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.