Mo Field: How Music Helps Us Shine

As a choir director, songwriter, musician and vocal coach, Mo Field is driven to use the power of music to change people’s lives. She believes music can be a tool to help people shine, while also bringing them together.
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Mo Field
Choir Director and Vocal Performance Coach
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As a child, Mo Field’s family moved a lot, but the constant that kept them connected and helped them connect with others was music.
Mo had numerous jobs after high school ranging from being a sharpshooting instructor in the Air Force reserve to driving a truck, but her passion for music always lured her back.
ADHD and autism made formal educational pursuits difficult for Mo growing up, but she was able to find alternative ways of educating herself, finding rich experiences to help her grow.
As artistic director of the Great Northern Union chorus, Mo is focused on creating opportunities for people to come together and express themselves through singing.



IVAN STEGIC: Hi there! You’re listening to ONE OF 8 BILLION, a podcast about all of us! I’m your host, Ivan Stegic. This podcast is supported by TEN7, a technology studio whose mission is to Make Things That Matter. Online at

We all have a story, don’t we? We’ve all had successes and failures, joy and disappointment, love and sadness. And yet, we’ve all made it to here… to right now! Our stories are one amongst eight billion others… eight billion other stories, each of them unique, each of them grand in their own way, and each of them a window into the humanity that connects us all. ONE OF 8 BILLION tells life stories from around the world.


Our story today is about Mo Field, a musician, songwriter, vocal coach and choir director, who is using music to help people shine and to bring us all together. Let's listen.


IVAN: Welcome to ONE OF 8 BILLION, would you please introduce yourself.

MO FIELD: My name is Mo Field. I am a musician, living currently in Toronto, Canada. I am currently really knee deep in figuring out how music can change people's lives.

IVAN: Oh, so nothing huge.

MO: Yeah. No. Small project.

IVAN: Tell me what kind of musician you are. And then I'd love to hear a little bit about the project.

MO: Yeah. I, like most musicians, have spiraled through a whole host of different genres of music in my upbringing. I was born into a very musical family. My mother was a concert pianist. So, there was a lot of classical music, a lot of choral music in my early life. I was very much a guitarist. I was hugely influenced by the likes of Joan Armatrading and Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan and other folk artists as well growing up. I became a songwriter, of course, became a multi-instrumentalist.

My real love is actually playing bass in a disco soul funk band. That's probably my biggest love. But really acapella harmony is the thing that really captured me. People singing together, making harmony together, how that changes people's lives, the sacrifices and the coordination that goes into creating space for your voice, while other people's voices are creating space for your voice and you're creating space for theirs is an endless pursuit of interest for me.

So it's a bit of a brief thing I dabbled in. As a professional musician, I've played in several bands and been in theater and of course, you know, publishing music and being in the professional music world for a long, long time. I found pursuing my love of songwriting and performing really, mired by the music industry itself, the business of music, really was taking something joyful out of the experience for me, so I spiraled back into acapella pursuits, which I do to this day.

IVAN: Where were you born? Are you Canadian? Did you always live in Toronto?

MO: No, I've actually never lived in Toronto until just about three minutes before the pandemic started. Originally, I was born in Calgary, we didn't live there very long. My father worked for the government, so we moved around a whole lot from city to city from province to province. So, I've learned a lot of really cool things from people from all over the country, which is very, very cool. I call home base Vancouver. As an adult, I lived there the most until 2003 when I moved to Stockholm, Sweden, and I've been living in Stockholm, until just before the pandemic.

IVAN: And what made you come back to Toronto? Was it right around the pandemic? Did you know the pandemic was happening? Or was it fortuitous that you came back?

MO: It was sort of fortuitous. My partner is from the UK, and we realized we were ready for the next evolution, whatever that might look like. And so, we were making some decisions. We met while I was living in Stockholm, and she moved to Stockholm. We made a decision that we wanted to move somewhere where neither one of us had ever lived before so that we could figure out what it would be like to meet in a place and be new together instead of me moving to the UK or staying in Stockholm, or moving back to Vancouver, or any number of places.

We settled on Toronto, because it's got a pretty big arts community. It's a big city. There's a lot going on here for both of us, we’re both musicians. And that seemed to be where we wanted to experience the next evolution of what we do. However, I have to confess that my main gig is actually in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and so I do a lot of traveling there which is fine. It's a great place to be.

