Who/what were your early musical influences? The Beatles, Frank Zappa, Eminem, Brad Mehldau, Elton John, Supertramp, Radiohead, Red Hot Chill Peppers
Any memorable gigs? I DJ’d a silent disco once (everybody uses headphones instead of speakers) and a guy got really excited and tried to do a backflip and broke his leg and nobody noticed cause they all had headphones on.
Where would be your dream venues to play live? Sold out arenas
What was the first concert you ever went to? The Red Hot Chill Peppers in Montreal on the Californication tour. Flea walked across the stage on his hands and the guy next to me was head banging really hard until he smacked his face on the balcony railing, then he stopped.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice that you have been given regarding your career to date? “Be so good they can’t ignore you” – Steve Martin
Who are your current favourite artists? 100 gets, Frank Zappa, Clarence Clarity, Khruangbin, Kiefer, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, McBaise, Michelle
Describe your music style in 3 words Maximalist, apocalyptic, fun
Is there a genre you would like to explore that you haven’t already? I’ve been fairly eclectic, genre is becoming less about an artist’s overall brand and more about mood from song to song, or even section to section.
How has Covid affected your career? I have fewer distractions now.
What is your songwriting process? I get a cool idea, hyper-focus for 4 hours, and if I like the idea I’ve come up with, I spend 2 years finishing it.
Who would you most like to collaborate with? Paul McCartney or Jacob Collier just so I could ask them songwriting questions.
What does the future hold for Pusher? I’m going to keep making music until I can’t physically continue!
What do you miss most about playing live? / Do you have any live shows booked for the year? Hauling 150lbs of gear through airports is only worth it because it’s fun to play music to people who care about music and then meet them.
What would be your go to karaoke track? Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down.
What is the ultimate pop song in your opinion?
If you could describe your approach to music and yourself as an artist in three words what would they be and why? Direct, Optimistic, Nihilistic
Tell us a little about your recording process It’s all in the laptop for me – I’m a tinkerer. The writing and production is all mixed up so as soon as the writing is done, the song is done.
Do you have any interests or hobbies outside of music? Reading and Rock Climbing have taken over my hobbies recently.
What is the main aim or message you are trying to communicate in your music? I’m trying to remind people that we can do whatever we can imagine – it doesn’t have to be relationship-centric pop songs with a quirky lyrical angle. You could tell a story about a sandwich or sing about American imperialism or climate change. We’re the culture makers, the public imagination – our job is to inspire people, not only to entertain superficially.
What qualities do you think make a great musician? A great artist or musician is somebody who creates something unique to themselves at the highest level they’re capable of.
Every song has come about somewhat differently, usually Bri will start an idea with melody, harmony, and lyrics and then Luc will take off with the production. But other songs have come about the opposite way, where Luc will send an instrumental and then Bri runs with that. We both touch on the songwriting and production, Bri will help in finishing and polishing the production and Luc will help finish the lyrics. It’s always a cohesive collaboration in that sense.
How has Covid affected your career?
Like most people, Covid brought a lot of change, as it did for us. We were planning on having a year full of releases, however the challenges and uncertainties of the time brought upon some difficulties with our health and mental health. We had loss in the family and eventually Luc developed a panic disorder that enveloped both our lives in the beginning of the pandemic. It was a big challenge that led to a lot of personal growth and overcoming it has changed the way we look at life and how we approach creating. We’d say where we are now compared to the beginning of the pandemic is vastly different and we are not only more productive in our work but more grateful in our lives and are creating from a place of intention. It reinforced what our goal with Druzy is even more, which is to make a positive connection and impact on people.
What is the main aim or message you are trying to communicate in your music?
First of all we make our music because music is our ultimate passion and we love to create, perform and inspire, just like what music has done for us. We believe that music is an Oasis or an escape where you can connect with a song and feel a rush of emotion that can be either exciting and lift you up or gently hold your hand when you need some love. We create with intention and are trying to be real with people and have people connect to it in a positive way. Even with songs with a more somber tone. At the end of the day, we want to inspire people to be creative, live their passions, have fun, and love one another.
What would be your go to karaoke track?
Bri: Abba – Dancing Queen
Luc: Nasty – Janet Jackson
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
The artist we’d want to collab with is Kylie Miniogue. We’d love to songwrite with her, we love her last album and she gives off an aura of positivity that is very inspiring to us. But we’d also like to collab with the Songwriter/Producer Max Martin. We are super inspired by his perfectly crafted pop songs (Oops!…I Did It Again by Britney Spears that he made, for example).
What does the future hold for Druzy?
It’s been a while since we last released a song so we are sitting on a treasure trove of new music. Like we said earlier, we were planning on releasing music, so now that we are closer to normalcy in our personal lives, we are ready to hit it hard with releasing music, music videos and other creative projects. Honestly, we aren’t too focused on playing live yet. We still want Covid to settle down plus we are getting back into our groove of creating. Another focus of ours is songwriting and publishing so we are excited to collaborate and share the sound of Druzy. Our next release will be a collaboration with Habitat Canada called “Speed of Light” that will be releasing soon via Sinematic Records in London and will be the kickoff to the next stage of Druzy 🙂
A great place to start is at the very beginning. So what was the song that you can remember hearing?
Oh, the first song that I can remember hearing? Wow. I think it might be ‘Listen To What The Man Said’, from the McCartney ‘Wings’ era. I specifically remember that little synthesiser line, the flourish and singing along with it in like back like in a car seat. I mean, have you heard any of the ‘McCartney III’ stuff he’s doing right now like with Dominic Fike, Beck and everything?
Yes! What do you think of it?
I mean, Paul is my favourite songwriter, and voice, just all things creative really! I just look up to him so much. And to see him finding creative ways to engage with other artists and a younger audience and stuff. Man, it makes me wish I was a little further in my career, I would love to do something like that with him. He will always be the hero to me, and it kind of evolved for me – that’s the first song I can probably remember hearing, but learning music for me was basically going through The Beatles discography and sitting with my Dad at the piano and him kind of explaining, this is how music theory works. That’s like my whole childhood…
What’s your favourite Beatles album – If you had to pick?
If I had to pick, Sergeant Pepper’s because it’s just like always special place in my heart. But also, the back half of Abbey Road, you just can’t beat that.
So I’m guessing it will probably be a similar kind of answer. But is there an artist that totally re-evaluated the way you perceive music?
I mean, I guess we jumped the gun and already skipped right ahead to that!
My Dad played a little bit of music in church, but he also studied music in college, and then didn’t end up working in that field, but he just has an awesome ear. He can hear anything on the radio and just like sit down and play it or play a guitar or whatever. So I was always around music and my dad’s always singing stuff in the house and playing instruments. But then when I heard The Beatles by myself and sat down and listened to it, it was like, my whole life changed a little bit. I became personally obsessed with it, even more than like my Dad was and I just read every book, watched ‘The Anthology’ like a million times. At the same time, I was learning how music theory works and I don’t think I will ever be able to have that formative experience again, where it’s like, that was my first time – I fell in love with music. It is the greatest music ever written, in my opinion. I don’t think you can have that first experience again, that was really what made me want to be on stage, singing songs for people, you know?
Yeah, I completely understand. So, what kind of age did you begin creating your own music?
