Interviews

This Is… Moon & Pollution

Being from the other side of the Atlantic I don’t have much of a knowledge of Minnesota – almost everything I know about the state is taken from the fictional backstory of Marshall from How I Met Your Mother. Still, Moon & Pollution are from Minnesota so I guess there must be at least a few people up there that know a thing or two about music. I fired them over a few questions to try and bolster my knowledge of the Land of 10,000 Lakes (thank you Wikipedia…);

Please introduce yourselves, who are you and what do you do?

Graham: I’m Graham O’Brien and I’m a guy from St. Paul, MN who makes music: composing/producing & drumming.

Molly: My name is Molly Dean, I am the vocalist for Moon & Pollution – I also play electric guitar and work the vocal FX pedals in the band.

When did you first take an interest in music? Who was your first great inspiration?

Graham: Looking back, one of my first music memories was being fascinated by the Herbie Hancock song Rockit, via Beverly Hills Cop. My dad, John O’Brien is a trumpet/corner/flugelhorn player and amazing composer of music and multimedia. He had a big diverse music collection around the house that I unconsciously absorbed. My older brother Casey O’Brien is an powerhouse of a bass player, producer and composer. He introduced me to most of my early favorites. As I went through junior & high school, I was inspired first by rap/r&b music (other than a thorough fascination with Appetite For Destruction in the first grade) such as (chronologically) Another Bad Creation, Shai, then Pharcyde, then a detour into Brotha Lynch, then E-40, Bone, and so on. Later on in high school my pallet broadened to include people like Aceyalone, Rubberoom, Latyrx, and probably my biggest early and most lasting early influence, DJ Shadow. In high school I had a parallel life with a set of different friends where I studied and played jazz. Drummer Tony Williams and the first Miles Davis Quintet are an equally big early influence.

Molly: My interest in music began around age 7 when my parents signed me up for classical piano lessons which lasted about 8 years, and that instilled in me a great passion for orchestral music, and composition. I then moved on to playing & writing with an acoustic guitar, and that carries through the present day. I’d say that my first great inspiration was listening to my dad play guitar & of course my parents record collection, namely Harry Nilsson, Janis Ian, Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings & Dolly Parton, to name a few. As a kid, I remember just sitting in the corner of the living room by myself, playing records over and over and over again. It was probably great for the development of memory in writing and performing songs.

How would you describe your sound? Who would you liken yourself too?

Graham: I enjoy basking in repeated dark and ambiguous moods, so as they may seem beautiful on one listen and sinister the next day. Rather than try to explain life through the logic of our music, to me we embrace the melancholy of the unknowable depths. Personally, I’m drawn to minimalism and repetition and big shifts in dynamics to try and achieve some of this effect. Portishead, Sigur Ros, Bjork, Clams Casino are influences of mine.

Molly: The Moon & Pollution sound is sort of a sub-sonic, dreamy, contemplative, vibrational state of consciousness, potentially likened to Lamb, Portishead, Polica, and/or Massive Attack.

What do you make of your local scene at the moment? Are there any particular artists that are getting you excited?

Graham: Our scene is the perfect medium size for everyone to pretty much know each other- or at least almost know each other at any rate. That makes it seem like everyone you know is a musician and in a band, which keeps us focused! There’s enough depth here to satisfy the choosiest pop lover of upbeat, optimistic music, as well as the contemplative, darker music. I’ll single out Kill the Vultures and Moodie Black. Im a big fan of both, and each have a kind of powerful, bulldozing live show presentation. I am eagerly looking forward to Kill the Vultures’ next record, due out soon on F I X.

Molly: The local scene in the Twin Cities is always a mesh of talented, driven, collaborative artists. Some emerging artists to watch would be Lizzo, Hippo Campus, Desdamona, Carnage, Allan Kingdom, Votel, Aero Flynn and anyone from the F I X family.

What would be ‘living the dream’ for you?

Graham: I’d just love to follow this path of creating and performing – with each record we make and play, I think we learn more about our nature and potential.

Molly: Living the dream is to be continually creative and finding ways to get the music out to the masses. To create, to perform, to travel, to interact in new cultures, and to be inspired.

Has music always been your greatest love? If not, what else really excites you?

Graham: I was absolutely convinced that I would make it to the NBA, until I was about 15. You may be surprised to learn – that didn’t actually pan out! After that realization, I figured I’d do something sensible and buckle down to focus on music.

I also love audiobooks and plants and animals.

Molly: Music, travel, nature, animals, reading massive books, spending time alone, and great adventure are my greatest loves.

Moon and Pollution beach (Carrie Thompson)

Who is making the music that brings the biggest smile to your face?

Graham: I’ve been enjoying older and newer music as of late, so at the moment…at this exact moment I’m stuck in a pattern of Philip Glass’ Glassworks, Clams Casino’s Rainforest, and frequently seeing live music. Now that I think of it, live music is what technically makes me smile, more so than recorded music, which makes me float away. Currently I try to see a lot of improvised music- the honesty and excitement is inspiring.

Molly: Laura Marling, Lamb, First Aid Kit, James Blake, Olafur Arnalds, Kill the Vultures

Where should we be looking to find new artists?

Graham: We’re on a label called F I X. Check that out!

Molly: Minneapolis, St. Paul, F I X !

What are you hoping to achieve with your music?

Graham: Me: A lasting, vivid impression of my world view, made available to others and myself.

Molly: To continually & authentically create, and offer it up to the world through various avenues, and see where it takes us. Personally I really enjoy the internalization of creation, and sort of watching it unfold in life.

Why do you think we care so much about music?

Graham: One thought is that music communicates what otherwise cannot be communicated. It’s a way to learn about our and other’s hidden selves.

Molly: Music is one of the most direct ways to connect with, and explore your own emotions. It is a consistent variable that we can count on as human beings to make us feel something, which is completely subjective to each and every soul on the planet. It is individual and collective at the same time.

What can we expect to hear from you in 2015? Where can we see you live?

2015 brings the release of our debut record The Box Borealis. You could catch us live here in a variety of venues from the historic First Avenue & 7th Street Entry to the amazing acoustics of the Southern Theater. We plan to tour in the Spring / Summer here in the Mid-West, and when we set up our European / UK tour, we’ll send you that info as well!

Find out more about Moon & Pollution through Facebook and Twitter.

Ciaran Steward

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