IVAN: It is a great place to be. I love Minneapolis. As an adopted Minnesotan, and as a resident myself I think I'm a little biased, but I think this place is amazing. I'm looking out my window right now and the sky is blue, and it's clear, and it's a little crisp in the air, and it's just yellow and orange leaves all over the trees. It's probably my most favorite part of the year. And then it gets a little cold.

MO: Very much like Sweden or Canada. I have to say though, the trees where I live in Southern Ontario are by far, you can't really beat the color, the southern Ontario color in the fall. It's quite amazing. Or as my partner would say, autumn.

IVAN: Well, let’s go back a little bit to Calgary. You said you were there for a few years before you started moving around. Do you remember being a kid? Do you remember wanting to be a musician? What does the beginning of Mo’s life look like?

MO: When you're born into a musical family, and my grandfather was also a choir master everybody, in my family were musicians. I didn't really ever know that there wasn't such a thing as a musician, or that people did not make music. It never really occurred to me. So, I was born into this idea that if you're a musician, it's something that you are, it's not because it's determined by whether or not you make a profit from it. Because if you really want to know the real joke, do musicians make money?

IVAN: Maybe one in a million.

MO: There's no guarantee. But it's an identity, it's not necessarily a vocation, but it has turned into a vocation. Do I remember my young days? I remember having a nice gold CCM tricycle that I polished all the time. I loved that tricycle, and I would ride it to the store to get Black Cat bubble gum, which was my favorite licorice gum, ever. The big treats in my life. And eschewing the need for my family to make me wear dresses. I really did not like that. But I did like collecting snakes and grasshoppers and other spiders and things. I was sort of a little scientist, I guess as a child. We moved when I was about four. So, I don't really remember a lot except a lot of my curiosity. I remember being a very curious kid.

IVAN: Do you remember the first instrument you started playing?

MO: The first instrument I started playing would probably be the pots and pans. I would regularly pull out the pots and pans and just start drumming. My mother being a musician, we listened to a lot of different kinds of music, everything from Buddy Rich, to a lot of jazz, a lot of world music, we loved classical music. I just remember being really inspired to play the pots and pans and really like the lids being the cymbals as well. I'm sure everybody else in the house really loved that too. I thought I was getting really good at it, at the age of four, and I was ready to go on the road.

IVAN: Of course. That's amazing. And I didn't ask you what kind of musicians your parents were, because you've mentioned that you've come from a very musical family, even your grandparents. You said classically trained pianist, I think you said.

MO: Yes.

IVAN: Your mom.

MO: Yeah, my mother was a concert pianist. So she would be at any given time, down at the piano just bashing off something by Rachmaninoff or Bach or any one of the classical composers, usually very difficult stuff that as a young child, I had no idea was so exquisite, or difficult, I just thought everybody's mother could do it. I thought everybody's mother, you could put a piece of sheet music in front of them and they could play like the wind. It was later that I learned to have an appreciation for exactly the skill and talent that my mother actually had. It's not that you take it for granted, but you don't understand if there's no other context, if that's all you've ever known. It was fantastic.

But she would play, and this was back in the day when you got married you gave up your career sort of thing. So, she married and gave up her ambitions as a classical pianist as a concert pianist and settled down and had kids and ended up playing everywhere we were transferred. My father was transferred because he worked for the government. We would just pick up a new choir that my mother would be accompanying at any given moment, and I was the youngest in my family, so she would just take me around, everywhere she went.

So, I was exposed to, I don't remember not ever being involved in choral music, or my siblings all singing, we were like a little von Trapp Family singers. We would move to a new town, my mother would throw a party for all of the people in the neighborhood to welcome us, cause she was that kind of a person, and we just be making music in every community we were ever in whether it be folk music, or classical music, or operettas or pop music. I started playing guitar when I was seven. My father played the mandolin. My sister and brother ended up playing guitar and singing. We're all musicians, just all we ever did. So, I started playing guitar when I was seven. When I was eight, I started playing cello.

IVAN: Wow. I wish I could play an instrument. I tried playing many times, and never had the patience to sit down and practice and actually get good at something. But I loved singing in the choir. That was always amazing to me. And some of my fondest memories of high school was being in a choir of about, there were probably 70 or 80 people, and doing performances and choir competitions. It felt like I was part of a team. It felt like we were all working together to accomplish something. And we all had our own part. Did you feel that early on as well with your family?

