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INTERVIEW: Goodnight Moonshine

Hi folks, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

We’ve been great! Driving up and down the eastern seaboard playing album-release shows, toddler in tow; it’s super mellow. (;

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Settle Down”?

I’ve always felt a tug towards grounded-ness and putting down roots, while simultaneously feeling the call to adventure. I like cooking in my kitchen, and I also like living out of a car. Eben and I got married and had a kid and bought a house… all these things scared me because they sounded like the end of adventure to my younger self.  It felt like a bad thing to be settled down. And then we realized, there is nothing settled about having a kid; it is profoundly un-settling! I also want to say that as a woman, culture tells you to settle down. We’re entering a time where women are claiming our voices. I for one am going to be louder than I’ve ever been and speak about the things that matter to me. I’m not going to settle down.  Listen on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/7ywmMRpTE9KmpBGEEOsf3q

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

The opening line came from our honeymoon in Hawaii –  which is cliche but it was glorious! We went backpacking on the island of Kauai, and a huge storm came through and we got stranded with a lot of other campers out there. The trail was washed out and closed, no cell service, no boats or helicopters allowed to land, people hunting wild goat, etc.  Huddled in our tent, we were hoping that we might happen upon some magic mushrooms. Below our camp site at the beach, backpacks and food stuffs had been washed into the ocean, and in the surf Eben found a tin of Merlin’s Magic Powder.  It was mostly empty though, and during those 4 days, wonderfully stranded in the Kalalau Valley, we also got pregnant.  Hence, “We never got to experiment with psychedelics, before you knocked me up.”

The single comes off your new album I’m The Only One Who Will Tell You, You’re Bad – what’s the story behind the title?

If you’ve ever had a relationship last through the honeymoon phase, you’ll know that your special someone has the unique ability to make you nuts. They’ll also tell you the truth, if you’re lucky. We were shooting a video when I told Eben in a less-than-gentle way that his hair needed attention. “I can always count on you, babe” he said, and I answered “I’m the only one who will tell you… you’re bad.” There are a few levels of realness to the statement.

How was the recording and writing process?

It was my favorite process to date, and this is the 8th record I’ve made or helped make. Nearly all of the writing came from the the time after our son was born. It was the first long stretch off the road I’d had in years, and I was experiencing myself as being turned inside out. Eben and our upright bassist Adam Chilenski produced the album; recording much of it at our small home studios where we could take all the time we need to listen back, try different tacks, bounce new ideas off each other. Eben can push songs to the far reaches of creativity, while Adam has a real tasty pop sensibility. The result is as fun as it is intense.

Folk music can transform into a variety of sounds – what’s your approach to the genre?

These days it seems like anytime acoustic instruments are being played, it’s called folk. But sometimes what’s called folk is just pop music on an acoustic guitar. To me, folk refers to songwriting; it’s folk music if the artist is saying something. In terms of production, we felt free to use whatever style the song called for.  We used the rhythm & blues band Roosevelt Dime on 4 tracks, giving those songs a really fun, punchy feel. On other tracks, Eben reversed piano sounds or used two drummers or added string quartet arrangements. We took these folk songs wherever they wanted to go!

What aspect of your lives did you get to explore on this record?

The album explores relationships; our primary romantic relationship that brings us up against hard edges even as it inspires and enlivens us, the familial relationships that shaped us and continue to prop us up or challenge us, and certain friendships that allow us to explore different sides of ourselves.

What made you want to explore these themes?

The world is pretty scary these days. Maybe it’s always been this way and we’ve been made more aware. Even so, it sometimes seems like the best work I can do in the world is to try to be a better human in my intimate relationships – try to be a more open minded and generous friend. I can’t have a battleground in my home and expect peace in the world.

Any plans to hit the road?

We just performed in DC, Charlottesville, Asheville & Charlotte – now headed to Boston, NYC, and more. We’ll hit a handful of festivals this summer, and then go on tour with our other band Red Molly in the fall.  Shows here: https://www.goodnightmoonshine.com

What is happening next in Goodnight Moonshine’s world?

We’re collaborating with our friend and fantastic visual artist Zaria Forman on an upcoming video. Zaria does large scale hyper-realist drawings of icebergs and water, documenting the changing ice formations in Antarctica and other parts of the world. Her goal is to instill a sense of awe and wonder in people as they look at the natural world, in the hopes that they will be compelled to act on it’s behalf. Our song “I Love You, Goodbye” is about impermanence, about loving your life fully even as you say goodbye to everything in it… eventually. We put the song to time-lapse video of Zaria drawing as well as her finished works. We direct people to 360.org at the end of the video, hoping that the music and the images come together to move them, and make them want to act for positive change.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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