Just like everyone has their comfort food I believe every person has their comfort music as well. That cuddle in form of an album or song, as I like to call it, that you fall back on when you might be feeling low. For me one of those Albums has to be „Dark Eyes“ by Half Moon Run. Their lyrics are beautifully written and packed with a lot of emotion. But those are their feelings they’re trying to express. Their escape in music they’ve found and not something I can take on to myself. So I believe it’s more their carefully put together rhythms and precision-cut harmonies that have this mellowing effect on me and fill my heart with a warm fuzzy feeling. Kind of like a friend saying: „Hey look it’s okay you’re feeling this way. Everyone has these days. Just breathe and push through.“ By the time I’d get to the last and my favourite song of the album: „21 Gun Salute“, any negative thoughts from before would have almost always subsided and I’d have come to terms with the fact that this is what life’s about: Accepting and mastering your highs and lows.
Across the blogging world Half Moon Run have been compared with the likes of Band Of Horses, Radiohead and Alt-J which I can understand to some length, if you look at how each song seems to have multiple layers to it that add up to this deep intensity you can hear. Then again, Half Moon Run is an Indie-Folk-Band with a very own, original sound and they fundamentally identify as being a live-band. Luckily enough I got to see one of their phenomenal performances at Openair St. Gallen in 2014 where they completely blew me away. I actually remember turning to my best friend and shouting „My ears are about to have a frigging orgasm!“, that got a woman in front of me to turn around, smile at me and nod in consent. Just to give you a feel on how on-point these guys are. So obviously I was flipping out when I heard they were going to play at the Zermatt Unplugged festival at Kaufleuten, only a day after releasing their second Album „Sun Leads Me On“. I’m not sure if it was out of sheer luck or faith that I spotted Half Moon Run’s lead singer Devon at the bar after the concert but I obviously had to take my chance and before I knew what was even happening I was sitting next to him, with a phone on record, doing my first ever interview. Finally being able to ask all the questions that had been burning on my tongue.
I think your story is really interesting. I mean it’s pretty crazy actually if you think of it! The fact that you met on Craigslist as strangers, formed a band and then after only three years of jamming together you bought out your Debut „Dark Eyes“ which got critically acclaimed fairly quick. And now yesterday you released your second album „Sun Leads Me On“. How would you say you or you as a band have evolved in this short time span?
Our performances are more accurate as to who we are as musicians at the time. With „Dark Eyes“ we kept having to pre-record our parts because we were still developing as musicians but with „Sun Leads Me On“ we became more technically adapt at our musicianship to be able to deliver performances that were consistent with where we are as a band at the time. So I guess that would be where we have developed. In applying an emotional connection to our instrumentation. To be able to better express ourselves through our instruments.
You even bought on a fourth member, didn’t you?
We did! After „Dark Eyes“ we brought Isaac on. A wonderful addition to the crew. He adds another layer of intensity to the writing. Really, it’s wonderful. It’s more technical. He can sing, he can play guitar, he can play drums. So of course we’re going to employ that. We work with the skills we are limited to.
Watching you feels like you’re in your own little bubble. I mean it’s nice when musicians try to connect with the audience but with you it’s different. It feels like you effortlessly connect with the audience by just being in your zone. Is there a zone you get into? What does it feel like?
Yeah there is. Sometimes I must feed off of the energy from the crowd. I mean I do the clapping hands thing „Come on everybody clap your hands!“ and sometimes it’s nice. But deep down that’s not important to the performance. I mean every performance needs to be dynamic. There’s this interview with Iggy Pop you should really see. He says something really cockey and I don’t agree with this but he says: „What you think is a load of trashy old noise is actually the work of a genius. And when you’re inside of it you don’t feel anything at all.“ I resonated with the „nothingness“ - part of it so much. I read a lot about the world, I feel a lot with the Syrian migrants, the central African-republic, civil war… whatever the fuck is going on in our world. I feel it! It’s omnipresent, it’s always existent in my present. And when I’m playing the tunes, I don’t feel that. I don’t feel the guilt and there’s this nothingness to it. There’s this peace and this escape.
The world is in a difficult situation. we need to start having young people involved. It’s an emotional and an intellectual change. I must give to other people too. This is what makes me think: „It’s all worth it.“
You speak pretty open about the struggles you’ve been through as a band. In an interview with Jean Ghomeshi for Studio Q you mention that the music industry is counter-music at times. So my question to you is: If the world was a perfect place, how would you see the labels or music industry working together without the two clashing?
Wow, that’s a great question. I’m glad you ask that. After being in the business for a little bit, it is very clear to me that this business is built around ripping off musicians with talent. So you’ve got labels that rip off musicians. You’ve got managers that rip off musicians. It’s crazy. And it’s bullshit. The ideal version of music in the world? I can’t think about it on a dime. I love to share with people. But if you’re monetizing music, there has to be a structure. And if there is a structure, there will be some poison in that structure. So I can’t envision a perfect world and I don’t like to get into it because it’s disheartening.
You don’t see any of that changing in the future?
Streaming is the future. I’m embracing it. I will never reprimand a fan. I’m just trying to live my life. And you know the ultimate goal of every human is happiness. You want to feel good. I’m not about becoming a millionaire or billionaire. I don’t care about that. And I think everybody is after the same thing but everybody just takes their own diversions. Sometime’s it’s a long way round but sometimes it’s just… you take what comes. Come what may. That is the philosophy of this album. If people hate it, if people like it - so be it. We’re not in this to succeed as musicians. To be all like: „Yeahh we’re a successful band!“ We are people trying to be happy.
In the E-Mail you sent out to your fans before the release of „Sun Leads Me On“ you explain how there were huge highs and lows during the process of making the album. How life is a complex mosaic of good and bad and everything in between. And how accepting that will bring you everything you’re looking for. Do you have any more advice for young musicians or people in general who might struggle with, as you say, this ever changing nature of life?
I’ve got some harsh words and some good words. There’s always room for talented people, in the music industry. But at the same time there are a thousand better looking, harder working people than you. That are going to do better than you. So what are you going to do to stand out from that? That’s what you should ask yourself. That’s what I ask myself. The only way you can compete with that is by being as real as possible. And by being real as possible I mean: Everybody needs connection. If you neglect a baby, you don’t give it any love at all - the baby dies of neglect. Every human needs attention and connection. Real human connection. And if you as an artist are able to source that in yourself. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have to say. But if you say it well, you are communicating effectively with the audience. You can not fail. People need to hear that. It’s part of being human. And that connection is love. As cheesy as it sounds. Humans need love. They need love, they need connection, they need attention. And if you are able to communicate your feelings accurately and articulately with somebody you don’t know - they will feel a connection to you. And they will feel gratification and love and you’ll feel love giving it to them. That is the truest experience of music. Walking away from this interview feeling as inspired as I did was not something I had expected. It did take me some time to get into their new album if I’m honest. I guess that’s usually the case whenever an album, like „Dark Eyes“ for me, hits your soft spot. For some weird reason you have this expectation toward the artists that the new release will sound similar to the first. As if it were to be an extent, that just got released a few years later. Now having an understanding of the artist's values, what his motivations and his message to the world is has definitely led to me feeling a new found love towards these beautifully crafted tracks.
PS: Don't miss them in X-Tra on the 29th of February! https://www.starticket.ch/de/tickets/half-moon-run-ca-20160229-2000-20160229-2215-x-tra-zurich
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