Moralez, McNeny and a few others. EPN has since produced over 120 hours of casual conversation covering a wide range of subjects. “Prepare to enter the ElfTree” is the networks well known tagline at the top of each episode, voiced by actor, Dylan Roarke. During this time, Moralez continued composing music and sound design for many independent short films, web series and podcasts. He also started working on set as a sound engineer while working post production on several projects.
In 2015, Awake or Sleeping started recording his newest EP, Interstellar Hearts, with pop producer, Steven Solomon (“Say You Won’t Let Go” by James Arthur), which would become one of his favorite music projects. The title track "Interstellar Hearts" became a Spotify streaming favorite in Taiwan, garnering nearly half a million plays in a few months. Songwriter, Jake Newton, co-wrote on two other songs from the EP which also went on to license on various commercials and films.
In 2016, Moralez began working on a new EP, Lost at Sea, with longtime friend and producer, James Gabbie (Ed kowalczyk of Live, Goldspot, Leigh Nash of Sixpence None The Richer). The two worked out of Gabbie’s Koreatown apartment for several months teaming up with producer, Benjamin Rice (Lady Gaga, Selina Gomez) to play drums and mix the project. The trombone on “Record Store” was played J.P. Floyd (Frank Ocean, Bette Midler). The overall concept of the EP was to push Awake or Sleeping’s traditional polished pop sound with a slight 80s influence.
At the same time Moralez was working on Lost at Sea, he was in the studio with longtime friend, Steven Solomon, work on Awake or Sleeping’s fifth studio release, Imagination. Moralez and Solomon began working on the project in Portland, Oregon with producer, Troy Welstad (Pink, A Fine Frenzy, Hilary Duff). The three co-wrote and produced “Hocus Pocus” and “AM Nights” and eventually put the final touches to the songs back in Los Angeles. The title track “Imagination” was co-written with Grammy Award winning producer, David Hodges (Evanescence, Jason Mraz, Carrie Underwood, Avril Lavigne) in his Hollywood Hills studio.
In May 2017, Moralez started working on his sixth studio release, Owls in the Night, with producers Nicolas Blomberg Davide Fant, and Miguel Lara (Daft Punk, Coldplay, Frank Ocean, Pearl Jam) at Blomberg and Fant’s North Hollywood studio, Sound Chalet. During this time the guys at Sound Chalet started working on various singles for the “Joe Moralez” and “Awake or Sleeping” brands. On April 10, 2017 AoS released the pop single, “Falling” along with an acoustic music video. Over the course of a year and half the team worked closely on several music projects in the pop and cinematic genres. In September 2017, Moralez flew to Tokyo, Japan to play his first sold out show while also filming his first "official" music video for "Owls in the Night" during that same trip.
Since late 2016, Moralez began writing with good friend, Paul Evans, on what will be his newest pop venture, SONGBIRD, who’s first single is due out Fall 2018.