Shaker student, 14, busy building musical career in between classes

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BY Molly Congdon
Gazette Reporter
LATHAM — Many 14-year-olds dream of having their own band, but not many actually make it happen. Moriah Formica is the exception to the rule.

Formica and her band, Moriah Formica, was one of the acts that performed at Clifton Park’s Summer Concert Series at the Clifton Commons on Sunday, Aug. 23. There were many people in lawn chairs, sprawled on blankets in the grass and standing upright swaying to the music; however, a few select concertgoers were there solely for Formica and they stood out from the rest by their T-shirts, which bore an image of the girl with her name hovering directly above.

This isn’t the only place where her band has played. Other venues include Trick Shots Billiard Hall in Clifton Park, the Clifton Country Mall, the Schenectady Summer Night this past July and opening for nationally recognized bands such as Krobot, Film and Owl.

When she was born, her family resided in Delmar, then moved to Halfmoon until she was 5 and since then has lived in Latham. She is now a student at Shaker High School.

Her father, Josh, works for medical malpractice insurer CMA and her mother, Donna, works in the claims department for Travelers Insurance. She also has two brothers: Derek, 21, who is studying psychology at Buffalo State and Gabriel, who at a year and a half younger than Formica is about to enter the eighth grade.

Despite the fact that her academic studies take place outside Clifton Park, it is the place where her music education occurs. Modern Day Music — located on the outside of Clifton Park Center — is a music school where students, like Formica, are guided by veteran music coaches who have extensive performance, touring, recording and educational experience.

Forming a band
Her band came to fruition through a mixture of talent, love and lyrics. “I have awesome parents; they help a lot with everything,” Formica said. “But I’ve been at Modern Day Music for a while taking voice lessons and there is a band program that they have there. The owner, Paul Benedetti — my producer now — wanted to record me and then he gathered up the musicians we have now.”

Jay and Dave — both in their 40s — play guitar, Tony, 17, is the drummer, Ben, one of the instructors at Modern Day Music, plays the bass, and Formica sings and plays guitar.

The group’s first performance was at Latham Ridge — her elementary school — for its spring fling event, which celebrates the start of summer. “We played in the auditorium for the kids and they loved it,” Formica said.

“We play mainly hard rock and leaning toward the metal side,” she said. “But we also play things like ‘Bang Bang” by Jessie J and ‘Lips are Movin’ ’ by Meghan Trainor, so we like to mix it up and play some of the pop music that people can dance to.”

Hooked at a young age
Singing didn’t come first for Formica. She fell in love with music through the strings of a guitar. “I got my first guitar when I was 5,” Formica said. “And then when I was 7 my aunt got me the game “Guitar Hero” and ever since then it was done, I loved it.”

She didn’t discover her voice until a couple of years later. “I was at my cousin’s graduation party and we were all doing karaoke and I just started singing ‘Rolling in the Deep,’ ” Formica said.

Her dad thought it was the radio — before that moment he had never heard his daughter sing.
Formica has been greatly influenced by Aerosmith. “They were the first band that I learned to play all the guitar songs to,” she said. “Singing-wise, Amy Lee from Evanescence is the greatest influence on my voice.”

For the past year she has been constructing her first album, an EP that will consist of about 6 songs, full of originals written and arranged by Formica herself.

“When I’m on stage playing, it’s like a high,” she said. “I can’t explain it, it’s just an awesome feeling. It’s what I was made to do, it’s what I was put on this Earth to do.”

She continued: “I hope that I can go big places. I want to touch people’s lives, it’s not just fame because if fame is your main goal then you’re not going to get anywhere, you know?”

Six questions for
Moriah Formica:

Q: What’s the number one thing on your bucket list?
A: To catch a rattlesnake. I’m a huge reptile fan; I have three snakes at home.
Q: What are the essential toppings on your ice cream sundae?
A: There’s a lot. Peanut butter is the most important, I always love cookie dough and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups; those are the core toppings but then there are graham cracker crumbs, brownie bites, marshmallow and all those things.
Q: What’s your favorite color?
A: Black, the absence of color. Aside from black, though, it’s pink.
Q: If you could have any animal for a pet, what would it be and why?
A: Every single snake in the world.
Q: What is one of your greatest fears?
A: Being embarrassed and heights, I hate heights.
Q: What’s your favorite subject in school?
A: Science, I love finding out about how things work within the body and what things on Earth consist of.