I think I got a guitar around like 10 or 11 years old, but I’d say that it was about age 14 or 15. So I had taken advice from my dad and learned a few songs, but it was more like learning the shapes of the chords, but when I was 14, or 15, and The Beatles world opened up to me, that was when I started to try and understand how it worked. As I was learning, I was starting to write music too, I thought: Okay, if they can do this, and it’s just simply like a matter of putting words and emotions to the melody, I think I can do that. So I’d say 14, or 15, was when I really started to try to get everyone around me in a band.
What would you say is one life experience that you’ve had, that without it, you wouldn’t be the artists that you’ve become today?
Oh, man, these are awesome questions. Well, I would say that there was a big moment where I was already committed to trying to be a musician for my career. I went to school for business and finance stuff, an at one point in my life considered being a consultant and doing things in that world. But all I really wanted, the passion in my life and in my heart, was to sing songs. But there was a moment when I came over to London to play to an agency, I offered to come over there on my own dime, to find people to work together with and see if I could get on an opening tour, or something like that. So, I came over, and I brought the band and I remember, I basically had about like $10,000 in the bank, and I spent like $9,500 to get the myself, the band and everything over there. I knew I was taking a risk, but I wanted to go all out, so we went there.
It was in Camden Town at a new venue that wasn’t like properly open yet, it was like a soft launch kind of thing, so people came but it wasn’t a ton, hey didn’t have their sound system all dialled in yet, there were front of house malfunctions. I was just so discouraged, thinking I spent all the money I have. I obviously thought it was so cool to you know, travel the world to play music and bringing my band, I thought it was awesome but it also felt really discouraging. My band is so cool, those guys put their arms around me and we had some beers and it was great. But then, the next morning, I got a phone call from someone that was like; “Hey, I was at your show and there’s a PR person who I’ve worked with, y’all were so amazing, so sorry, I didn’t ask you but I went ahead and sent your music to someone at Rocket [The Rocket Record Company]. Somehow, Elton John heard that this morning and he wants to call you right now, so hang up and please answer the phone!”. I could not believe it, it was just like the most prime example where I thought God is watching over the situation or something like that. I never in a million years would have expected that to happen, and it thankfully it grew into a relationship. I felt like Elton was a friend of mine and so invested in my life. Just sitting around at his kitchen table he talked to me about what it means to be an artist. I remember he talked to me about waking up in the middle of the night, he said: “I’m an old man, so I wake up in the night a lot and when I walk back to bed, sometimes I stop at the piano because that’s just what my soul tells me”. I just remember being so inspired by like sitting next to him and talking to him like that in just an incredibly human kind of way and he was another hero of mine already. So yeah, to hear him talk like that and just be a regular guy, I was so close to thinking, maybe I should go be a consultant or something and he really reminded me that what I’m doing is important, even if it’s on a small scale – it’s worth it.
What was it like having a mentor, and effectively a co-sign from Elton John of all people. You just gave us a little bit of insight, but is there any other words of wisdom that he’s given you that you’d be able to share with us?
I can’t even begin to explain, it was something I wasn’t seeking, I really wasn’t hoping for anybody to be my mentor or anything like that. And to be honest, he’s really busy guy and he obviously has a whole world and a life of his own, so for him to kind of have taken that moment and that period of time, really meant a lot. But there wasn’t a specific piece of advice, it was mainly just his enthusiasm as an older and respected musician that kind of reminded me that this is a viable career. Like the way he had his iPad, he would just always be showing me new bands that he was loving, the music discovery part of the business still really inspired him in his 70s into writing music. I think that overall attitude that he had just reminded and confirmed to me that this doesn’t have to just be like, a two year try and be a musician kind of thing. Like you can have a real career and let your passion be the thing that leads that career. It reminded me that don’t have to be Elton John or other big arena artists to be able to be a sustainable musician.
I remember one time, I went to a bunch of record label meetings, and I’d been over at his house the day before in LA, and he wanted to see how the meetings went the next day. So I went into his studio, and he showed me some new stuff he was working on, I met the band, he took time out of his session, stopped what everybody was doing and we probably sat and talked for two hours. I remember when I was talking about something that the people at Capitol Records had said, and at the time, he was on Capitol too. He was in sunglasses and the full ‘Elton’ suit and he just grabbed my hands and he jumped up and down like, “Yeah, baby! Yeah, baby! Yeah, baby!”. He was just so pumped for me that I was gonna maybe get a record deal. That moment, I just know when I’m 100 years old or something, I’m gonna remember it like it was yesterday, and probably never stop telling my grandkids about it.
It came at that time when it’s hard to be an independent musician, especially financially. It’s hard to figure out how to sustain and to get that cosign from him really made me feel like I could do it. I needed somebody to give me the encouragement at that moment in my life and yeah, it’s been an important part of my life overall.
What qualities do you feel you need to have to be a great musician?
Oh, man, I think there’s a whole lot. In this weird moment that we’re in right now, record labels are changing what their operations are. Streaming is totally different to physical sales and everything, I think there’s a lot more opportunities to make a living and be an artist. One key thing I’ve taken away is everyone’s trying to climb this mountain. But it’s not necessarily like you’re all trying to find the same path. It used to be that you had to sign to a major label and get radio play and do it that way. Now, I think just being aware that there’s a million ways to earn a living and sustain yourself by writing songs is important, so I guess, I’d say you need to take the five mile view. I honestly think, having a pretty strategic mindset has helped me, not being afraid to plan things in advance, even if you have to change those plans. Rather than remaining stuck to the classic kind of artist viewpoint, which is maybe more about just sitting and making my music, you have to really remember, this is an entrepreneurial endeavour, like I am a business owner and my product that I’m selling, is songs that I create out of my heart. You can still be passionate about that, while at the same time, trying to exploit it to earn a living, you know?
So, kind of remembering that there is a split between the artist side and the business side, and remembering that at this stage in the game, you don’t necessarily have to have the big label help to do it. Being aware of that makes me feel more confident to work hard on the business side. So I think some of those qualities; being strategic, not being afraid to plan stuff out. The ultimate one for me this past year, what I’ve learnt through COVID, is that nobody on the planet cares as much as you do about trying to get your songs out. Try to keep that in mind. I used to work with a bunch of different producers and I still enjoy collaborating, but there are so many times when I’m waiting for someone to send me the mix back and it takes so long and I don’t even know when when they’re gonna finish this. So during the COVID year, I started releasing a bunch of songs that I’ve produced all myself and I always felt like I needed help to get there. But with all the resources that’s out there, and YouTube and everything, like you can be your own champion, and there’s a way to be a DIY musician and make a great living, access a bunch of people across the world and not need to wait on your friend for 10 days to send it back. Like you can finish the song yourself and overcome any obstacles. The DIY mindset has changed everything.
What was the most significant change that’s happened to you over the last year?
I think probably the most lasting thing was my attitude shift about this DIY stuff. I was always happy to be an independent artist and happy when little opportunities came along, but always envisioning and thinking to myself “I can’t wait till maybe a big record label wants to sign me” or “I can’t wait until I can work with this producer etc”. Then this year during COVID, I didn’t have the opportunity to go work with my normal friends and collaborators and I just realised, I gained so much more knowledge in the studio than I thought I had before. It was a matter of me sitting down and doing it myself, so through this year, I’ve really learned that although I’m not a pro-producer, I can sit there for three weeks and get my stuff in the right place, I feel like that’s been a big change. I had one song called ‘Flower’ that I put out before the pandemic, that was the test song, my wife said, “Dude, that sounds good, you don’t need to send it to a professional mastering or mixing person, no one will be able to tell – just put it out!” And I just tried it and it reminded me that if the substance is there, that’s what is important. I can always be working on the production to enhance it and make it better and this year, I had no choice but to do that all myself. It’s been wild because way more people are listening to my songs than before the pandemic and I’m super thankful that that’s happening. And it’s been happening in tandem with this kind of belief in myself, that I can make a song from start to finish by myself.
