Smooth Monday: Moon Duo

Californian psychedelic rockers Moon Duo are playing tomorrow night at SO36, Berlin – KALTBLUT is offering a lucky reader the chance to go and see them! Just email to enter! Formed in San Francisco in 2009 by Wooden Shijps guitarist Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada, Moon Duo’s first two critically acclaimed EPs, Killing Time (2009) and Escape (2010), fused the futuristic pylon hum and transistor reverb of Suicide or Silver Apples with the heat-haze fuzz of American rock ‘n’ roll to create tracks of blistering, 12-cylinder space rock.

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With the recent release of their impressive third instalment, Moon Duo are are set to make 2015 big – starting with their huge European tour.

KALTBLUT: Shadow of The Sun is your third album, but the first one where a third member, drummer John Jeffrey, is involved in the recording process: how does this influence the record?

Moon Duo: The creative process was still between Ripley and me, largely in our home, so that aspect wasn’t any different than our process has always been. When we did go into the studio, it was fun having John involved for a couple days to lay down live drums over Ripley’s beats. I think the live percussion adds a more human groove.

KALTBLUT: For our readers that are not familiar with your music, which albums would you recommend before diving into Shadow of the Sun?  

Moon Duo: I’m not sure!  It probably depends on the tastes of the reader – if you’re into California sunshine, I’d say start with Mazes.  If you like a darker vibe, start with Escape.  If you want a direct predecessor of our current sound, Circles.

KALTBLUT: Press reviews refer to the road and long drives in a car, is it inspiring to you?

Moon Duo: Absolutely. We have spent a lot of time on tour over the last five years, and I find it really affects perception of place and time. When you spend every night in a different town for months on end, it starts to feel like the only constant thing is the state of motion. The mix of dislocation and propulsion is something I’ve never experienced in any other circumstance, and it very much informs how I experience life and how I approach music.

KALTBLUT: Still about inspiration, you named your album Circles after an Emerson’s 1841 essay, what is the literature influence within Shadow of the Sun?

Moon Duo: There was no one unifying literary influence the way there was with Circles.  The making of Shadow Of The Sun was a much more tumultuous process.  But the song Ice was inspired by the Anna Kavan novel of the same name. The novel is dense, abstract and dystopian, so in a way it is in keeping with the time in which we made the record.

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KALTBLUT: You get your albums mixed in Berlin, is it an important step for you?

Moon Duo: It is. Jonas Verwijnen at Kaiku Studios is the person we depend on to help us finish our records.  When we go in to mix with him we’re able to see things afresh, and in our collaborations we’ve been able to bring everything together sonically. He’s our secret weapon.

KALTBLUT: Has this city a particular attraction on you? Do you have favourite spots?

Moon Duo: We have spent a good bit of time in Berlin over the years, and I have a real love for it.  Part of the attraction is the artistic and musical history  – it has been such an extraordinary magnet for creative life. I think its unique sense of freedom, looseness and diversity goes along with that. I love that you can sit down to a dinner with people from five or six different cultures who all share the same flat. My favourite spot was the wonderful Festsaal Kreutzberg, though I am also a big fan of the Hamburger Bahnhof and I love the käse spätzle at Markthalle.

KALTBLUT: Thank you for your answers and looking forward to see you in Berlin on the 21st of April.

Moon Duo: You’re welcome! Thank you as well.

Shadow of the Sun – out now on Sacred Bones Records!



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