MO: Yeah, it was interesting, I felt that music was the thing that connected me to my family, mostly actually, because my brother and sister are about four or five years older than I am, and we moved around a lot, so I would lose my circle of friends every time we moved. So, the thing that really connected me to community was always music and like you were saying, just now, that idea of being in a choir, there's this balance to be struck between feeling your right size and owning the space that you have, but also feeling that you are just a speck in the universe and being totally okay with the speck that you are but knowing you have to be 100% of the speck that you are in order for the universe to exist. And that's choral singing for me all the way.

IVAN: That's awesome. That's actually a great segue into asking you about how you feel about being ONE OF 8 BILLION. It makes me feel, as I've said before, both connected and disconnected, both large and small, depending on how I think about it. Most often, it makes me feel pretty small to be thinking about 8 billion other people on the planet. But I like how you said that you have to own 100% of that little speck. That's inspiring. How does it make you feel?

MO: For me, every single one of us of the 8 billion, we have something that is powerful about us and it's in our life force, it's in our story, it’s in our narrative, it's in everything that we are as people. What we do with it is really the determining factor of what are we helping create. What kind of an atmosphere or meta culture are we creating as people when we try and find ways to connect our humanity to other people? And most of us are just so busy trying to survive and get by it, perhaps it's a conversation of what kind of privilege do you have that you can sit around and think about what more can I do?

But I have seen miracles happen and I've met people all over the world. One of the things that I do is I coach groups all over the world. So, I've traveled a lot. And everywhere I go there is somebody with a miraculous story. Or every time I share my story, there's somebody saying, me too. There are things that connect us. For all of the divisiveness there's just some very deep and essential things that connect us as people, if we only spend the moment and take that one moment, to look more deeply into the eyes of a person that is passing us by on the street, or that we see sitting on a park bench or walking, or in an airport or, serving us lunch, or whatever it might be. If we look, we see.

IVAN: I love that, if we look, we see. It's so true, though. We just need to spend a little more time looking and not just seeing and gazing at the people around us.

MO: I used to look all the time outside my window when I was living in Vancouver. I had a really nice place there that would look over the North Shore mountains and it always used to amaze me that I could see these mountains with thousands and thousands of trees on them and yet somehow it felt like I could see each one individually at the same time.

So, if you ever look at a mountain, and just think of the fact that there are thousands and thousands and thousands of trees on those mountains, yet each single one of them, each one of them, maybe millions in a mountain range, each one of them seems to be able to be present and seen. I can almost see the outline of each one of them if you really look. And that's kind of what people are. That's what we are. And there's my cat.

IVAN: I think what you're saying is, it depends on who is looking. It depends on the lens that you take. And we can choose to see everyone, or we can choose to see those individuals. And it's powerful to be able to do both but it's also important that we do both.

MO: It’s totally important that we do both.

IVAN: So, you said that you are a musician, that's what you were born into. Do you remember the moments in high school when you were deciding what you were going to do after high school? And what did you do after high school? How did that being a musician factor into making a decision of what you were going to do?

MO: I went through some of my middle school years, playing a number of instruments. I bounced around to tuba. I ended up on French horn, and that became my main axe, as far as orchestral work. I'm a neurodivergent person as well. I'm also on the autism spectrum and I have pretty severe ADHD. So, some of my behavioral issues in my school years were pretty unpalatable to some of my teachers. I did not actually do well in music in school. My music teacher at the time did not like me, did not want me in the choir. It was the other music teacher that actually saved me and said, “you're a good French horn player, come and play in the orchestra,” which I did.

I didn't really know what I wanted to be. You don't really think that I'm going to be a musician. If you're already a musician, you think I'm supposed to get a real job or I'm supposed to do other things. I had been in Air Cadets when I was in high school, and it ended up that I was a very good shot with a rifle. So, my actual first real job after high school ended up being in the Air Force Reserve. I was a sharpshooting instructor. I just naturally took to it; it was a thing. Did I want to stay in the Air Force? I was pretty sure that I did not want to continue to teach people how to potentially harm other human beings. For me, shooting was always a bit of a sport, but then it got serious, so I ducked out of that and just started playing music because that's what I knew how to do. I've tried to be other things, but I always come back to music.

