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Moonbeau’s Debut Album Mixes Old With New for a Modern Take on Synth-Pop


On September 7, Cincinnati’s premiere synth pop quartet, Moonbeau, released their debut self-titled album via Old Flame Records. The album features songs like the endearingly lovey-dovey track “Like the Night,” the incredibly catchy “Hair So Wild,” and the sentimental final song “Lover/Fighter.”

Moonbeau’s sound is a modern take on 80’s synth pop, which was pioneered in that decade. Their songs will have listeners envisioning what it was like to live during the 80’s—imagine lots of teased, big hair, leg warmers, colorfully patterned suits and outfits complete with shoulder pads. You’ll probably even feel inspired to try out some of the dance moves you saw in movies like The Breakfast Club, Flashdance and even Footloose.

In Moonbeau’s music, the synthesizers and guitar textures glitter and pulse with life while creating a nostalgic atmosphere that envelopes you in positive energy. Beautiful harmonies and powerful choruses punctuate the songs, while lyrics speak of the many facets of love and going after what you most desire. By the time you finish listening to their debut self-titled album, you’ll feel happy, with a strong sense of hope for the future.

Moonbeau is Christian Gough on vocals and guitar, his fiancé Claire Muenchen on vocals and keyboard, Alex Murphy-White on drums and Kyle Kubiak on bass.

The Pop Break had the opportunity to speak with Gough and Muenchen to discuss the impact 80’s music has had on their music, the origins of the band, the many phases of Moonbeau and everything fans need to know about their debut album.

Moonbeau’s music is a blend of old and new that stays in your head long after the songs are over.

“It’s a lot of inspiration from 80’s music and also some modern pop stuff,” Gough said. “It’s a nice mixture of both that makes it a unique sound.”

He has a huge appreciation for music from this decade.

“It was basically the birth of electronic music,” Gough said. “A lot of bands were pioneering electronic techniques like drum machines and synths or trying to use the newest equipment. It was a time capsule of sorts—there’s not anything else that really sounds like 80’s music. And a lot of modern pop music stems from that.”

Gough explains that he likes to make music that sounds like what he enjoys listening to. He takes a lot of inspiration from the instrumentation of 80’s bands like New Order and A Flock of Seagulls. As a result, Gough incorporates simple lead guitar riffs with electronic drums and synths. For their debut album in particular, they tracked the vocals and guitars and then he programmed all the drums and synths on the computer. As he’d like to get away from this for future albums, he’s been working on using analog synths.

For those curious about Moonbeau’s origins, over 9 years ago, Gough started Moonbeau at the same time that he was playing in the alternative rock band The Yugos.

“It was more of an outlet for whatever I was trying to do at the time that The Yugos weren’t doing,” Gough said. “If I wanted to do something other than indie rock, I was doing it with Moonbeau as a solo project. It took on a bunch of different forms.”

Moonbeau’s sound went through phases based on what Gough was listening to at the time. When he first started, it had a folky acoustic/singer songwriter style and then it morphed into more of a rock sound, the way The Yugos are currently. Eventually, it turned into electronic when he started getting into that style of music.

“I feel like this version of Moonbeau is the final form—like the big boss at the end of the game,” Gough said with a laugh. “It’s been four or five years, maybe longer, since I started doing the electronic stuff. This is the real Moonbeau.”

As Moonbeau was primarily Gough’s solo project, fans may wonder when his bandmates decided to come along for the ride. Gough grew up with drummer Alex Murphy-White, but it wasn’t until years later that they decided to play together as Moonbeau. Muenchen, on the other hand, met Gough at a Yugos show for the first time back in 2012. It wasn’t until 4 years later that they “re-met” at a Moonbeau show during a phase in which Gough performed as a one man band playing the drums, keyboard and guitar simultaneously. Muenchen was taking photos at the time and happened to see his performance.

“He didn’t think of having me in the band for six months after we met,” Muenchen said. “We had started dating for awhile before I joined. It was just an organic thing where I sang along to the songs in the car and never intended to be in the band at all.”

Muenchen has a musical background and enjoys performing, so when Gough asked her to play with him for a street show, she did it, although her nerves almost got the best of her.

“I finally was just like ‘why the heck not? Just go up there and do it,’” Muenchen recalls. “I’m really glad I did because it has led to a lot of really cool experiences for us as musicians and as a couple. It’s been fun to go through these things together—playing music festivals and going to different places. Hopefully we get to keep doing it.”

From then on, things just fell into place and Muenchen became an official member of the band. Another recent addition has been bassist Kyle Kubiak, who is also part of the group Mother/Father.

Their debut album is the result of the many phases of Moonbeau and a lot of hard work in the studio, Muenchen said.

On the album, listeners will hear Moonbeau’s distinct synth pop sound that is light and easy on the ears. In fact, these songs are dreamy, nostalgic and as Muenchen explains, they sparkle. She always uses sparkle emojis to describe the sound of their music.

“You can imagine being in the sparkle emoji,” Muenchen says with a laugh.

