Your weekly go-to new music guide brought to you by our London music journo, Peggy as she uncovers the latest ‘bands and artists to watch’ in the post-punk, new wave, jazz and indie communities. This week she discusses cinematic animation, lockdown experiences and the beauty of the radio with psychedelic alt-pop group, moa moa, and collaborating animator, Tom Sharp.
Hailing from South London, how did you come about the birth of moa moa?
moa moa: We moved in together in March of 2019, and we've all been in different projects together over the years. James (who is our creative force and produces all of our music), was sitting on a few tunes in varying degrees of completion, and so we just decided to jam them one day. From there moa was born.
The likes of CLASH, DIY and 6music have all offered praise for your distinctive blend of psychedelic alt-pop. How did you begin developing and consequently honing your style? moa moa: There's a very deliberate and conscious effort to create stuff which is challenging, but that also has an inherent sense of accessibility to it. Through that, and James' weird and wonderful approach to ideation, we've found something that we're all happy with. With all the singles we have planned going forward, there's a very distinct identity to everything, which ties it all together.
What were the ideas and thought processes which came to form the basis of your debut single ‘Yellow Jacket’ (released via Council Records)?
moa moa: We've talked a bit about some of the influences for Yellow Jacket before, such as Tame Impala and UMO, but the song itself narrates a slightly childish conversation between two people in a relationship. It's deliberately very matter-of-fact, e.g. 'is he taller than me?', with that simplicity offset by more 'chonky' riffs. It was a tune that we thought was great when James first showed us the initial run of it… It has an immediacy to it that meant we felt it had to be our first single.
One of the most productive groups we’ve seen in lockdown, we’re exceedingly excited for your five-part animation series, ‘Please, slow me down’, created in collaboration with animator Tom Sharp. What first gave you the urge to release this type of material?
moa moa: Thanks for the kind words on the series! Lockdown is a challenging time for all artists. It's forced everyone to think about they can develop their story in creative ways, despite the obvious issue of confinement to a bedroom or lounge. Tom is someone we've admired for such a long time, and who worked with us on the 'Yellow Jacket' lyric video. When we came to thinking about what we could do in lockdown, it felt natural to try and work with Tom on something. The project has actually snowballed a lot from the initial idea of a few animation loops with moa moa sketches (sorry Tom...), to a bit of a cinematic offering ha. Despite that, it's been a joy to work on, and watching some of the moa moa sketches interacting with Tom's amazing work has been such a fulfilling thing.
The series itself appears to be centred around an endearing spaceman protagonist. What’re the concepts, imagery and journey that you intend to portray as the narrative unfolds?
Tom Sharp: The initial brief we had when we were putting the series together was definitely to explore some of the things we're all experiencing (it seemed impossible not to be influenced by it), but also without being a literal reflection of it. We didn't want to create a series about people in lockdown in London! The unimaginable infinity of space therefore felt like the perfect setting for an animation centred around isolation and loneliness. I've always been very inspired by sci-fi, and the innocence of old serials such as 'The Crimson Ghost' and 'The Untouchables' were in mind whilst stylising the piece. During the concept stage, I'd just binged a series of 'Samurai Jack' straight after finishing 'Primal'. Genndy Tartakovsky's magic definitely influenced me when creating the visuals for the series. We also really enjoyed a positive feedback loop whereby the music would often trigger certain ideas visually, and vice versa.
How do you hope this work impacts and aids the viewer in the context of our ‘new normal’ of social distancing?
Tom Sharp: That's an interesting one. I would say that rather than being driven by a moral-based arc, we were perhaps hoping to underline our fundamental ability to overcome adversity - however difficult that can sometimes seem. This point inspired the two plots, which feature individual and collective response to adversity. There is something to be said for everyone gaining a new-found acknowledgement for some of the triviality of everyday problems, and also the joy in things we perhaps take for granted.
Which artists’ discography’s have you resurrected to comfort the lockdown blues?
moa moa: We've been listening to Lauren Laverne's 6 Music show, which always throws out gems old and new. Radio's been a good companion for us in this period, and 6 have done a great job of keeping spirits up. In terms of some of the records we love, Matt our drummer has been revisiting some older releases from when we were growing up with Tim Burgess' Twitter listening parties. Some recent purchases to our house have been Do Nothing's EP, Kali Uchis' album, and To Pimp A Butterfly.
With the recent soar in online festivals uplifting our somewhat disheartened live music spirits, what would be your fantasy festival line up?
moa moa: That's an impossible question.... Hmmm, we'll leave that to Emily Eavis or something.
Holding on to any must-see gig tickets in the hope that they don’t get cancelled?
moa moa: Dan and Matt have been going to Glastonbury for a while now, and that was a big shitter when that was cancelled. As well as that, we're really keen to head to Green Man and End of the Road, so we're keeping fingers crossed that next year's festival season isn't too ravaged as a knock on from this. We're also keeping hope for some of our friends who are also being affected by this including Polly Money, Zach Said and Talk Show.
What’re your shared hopes as a band in a post-Covid 19 future, be it releases, gigging or otherwise?
moa moa: All of the above! We're working on our next few singles at the moment, and are well along the way with this. Even though the animation series has been brilliant to work on, I think we're all relishing the prospect of getting another proper moa moa release out there. We had to postpone our debut headline which was sold out, so that'll be first on the list when things have calmed down.
@_moa.moa ‘Please, slow me down’, Animation Series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzT52Zv0tHg&fbclid=IwAR2wL9IBC0-xlA0hTMgJ5Szg0jsVkzXV_TmFyxMIION9llqilqbG_HaEHDI Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1VC1fSNmQ7dzRFMYlEuurc?si=9zGmMH3mQ4-STDcCUSFYIQ