An Afternoon With Lo Moon's Matt Lowell
Words by Kariann Tan
The sun was setting over a fairly cold day in bustling Washington D.C, when vocalist Matt Lowell decided that we should probably head out for a cup of coffee rather than braving the interview in the noisy atmosphere of DC9. I wholeheartedly agree, knowing that it might be a struggle to hold a conversation amidst the retro records being played. We finally settle for a cozy cafe nearby. I managed to point out the 9:30 Club as we passed by it, and we both lament over its iconic mark as a concert venue above everything else. It'd be a dream for them to play there. One day.
Let’s start with something simple & easy. How are you doing today?
I’m doing pretty good, thanks! How about you?
I’m a bit tired but it’s fine - cause I was at the [March For Our Lives] event yesterday which was pretty neat.
That’s amazing! We actually went to the one in Durham, North Carolina where we were playing a show yesterday.
There was a march there? That’s cool.
Yeah, they had a little march! It was awesome.
I really did not expect that.
It was pretty amazing, wasn’t it? I really wish we were here [in D.C] yesterday, we definitely would have come to the march.
Yeah, it was so empowering. But just to backtrack it a little bit, talk to me about Lo Moon and its beginning. How did begin and what exactly is the story behind your band name?
Yeah, basically it began six and a half years ago when I wrote a song called "Loveless". Then, I met Crisanta when I moved out to Los Angeles, going on about three and a half years now. So I Crisanta first and then I kind of showed her "Loveless" and some other songs and she was into it. We started jamming and this drummer friend of ours came on but that kinda faded out. And so then I went ahead and wrote a bunch more materials; Crisanta and I started jamming again and then we met Sam through a mutual friend. When Sam joined the band, that’s when it became a real thing.
When did Sam join?
[Lo Moon] was going on almost three years when he came around.
So it’s definitely been a while.
It’s been a while, yeah. We’ve been Lo Moon ever since he was in the band. He was there from the very beginning. And the band is pretty much named after my nephew Lowell Moon Hum.
That’s sweet. If I recall correctly, you had a solo thing going on prior to this band, while Crisanta and Sam were kind of in their own band circles. How did your personal musical influences and experiences affect the way that you guys collaborate through music?
I think we were just ready to be in something new and we were excited about it. [Crisanta and Sam] trusted my vision for the band to go in and they believed in the songs. It was really easy after we got to room together and started hanging out and jamming. It became really obvious that we were going to have fun, that we were able to create something together and that there was a chemistry between us three.
It’s funny because when you talk about music, it’s so nebulous but if there’s something about the feeling that you get when you’re playing with other musicians, it’s definitely there. The feeling [between us three] was very honest and we were so excited by it so we just kept chasing that.
Was it an instant chemistry that appeared between you guys or did it gradually evolve over time?
Yeah! It was instant in the way that we all loved doing it. Maybe we weren’t great, but we were having a lot of fun and we were all very open musically. So, it wasn’t like an instant “Oh yeah, we’re a good band now!” and that’s still changing, we’re still working it out and evolving, exactly. But from day one, we knew that we could see ourselves getting invested in it.
Delving into the production process of your newly released self-titled album was there something that you all wanted to achieve sonically? Or was it a random “let’s-throw-in-some-songs” kind of collation?
Sonically we definitely had a vision for it. I think for us, it was keeping the vision very centred and focused. When I met with Chris Walla and Francois Tetaz [the producers of this album], it was very much like "this is what I wanna go for" and a "how do we wanna achieve and get what’s in my band’s head out into a record" sort of thing, so that was something that we worked really hard on.
So now that it’s out, how would you describe your album aesthetic and sound to new listeners?
I think it’s, you know, half anthemic and beautiful, ethereal… There are some parts that are very dreamy and there some parts that are really in your face. For me, it’s more about the journey that the album takes you on than it is about the words used to describe what it sounds like. I think if you dive into it then maybe you will grab something else out of it. Maybe it’s not everything that you thought it was in the beginning.
Would you say that there is a song from the album that most nearly defines you as a band?
