CL: As a member of the Seattle-based bands By Sunlight and He Whose Ox Is Gored, Noonmoon is, at first listen, quite a departure sonically. But this music has been in the works for some time. Talk to us a bit about the process of creating Noonmoon and "Vanisher."
MSjr: I came to a crossroads, musically. By Sunlight started slowing down, and after ten years of playing with a group and having it be your primary focus, it sort of begins to define you. Not having By Sunlight as my main creative impetus put me in a position I hadn't been in before: What kind of music do I want to make, when there is no predicated construct in which to operate? Ambient music has been a huge influence on me over the last five years or so, and I wondered if I could make a record drawing from that paradigm. It seemed daunting, delving into a completely different arena of music. So to facilitate the transition, I decided to not play any guitars on the record (guitar being my main instrument.) The process of writing these songs was very improvisatory. I would come up with a theme, and just record demo after demo, always trying to do the opposite thing that I would instinctually do. Eventually the tunes just started coming together.
CL: We've had long talks about depression, anxiety, and addiction. Where are you at with those things, and how do they inform the music you make?
MSjr: I mean, it’s a revolving door. Some days I feel totally in control, and some days I don't. I would say I'm dealing with my emotional problems as well as I can while living in an uncertain world. Obviously my skepticisms and mental equilibrium play into how I operate creatively, but I would like to think that there are bigger things afoot when I really jump into something. The sanctuary of composition has been an aide and invaluable crutch for me when things have been too dark to stomach. Regardless of how things are going for me personally, Writing puts me in a safe space.
CL: Do you write poetry outside of songwriting? Because Noonmoon to me is poetry set to soundscapes. The song "Vanisher" is a great example; the lyrics absolutely slay me.
MSjr: I've always written. I've kept a journal since I was a teenager and my obsession with language has kept me mystified and inspired for about as long as I can remember. Poetry became a focus a couple of years ago, and while I still write it here and there, most of that energy goes into songwriting. I figured, why not just have all of the poetry I write set to music? Generally speaking, I’ll smoke a bit of pot and just sort of write whatever comes out. Later I'll go back and edit things and try to paint a picture of some kind. These songs definitely have a narrative voice, but the language is consciously enigmatic and unreal. I wanted there to be other worlds in these songs. The words themselves have a presence beyond the story they tell.
CL: As someone I consider to be extremely talented and well-listened, I'm always shocked at what music you like. Tell me some shit you're into right now that might make me groan. You can also tell me about something that would blow my tiny mind.
MSjr: Haha. I think, as you can probably garner by our conversations, that I ultimately try and see the good in any music I hear. It's easy to have a negative opinion, but it's ultimately more rewarding to hear something objectively and appreciate it as the artist would. As a thirty-four year old dude, I'm still actively looking for new music all the time. There is so much amazing stuff out there. Right now I'm sort of all over the board. I've been listening to an early 2000's band called The Shipping News. Members of June of 44 and Slint. Really moody guitar stuff. The new Fennesz record with Jim O'Rourke has been blowing my mind. Going back and listening to The Disintegration Loops by William Basinski has ben tickling me in solitary moments. As far as a "groaner" goes, I seriously cannot stop listening to the Alan Parsons Project, particularly Eye in the Sky. It's the weirdest pop/rock record I have ever heard, but that song “Gemini” fucks my world up.
CL: You've toured extensively in your short time on this rock. I'm a fan of road stories. Give me a highlight and a low light that come to mind. Can be anything.
MSjr: Man, I've toured so much that all of the stories kind of blend together. Low moments on tour are always solitary ones for me. In the back of the van sweating out booze, head full of mysteries, vacant and terrified. But the good moments are always monolithic. Sold out show at Bottom of the Hill, feeling invincible and perfect. Ghost riding the whip listening to the chronic in the middle of the night on some desolate highway. Tour is a paralyzing world of extremes.
CL: Can we expect to see Noonmoon as a live band at some point?
MSjr: Noonmoon has begun playing some shows. Right now it's been sort of a rotating collective. I've played shows with eight musicians, and then played shows with three. I'm just starting to consummate a solid line up, and I think you can expect some West Coast dates this year.
CL: Lastly, tell me about the last thing that inspired you. It can be anything.
MSjr: When you are as moody and bummed out as I am, you find inspiration in the weirdest places. I work super early in the morning, and my bus commute is about 30 minutes. Every morning I look around at the people on the bus, and see everyone completely hypnotized by their phones. Seattle is so mind numbingly beautiful around dawn, and as everyone checked their Facebook feeds the sun shone above the Olympic mountains beyond the sound, and it felt like it belonged to me. So there I was tearing up on the bus while everyone played angry birds. Feels good to remember how beautiful and weird life is.