Contrary to the prevailing narrative, Lo Moon did not come out of nowhere. The cinematic rock trio silently released their first song “Loveless” in September 2016, and they did not resurface until May with “This Is It” and just two weeks ago with “Thorn”, but the LA-based project was a long time coming for members Matt Lowell, Crisanta Baker, and Samuel Stewart who’d all been involved in music in some capacity prior to forming the band. With only three singles, Lo Moon have already toured with major names including Ride, Phoenix, Air, and more. Lo Moon are also slated to release their debut album in early 2018 on Columbia Records. Northern Transmissions spoke with Lowell while the band were en route to Nottingham, on tour supporting London Grammar, to discuss why Lo Moon took so long, how a lengthy gestation period has worked in their favour, and the primacy of feeling over genre.
Northern Transmissions: What was the idea behind releasing your music so gradually yet at the same time playing as many shows and getting in front of as many people as possible? Was releasing music gradually a way to force yourselves to work harder at your live shows, to show audiences what the band is about beyond “Loveless”?
Matt Lowell: I don’t think it was to make it harder on ourselves. It’s been fun because we’ve been able to change things live from what’s on record and go back and fix things that are on record to reflect some of the stuff we’ve been doing live.
NT: Were they mainly little tweaks, or were there some big changes too that you realized worked better?
ML: Mainly little tweaks. But there was also a song that came out of that as well that we ended up recording towards the very end that we’re still kind of tweaking to get on the record. And that song came together quickly because we had been playing together live for a year. I think it would have been harder to put a song together quickly had we not been doing it live.
NT: Considering that the band took its time getting to know one another, personally and as creative partners, do you find it funny when so many people say Lo Moon “came out of nowhere”?
ML: Yeah. It just took time. “Loveless” is five years old. The band, we’d all been working on separate things for a long time, and I think that the chemistry is just right. Everyone’s kind of had the right mind space and the right headspace to be in this type of band. I think it’s weird because people said we came out of nowhere, but we put out a song just like every other band does, and then people reacted to it. I think that’s a good thing because that means that people were paying attention to what we were doing, just earlier than most bands, so we got really lucky in that way…. [P]eople were into the first song that we released which put us in a unique position, but we were developing the band for a long time before we put any [more] music out.
NT: Given that you started writing “Loveless” like you said five years ago and that for a long time, that was the only song you had out and that a lot of people knew, did you ever find yourselves becoming less attached to the song, and if so, has seeing more and more people connect to the song rejuvenate your own feelings about it?
ML: It’s a weird song because it went through a lot of different phases and also has, because of where I was at in my life, different personnel and people that came in on it. And when it came out, it had the whole band on it, and so I think for me, it’s a really special song. I think it set the tone for the band…. [A]s people are getting into it, even five years later, it’s really exciting. I find it amazing that people are discovering it now. I haven’t lost interest in it or grown apart from it. I’m still really proud of it. It’s also really fun to play live.
NT: Upon first listen, the influence of the band’s favourite artists – you have cited Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen – they’re not immediately obvious, and I’m wondering how artists like that, who sound so different from Lo Moon, have influenced the band.
ML: It’s really important that the song can live on and that it has a life, so that’s kind of what I’m always after,… I think the song needs to be special in five years. I’m not always gonna get there. We’re not gonna get there as a band all the time. [Dylan and Springsteen] are heroes of mine because they’ve impacted a lot of people’s lives through music and in a way that I think is artistically driven…. They connect to people, and there’s a movement behind it that’s really special, and they hold a special place in a lot of people’s hearts.
NT: The band is more influenced by feelings than by specific artists or musical styles. Is that another reason why artists such as Dylan or Springsteen, who don’t quite sound like Lo Moon, have such an influence on you?
ML: Totally. If you go to a Bruce show, it’s like a service, you know? And there’s something about that for me that’s very interesting because there’s people from all different walks of life that are connecting to what he’s saying.
NT: In what ways were each of the band members pursuing music prior to Lo Moon?
ML: I’ve done the music school, but I was a singer-songwriter, and then I worked in a studio in Brooklyn in between and during my singer-songwriter stuff before I moved to LA. Crisanta was a songwriter and then was in a bunch of bands. And Sam has been in bands for his entire life.
NT: Have you ever talked about what you felt the missing ingredients in all of your past projects were?
ML: I think the roles fit together really well in this one. I think it’s just time, you know? I wrote so many bad songs, so it took me a while to figure exactly what I wanted to do. And everybody feels the same way about where we’re at…. But I don’t think we ever really openly talked about was missing.
NT: I know that you guys are well-read, and I’m wondering how much influence the band draws from film and in what ways.
ML: I’m definitely not a film guru…. I don’t really pay attention to it all that much…. I’m more a person influenced by reading novels. But I think the weird thing is when we were making the record, we were watching certain visuals that we kept going back to, like there was one that we watched this train ride through Norway, and then we were almost scoring in a way. Film scores I’m really into.
interview by Leslie Chu