I do often think that the DIY approach to production can make you as an artist a little bit more accessible to the general listener. It can be perceived as much more raw, and people recognise that it’s coming more heart and soul than an overly polished and manufactured product. What do you think about that?
I guess the realness and honesty in the songs comes through more that way. At the beginning of this pandemic I realised that my music was starting to chart in Korea, and it still is, which got me excited about opportunities of maybe playing across Asia, but then pandemic hit. I was so bummed out, because I was starting to get offers for bigger festivals and shows that I’d never gotten before. So, I decided I was gonna try to do some Instagram Lives and just see how that goes instead. At the beginning of the pandemic, I would have only a few people logging on and watching and it’s now grown a lot. But I started thinking about the rawness of production, because towards the beginning of those livestreams, I was thinking that I needed to have my microphones and get the reverb set up, so that sounds almost perfect and really cool. But it’s crazy, like, people don’t really want to see you doing that, they’d rather see me sing this into the air and see me have a few internet problems and it not sound too perfect. I think that reminds people that like, this is just a dude sitting in his little apartment playing his piano; he’s just a regular guy; like me. Which I think helps those songs to come to life and be received more a little bit more as intended.
What is your favorite song to perform?
Oh, I gotta say, I played this song ‘Honeymoon’, which I wrote for my wife when we got married. I surprised her at our wedding, for our first dance, so it’s always been a special one in my heart. But somehow that song got used in a video for a lady named Raisa. She’s really famous in Indonesia, she’s a singer and a movie star. She used it for her wedding video and after that it was like all over the radio in Indonesia for the past couple years. So the first time I really played that one live to an arena out in Jakarta, before that I’d never played in an arena before, and everyone sang the words with me. That was a moment I will never forget, because I’d never really heard people singing along like that when performing one of my songs before. I can’t really describe how cool that was.
Yeah, that must be really amazing. I was actually going to ask you about your international recognition, so now seems the perfect timing! I read that you broke the Shazam record in the UK for an unsigned artist, and then hit number 2 in in Indonesia for Honeymoon. Has it changed your creative process at all and broadened your worldview? Knowing that there are so many different people, backgrounds and cultures listening to you? How does that change your approach to writing?
I feel like I really have shifted. I’ve had to seek the balance of recognizing that maybe people have naturally picked up on and gravitated towards me because they like the sort of the place that I’m already coming and creating from. But also, you can see so much from just looking at Instagram, seeing where the people that follow me on Instagram are from. So looking through Spotify playlists that are big, like the viral charts in Indonesia versus Singapore and Korea versus the UK. You can clearly see that people have different tastes in different places. So I’ve tried to take note of what is poppin’ in different territories to at the very least keep that in mind when I’m writing. But I think it’s important to remember that staying ahead of the game is always good rather than chasing trend and just writing something from my heart feels good to me. I’m hopeful people will enjoy it, but I have definitely incorporated some of that into my writing, especially in Korea. Korea has a really specific taste and the audience there has naturally latched on to a couple more of my r&b, lean-back type of tracks. I’ve tried to write some more in that vein to allow people to, listen and engage with new songs. But what has really been able to sustain me as an artist and allowed me to, even have any bucks in the bank to go and to do a London show back in the day, was all down to advertising music. I’m a naturally happy and positive kind of songwriter, and I try to bring that joy through in my songs, but that has worked well for me in terms of getting placements. I’d always rather just write something from my heart that might fit well into that world rather than force it. I think I’m kind of applying that same lens to my international writing and particular my success in Asia, to take it take note of taste and what that audience like, and incorporate it, but remain true to myself.
Who would be the first person you’d want to see to perform when shows do start up again?
You know what? I’m really into this one artist called Still Woozy, it’s just such cool music. I’ve seen he doesn’t have a ton of touring history, so he doesn’t have many live videos up. I would love to see how he performs this because we don’t really make the same music, so I really want to see how he conveys that music in a live setting, I think that would be really cool. It also like Rex Orange County, I’d love to see him and of course, I would love to see Paul McCartney play, again, although I’ve seen him twice before but he’s always on the list!
Is there anything that you would change about the music industry from any of your experiences?
I had one experience where I got like quite a few competitive offers from the big labels. That was when Elton was really excited for me, it was heating up and people were making bigger offers and stuff. Then this commercial, for Bupa that had my track on, had just stopped airing on TV and the song like hadn’t even been released. We were working to get it released, like a few days later after this. So I was trying to hire a lawyer in time and trying to find somebody to help me negotiate, what these offers were, as I didn’t understand any of this stuff yet. But I feel like that that instance, it basically all crumbled, I didn’t sign with a major label and now I’m actually kind of grateful for that as I think I probably would have got shelved, but I felt really deflated at the time. Because I could tell that there was quite an ego game going on with the big industry players. They were all awesome to me, and super nice, but I could kind of tell that maybe these offers were competitive, because this label just wanted to beat this other one to it, and wanted me to be on the roster instead of somebody else getting it. That kind of experience made me want to take the industry a little more at arm’s length. I actually almost thought about quitting and just doing doing a different job because it was just such a discouragement to have everything in front of you and all the top level people are wanting to do something with you and then everybody saying that they don’t want to do any of this stuff they offered only like two days later. I kind of feel like that abrupt, reactive attitude is something I’d like to see change. Nowadays, everybody’s so into creating a proprietary, new data analysis system that helps you figure out what artists are bubbling up and who is going to succeed, and from my perspective, I think data is useful but I also think it’s kind of a crappy way to treat human beings that are making music from their soul and like putting their whole life into it. I’m sure that other people might not have had the same past experiences. I just wish there was a much more straightforward way to understand who and what the best deal for you truly is.
For you, what comes first? Is it lyrics or is it the music that comes to you first, when you are songwriting?
Music always comes way more naturally for me. I think it’s maybe because of my Dad’s interest in explaining music to me as a kid. So I’ve always had an interest in training my ear, and understanding music theory. I can now hear, a song and just sit down and play it on the piano and that was like a lifelong goal for me. So, chords and melodies, really comes more naturally. I often just hum songs all day and sing into my voice memos on my phone. But one practice that’s like helped me become a better songwriter and something I’ve tried to improve upon is just thinking, how can I get these lyrics stick with people, if I’m aware that lyricism’s not my net. I didn’t ever view myself as a poet, without melody, I don’t know if this would mean something to people.
So around five years ago I started this little note on my phone, so anytime I think of a cool theme, for a song or something to write about, I’ll mark that down. If I think of a gripping title for something, I just write it down and I pretty much add like two or three or four things every single day. And the list is probably a million pages long now. What’s interesting is, it’s it’s shaped my process where I’m still very quick to sit at the piano and just start humming melodies but if I need a little inspiration, I can look at my list and that in turn will shape the melodies and the chords. Then I’ll pick like one word or one thematic element and decide, okay, I need to write a song. So with ‘Flower’ the whole goal was to communicate that a flower blooms but then it also shrivels and is gone quickly and often more quickly than you want it. So I used this new approach to the writing in a way where I had to ensure the theme runs throughout the track and single line in the song leads you to that conclusion. I think maybe that’s maybe a little more logistical and practical than some songwriters who can just bang it out and write these beautiful lyrics right off the bat, but it’s been a little bit more of a code for me to try to crack conveying the messages in my heart. So sometimes just sticking with one word to get me started, then building with these melodies, has been a really good tool. But that’s been a good place to start when I’m stuck.
