IT is to Brooklyn…
and a chat with the remarkable force that is Moonheart. I have been finding out about their new song, Bridestep, and whether they can shed any light regarding its birth. The guys – Kim takes up most of the answers – tell me how they got together and what their upcoming album, Feel It Out, will contain – what it was like recording it.
I ask how important Brooklyn is and what sounds they were raised on; if they have words of advice for artists coming through; if a trip to the U.K. is part of their plans – Kim and Michael tell me what they hope to achieve before the end of this year.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Kim: Hey! Doing pretty well. Thanks for asking (smiles). Aside from still having to do my taxes and being scared to do them (they’re gonna be a mess), I can’t complain. Michael already did his…overachiever.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
I write songs and Michael produces them. It’s hard to describe how it sounds in words, but other people have done a really nice job of it. One of my friends calls it 'Future-Folk' and I like that. My family calls it ‘nice’.
Michael: Yea. I’d like to think that we’re somewhere in between ‘Future-Folk’ and ‘nice’. Kim writes beautiful songs with heart-wrenching lyrics and I try to dance around them with some electronic bleeps and bloops.
Bridestep is your new single. Can you explain its background and story?
Kim: Writing Bridestep helped me to sort out some lingering feelings that were eating at me about a relationship I’d ended in the past, without expressing myself in a way that I feel honoured how important that relationship was and is to me. I was meditating a lot on closure or the lack of it, on boundaries and what’s allowed to be said after the fact - and this song is an outgrowth of those thoughts.
Feel It Out, coming in spring, sounds exciting! What themes and ideas have gone into the record?
I’m always thinking about my ancestors, trying to connect and open up a pathway to them; feeling them work through my own work and movement; so, there’s always that thread somewhere in my lyrics. There’s also a good amount of grief in this album - the grief of physical and/or emotional loss, of dealing with some mental illness stuff (or not dealing with it). Opposites interacting with one another - openings and closings, expansion and contraction; high and lows and trying to find the balance among them - also plays a large part.
I think Michael, especially, did so much to portray that in his production. There’s a lot of organic sounds weaved into the digital sounds. I promise it’s not as depressing as this description makes it sound though. Ha.
How was it recording the album? Do you both like being in the studio?
Michael: We actually recorded it in the apartment that we share here in Brooklyn, piece by piece over the course of about eight months or so. Some parts were much easier - getting to do them on our own time - than they would have been in a studio.
Kim: Especially vocal takes. I’m the queen of “just one more” take and then wanting to do at least ninety-three more...
Michael: Yea. I’m glad we didn’t have to pay for that…
Kim: But, for real though; it’s a little dream come true every time a song starts coming together and Michael and I have a little E.S.P going on in that regard. He tends to just know what I’m looking for without my having to explain much and it feels like magic every time.
It’s really fulfilling to shape something and see it through from beginning to end - and such a different muscle from writing. I love it
Michael and Kim. How did you meet one another? What brought you together?
We met in Boston, where we went to the same music conservatory. We didn’t really start making music or hanging out much until I moved to Brooklyn a couple years after he did, in 2014.
Michael: We bonded over trying to be better songwriters. We would do writing exercises where we’d send each other songs every day and ended up getting into each other’s music - and that’s what made us want to work together.
I believe Brooklyn played a role in your careers. What is/was it about the area that led to songwriting?
Kim: It’s hard to pinpoint all the ways living here has changed me and helped me grow as a writer and person. But I’d say, for sure, one of the biggest factors in all of that is all of the sweet friends and artists around me who I get to watch do their thing beautifully often. The community here is constantly inspiring…
Michael: Yea. The community of musicians here is like nowhere I’ve ever been. I’m constantly humbled and inspired to do and be better by those around me, and that’s a great thing.
Kim: If you’re lucky you can find your people and what keeps you inspired anywhere, or at least on the internet. But, I’m glad we’ve found it here. I feel lucky to live here.
In terms of music; what sort of sounds did you both grow up around?
My dad was always playing all kinds of good stuff. A lot of Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu; Earth, Wind & Fire, The O’Jays and Prince. My mom loved Michael Jackson and the Whitney Houston. My granddad has a gorgeous voice and plays guitar and piano. My Nonnie sings too. Every family gathering with them is anchored by group singing and it was really special to grow up that way. They love standards, old spirituals and some Folk tunes, which got me into all of those things.
Michael: I grew up listening to a lot of Jazz. My parents weren’t that much into music, but my saxophone teacher introduced me to a lot of Jazz and Classical music. I was really into Stravinsky, Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington. Later, my sister got me really into Elliott Smith, Deerhoof and Björk.
Will you be touring any time soon - and does that include an eventual trip to the U.K.?
Kim: Fingers crossed!
What do you hope to achieve in 2018 with your music?
On the topic of touring; I’d really like to tour our record in an extensive way outside of the city. I’m finding that playing shows is a whole other part of the body that writing and recording live in - and I want to tend to and feed that part much more; especially because I’m in love with playing in our current configuration - Michael and I, plus our friends Connor Baker on drums and Parker McAllister on bass. It’s new (we’ve only played two shows with this setup), but it feels really good and they make it so easy to sing.
I also hope that the music makes people feel soothed or lighter, or more comforted or recognized after listening to it, live or recorded. If it makes someone feel that way, I feel like I’m doing my job as a writer and a person.
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Honestly; it’s been putting this album together. It’s a little dream come true every time a piece of the puzzle of a song is put in place
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Michael: Try not to compare yourself too much to those you think are doing better than you. Your path is always gonna be uniquely your own. Sorry for that Malcolm Gladwell corniness.
Kim: Be honest in your writing and be nice to yourself when it’s not coming easy.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Hite (Julia Easterlin) made a gorgeous record last year called Light of a Strange Day. She’s also a friend of mine. Her singing is so inspiring to me. She has so much control over her instrument and (especially) uses dynamics in such a moving way – and, whenever I hear her live, it makes me cry.
Michael: I’m really into Violents right now. I love Monica Martin’s voice and I really like the production...
IN THIS PHOTO: Violents
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I try to meditate, but I’m not good at; so, I usually go on runs or watch YouTube tutorials about other things I’m not good at.
Kim: I like to be in nature when it’s not cold and to read as much as I can. I also like watching trash T.V. when I have nothing going on; specifically, this beautiful mess called Vanderpump Rules, which I feel much less shame about now I know Rihanna watches it.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Kim: Oo. This is hard...I’ll show you my favorite Hite song (Light) since I told you about her.
Michael: Solo by Frank Ocean