I think "Loveless" is probably the closest thing to that particular definition of a song.
Why do you think so?
I think it was the first song written, the first song finished - I think it has all of the things that the band gravitates towards as an anthemic chorus but it has a groove and it has, what I consider, nuanced production.
That being said, this is your first headlining tour which is amazing. How does it feel to finally have shows that you can call your own?
It’s been great - really, it’s awesome. We did ninety something support slots last year so we had a lot of fun supporting great bands. We learned a lot from watching them and I think that we’re just excited to get everything out there, yeah.
Is there something that you guys do personally in your free time to balance things off?
I read a lot on the road; it keeps me kind of sane and out of just music all the time. Or, I work on new songs or we just explore together. That gets some good energy when coming through a new city and you’re just like “let’s go out and hang out and explore!”. So yeah, you definitely can’t think about music the whole time. It can become cyclical, you get up and go - we all kind of work out as well to keep our brains going in the right direction.
That’s cool. Slightly off topic, but what have you been reading?
Right now I’m reading Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders which I am actually not that into! I like [George] as an author - I’m just not that into it right now, but lots of people love this book.
Have you read his other published works?
Yeah! I have - I like his writing. I’m also reading Meet Me in the Bathroom, I just started that. I read like a couple of books at a time just to keep it fresh. Right now, Lincoln in the Bardo is the main book and I kind of just wanna finish it.
You were talking about seeing other things during the tour too though! What else are you looking forward to experiencing on this tour?
We’re looking forward to going to Vancouver! We’ve never been there. That’s the only place in this tour that we haven’t been so we’re excited for that. We’re also always excited to go to New York, that’s always our place - I’m from there, and it’s a big show for us. Philadelphia is always fun too, that’s like our favorite place to play.
If you could get a band to join you on your tour, who would it be and why?
We toured with The War on Drugs a little bit last year. Those guys are great friends, and probably the most fun we’ve had. Tame Impala would be awesome.
Kevin Parker’s so cool.
Oh yeah, love Kevin. He’s amazing.
For sure! It’s amazing how far you guys have come with your album and touring, and all that kind of stuff. If you could provide any advice to up and coming musicians especially in the industry today, what would you say?
I think it’s just to continue to work on the craft. That’s the only thing that really makes a difference in music. It’s weird, because now we’re in such a social media world where there are things that work on social media that would propel a band into a place where it seems like they’re a big band, and then the music never progresses.
For us, I just don’t want to be one of those bands. I want to focus on making, you know, as good as art as we can make while continuing to progress as a band and not be connected to social trends, and kind of be on our island and develop something that we think is special to us. People come to us because of something that we do. That, to me, is really special and I think if you’re starting in music, that’s the kind of thing that you shoot for. Don’t be afraid to stand in one place and have people go “I don’t really get that!” because eventually, people will then come to you if really passionate about [your work] and if you’re really true about your art. You’re like full on about it and you’re not following the trends. Because that’s where the people, I think, go wrong now.
For me, just write great songs, put something together that feels very unique but also that feels very true to what is you. And then, you can put it all out that because it’s what you are, and it’s not you trying to be anything. The scary part about this is that some people won’t ever get it, and that’s fine.
Would you say that that the artist or the public succumbs to this?
Both, the public might not get it as it doesn’t fit into the music zeitgeist or what’s going on right now. It could be both. But you kind of have to be okay with that. I found that with [Lo Moon]. One of the things that I’m really proud of is that we have a really passionate, small fanbase. They’re very passionate but it’s not huge. To me, that’s really special cause it’s like our early days and those are the people that have to go out and spread the gospel. And there are still going to be people that will be looking at us saying “I don’t really get why there’s people like that”.
But I’m into that, that’s empowering. It’s completely fine to be like that.
Lo Moon is a three piece duo, comprising of Matt Lowell (vocal/guitar), Crisanta Baker (bass/synth/samples) and Sam Stewart (guitar). Their debut self titled album is now on all streaming services.
Check them out on tour as well, click here for their tour dates.