My name is Moriah Formica, and I’m a nineteen-year-old musician from Upstate New York. Music has been a part of my story since birth. When I was an infant, my parents used to put me in a child swing for my nap, but I would not be able to fall asleep until they put on “Guitar by the Sea,” “Flute by the Sea,” or “Harp by the Sea.” They could see from an early age that music seemed to take me to a different place.
When I was five, my aunt bought me Guitar Hero for Christmas. I became obsessed with playing and quickly mastered the game. When I was seven, my nana bought me a small $70 electric guitar with a built-in amp from Target. My father was a child of the ’80s and a big fan of classic rock/metal ‘80s hair bands. He would always have that music playing. We used to watch That Metal Show on VH1 on Saturday mornings along with MTV Pop-Up Video. I remember watching that show and those videos and seeing the lead guitar players, like Joe Perry or Eddie Van Halen, and saying to myself that they were so cool, and that’s what I want to do. So I took my father’s Aerosmith and Bon Jovi CDs and locked myself in my room for weeks until I learned them both.
When I was ten, we had a family graduation party for my cousin. I never tried to sing and have always been quite a shy person. All of us kids decided to go to my room and do karaoke. I remember it was my turn and being so nervous. I chose “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele. Before I was halfway through the song, I remember the shocked look on my friends and cousins’ faces and that all the adults were stopping what they were doing and coming to my room. I remember thinking to myself, maybe I’m a good singer.
My parents immediately began looking for a music school to hone my skills and found Modern Day Music in Clifton Park, New York. There, I began taking voice lessons and joined a band of kids my age. We would practice for three months then play a live show at a local venue. At the age of eleven, I began writing music and wrote my first six-song EP called Bring It On—songs I wrote from fifth through eighth grade. When I was fourteen, I had the opportunity to open acoustically for Michael Sweet, founder and lead singer and writer for the platinum ‘80s band “Stryper.” He was so blown away at my performance that he asked me to guest on his upcoming solo album One Sided War. I sang a song called “Can’t Take This Life.” That album debuted No.1 on the Billboard Hard Rock charts, and I received a lot of recognition for my appearance.
At sixteen, I decided, reluctantly, to audition for NBC’s The Voice (Season 13). I auditioned with “Crazy On You” by Heart and received a four-chair turn. That singular performance changed my life forever. It has opened doors for me and provided me with opportunities I likely would not have had. Since then, I’ve played shows all around the country, played with Joan Jett, Halestorm, and many artists I’ve looked up to my entire life.
Now, at nineteen years old, I’ve dedicated myself to writing that “hit.” It’s always been my dream and passion to bring rock ‘n’ roll back to the mainstream here in the United States. I’m working hard on finding a new sound, one that incorporates the unmistakable heaviness and passion of rock but with elements of the current top 40 sounds. I’ve released music steadily since I was fourteen and my latest release, “Better Off Alone,” came out on April 19, 2020.
My musical influences have been Aerosmith, Evanescence, Halestorm, and Lady Gaga.
What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?
My definition of tone is one’s particular sound. Over the years, it’s changed for me because I’ve made it more personal as I try and find my own sound and grow as a guitarist.
Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?
I’m endorsed by ESP Guitars and play an LTD EC Series (EC-1000) and use a Marshall JVM combo amp. My pedalboard has a Digitech drop pedal, BOSS chromatic tuner, noise gate, and an EQ pedal.
What about strings?
I’m endorsed by Ernie Ball and use their Ernie Ball Regular Slinkys.
Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?
I don’t necessarily have a specific technique when in the studio. Typically, I’ll record the entire song four to five times through and then start experimenting and add parts here and there, after listening several times.
How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
I’m able to keep my sound consistent by practicing my sets for hours and making sure my amp is dialed in and have it set to how I want it, and also, by playing with fresh strings.
What does your practice consist of?
I practice playing in several ways. Many times I’ll just have some fun and play some music I love and jam along. Other times I’ll take pop songs or other genres and “rock” them up and create, or I’ll practice songs that stretch my fingers and have lots of fretwork.
What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
If I could give anyone advice about the music industry, it would be to have endurance and be able to take constructive criticism. Also, be humble and always strive to be better than you were yesterday. Always trust your gut. Work hard and take every opportunity.