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Mothica's 'forever fifteen' marks somber anniversary, and 5 more Oklahoma music notes, featuring John Calvin Abney, the late Jimmy LaFave, Wood Willow, Shawn Reidy and Kat Lock

Mothica [Maddy Talias photo]
Mothica [Maddy Talias photo]

Mothica's 'forever fifteen' marks somber anniversary

Singer-songwriter, TikTok standout and Oklahoma native Mothica is marking a somber anniversary with the lyric video for her resonant new song "forever fifteen."

The Los Angeles-based musician and visual artist also known as McKenzie Ellis broke out on TikTok last summer with "VICES," the lead-off single for her debut LP "Blue Hour." Catchy and urgent, the 12 songs on "Blue Hour" chronicle Ellis' journey toward sobriety with striking honesty and relatability.

"I've always been kind of an oversharer, so I think writing music is one of the ways that I can be truly vulnerable, especially with this album. A lot of it is about me getting sober for the first time, and I was kind of scared to talk about that because I didn't want to alienate people that haven't experienced anything like that. But I feel like the songs kind of came out of me, and a lot of them aren't the happiest sounding lyrics," Mothica told me in an August interview.

"I would say writing songs for me is very cathartic, and usually my easy songs to write are from a really intense emotion, whether that's kind of like anger or sadness. It's like a burst of energy I put into a song, and then listening back, if I like it, it feels like I got that emotion out."

Ellis said she tried to commit suicide on Jan. 29, 2011, when she was 15 years old, and for the 10th anniversary of that dark moment, she penned the impactful new song "forever fifteen."

Her adolescent experiences have shaped her as an artist: She was just a teenager when she took on the moniker "Mothica" for her music and visual art creations.

"It's a little more elevated version of me but it's very hard for me to separate the two," she recalled last summer. "The name came from me feeling this connection to moths that they were attracted to the light. At the time, it was because I was very depressed, and I felt like I was self-destructive and I was lost. And I was repeatedly running into this detrimental force - this was when I was like 15 - and now 10 years later, I still feel that connection to moths being attracted to light. But for example, sometimes it's not a destructive thing. Sometimes it is wanting to change or be better or be successful."

Along with writing and recording "forever fifteen," Mothica also decided to mark the 10-year anniversary of her attempted suicide by asking her social media followers to share their stories with her. The "forever fifteen" lyric video, co-directed by Patrick R. Young and Powell Robinson, offers a behind-the-scenes look at some of the 2,163 submissions. She promised on YouTube that the final music video will have even more photographs than the lyric video.

Ellis also shared her plans to release a new six-song EP in March.

"This project is a huge puzzle piece in my healing process, and i'm so glad I can finally share it with you," she wrote on YouTube.

To read more of my 2020 interview with Mothica, click here. For more information on Mothica's music, go to

John Calvin Abney [Ian Hanson photo]
John Calvin Abney [Ian Hanson photo]

John Calvin Abney's evocative experiment 'Wildfire Suite' is a Bandcamp Friday exclusive

It's Bandcamp Friday, and prolific Oklahoma musician John Calvin Abney has released exclusively on Bandcamp an intriguing ambient music experiment called "Wildfire Suite."

The singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who hails from Tulsa, described the evocative project as "a foray into synthesis, found sound, and stereo panning."

"This is not a collection of songs, but an improvised work of synthesizers, tape manipulation, and found sound," he continued on Twitter.

The results veer from evocative and Zen to atonal and forbidding, making it an interesting follow-up to Abney's fifth studio album, "Familiar Ground," which he released in November 20 on Black Mesa Records.

Abney is not the only Oklahoman to release music today just for Bandcamp Friday, when the platform is waiving its revenue share fee until 11:59 p.m. Pacific tonight to support musicians during the pandemic. 

Abney's frequent collaborator and fellow Tulsan John Moreland is releasing "'Live at The Grey Eagle - Asheville, NC - 6/9/19" for the occasion, while OKC singer-songwriter and Dr. Pants mastermind David Broyles has debuted on the platform "Mr. Utopia," his third and final homespun cassette of “song-oriented” material before he morphed into Dr. Pants around 1998. And OKC singer, songwriter and musician Chase Kerby has all the releases from his new band Hotel Nights as well as releases two reissues of solo EPs with bonus tracks newly available on the platform today.

Jimmy LaFave [The Oklahoman Archives]
Jimmy LaFave [The Oklahoman Archives]

Entries open for Jimmy LaFave Songwriting Contest

Entries are open through March 3 for the fourth annual Jimmy LaFave Songwriting Contest, presented by the Red Dirt Relief Fund.

The contest is open to unsigned Oklahoma songwriters, who are invited to submit one original, lyric-driven song for free. To submit, go to

Contest rewards include a cash prize, virtual songwriting instruction from the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma and inclusion in the Bob Childers' Gypsy Cafe music festival, which is the flagship fundraiser for the nonprofit Red Dirt Relief Fund, which provides a safety net of critical assistance for Oklahomans in the music business in times of need.

The contest was created and underwritten by old friends honoring LaFave, with cooperation of the Jimmy LaFave Trust, in the way he most wanted to be remembered—for songwriting. The Oklahoma-Texas red dirt pioneer died in 2017.

Find more information at

S. Reidy and Kat Lock are 'Underwhelmed' in new collaboration

Norman independent musicians S. Reidy and Kat Lock play a disaffected couple but make quality music together in the music video for their new collaborative song "Underwhelmed."

Besides some catchy rhythms and fine vocals, I'm pleased to report that the video features an all-important adorable cameo from Lock's doggy Sherman.

For more information on Lock's music, go to

For more information on Reidy's music, go to

Wood Willow's debut single 'Every Day' an irresistible bluegrass ditty

Oklahoma duo Wood Willow - Becca Herrod on vocals/mandolin and Joel Parks on vocals/guitar - has released its debut single "Every Day," and it's an irresistible bluegrass ditty that invites repeat spins.

Along with Herrod and Parks - who are also bandmates in the OKC bluegrass band Steelwind - the song features Lucas Gillette on stand-up bass. The single, which premiered today on Make Oklahoma Weirder, was produced by Wes Sharon of 115 Studios.

The artwork for the video was drawn and designed by Herrod and animated by Jay Shropshire. Parks did the lyric and video editing, and you've got to appreciate the multitalented DIY spirit of the duo.

For more on Wood Willow, go to

Features Writer Brandy "BAM" McDonnell covers Oklahoma's arts, entertainment and cultural sectors for The Oklahoman and Reach her at, and Please support work by her and her colleagues by subscribing at 


Related Photos
Mothica [Maddy Talias photo]

Mothica [Maddy Talias photo]

<figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - Mothica [Maddy Talias photo]" title="Mothica [Maddy Talias photo]"><figcaption>Mothica [Maddy Talias photo]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - Jimmy LaFave [The Oklahoman Archives]" title="Jimmy LaFave [The Oklahoman Archives]"><figcaption>Jimmy LaFave [The Oklahoman Archives]</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - John Calvin Abney [Ian Hanson photo]" title="John Calvin Abney [Ian Hanson photo]"><figcaption>John Calvin Abney [Ian Hanson photo]</figcaption></figure>
Brandy McDonnell

Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1... Read more ›