Miss223 is a Des Moines-based singer working loosely within the realms of alternative pop or wavy R&B. She’s released a trickle of select tracks over the past several years, including the likes of “Free Fly,”which takes on low-key rap elements, bouncing self-revelations over a slow, creeping beat. Her latest offering, “Moonflower,” is another that takes on a methodical pace, though it does so aligned with a different musical bend, dipping into a dark electronic sound aligned closely with trip-hop. In this edition of Singled Out, Miss223 shines light on the song’s inspiration and creation, speaking to both its production and the personal meaning she ascribes to a flower that blooms in the dark.
villin: Where did the name Miss223 come from, and do you find the name’s meaning or significance shift as you step into a song like “Moonflower”?
Miss223: Miss223 began as 2/23DM when I first started creating music. There was never a significant meaning for the name. I just put letters and numbers together randomly. I didn’t find the purpose changed with “Moonflower,” but 223 has become my lucky number.
villin: Musically, I particularly appreciate the rhythm that keeps the song creeping along, finding a balanced pace amid its deep synth and drums. Are those live or sampled drums? And did you produce and record the track yourself?
Miss223: When I heard the production, I knew immediately that I wanted to create something with it. I loved how powerful it made me feel. The track was produced by innerbloomboi, and he used live drums. I also worked with Genie and Alex Reverberi for recording, mixing, and mastering.
villin: In the mid-’90s, acid jazz came together as a moodier relative of electronica, and tonally “Moonflower” reminds me of something that fits well within that era. I’m thinking everything from Portishead to Sneaker Pimps within that picture, and there was a photo you posted on Instagram a few weeks back, which fits incredibly well with that vibe. Am I close with that visual comparison, and where did you draw inspiration from when thinking about your vocal approach for the track?
Miss223: I feel “Moonflower” is comparable to and reminiscent of the sound of acid jazz and trip-hop. The photo I posted works with that vibe as well. It reminds me of yin-yang, which fits within the world of “Moonflower.” I also find inspiration in Björk, who I love because she dives into the unconventional. I wanted to bring that same sense of freedom and comfort in expression with the lyrics, composition, and vocal approach.
villin: Do the song’s lyrics come from a personal place, or do they represent something outside of yourself? What is it about the idea of blooming in the dark that resonates with you?
Miss223: My creative process mostly comes from a personal place. The morning glory, also known as the moonflower, was a massive inspiration. At first glance, the moonflower is delicate, beautiful, and ordinary. At a closer look, the plant is strange and potent. It’s a plant that blooms at night and has psychedelic properties. I find it similar to humans and wanted to relate the song to that. How underneath the exterior we put up it can be just the same. Blooming in the dark symbolizes letting go of the control pushed on me by others and myself. It resembles the free will we have to embrace ourselves and go down our own path. Learning to blossom and finding beauty in the parts of us we hide in the dark.
villin: There’s a slight distortion to your vocals – which is sort of fitting considering the concept of coming to life at night could be interpreted as slightly irregular, off-beat, and maybe even slightly morbid. A distorted point of view, maybe. There’s something vampiric to me about that when sitting with those sounds and letting a visual come to mind. Do any visuals come to mind when you listen to the song?
Miss223: An amusement park came to mind because of its kaleidoscope of contrasts. Carnivals bring up many emotions and vibes—a mix of excitement and fear, playful with mystery, light, and shadow. It symbolizes the disorienting but beautiful process of learning to break out of boxes and growth in general.