Over the summer Pop Break’s Andrew Howie spoke with Moon Walker, an alt-rock musician based out of Brooklyn. The singer spoke to us about his new record APOCALYPTICISM which will have its record release party on Thursday October 19 at The Bowery Electric.
‘American Dream Come True’ has a very strong message about the employer-employee relationship – can you talk about that?
Moon Walker: I think that there is this weird thing where a lot of people are well aware of the obvious downsides of capitalism or whatever, but for whatever reason, when you will be a human about it, and bring up other ways to spend your time, it’s like you’re lazy or you don’t understand how life works. There is this massive swarm of people who are completely hurting themselves. They’ve brainwashed themselves into thinking that if they endure a life of not having their own autonomy or their own freedom to spend their time the way they want, they’ll retire and it’ll be worth it. It’s a really toxic thing, and the interesting thing is the negative reaction to the lyrics I would get. The song is not from my perspective, airing my own issues. I think I’m saying what a lot of people say, not as a complaint, but they’ll be defending it. They expect their kids to do it! They would say a lot of the song lyrics like it’s a good thing. I personally am happy, I couldn’t have a better job. I think a lot of people would say that and not in a concerning way, more in a way of like that’s just how life is, and I’m going to do all this and one day I’ll be rewarded. I think it’s very American, kind of crazy to go your whole life without once questioning that. You come into the world and realize some things are just not logical.
I’m struck by the phrase ‘hating what you see in the mirror’ – I think this resonates with more people than would care to admit it.
Moon Walker: My whole last record was very much about hating what you see in the mirror. So many of the issues in the world, bigotry, intolerance, all of this, comes from not liking yourself, and that’s the way with which you navigate the world. You’re hyper-judgmental and hypercritical, impossible to satisfy because you’re just not satisfied with yourself. You can’t go be productive in the world when you can’t come to terms at your core with who you are. That’s why repression is such a massive contributor to fear, fear of acknowledging who people are. That self-loathing becomes really toxic on the world, and maybe the greatest way to tie that in, the greatest microcosm of that, is the employer-employee relationship.
Giving people power, their first inclination so often is to belittle and exploit. Obviously not across the board, but that is definitely something that most people have dealt with once in their life, a boss on a power trip. Or a teacher, a parent, name it. It is unbelievably evident. There are few scenarios in life where you wouldn’t want to just leave, and the job is the greatest example of this in adult life. That’s a big reason why people can’t leave a really toxic relationship. Work or romantic, either way, even a thought process. Once you realize how much time you’ve put in to something you don’t really care about, that’s where you find a lot of people are trapped in insanely bad situations for their mental health. Makes them more volatile in society, much less productive, not just for getting things done, more like being able to allow society to progress and encourage that progression. I think it is a huge thing, who knows where it begins, chicken/egg situation, but it is obviously really bad in the workforce.
Let’s talk about this new record.
Moon Walker: I moved! I made my other records in the same studio, same place, my habits were built around that. Not only is moving just kind of inspiring and full of challenges, but also the bed that I wake up in, the house you live in, that all impacts you and you form new habits. I moved to NY, so things changed drastically. New life inspired me. I approached a lot of songs starting with samples or pitch correcting or guitar feedback or approaching things not really with a guitar or how I would have in the past. That probably affected me quite a bit, I went off in many directions. Before I was just doing a record, but those things did have a pretty major impact.
I had never messed with samples before. I always thought it was cool but I didn’t know how to do it and I really like it now. It’s a really cool way to inspire yourself in a way you never could have before. If I had come up with that bass and guitar thing out of context without the samples it wouldn’t have worked. With that over the top gospel sample it was so much more interesting and I never would have done something like that if I didn’t hear that sample first.
Bring me up to speed on your live situation if you will.
MW: I’m halfway through this tour here. My apprehensions before tour, I was worried about not having played in so long, how am I gonna do this, is anyone gonna be there, how am I going to do it so many nights in a row? Physically, how is this going to happen? Now that I’ve done a few shows, my apprehensions are more like what are we going to do about the car breaking down or a flight being cancelled, just stuff like that. Things have changed just because of very recent experience. Generally though it’s been great.
As a performer, all of the venues on this tour, the only ones I’ve played are the ones in Denver, the Moroccan in L.A., and Bowery Electric in New York. That’s pretty much everywhere I’ve played. I’ve done a couple little shows here and there as a one-off, but that’s basically it. Everywhere else I’ve never been! I’ve been to Chicago very briefly, been to Nashville, but so many places I’ve never been, and even the ones I’ve visited before, it’s been very brief.
Let’s discuss the music video thing if we can for just a minute – I understand there’s going to be a whole series?
Moon Walker: We’re making the second one right now, so it remains to be seen whether the stories will interlock, in a beginning/end situation, or same characters or universe or whatever, but I’m not exactly sure yet how that will go, but 100% a cohesive thing, not like the other videos, which I think still are great. We reuse the same props and whatnot, so it’s a shared universe, but this one will be one kind of storyline.
Why do you think music videos aren’t as popular as they were back in the day?
Moon Walker: I’ve been thinking about this; part of that might be because fo the short-form tiktok stuff. I think for a bit it was just fads, instead of watching real things people were watching silly things. But I think a new trend now is that people like a 7-second music video, a really good beautiful engaging cool shot, and I feel like that is giving me a renewed perspective. They’re not losing interest in visual accompaniment, they would just rather watch something for 15 seconds and then listen to Spotify. I don’t know if that’s good or bad but it’s better than it was a year ago where people just weren’t watching anything long.
I think there’s a whole generation of people like me who grew up and when we liked a song, the first thing we did was watch the video. They were intertwined. People like that are never going to stop making or consuming videos, it’s just always going to be there, I’m always going to want it.