I've tried a bunch of different jobs, mostly also because I'm interested in doing other creative things. I've worked with wood. I've rebuilt houses. I've been a truck driver. I've done a bunch of things out of just curiosity, mostly. But musicianship is the thing that's in me. It's the thing I do. It's the thing I'm about.

IVAN: Did you ever study music or get any sort of instruction? Or you essentially just lived it, and you are a musician because of everything you've tried and done?

MO: I would say I'm cumulatively taught by everything that's been around me. I did try to go to college to study music a couple of times, somewhat successfully, but I've got too much work as a musician to actually keep attending college. So, there was this balance to be struck. I really want to be a lifelong student of music. I really thrive in the structure of studying music formally, but I also really thrive from learning by doing and making a living doing what I was doing, outweighed the time that I could put into school.

So, I ended up signing a publishing contract with a company in Los Angeles, writing music for them, and ducked out of the school environment. I have a very strange relationship to formal education studies. I think some of this comes from being autistic, being in a public school system. It's not necessarily built for people who are neurodivergent. So, I didn't find a lot of success. I found a lot of wounding actually, from that experience. I need to learn in my own ways, and I need the support that I need to learn in my own way. So, I'm exploring new opportunities as an adult now that I'm armed with more information, which is really fascinating and fun. But I've always yearned to have scholastic letters behind my name, but I can't seem to pay attention long enough.

IVAN: How does your neurodivergence influence and inform the music that you create these days?

MO: Wow, that's a very good question and a very, very complex and potentially long answer. I would say that, as I have come to heal the judgments and the bullying and the other harms that have happened from my younger years, and I've started to embrace and understand the neurodivergence as a superpower more than a liability, I've had to learn to advocate for myself in new ways and in new situations. As a musician, I think it’s deepened my ability, especially as a writer, to write through a lens of personal experience, and be unafraid of that personal experience because it is the only one that I really can narrate. So, I can be a very intense person at times, and I use that intensity to examine the human condition, examine my own emotions, and really put those into lyrics and music.

I'd say one of the other really cool things about it is the idea of synesthesia. Where I hear sound, and it directly relates to an emotional experience for me. I hear the sound of a seventh chord or a major seventh chord and it sounds like softness and sensuality. I hear a dissonant tri-tone or a dissonant chord of some description and there's still something compelling about the pain that's in it. So how it translates to me as a choral director and arranger, I really use and take my time to arrange music so that the chords really line up with the intent of the lyric and the subtext that is not contained anymore in the lyric because a lyricist can only fit so many words into a song.

But what about the ones that are still on the floor? The ones that are too cumbersome to talk about in a three-minute piece of music. What about the ones that drive the final lyric? Those are the ones that I'm really interested in using sound to create emotion for and then putting those into music and music is one of the only art forms that flows over time. So, then you're also playing with time, depth, volume, articulation, chords that are voiced in different configurations and melodies that are within those chords over time.

And all of those attributes can create really, really impactful emotional experiences for people that listen. And, of course, then you put voices on top of that, and you're talking about textures and balance between parts and asking those individuals to bring their humanity to the sounds that they make and reflect on their own stories, that are the common denominator of whatever lyric or emotions are being shared and it just becomes this really magical, wonderful thing.

So, I look for this in other people. Everybody's got a thing. Everybody's got some sort of a past and for me, if I can create an opportunity for people to put their past into their present and express it through sound, I will leave no stone unturned.

IVAN: Is this how you are changing the world? We talked about that project that you're knee deep in right now. Tell me a little bit about that and how it relates?

MO: I don't know if I'm powerful enough to change anything but what I do know is I can do what I can, where I stand and bring the passion that I have, for my perspective forward and see if there are other people that want to be on that journey together too. Because, together, and again, the thing about choirs that’s so powerful, like you touched on earlier, that together we create something that's bigger than who we are as individuals.

And again, that's that speck thing, I have to be the boldest speck I can be even if I'm just a speck. My mother, who is no longer with us, used to say to me that when you dim your light so someone else can shine, the whole world gets darker. And I really like that. Our job is to be fiercely who we are and do something with what we are to add more than we take away from our experience in life.

IVAN: You also mentioned Minneapolis, that that's where your gig was, and that you did a fair amount of traveling. And I know that there's an acapella choir here in St. Paul maybe or in the Twin Cities, that you are somehow connected to. Tell us about your gig in Minneapolis.