So when do you feel the most inspired to write?
Probably, a lot of times it’s after I see, an awesome show. I love live music, so much and so I would probably say that it is when I see an awesome live performance, and I see how stuff translates differently to an audience than it does like in your headphones, witnessing the visceral reaction. When I’m seeing the show, I’m paying attention to everything, I love watching the people on stage, but I also watch the audience to see like, what moments in the set hit, and which tracks do they sing along with. So, a lot of times as soon as I get home, I’m writing and playing the guitar quietly at my apartment, try not to wake up the neighbours like right after.
What has motivated or inspired you recently given that there hasn’t been any shows?
That’s an interesting question, because I honestly think that life has probably still inspired me. I haven’t been necessarily drawing from as much other musical influences, I am still listening to Spotify all the time, and trying to be aware of what’s coming out but like, the thematic elements and the music that I’m writing has seemed to come from a place that I imagine a lot of us have been in. This year was a little lonely and I’m at a stage of life where a lot of my friends are starting to have kids and buying their own houses and things like that, whereas I’m just doing a different thing. Which led to a self-realization that, I actually do feel a little alone in this at this moment. I have a lot of love in my life, my wife, my family, so I think my appreciation for some of those things that have been inspiring this music that I’ve been writing during this weird year, in this season of life. I guess it’s been a way for me to try to paint things into a positive perspective, not a false positive perspective, but to try to remind myself that like, that stuffs gonna be okay, that’s been like a lot of the inspiration. I think I might have a full on album by the end of this all, and I think that will be the kind of lyrical thematic through line; trying to find the hope at the end of a lonely season.
Do you have a passion outside of music that helps you express yourself as well?
Yeah, definitely, two things come to mind immediately. One is running, I got into running because I saw a picture of myself after show and thought; oh, man, I gained some pounds after college, if I’m trying to be an artist, I got to get in a little better shape. It then just transformed from just an exercise to becoming in better shape into a time where I listened to all my mixes, I got do a lot of my thinking, out on the road. Now, I just log like a ton of miles. What I love is that I can properly see and absorb wherever I’m traveling, seeing the new places by running all around the city.
The other major passion is drawing. When I was a kid I was so into drawing, I would do caricatures like the ones you see in major tourist spots like Six Flags, or Disney World or whatever. I used to do that before music was my thing, I did that at parties for people and I’ve always been into it. I kind of lost it for a while, where everything just became music, but during this pandemic, I got an iPad and I’ve been drawing nonstop. I started animating my own music videos and stuff and just losing myself in that world. It’s kind of reignited a passion for completely different art form that nobody’s judging me on, there’s no pressure to make anything that’s better than the last time; it’s just like sitting with a pencil and drawing. That’s been good for me, kind of cathartic in a way.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome, do you think?
I guess it would just be myself and thoughts. You’re always told when trying to be a musician, that it’s a dumb thing to do, it’s crazy to try to be a superstar, or something along those lines. I think people who do go for it are definitely likely to experience emotions and highs and lows, very acutely, but it also means that I’m able to be driven by that, because that maybe gives me a unique perspective to write about those highs and lows. So overcoming that, the down seasons and the discouragement of being told no so much. You can only reach out to promoters cold and get told no so many times before you feel deflated and doubt yourself so much tot he point of quitting and that voice in your own head is definitely, for me, the biggest critic and the biggest thing to overcome.
So when there’s times that, I think it’s all about learning to draw on those confidence boosters and those moments in your career, even in those like those short periods of my life, like taking what Elton talked to me about to my heart and not forgetting it has been really useful for overcoming the biggest challenge in my life which is the voice in my head saying; are you really good enough to do this? I do think everybody, even like the biggest superstars in the world and the best songwriters think that to themselves sometimes. So, that’s been a big hurdle for me, but I guess it’s not without a million other outside challenges too. But I think that’s truly the biggest one.
Is there any type of music that you can’t stand that you just can’t listen to?
Oh man, no I like it all really. Although, there’s definitely ones that I still don’t know enough about. It’s been interesting, I happened to watch the Biggie documentary the other day, and I just didn’t grow up listening to hip hop, and that era I just didn’t know much about it. I also watched a BeeGees documentary too and realised; wow, there are these pockets of music that I really just didn’t appreciate before.
Is this a big documentary state-side, Bellsaint also mentioned it when we spoke to her but I don’t think we’ve been lucky enough to get it in the UK yet.
I think it was on HBO, I really enjoyed it. Isn’t it weird to think about, that in that era people got sick of disco, and suddenly turned on it and thought they were too cool for it, and the ‘disco sucks’ movement happened. But like, hearing it back, some of that other music that people were listening to at that time was way less cool! It just reminds you that, trend is all this cycle, everything kind of builds on the last thing and even those guys like singing in falsetto that way really started something.
What’s the song of your lockdown, if you’re looking back to think of the past year what song will remind you of this?
I’ll say probably Still Woozy’s ‘Goodie Bag’, I know that’s like his big one but it’s been my song for a couple years now. Musically, it doesn’t even align with what I’m trying to do as an artist but I just can’t help but put it on and I start thinking about the chords and thinking about what’s going on within it.
But probably one that sticks out that I’ve written over this lockdown era, is one that not many people really cared about and it’s called ‘Rage’. I’ve said before that I mostly try to write positive leaning stuff, that’s what’s in my heart, but I had a particularly challenging situation with like a business thing. I got these emails that I couldn’t believe, and I thought I can’t believe this is happening to me right now. I was so mad that I had to go outside and run sprints, and I’m not usually like an angry person. But it was during that intensity of emotion I wrote this whole little thing in my head and I recorded it over the next day. It was very therapeutic for me to write like an angry song and channel that feeling into the music. But that saga lasted for about nine months and it was personally really, really difficult for me, I did not realize how much that kind of thing could weigh on me. So that song will be a good reminder that everything like that isn’t the end of the world and that will probably stick out in my mind 10 years.
That’s great, I love that therapeutic angle that writing music can bring.
Yeah, weirdly, I’ve been writing songs since I was like 12 and I kind of had never done it in that way. I’ve used it as a therapeutic way of expressing love and expressing the side feelings that are on the other side, on the good side. I had literally never dealt with a negative situation in my life through melodies and writing before and it was kind of revealing to me.
Would you would you do it again? Is that something you’d like to carry it forward into a future project?
Yeah, 100%. I enjoyed the exercise of writing something musically outside of my comfort zone, using heavier guitars, and like yelling into the microphone. I kind of think that’s maybe one thing that allows me to have sustained my career a little bit is that I’m trying to pick up on what people enjoy about my songs, and then adapt it. I do have a pretty deep knowledge of music theory and I could try to do a lot of different styles. It’s been hard to pinpoint, exactly who I am as an artist over the years, but maybe that’s what people like is that I keep you guessing a little bit and that’s kind of fun for me to just keep myself on my toes a bit.
Is there a style of music that you’d like to explore a bit more?
