Arthur Moon, the moniker of award-winning composer and singer Lora-Faye Åshuvud, is preparing for a big second half of 2019. The experimental-pop project, which also features collaborations from Cale Hawkins and Martin D. Fowler, will release their debut self-titled album in August. To coincide with the release, Arthur Moon will be heading out on tour with Oh Land in September.
We chatted with Åshuvud leading up to her show on July 10 at Elsewhere to talk all about the debut album, her creative process, and the project’s plans for the rest of 2019:
Arthur Moon is a solo project, but you’ve also described it as collaborative with the other members. What is that process like?
I guess it’s a solo project in that Arthur Moon is me, but it’s also very much dependent on my bandmates Marty Fowler, Cale Hawkins, Aviva Jaye, and Dave Palazola, who are completely integral to the music in their ideas, their musicianship, and their personalities.
The writing process varies—about half of the record was a pretty isolated process, including the two singles we dropped this summer, “Homonormo” and “I Feel Better,” which were written alone while I was on an artist residency for three months in a little cabin in Taos, New Mexico.
A lot of the harmony on those tunes comes from the fact that I had access to a piano for the first time in my adult life, so I was really writing a lot based on how I was figuring out to play that instrument, and then how it related to the vocoder, which I’m also controlling with a keyboard. (The piano keyboard format, as a side note, blows my mind! All the notes are just lined up in a single row?! WHAT?!)
Pretty much all the writing and a lot of the arrangement on those songs was done by the time I came back to New York, so a lot of the collaboration came in the form of studio work—the band reiterating and shifting my ideas based on their relationships with their instruments, Marty writing bass lines, which I’m still figuring out how to do, etc. But other times, I’ll bring in a half-finished idea to the band and we’ll spend a few hours (sometimes a few rehearsals) playing with it together, throwing various sketchy arrangement ideas around, and I record all of it. My iPhone voice memos are an organizational nightmare.
But anyway, I’ll go away for a month or so and build out ideas that I pull from the rehearsal recordings into a complete song. I love working that way because it often feels so much better when we play those songs live—Dave, for example, ends up playing a formalized version of a drum part that came out of him for 15 seconds when we were just playing around in the rehearsal space, so his performance of it just has this air of authenticity and joyfulness that I think can only really come from being inside music that was written quite literally FOR YOU. These are just two ways the process can go, though—it really varies based on the song.
You’ve released two singles from the record so far, “Homonormo” and “I Feel Better.” Both have a deconstructed pop feel. Why’d you choose those songs as the singles and what can people expect from the rest of the record?
I thought both “Homonormo” and “I Feel Better” could be good windows into the world of the record. A lot of the music on the full-length tries to take pop apart and then rebuild it again upside down, but those two songs, in particular, retain a lot of the scaffolding of pop as we’re familiar with it, even though they may not necessarily function within a traditional pop structure or palette.
The record moves deeper and less cheekily into some of the darkness and lopsidedness that I think gets hinted at with a sort of manic smile on “Homonormo” and “I Feel Better,” so it felt like starting with something a little more familiar might help people find their way into the rest of the music.
I read that you write lyrics by combining newspaper clippings. Do you have any favorite or go-to source materials?
The first time I wrote lyrics with clippings it was actually from an IKEA catalog (the song ended up being called “Room,” which was on EP Our Head, although my band still sometimes calls the song “IKEA”). In general, I’ve had a lot of success with travel magazines—the writing in them often strikes this unusual balance between being super colorful and descriptive but also really administrative, so I end up with words like “cerulean” and “reservations” coming out of the same article.
Who are some local artists you’ve been listening to lately?
My friend (and one-time Arthur Moon band member) Raia Was is about to put out the most beautiful full-length—it’s this devastating, dusty, electronic-longing-mystery-adventure. She released the first single from it (“I Can’t Reason”) last week and I’ve had it on repeat ever since.
I also can’t get enough of the band Moonheart (I recommend starting with “Bridestep”)—in my dreams I remix one of their songs and credit it to Arthur Moonheart but TBA if they, the music streaming platforms, the universe will be down for that. Also listening to a lot this year to L’Rain and Tōth.
What’s next for Arthur Moon?
A show on July 10 with Palehound, on the rooftop at Elsewhere. The full album drops on digital platforms in early August, but Vinyl Me Please is putting out a limited edition pressing of it on July 12 (which *maybe* you can buy early if you come to the July 10 show)! And then a tour this fall, opening as a duo for Oh Land. There’s a distinct possibility that I’ll play some drums on those shows but you’ll have to come see us to find out!
You can stream the first two singles, “Homonormo” and “I Feel Better,” from Arthur Moon’s forthcoming self-titled debut via Bandcamp.
Images courtesy of Arthur Moon
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