MO: I'm the artistic director of a chorus called the Great Northern Union. And it has traditionally been a male barbershop chorus, it is now a an all voice chorus because the conversation of gender right now in the world has changed so dramatically, especially under the pandemic the past few years asking people to determine how they gender themselves it's a minefield, actually. There are so many variations, that music can't necessarily be in the business of asking people to determine their gender. I don't think music knows what gender people are, it just is.

So the chorus now is enjoying revisiting what some of our core values are as people, what binds us together more than just the music that we sing, but the why of the music that we choose to sing and the communities that we choose to intersect with and become more conversational with other choral groups, with other communities that aren't necessarily choral groups, to create opportunity for people who need to express themselves through sound, and singing and harmony.

So, a lot has changed under the pandemic for us. It wasn't necessarily what we had all expected going in at all, which is really interesting. We just stayed aware and started talking about our values first, and it was our values that led us to some of the changes in our identity as a choral group. But we are small and mighty and friendly and very familial in inexperience and singing some really great music as we redevelop who we are with a new sense of self, and some new members.

And to be fair, some of the other members that were previously in the group were not interested in hanging with this new version of who we are, so we've grown into something else, and they've gone on to do some other things as well, some of the former members, which is okay. People need to be where they're supposed to be and that's up to the individual to determine.

But I'm really hoping to meet more people in Minneapolis. I started doing this work with this group three months before the pandemic hit, so much of our time together has been online until just this past little while. So, I'm very excited about what our future looks like and how we're going to be intersecting with other people.

We're doing a show with five other choirs, a festival on the 12th of November at O'Shaughnessy called Choirs Alive, where we're inviting a bunch of other diverse choruses to come forward and sing some and then talk about how they survived the pandemic. It was a huge hit to the choral communities all across the board. So we're trying to create platforms where we can start sharing resources and sharing spirit and sharing communities and rebuilding the choral space together.

IVAN: So, this introspective look, this evolution into the Great Northern Union has not just been a few months, this has been a few years in the making?

MO: It definitely has been. I've become the director of a couple of groups now that had been in some flux and needed some extra definition and perhaps a little bit of reorganization. I had done the same sort of work in Stockholm with a choir over there called Stockholm City Voices, that had been a larger choir, that had some political upset, they had lost a director, they were looking for some new direction, and I ended up being their director for 13 to 14 years and we rebuilt from scratch and got some international profile, from the work that we did that was based in values based coordination.

So, with GNU right away from the beginning, getting to know what their journey had been, and asking a bunch of questions and observing some of the things that they'd been doing, and then piecing together, and this is common in a lot of groups that I've coached over the years, there is a disconnect. And I don't know if it's because it's a nonprofit organization, these are largely volunteers we're talking about, but there's a disconnect between people wanting things and then being accountable to the things they say they want. So there ends up being this chasm in leadership where it becomes hierarchical or experiential, or mission based rather than vision based.

And mission-based work is really great to get people really enthused about a goal and achieving that goal. It's incredibly difficult to sustain if there are values that are really talked about, discussed and held in agreement underneath. You've got to set a culture that goes with it, your culture can't just be based on what you gain from the experience, externally, it has to be something that the involvement of the individual has to be based on how they are fed, as an individual from being a part of the experience, while they're achieving goals as well, and that's much more solid and sustainable.

And it actually really translates to exquisite and nuanced harmony, and people that are really searching for meaning in real time as they are performing, rather than performing something that they've remembered how to do on a very high level. So, there's a little bit more of a flexibility and accountability to that musician needing to develop their autonomous skills to be available for that flexibility at such a high and nuanced level that everything that they sing is something that they truly mean.

IVAN: I love this idea of focusing on the why so that the what is much easier, and I think the analogy that I heard in what you were describing was, it's much easier to know why you are singing and be able to let it come from who you are and what you believe, than it is to just remember those words and to remember those lyrics and the notes to just create it. Like, having that why is so much more powerful, and sustaining as well.

And I don't think that these value-based organizations are strictly only limited to nonprofits. I think that for profits like ours, there's no reason why we can't be values based and mission driven, even if we are a for profit business, and I think that's what's really important. That's the trend that I've seen in the last five to 10 years is, as you adopt your why, and as you define it, you become more true to who you are and more successful in what you're trying to achieve.