You know, I was debating if this is would maybe be my quarantine jam, but the whole Thelonious Monk ‘Solo Monk’ record has been crazy eye-opening to me. I have the vinyl and I love putting it on in the background, it’s just straight up him playing the piano and I’ve been playing a lot more piano than usual, because normally when in regular world, I’m traveling. So I’ve been playing along with some of those songs and starting to find that I’m understanding deeper jazz theory than I did even a year ago. But I’ve got to say, Thelonious Monk is still a lightyear past what I can understand, but that’s been inspiring to me and I want to know more about jazz. He has a real ear for jazz and how to turn that into something that sing along that you love to listen to, so I’m interested kind of to explore more on that front.
What is the most useless talent you have?
Oh, man, I can do a backflip where you know, like Jackie Chan, you run up the wall, and you can do a backflip off of it.
That was the thing like when I moved schools in seventh grade, I was the new kid and I thought I’m going to show people that I can do the backflip off the wall, thinking that the girls are gonna like this. It was actually pretty sad! Now, all my best friends from back in that era remind me of it. Saying they remember thinking “Who’s this new guy? He’s always doing that backflip, like get out of here, he’s just trying to get the girls”.
And finally, in your opinion, what is the best pop song ever written?
I would say, pop, has shifted over time so much. So not so much in the vein of like what pop music is now, but, to me, I think ‘Something’ by George Harrison is one of my personal favourite songs ever. I think it’s so accessible, the way that the chords lead into the next part, and the melody. I imagine even when the song had just come out and it was brand new to everybody, it leads you to the next place so easily that it’s instantly memorable and I think it’s in the essence of what is popular and accessible for the most people. That one will always hit home to me, I could have, Alzheimers and I feel like that could that melody will never leave my brain. It’s so cool and that’s what comes to mind right away.
Over the past decade, a new manifestation of pop music has quickly established itself as ‘the sound of the future’. This sound has been emerging from every crevice of popular culture, proliferating at an impressive rate in the new digital age and slowly infiltrating the sound of some of the biggest pop superstars in the world.
Becoming widely referred to as Hyperpop, this new genre has become renowned for its maximalist or exaggerated take on popular music, self-referential humor and a unique manifestation of nostalgia for the early internet age. Much of hyperpop’s beloved protagonists and notable successes can be credited to the dedication and intensely focussed creative control these figureheads have retained over their output and vision. When producers A.G. Cook and SOPHIE debuted their new mode of glossy pop music, there were few words to describe their loud and uncanny sound. This early manifestation of hyperpop seemed to draw upon the foundations laid by the likes of Hudson Mohawke yet still presented it’s own weird ways of communicating.
Equally looking forward as it does backwards, hyperpop reconstitutes styles of music that have long since gone out of fashion, constantly poking at what is or isn’t “cool” or artful. It’s possible to view the movement as an expression not just of the genres it borrows from, but of the clamor of our current moment. Behind it’s kitsch, shiny, confident and playful veneer and aesthetic lies a much more sincere and angst-ridden message. Often tackling themes of isolation, anxiety, hyper-sexuality and aggression the genre seeks to highlight the gradual dehumanization and degradation of society in favour of products and commerce.
By coupling together distorted, metallic and industrial soundscapes with elements from bygone and oft-mocked genres; from bubblegum pop and eurodanz, to emo and even nu-metal; the genre evokes the sound of gentrification and provides an ugly, meta-reflection upon modern day capitalism.
These dystopian concepts and innovative production techniques are perhaps why the genre has never been able to shake the “futurism” label it received in its infancy. Charli XCX’s 2017 album Pop 2, titled as such to acknowledge the hyperpop sound as a sequel to the pop music genre itself, can arguably be credited for solidifying this notion within the mainstream. Now, almost 5 years on, the genre has indeed proved itself to be the main force for innovation within pop. Hyperpop has since found itself pushed to its most extreme and overwrought conclusions, infiltrating and growing in popularity through viral superstars such as 100 gecs, Shygirl, Slayyyter and Lil Mariko, whose chaotic and unwieldy party anthems have only further certified the genre’s endurance.
However, despite it’s intensely processed sound; engrossed in Auto-Tuned vocal hooks, excessive distortion, and the bewildering array of stylistic influences, hyperpop has come to be acknowledged as one of the most down to earth, human and honest genres in recent years. It is near impossible to fully understand hyperpop, without truly grasping the important online context and its significance among LGBTQ+ youth.
The popularity of the genre as a whole embodies an important step forward for representation and a celebration of queerness – with many of the genre’s key players, being significant figures within the queer community. Hyperpop as a whole challenges societal structures within ‘traditional’ pop music, rebelling against narrow, normative preconceptions and prejudices and restructuring elements of the past to build towards a more inclusive future. This has surfaced in specific ways within the music itself too, one such feature being through vocal modulation, which has allowed artists to explore the fluidity of gender with their voices and transcend the constraints of heteronormative labels.
Whether you believe it truly is the future of pop, or its demise, hyperpop holds huge importance to the modern musical landscape. This feature would never be truly able to encapsulate the true depth and diversity hyperpop has to offer. To group these artists under even the loosest of collective terms is to do a disservice to the enormous range at play. Much like the early internet age that conceived it, hyperpop is a bubbling ecosystem that exists and seemingly evolves rapidly, bewildering and disorientating to all those too out of touch, and unwilling, to fully embrace it.
BELLSAINT is a bold, unapologetic force of nature within the rising music scene; embodying a sound capable of blending 60s nostalgia with modern sensibilities.
The Texan-born, L.A.-based singer-songwriter has honed her craft co-writing songs for the likes of Natalie Imbruglia and The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue and penning tunes for television and commercials, but has since become renowned for her powerful and personal approach to songwriting.
BELLSAINT sat down with Pop Golf to discuss the challenges of composition, her greatest influences both personal and professional, and the musical chrysalis that has been forged over the past year in her lockdown cocoon.
In the age of music streaming and how we tend to consume music now, do you feel that as a musician you’ve got to be more versatile than ever before?
Yeah, I definitely think you have to be versatile, especially since we have so much technology at our fingertips now. Learning how to produce yourself can help you have more control of your sound, strategy, and branding. One of the things I’m grateful to have learned during lockdown is doing more production in Ableton. The more creative control you have, the better chance you have of standing out in an authentically unique way.
There’s just so much noise out there; it feels so oversaturated. Even putting my Spotify playlist together felt overwhelming, which is why it’s about 14 hours long. I actually just had a conversation with my manager about how the Spotify algorithm is affecting visibility. Some artists I know have found success in consistently putting out at least one song a month, which is a lot of work. I’m grateful to be collaborating with other producers while simultaneously working on my new album. I’ve been reaching out to producers in different genres that I love to remix or reimagine my new releases too. I’m honestly just trying to find new ways to create content without completely burning out.
As you kind of just mentioned regarding exploring different genres; is there a specific genre that you’d like to dip your toe in a bit more or somewhere that you feel that you haven’t explored yet that you’d really like to?
Actually, yes, I feel like I always appreciated disco, but never really explored it. The other day I watched the documentary on The Bee Gees, which touched on what was going on during the whole disco era, and I had more of an appreciation for the art form and underground movement. The idea of a “dance song” always felt like you were watering down a song to make it more palatable to the masses. I kind of snubbed it a little bit and I shouldn’t have because we all need good dance music. Creating dance music was never a priority for me, but I’ve been really enjoying approaching music differently in this way, focusing on things like drum sounds, groove, and tones.
