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Psych band Moon Duo formed in San


Francisco in 2009. Made up of Wooden Shijps guitarist Ripley and his partner Sanae, their space rock transcends time and space. Moon Duo will be playing tracks from their albums Mazes, Circles and Shadow Of The Sun at the Arts Centre this month, one of only five UK dates, and it’s gonna be a perfect summery gig. I spoke to Ripley, one of coolest cats on this planet, about his favourite records and the nature of psychedelia.


What was the inspiration for starting Moon Duo? How does it compare to both of your other musical ventures? Te idea came from wanting to do something very minimal that would be easy to tour and very economical, both financially and artistically. So it was kind of a reaction to being in a four piece band and trying to get everyone on the same page all of the time. Plus it was around the time of the big financial meltdown in 2008, so that was in the air. Is your other band Wooden Shjips in hiatus at present? We have been in hibernation to a degree but we’re planning some dates for the fall right now. Which artists did you listen to most as youths that have influenced the Moon Duo vibe? Our common youthful influence is


16 / June 2016/outlineonline.co.uk


probably Lou Reed. Tat’s something we bonded over when we first met. But most of the other direct influences were from later: Suicide, Cluster, Royal Trux, Silver Apples…all of the great rock duos. Your first two EP’s, Killing Time and Escape were pretty full on, and Mazes honed that sound a little, giving us more of that jangly 60’s element. It was recorded in San Francisco and mixed in Berlin – did those environments offer a slightly different viewpoint on your music? I don’t think I appreciated how much influence the environment was having on us until we left San Francisco. Tat was a really special place to live, at that time for us anyway. So starting the band there and then leaving, especially going to live in the mountains in Colorado, that had a


big impact on the songwriting. We’ve mixed everything in Berlin since Mazes, and there’s just such great energy there. It’s a wonderful place to mix because oftentimes, at that point in the recording process, you can be a little burnt out. Going to Berlin always gives us a jolt of new energy. Circles was put together from the Rocky Mountains to Colorado. I know it was inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1841 essay by the same name. Can you tell me what the main gist of the essay is and what it sparked in you? It’s a philosophical essay, in which Emerson explores the incidences of circles that occur in nature. I’ve always been interested in the cyclical aspects of life, and specifically in music, with repetition especially. But at that time, in the winter in Colorado, experiencing the full effect of the seasons, quite isolated, it was just a great book to immerse myself in. I was really feeling it. Tere are no real seasons in San Francisco. Shadow of the Sun, your album from last year saw a move from the lighthearted feel of Circles and gives us more a powerful, energetic groove. It’s certainly a step forward in your sound. What made you create this mood for this album? Some of that probably comes from being on the road a lot. We tend to play a lot of rock clubs and some festivals where we try to bring more energy to the show. So that fed right into the album process. Have either/both of you had any particular life experiences which you find yourself repeatedly coming back to as references for your music? Not anything in particular. It’s more a lifetime immersed in music. It becomes part of who you are. I imagine you have a pretty huge record collection. What are your three most treasured items? Tat’s a really tough call. I have a copy of Question Mark and the Mysterians’ 96 Tears that I got from my Dad. And a copy of the Grateful Dead’s Skulls & Roses that was my Mom’s that my


brothers and I used to practice scratching on. It’s pretty ruined now. We thought it was heavy metal because of the skeletons and the hairy dudes in the band. I guess third might be a bootleg of the Velvet Underground called Sweet Sister Ray. It was a big influence on me in the early days and it took a while for me to find my own copy. What does the word ‘psych’ represent to you as a genre? I don’t think of it as a genre, which I think is a general misconception. I think it’s more an approach, an attempt to make something that will knock people out of their normal way of perceiving or experiencing music or art. Psych seems to be coming back with bands like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Purson doing well, and Hawkwind hitting the Top 30 charts with their latest album. Why do you think it’s become more ‘hip’ again recently? If I knew the answer to that I might start a record label! Tings like this ebb and flow in popularity but never really go away. You can find psych-type albums in every era of rock ’n’ roll, it’s just not always appreciated by a wide audience. Often the best music is made in the shadows when no one is looking, but that’s a whole conversation right there. You’re touring extensively through Europe this summer. Which city or venue are you most excited to visit? I always look forward to going to new places, of which Norwich is one! So we’re really excited to come there. Skopje and Bruges will be new to us as well. What will be on your tour van playlist? I just got a mess of old Dancehall jams which I haven’t listened to in ages. And some Golden Teacher, and Jibóia from Portugal. Plus our label mates Psychic Ills have a new album coming out and they’re always amazing. We’re honoured to have you play here in Norwich! Tanks! We can’t wait!


Lizz Page


INFORMATION Moon Duo play Norwich Arts Centre on 10th June. Tickets available from norwichartscentre.co.uk Read the full interview online at onlineoutline.co.uk


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