MO: Absolutely, absolutely. And I would say that more for profits could stand to learn from an example of a nonprofit choir, on how to help engage that autonomy of the individual so that the collective ethos is being sustained by the way that we work. It's not something that has to be drilled into people's minds. When you share values, and you share agreement around those values, all of a sudden, you have all this extra energy to do things that really matter, because you're not busy trying to continually reinforce buy-in. And I think that goes for nonprofits as well as for profits.

It's an essential element to being able to discover things that you didn't know you needed to discover, because the team is already not arguing about some things. You’ve got room for the correct kind of chaos to occur so that art can emerge. Because art is created from chaos but choose your chaos wisely.

IVAN: Did you have anyone in your life who has helped you through this chaos, a leader or a memorable colleague that taught you something that helped you along the way?

MO: I’ve had so many influential, beautiful human beings. And some of them very contentious human beings that have taught me some lessons that sometimes people are an example to others, and sometimes people are a warning to others.

IVAN: I hear you. Jobs too.

MO: Yeah, exactly. And I've been really blessed with having both in my life. I would say my mother was one of my most influential people, relentlessly positive, relentlessly wise, just constantly seeing this meta idea of our potential as humans. I don't even know how to express it correctly. She was a force of nature, and she had the x factor. There's an x factor that people have or don't have, and she was one of those x factor people in my life.

There was also my uncle Percy, who, although our interactions were incredibly brief, and I was young, he had an incredible impact on me. He had been a foot soldier in the First World War, and later a colonel in the Second World War and I think probably in Korea as well, being a Canadian, in the Canadian Armed Forces. And he taught me some really great life lessons actually about leadership. Again, just a great human being, as well as a master Warrant Officer, when I was in officer training. I would have followed him off the edge of a cliff, this guy. He was that NCO that you see in the movies, knows all, sees all, knows more than all of the officers. He's been there. He's done that. He was that guy.

And I remember asking him one day, I just said, “Look, I don't know what it is about you, but I would do anything you asked me to do. Like I would follow you anywhere and I don't know really, why because you're hard as nails, you’re not really easy to read or get along with, but for some reason, I trust you.” And he looked at me, and this is like life lesson stuff, he said, “you know what being a great leader is? Being a great leader is getting people to do something you want done and the way you want it done but in such a way that it makes them think that they thought about it themselves.”

And I'm like, “okay, okay, so how do I do that?” Because I thought that was magic. And I said, “how do I do that?” And he said, “the number one thing is people got to see that you're following something greater than yourself.” I thought, Yeah, yeah, that's it. And ever since then I've been looking for my why. And the more I look for my why the more people are like, Okay, I'll do that. You know, anytime my ego jumps in I can feel the results are usually met with resistance with the instructions or anything that I'm trying to do is met with some sort of resistance, the wrong kind of resistance.

Sometimes you get resistance because you're a change agent, sometimes you're met with resistance because your ego's in the way and you've got to take those life lessons from the magical people in your life that have helped you learn the difference between those two things. And there's just been so so many people in my life, some partners in my life that have been magically instructive on how to be a better human being. There have been some people in my journey of giving up substance that have been really impactful in my life as well.

A good friend of mine, Ron, who, the first time I met him, he just looked at me and said, “Hey, you got to take care of little Mo.” And that's his first words to me, and I'd never really considered up to that point that I needed to do some retrospective work on caring for whatever traumas were in my history, but that has really proved to make me a more compassionate and empathetic human being, getting away from intellectualizing my own emotions. And getting to understand them and feel them at the same time has made me a better person for all of the people that I am involved with. There are just too many people to name quite frankly. Whatever success I have I owe to the people that have fed me.

IVAN: That's beautiful. What inspires you these days and brings you joy?

MO: Oh, this is also an excellent question. I have to say observing my cats teaches me how to keep things simple, and I really need that in my life. During the pandemic, I have to say, I didn't realize that I liked growing a lawn, so that became my obsession. Being locked in the house, the lawn, not gardening, the lawn became my obsession, the aeration of the lawn, the nutrition of the lawn, the cutting it only 1/3 of its height at a time. Yes, everything about the lawn. Have a lush lawn, when to water, when not to water. The small zen of the lawn became my thing.

Just this past year we moved into a new house and of course, we had to start from scratch again and I didn't quite have the wherewithal to do it. I was also really busy since COVID was mellowing out a bit and we were back in action. So, I've been on the road a little too much to actually tend to the lawn. So instead of tending the lawn, I decided to do nothing about the lawn, because I knew I would only be disappointed by not being able to do what I had done. Because it wouldn't be lush and green, I would miss watering and I would just get depressed. I gave up on the lawn.