Definitely, and I think listening to disco and dance music when you’re living through a time where you can’t go out and be on a real dancefloor is really important to keep spirits up.
I was going to ask you about throwback sounds and nostalgia because, going back through a lot of the stuff in your inspiration playlist, it seems nostalgia is a major element to your music, why do you feel it is so important?
I mean, the feeling of nostalgia is comforting, which has become even more obvious during lockdown. I grew up listening to Johnny Cash, Nina Simone, Nancy Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald- there was a kind of crooning that I felt connected to when I started singing and playing piano.
When I started taking voice lessons as a kid, my teacher would reference singers like Ella Fitzgerald for vocal tone. She would grab my chin when I sang because I would sing out of the side of my mouth with a strong southern accent. She would give me homework and tell me to listen to singers like Judy Garland and Ella Fitzgerald as a reference for rounded vowels and vocal tones. I would listen to them over and over, mimicking the way their mouths moved and the way they would sing. That style of music is so embedded in me, the nostalgia will always just seep out of me subconsciously
If you could describe your approach to music and yourself as an artist in three words, what would these words be and why?
I would say fierce, empowering, and candid.
I feel like authenticity has always been important to me. I can tell when an artist or a singer isn’t really connecting with their song or when there’s no underlying depth or subtext. Anything I write or sing, especially when working with producers or songwriters who prioritize sync, has to come from a real place.
Lyrics are usually what come to me first. I mean, there’s really nothing new under the sun, but I try to push myself to communicate in a way that’s unique and honest.
I say fierce and empowering, because I want my music to come from an empowering place and not from hopelessness. I want listeners to feel inspired and emboldened.
What do you think the most important pop song ever written is? Whether it’s just the most important pop song to you or just the most important pop song period.
Well, I have two answers. One of the best pop songs ever written is Whitney Houston’s “I Want To Dance With Somebody”. Her performance is incredible, and the song still gets me pumped. It’s a fun choice for karaoke too.
One of my absolute favorite pop songs (actually more rock than pop) is “Come Sail Away” by Styx. It feels magical. It’s the perfect record to listen to while driving, or if you’re just having a bad day and need a pick-me-up. It’s an unapologetic, energetic 70s rock ballad about living free, and the arrangement is epic. I also found out from Marc Maron’s podcast that it’s the song Jim Carrey lost his virginity to, which makes it even more special.
I know you said that you’ve been working a little bit more on top lining and production across lockdown, so have you got any advice for aspiring songwriters, on how to write the perfect hook or melody?
It’s important to saturate yourself with artists and producers who inspire you. You can learn a lot from doing a deep dive into tones, production, and creative arrangements that excite you. The music you consume is what will shape the music you make, so be selective and brave. You start picking up patterns and characteristics, emulating people you idolize.
Growing up in the south and being raised on singer/songwriters like Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton made me appreciate the art form of great story-telling. If a stripped-down version of your song holds up, it means it’s a great song and not solely relying on the production to be engaging.
I’ve been spending a lot more time writing alone, and that can really show you where you’re at. You see what you gravitate towards and you can build your sound from that. I love co-writing and I’ve cowritten a lot of songs I’m proud of, but it’s good to take a break from it intermittently. Otherwise you can become co-dependent on what other people in the room think. It’s important to know your own voice and your own strengths. I spent so much time writing with others that I kind of forgot how to write without the instant validation.
I know you were just saying that it’s quite nice to write on your own again and sort of discover what was within you. So how did lockdown affect your writing? Did it affect you positively or negatively?
It was mainly a positive for my writing. It can get a little too weird and dark if I isolate for too long though. I’ve gotten better at scheduling time (safe-distanced or Zoom calls) with close friends to get out of my head. The introvert in me has enjoyed the uninterrupted creative time and being more unfiltered and raw, taking more creative risks.
The live music community in Los Angeles has been a big influence on my writing too, and it’s unfortunately non-existent right now because of the pandemic. So, I’ve just been using the time to reflect and create. I miss live shows so much.
So when live music does come back, who is the first person you’d like to go and see, is there anyone that you’ve been wanting and waiting to see for a year? Did you have any tickets to shows that have been cancelled or you’ve had to wait on?
We were excited to see The Flaming Lips! They were going to play the Wiltern in June or July and then they cancelled it. I’m so ready to see one of their giant bubble shows when they come back.
What was the first concert you ever went to?
The first concert I can remember was My Morning Jacket at Austin City Limits when I was a freshman in college. I remember being blown away by their music and live presence. I was like a magical sound bath.
So when live shows return, what can we kind of expect from one of your shows? How are you going to do things differently, or are you just looking forward to going back and showing people what you’ve been working on?
Yeah, there’s definitely going to be a different approach. I’ve been spending more time producing in Ableton during lockdown, exploring different tones. I honestly have no idea how we’re going to recreate some of these new songs live, but I’m excited to try. We’re figuring out how to successfully incorporate a Theremin in our live set too.
Have you got one in your home studio?!
My husband rented one for a little bit and we played around with it. It’s too soon to tell, but I really hope we can make it work.
When do you feel most inspired to write, what mindset do you have to be in to actually sit down and write music or lyrics as well?
I write best when I’m resting; when I take time away from the craziness to get perspective. Those are usually the most focused ideas I’m excited about. When I first moved to L.A., I was doing a writing session basically every day because I wanted to learn and hone my craft as much as possible. I forced myself to learn that discipline of creating even when I didn’t feel like it. I’m grateful because that discipline comes in handy, but I now see the importance of carving out space to rest and self-reflect because you allow room for more depth and perspective.
Is there one particular figure in your life that’s shaped your music taste? And if so, who is that?
The person who influenced my music the most was my older sister, Kathryn, who lives in Germany right now. She was always so much cooler than me and was constantly discovering artists who weren’t being played on mainstream radio at the time. Growing up, the local radio stations didn’t have much of a variety; our choices were basically between mainstream pop and mainstream country. Because of her, I fell in love with badass artists like Courtney Love, Fiona Apple, and bands like My Morning Jacket.
Are there any other forms of media that shaped you and inspired you as an artist, any films, art, fashion designers or eras that shaped your sound?
The art form that inspired me most was film. I love 70s sci-fi films like The Man Who Fell To Earth and 60s experimental films or cult classics like Barbarella or Bonnie and Clyde.
I started being more inspired by fashion once I was able to go to New York Fashion Week for the first time in my life. I used to see fashion as this elitist club I didn’t make the cut for. When I went to New York and saw some runway shows in person for the first time, I was inspired by what fashion can express as an art form. I’m really inspired by Vivienne Westwood as a designer. I just love the colours and shapes and creativity behind her choices. She makes incredible works of art that reflect pop culture in such a bold way.
You mentioned that you’re interested in collaborating with a lot of people at the moment, that it’s a good way to push yourself forward, increase your output and explore realms of music that you maybe haven’t explored before. So, if you could collaborate with any living artist, in the future in your career, who would that artist be?
My answer would be Daft Punk, which is why I’m so gutted they just announced they’re breaking up. It would be my dream to collaborate with them, if we’re pretending they’re still an option. They announced that 2021 is their final year of being together, but maybe this means they’ll put out one more album before the year is over.
The Flaming Lips would also be a dream collaboration. I love the way Wayne Coyne’s mind works. I’ve been inspired digging through their catalogue again during lockdown.