As soon as you hear the music, you’ll know exactly what Muenchen is talking about, especially when it comes to the synths. Upon listening to the lyrics, you’ll find that many of the songs share the theme of love, as Gough confirms.

“I tend to write songs about love,” Gough said. “It’s an important human emotion that people easily identify with.”

Thinking over the entirety of the album, Claire said that it’s very raw and real, from the work that goes into it, to the words of the songs.

The album explores the theme of love to the fullest, such as in “Get to Know You,” which feels like the beginning of a relationship and the lyrics declare “don’t forget me, I won’t forget you.” Another highlight is the track “Complicated,” which is exactly as it sounds: love is complicated and opening yourself up to someone and being vulnerable is scary. However, doing this is necessary in order for love to work. The song “Nibiru” is a slight contrast to the rest of the album, as it is dream-like and spacey, with lyrics like “time is precious when you’re on my mind.” The album ends on a moving note with “Lover/Fighter,” which has its own tale of love behind it.

“Lover/Fighter” combines the feelings of love, happiness and nostalgia. The song is impactful and full of meaning.

Gough offers the story behind this track, and explains that before Muenchen joined the band, he was away on a week-long solo tour when the idea for the song struck. In between shows, he put together some instrumentals for “Lover/Fighter” on his computer. While driving through Indiana in the middle of the night, he listened to the instrumentals that he had saved on his phone and spent the car ride figuring out the lyrics and melody. By the time he finished the song, it inspired him to follow his feelings of love back home instead of making the last tour date.

“And you drove all the way back to Ohio to see me,” Claire said.

When listeners hear this song, it will have them thinking of the people they love, or create the feeling for those who have yet to experience love.

Overall, Gough and Muenchen are excited to share this album with their fans.

“It’s a special album and we’ve had a lot of fun putting it together,” Muenchen said “We hope that listeners will enjoy it with people they love and find something to relate to.”

As this is their first effort in putting out a record to be received on a wider spectrum, Gough stresses that it’s just the beginning of Moonbeau and there’s more to come.

There are also more performances to come for Moonbeau, from Sept. 14’s show at Fountain Square in Cincinnati, Ohio with In the Valley Below and Sept. 15’s Seafair single release show at Mahall’s in Lakewood, Ohio, to Sept. 27’s Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival in Bay City, Michigan and Sept. 29’s show at The Elbo Room in Chicago, Illinois.

Speaking of performances, Gough and Muenchen agree that the energy on stage at shows is absolutely wild, and it’s when they have the most fun.

“Getting up on stage and singing the songs is my favorite part about being in the band,” Muenchen said.

There will be no shortage of fun for show-goers either, and they can expect to dance during Moonbeau’s performance.

“You’re not just going to stand there in the corner,” Muenchen said. “We’ll try to make you come out of your shell a little bit and shine, like the star you are.”

Their favorite performances happen in their hometown of Cincinnati, as often, fans will come out to see them multiple times. They’ll bring their friends, introduce themselves to the band, sing the songs and just have a blast dancing.

Moonbeau’s energy on stage is reflected in their style, which is flamboyant and fun. At some shows you might see Gough sporting an 80’s inspired multicolored suit and white Dr. Martens, while Muenchen flaunts a jacket made of rainbow faux flowers.

While they enjoy fashion and performances give them the chance to push boundaries and wear crazy clothes, it is only one of their favorite aspects about creating and performing music.

For Gough, creating music is what he’s always wanted to do, and he loves it.

“I’ve been playing and performing music for 10 years,” Gough said. “The best part is being able to create something from scratch – from thin air in my brain – and see it come to life on stage and take its final form.”

Muenchen on the other hand, enjoys forming connections with those that she meets at shows.

“I like getting to meet new people through it,” Muenchen said. “That’s my favorite part. Talking to people after shows, and getting to experience things in life that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience.”

Gough continues to reflect on performances and highlights how attending concerts or any performing art requires the listener or viewer to be in the moment and fully present. This shows how vital music can be for those seeking an experience to remember.

“You put so much thought and time into promoting the show and getting ready for the show, and then it’s over,” Gough said. “It’s a flash and all you have left are the memories and feelings of being there to experience it.”

Laura Curry
Laura Curry
Laura Curry is a Rutgers University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. Interviewing bands and writing about music is her passion. She is a frequent concert-goer, whether they’re happening in New Brunswick basements, Asbury Park venues, concert halls in NYC and anywhere in between. Alternative rock is her go-to genre (i.e. Kings of Leon, Cage the Elephant, Foals, The Maine and lots more). When she isn’t writing for The Pop Break, she works at the North Brunswick Public Library, which offers plenty of Fantasy/Adventure novels to quench her love of reading. Additionally, she takes on creative projects from dream catchers and scrapbooks to paintings and jewelry making. She’s always happy to talk about her furry Maine Coon cat Austen and his knack for playing fetch and hide and seek. Just try not to ask about her next career move, because trust me, she’s working on it.

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