By Carys Roberts
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Matt Lowell, lead singer of L.A. three-piece Lo Moon, whilst the band were on tour with the highly acclaimed London Grammar. Having only gifted the world’s ears with three songs so far, Lo Moon are a band somewhat shrouded in mystery, and I was excited to gain some knowledge from the band itself. Matt met me with a warm handshake at the stage door of Newcastle City Hall, where we chatted about the band’s emotional approach to their music, where the name ‘Lo Moon’ came from and what we can look forward to in terms of their much anticipated first record.
Where did the name ‘Lo Moon’ come from?
I named the band after my nephew: his name is Lowell Moon. My last name is Lowell and my sister named Lowell after her maiden last name, and so his name is Lowell Moon. He’s just a really special boy to me, so I just named it that. Everyone thinks that it’s to do with Jupiter – there’s like a star of Jupiter or something? Which was the only thing that came up for ages when you googled it!
For people who don’t know anything about Lo Moon, what would you say they need to know about you?
I think the band comes from a very true emotional space. I think that’s why the band shifts that way, because it feels like that’s the stuff that makes a difference in people’s lives, and that’s the beauty of music I think. So, it’s personal music, and [the music is] inviting. Which I think is, in today’s world, sometimes hard to find – you have to kind of search for that stuff! And I hope that it’s lasting you know? When we make music or when I write a song I want it to feel like it can live on for a little while. So, I think that that’s one way to enter it and it feels like here specifically people are kind of ready for that connection with music, whereas I think in America sometimes it’s hit or miss, which is really interesting. I think here people are open to discovery. Like when you said when you walked in – you like finding new music! And in America sometimes it feels a little bit hard to crack that wall down, but here it’s like people are really [eager] for it, which I think is awesome.
What are each of Lo Moon’s members’ musical backgrounds and how have they fed into Lo Moon?
I was basically a singer-songwriter just out there with my acoustic guitar. Crisanta was in a few bands and also a songwriter. Sam’s been in bands kind of all his life – in this band called Blondelle and he had a band with his brother called Nightmare and The Cat. So, when I moved to L.A. with ‘Loveless’ and a few other songs, we just kind of found each other and they really just connected to what I was doing. Then we just got together and we kind of lived in the back of my house – I have like a shed, and we just kind of lived in there all day and jammed and figured it out, really interesting. It was very organic and I think everyone’s background kind of comes through in the music.
What has touring the UK been like? I’ve seen some very positive comments online from UK audiences who’ve seen you on this tour!
It’s weird – I was talking to management yesterday actually about that, it’s not really like that when you tour in America as the support act. We [performed in] London with The Lemon Twigs [once] and then we did France and Germany with them, but we didn’t do any regional dates – so, it’s the first time we’ve done any regional UK dates. Here, for us as a band, we feel really welcome and amazingly justified for what we’re doing artistically. Because sometimes you can feel like it’s a slog – and that’s good you know, you wanna work for it – but here it’s just been really nice to have people understand what it is and what we’re going for. And those messages online – I try to respond to every single one! And it’s been really tough because I’m just like ”fuck, there’s a lot of em now!”, whereas in America I can kind of handle it really simply. But it’s been really beautiful.
Why have you only released three songs so far – did you choose to take your time with an album release?
I think we just wanted the songs to have life, especially a song like ‘Loveless’ which is seven minutes long – we put that out first and it was kind of a bizarre choice to put out first. But, I felt like it was a good tone poem for the band, it was a good flag in the ground type thing. It was just like “this is what we stand for”, and then we kind of just let that song live and people were discovering it every day and it was exciting! So, we kind of rode that out, which I feel like looking back on it was really awesome because it gave people something to dig into and when they discovered the band they discovered that song. In the meantime, the band was playing a lot live so there was like two different things going on and it was kind creating a little bit of a feedback loop. We did it the opposite of most bands, we didn’t put the whole thing out and then tour, we have just been touring…we haven’t really stopped!
Hopefully, that will mean that audiences who’ve seen you on tour are now hooked and in great anticipation of your first record?
That’s what we’re hoping! And now you’re seeing that because we’ve been touring for a year and it’s starting to build up, which has been really nice because it gives us a sense of purpose I think.
What music are you personally enjoying at the moment?
Right now the new The War on Drugs album is a favourite of ours. The new Four Tet album I think is amazing, I love that album! Those are the two new albums that we’ve probably been playing the most in the van, well for me, that’s what I’ve been listening to. And just being [in England], I’ve been listening to a lot of The Smiths records again, Elbow records and Doves records and stuff that came out of here at a time [which I felt was] really influential, and like Talk Talk records and Prefab Sprout. When we were in Scotland, I was listening to The Blue Nile, just like stuff that kind of relates to the territory? Which has been amazing, driving through England just listening to records like that, it’s been so sick.
Is there anyone who you’ve worked with who’s significantly inspired the way that the band do things?
Yeah, I think being friends with Adam [Granduciel] from The War on Drugs – he kind of gave my confidence throughout making the record, and Chris Walla from Death Cab for Cutie, because he produced our record. Those guys were kind of confidence builders because they were in bands and have been successful at what they’ve done, they’ve kind of given us the confidence to keep going. Sometimes you need those cheerleaders around you when you’re making something to be like “no this is good! I’ve done this before, don’t worry, this is good”because you can get very inside of your own head and get down on what you’re up to. Adam was outside of the record making progress, whereas Chris was really inside of it – but Adam was great to, like, text me saying “just keep going”, so that was good. They were supportive, which is what you need. I think you need other musicians around you.
What can people look forward to with regard to your first record?
I think we’re getting closer to releasing the album next year, I think that you’ll get…I think it’s between ‘Thorns’ and ‘Loveless’ – some stuff is more song-writer based and some of it is more ambient like ‘Loveless’, more long-form stuff, so I’m really happy with the mixture. For me it should read like a love letter, it’s an arc of relationship and you should feel that when you get inside the record I hope! It should be a journey I hope, so I’m really excited. I’m excited to just put it out.
You can listen to Lo Moon’s newest single, ‘Thorns’, here.
Photograph: Chuff Media