Renowned for her unique and sultry electronic infused pop, Californian singer-songwriter MOONZz is a dynamic musical artist that thrives in balancing the past and present.
Boasting noticeable placements across Victoria Secret campaigns and regularly penning original tracks for TV and Film. MOONZz is an artist with a collaboration-heavy mindset and a self described “introspective and left of centre” approach to pop.
Pop Golf had the opportunity to find out more about the person behind her captivating sound, her an insatiable desire for experimentation, and her personal pop culture recommendations.
So to start off, I always find it interesting how artist discovers their alter ego, it is so hard to settle on a name that fully communicates who you are, so how did you settle on the name MOONZz? And what does it mean to you?
Well, it’s kind of a fun story, because my sisters called me moon growing up. So that’s always been a childhood nickname. They still call me it to this day. So I feel like there’s some, like familial warmth to it and a familiarity that I really like and that kind of keeps me grounded. So that’s one reason, the other is my dad instilled in me a deep love of space. He always would set the telescope up for us, especially when there were like, you know, big events happening. He’d always remind us the world is so much bigger than us, and I always loved like our time together like that, and we still share those moments together, to this day. So there’s a lot of familial love for that name. Then another depth to it is, aligned to the phases of the moon. I really formed a connection with, loving myself through all the phases of of my life, those phases helped me become the version of me who I am today. I think it’s constant reminder and inspiration for me to love yourself through all phases and trust that, everything’s gonna work out.
You just kind of mentioned that phases of your life have a big factor on who you are now. Is there one experience in particular in your life that stands out that without it, you maybe wouldn’t be the artists that you are today?
Oh wow, one moment. I mean, I feel like our lives are full of so many, like little moments that then when you look back, lead to or become big moments. But that’s such a great question.
I don’t know if it’s one moment, but when I first started, at the very start of MOONZz, I signed my first single to this subsidiary label under Atlantic. I remember being scared, because it was a major label and I had no idea what that meant for me. I just remember, that was just a big leap, like a big trust fall. Which led to like, getting a ton of really amazing Victoria’s Secret ad placements and I guess that’s like, what really did define my career up until this point, that was the first three months of my career and it gave me confidence.
But probably a more serious answer would be, when I applied to music schools in high school, to go to for college. I got into a handful, but obviously, my dream was to go to Berklee College of Music. I had my audition and I was so stoked for the future. But then, I didn’t get it which was gut wrenching for a 17 year old at the time to hear, you know, you’re not enough, we don’t think that you’re good enough for the program. So when I really think about it, because that set me on a different path and I ended up going to school for dance, I found my way on a different route. So I think in the bigger picture, just hearing no, really made me see life in a different and how to adapt to it in a different way.
Yeah, that’s great answer and it leads me onto some questions about adapting to changes. Throughout what seems like a whole year of big changes. How did lockdown affect you creatively? Was it positively or negatively?
Yeah, gosh, I mean, at the beginning, I think everyone had this moment of ‘how long is this gonna last?’. You know, what does this mean for us. And I think, a lot of us, all of my friends at least, all had this thought of like, our careers are over, in so many ways, because, we can’t go on tour, we can’t go out and network. But then something caught me, it was just like another shift of mindset. I kind of just had to sit and ground myself and say, you know, this is what it is – take it or leave it.
I started having virtual sessions and it’s kind of been every day since I think, for almost a year at this point. Working with people that, I maybe I would have gone to Nashville to see or other parts of the country. I work with new producers pretty much like, every couple of weeks at this point and these are maybe new relationships that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.
So, last year was actually my most prolific year of my life, I wrote more music than I ever thought I would in such a strained and unpredictable time. I think it really shaped me to just be more flexible, to go with the flow and take whatever comes at me.
Is collaborating so often something you’d like to carry forward when things return back to normal?
Yeah I don’t see why not. I mean at this point, I have my little setup here, I can record everything in my studio, I got it all down at this point! Of course, I miss you the human connection of jamming with people and really feeling you energies in the room with people. I’ve definitely missed that. But I think I’ve I’ve gotten to a point where, I can do this for as long as I need to, I don’t need to go back honestly. Of course, there’s people here that I want to work with and I’m excited about collaborating in person once we’re all vaccinated but you know, if I’m not able to be going to go to Nashville or abroad I’d happily keep doing this. I worked with someone in like Alberta the other week, as long as you want to work with me – I’d work with you!
Yeah, that’s amazing. It’s great that artists have the means to connect with anyone, from anywhere, allowing you to branch outside of your own local scene. Which I guess is thanks to being a part of the internet generation. I think the pandemic has placed a bit more of a spotlight on to how the internet has impacted the industry – for better or worse. But what do you think about the current state of music and what’s it like to be a musician in a digital age?
Honestly, I feel like it’s the most powerful time to be an artist, because you can showcase so much about who you are on the internet, through TikTok, Instagram etc. There’s so many ways to just showcase everything about you in different ways. You can put everything out there first person, however you want to present yourself is like how the world will see you now. So I think it’s really powerful, so many of my friends on TikTok have accumulated so many fans. I’ve done a few videos but sometimes it’s overwhelming to me to have so many ways of connecting with people and I do want to keep like some parts of my life private. There’s pros and cons, of course, but I think it’s definitely one of the most powerful times right now to be to be a developing artist for sure.
Your last EP was Modern Ritual, which was focused more on self care, daily struggles and challenges. Things have changed for you and everything else, obviously, since you put that out. I hear that you’ve just finalized your first full length album. How does it differ from Modern Ritual, and just how much of an influence has the pandemic had on the content?
Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s been a year, like exactly to this week, since I released Modern Ritual. I think none of us like knew what was going to come about when the pandemic hit. So when I released that EP, I remember just being so excited because there were so many concepts that I felt like people would really relate to and the music would resonate with a lot of people, which I think it did, but just given the state of the world, it definitely hit differently than I expected, for sure. Since then, I have been working really hard on my album. Conceptually, I think it’s a lot more existential and kind of ‘let’s get out of here’. If we just get the hell out of here, we’ll all be okay kind of vibe. There’s a lot of songs about self love, and also about how I feel bad for myself and I don’t need anyone else to feel bad for me – I’m gonna throw myself a pity party.
But I think melodically a lot of my stuff ties together. So like a lot of time there’s going to be you know, piano melodies and progressions that like will sound familiar. I write a lot of my music from just from sitting at the piano but I think a big thing I’ve tried to do with this next iteration is to always think about less being more. Not trying to overcrowd every song and like pack it with different things, which I think I get carried away with often. I think it’s really easy to overpack tracks and to try to keep everything to try to keep the listener engaged, but in my eyes and ears I now feel like it distracts the listener if there’s too much happening, you know? So that’s been a constant challenge this time around. We’re finalizing things at the moment, finishing up some of the mixes and stuff but I’m very, very excited about it.
I’m just wondering, what is the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?
Well, my dad has always said the biggest thing is to just show up and be 100% you in any situation, I have always held that close. Because no one else is you, no one else has your power or energy, literally nobody else has your DNA. That’s something to wake up and just tell yourself every day. My dad also has told me, failure to plan as a plan to fail. So setting goals for myself is something that I love doing. I love reading everything in present tense. So I feel like if I’m ever doubting myself, I think about like, where I’m going to be in six months from now and then I’d talk about it as if it’s already happening. A lot of the time things happen because it shifts your mindset, and it shifts your perception of how things can be. I mean, overall the biggest thing is just to keep to keep on keepin’ on because there’s always gonna be those road bumps, you know, as we’ve all seen with COVID and the world just kind of falling apart and scaring us in that regard. So, I think any way that you can just find inspiration and like the little moments, that’s how I keep going. And obviously, family is like so, so crucial to my growth and my belief in myself. They’ve been so supportive.