So yeah, right now actually, the thing that I'm really enjoying right now is just dabbling in drawing and arts, actually graphic arts and again, playing the bass. I could play the bass for hours and hours and hours and not even notice that a day has gone by. I just love playing the bass. That's my main personal what brings me joy.

IVAN: That's so cool. I want to acknowledge your love of lawn because I haven't found very many people who love lawn as much as I do. I love my lawn.

MO: A lawn enthusiast.

IVAN: Oh, I like that word. The thing about my lawn though is, I like the shape. I like to cut it in a certain way. I like to put a border. So, there's stairs that go up to the front door, I have two sides in the front, I like to put a border around each side. I like to mow it diagonally so that it’s toward the door, so that it looks inviting. That’s what brings me joy is mowing that lawn so that its diagonal.

MO: Yeah, the diagonal lawn. I tried that too and I sucked at it. And then somebody said, No, you need to get this roller at the back, that thing that you can put at the back of the lawnmower that actually kind of flattens it in the opposite direction. I tell you; it was a game changer. Look into it.

IVAN: I will. Definitely. So, 2023 we get an electric lawnmower with a roller.

MO: Yeah, so you can experiment. I’m actually going to ball games this year. Going to the Blue Jays games has been absolutely one of the greatest escapes from my brain, which is fantastic. There's so much going on in a ball game even though there's nothing really going on for most of the time you're there. And I just love looking at the green, although we have turf here in Ontario, and at Blue Jays stadium, but you're sitting right underneath the CN Tower. It's a beautiful day. It’s great. It's a great thing. I love going to ball games.

IVAN: It's a great stadium. I've seen the Blue Jays play there a number of years ago. It was a great experience.

MO: Come on back. We’ll go.

IVAN: We’ll do that. Well, when you’re in Minneapolis, you should visit us during the summer when the Twins are playing and we can go watch the Twins play, maybe the Blue Jays will be here, and I can tell you about the lawn at Target Field. Because there actually is some method to the madness of the way they cut the outfield. The turf.

MO: I don't even know what the technical term is. And you know what, I'm in Minneapolis almost every week. So, I would love to meet up with you in person.

IVAN: That would be great. My son was telling me that the players who are in the outfield know which way the grass is cut, and what it does to the ball, and whether it'll speed the ball up or slow it down. So, depending on whether they see the dark, or the light version of the ground, they know to either speed up their run towards the ball or not go as fast because it might bounce and be really crazy.

MO: That's amazing.

IVAN: Yeah, there's a method to that as well, which is wonderful.

MO: Now, my curious mind wants to know, does it depend which way the ball is spinning when it lands on said grass that is cut in such a direction?

IVAN: I bet it does.

MO: It must.

IVAN: It must.

MO: If you were a ball floating through space spinning backwards and you hit a bunch of blades of grass that were pointing towards you, you would stop sooner.

IVAN: I think you’re right. That would be my guess too.

MO: I don't know, I’d just throw myself in the direction of the ball and try and catch it.

IVAN: Well, Mo, I've had such a fun time talking to you. Thank you for joining us on the show. It's just been wonderful to learn about you and to learn about the work that you do and how you're a musician at heart but also love lawns, a lawn enthusiast as you said.

MO: A lawn enthusiast, indeed.

IVAN: Maybe we'll catch the Blue Jays playing the Twins at some point in Minneapolis together.

MO: Maybe we will. And you know you can always come out and sing in my chorus every Thursday night.

IVAN: Every Thursday night?

MO: Every Thursday night.

IVAN: It sounds like fun. Thanks a lot for joining us.

MO: Thanks a lot for having me. It's been fun.


This has been ONE OF 8 BILLION, a podcast about all of us... online at Join us again next time as we listen to one of eight billion other stories!

ONE OF 8 BILLION is supported by TEN7, a technology studio whose mission is to Make Things That Matter. Find out more at I’m Ivan Stegic. Thank you for listening.


This is episode 147 of ONE OF 8 BILLION. It was recorded on October 25, 2022, and first published on November 23, 2022. Audio length is 42 minutes. Transcription by Roxanne Chumucas. Summary, highlights and editing by Brian Lucas. Music by Lexfunk. Produced by Jonathan Freed.

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