Is there a figure in your life that shaped your music taste?
I mean, I think my whole family did in different ways. My dad showed me a lot of the greats, you know, Ella Fitzgerald, the Andrews Sisters, Frank Sinatra, like all the oldies. Oh and also Tower of Power, which is like one of my all time favourites. My mom also shared a lot and we went to my first concert together, which was Coldplay, when I was 12. Best concert ever. I cried my eyes out. Chris Martin really inspired me too, like my love for piano and songwriting.
Then my sisters, I have two older sisters and they always shared like, more left of centre artists. You know, my oldest sister showed me a lot of Elliott Smith, Belle & Sebastian and so many others. My other sister showed me Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu. So I had this like, insanely eclectic introduction to music at a very young age, and I would go off to summer camp every summer my whole life since age eight. I would have my Walkman at camp and be listening to Elliott Smith at like, eight years old. I remember none of my friends really knew who he was and probably thought I was weird listening to it back then, but it was just so cool to losing sense of time at night just listening to his whole record.
I think it inspired my love of experimentation and desire to never feel stuck in like a certain genre. It kind of just showed me like there’s so many different ways to form sounds and make something sound the way you want and there’s so many different artists out there. I think growing up with such an eclectic map of what’s cool really made me strive to be cool and different.
So you’ve done a lot of writing for TV and Trailers, do you have a different creative process when approaching these things to writing something for an album for an EP?
That’s a great question. It totally depends, I think sometimes if it’s theoretically, and sonically, like totally outside the MOONZz usual scope, I treat it very much as like assignment based writing. where, you know what the final goal is, and there are certain words that they want you use etc. That’s how I approach it then, but again, sometimes I can lean into the MOOZz vibe and compose as per usual, but I think often it’s treated kind of as homework which is good for me, I think to have an assignment every few days. It definitely teaches me new skills.
Are there any particular TV shows or films that or directors that you would have liked to compose on?
Oh, wow. I’d definitely love to write stuff for James Bond and always wanted to do something like American Beauty. TV show wise, I’ve always loved the music in Grey’s Anatomy. So if there’s any way for me to get stuff in a Grey’s Anatomy reboot or something that would be great.
Have you got any good recommendations for to watch? What you’ve been watching over lockdown?
Oh my goodness, yes! We just started watching Fauda which I know came out a few years ago but highly, highly recommend. I also finally watched Breaking Bad at the beginning of lockdown which is obviously, one of the best, if not the best TV Shows ever. But I’ve literally watched new shows like every day. I watched Freaks and Geeks which I had also never had watched and I loved that.
Is there a song that you wish you’d written?
I think ‘Breathe Me’ by Sia is one of the best songs of all time, I wish I wrote that, or probably Twice by Little Dragon.
Who are your biggest contemporary influences? You’ve mentioned little dragon a couple of times now, would you include them?
I love artists like Little Dragon, they’re like my all time favourite, and SBTRKT and James Blake those artists who also experiment and strive to be unique. I also really love K Flay and I’ve been really liking Royal & The Serpent, she works with a lot of people I work with. Then there’s Sasha Sloan, I love her writing style, she’s really awesome. I’ve also been obsessed forever with Pinback they’re like one of my favourite bands, I know that they’re not strictly as like contemporary as the others I’ve mentioned but they’re still doing it! Then last but not least I really love Little Monarch, a band from out here.
So when live music does start up again. Who are you looking forward to going to see the most? Did you have any tickets to things that you couldn’t go and see and like, that you had to cancel on because of the pandemic
God, there’ll be so many shows. Every year my friends and I go to a music festival called Holy Ship. It’s usually on a huge cruise ship. But last year, it was in Punta Cana and it’s like just a ton of dope producers and artists but Rufus de sol was there and Dillon Francis, Zeds Dead etc. it’s a lot more of the electronic artists that I’m obsessed with. So we couldn’t go this past year, which was obviously a bummer. I was also supposed to see this incredible French producer, CLOZEE , she was supposed to play in LA last year.
Oh and we also had tickets to see Father John Misty! I actually walked down the aisle to ‘Real Love Baby’. I really want to see him live again so badly. My husband and I have seen him like three times, once at this surprise comedy show that we went to but I wasn’t able to see him this past year.
What was your favourite album or artist discovery of last year?
I’ve been listening to a lot of my collaborators recently. I’ve been working with Grabbitz, and I’ve been loving his latest releases. I’ve listened to a lot more underground stuff too, I really like this producer named Rinzen which is like deep house. Honestly, I’ve actually listened to so much older stuff this year rather than new things. Although, my sister introduced me to Teddy Geiger this year. I think that she’s the girlfriend of one of the characters on Schitts Creek, that’s how my sister sold it to me! I can’t say I know very much about her, but she has a really really amazing song called Shark Bait that I’ve been listening to nonstop since she showed it to me.
Speaking of collaboration, is there anyone out there at the moment that you would like to work with in the future of your career?
I definitely would love to sing with Sia, that would be a dream. I think naturally Little Dragon would be high up on that list, as well. I’d also love to sing with Alicia Keys and oh, my number one would be Radiohead, I’d love to sing with Thom Yorke!
Is that Is there a genre that you’d like to explore that you haven’t already?
Yeah, you know, like, I always feel like I could have a more jazz ballad project, something a bit more jazz leaning. I could imagine singing in like a jazz bar with like an upright bass and have jams for hours upon hours. I just feel like it’d be so fun and it feels so carefree, comfortable and warm. It’d be really fun. You never know, that might be that might be the next release!
Do you have a guilty pleasure song, one that you’re slightly ashamed to say that you love?
Oh, yeah, probably anything Katy Perry has done, Britney’s ‘Blackout’ album too is so good, or that Owl City track ‘Fireflies’, I know all the words and I like to sing along in that funny nasal voice.
Would that be your go to karaoke track?
Ah, no, my go to karaoke song is Amy Winehouse’s version of Valerie!
What is the ultimate pop song in your opinion?
I guess it’s like a little left but I think a lot of Red Hot Chili Peppers songs are actually really, really dope pop songs even though they’re maybe more rock. But I love Paparazzi by Lady Gaga, that’s probably the top. I just feel like Gaga’s melodies are so powerful, there’s something sacred about a song that you don’t even need to know the words to or know the message of and you’ll just be singing and dancing to it no matter what because of how memorable it is. You know, I think anything from the Fame Monster, that whole album, like I love Alejandro too it just all so good. Telephone with Beyonce too, that whole album totally shifted the pop world and ruled everything for a while!
So finally, tell us a little bit more about what’s in store for you, for the upcoming album and kind of just where you hope to be at the end of 2021?
Yeah, I’m really excited for the first single rollout of the album. So hopefully you have some more news on that, around May. I’m also working on more merch, which I’m super excited about. And yeah, I’m hoping that by the end of 2021, I have a tour in place or even just a handful of shows here and there. I’ve also been working really hard on stuff for TV, so hoping that you’ll hear my voice not only on my album, but on some big TV shows, and hopefully a movie down the line too.