Week in Pop: Future Twin, Hooveriii, Joe Gorgeous, Two Moons

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Two Moons

The latest from Two Moons' Aaron Liu, Michael Bonham & Andrew Massett; press photo courtesy of the band.
The latest from Two Moons’ Aaron Liu, Michael Bonham &
Andrew Massett; press photo courtesy of the band.

Two Moons recorded their February 3 slated Good Cheer Records debut Strings at home in Portland earlier in 2016 and it is our privilege & pleasure to premiere the gorgeous single “Midnight”. The follow-up to their 1087 EP sees the group expand into a trio of Aaron Liu, Andrew Massett, Michael Bonham where their bedroom pop intimacy also expands toward a more basement-tape approach to experimentation where anything & everything is possible. This approach allowed all three members to contribute their own instrumental arsenals together in a janky setup that Michael described as a combination of, “all our mismatched gear and recorded into a little laptop setup on the floor surrounded by dozens of tangled cables and charts.” Aaron further elaborated on the complicated aspects of production & mixing Strings; “Near summer’s end I tried to [mix] it with headphones and practically lost my mind listening to the same set of songs over and over again.” Despite these seemingly disorganized approaches, the result of Two Moons’ debut album is something gorgeous that is up there with your favorite Sea & Cake releases & all other forms of audio artistry that translate to the epitome of the sweet sound of blessed & blissful serenity.
“Midnight” is the perfect tune for that perfect time of the evening when almost everything feels still & at peace. Every single solitary note & chord is perfectly placed to create the utmost essence of tranquility, where Two Moons cast a lunar glow upon their sound that instills a sense of comfort of warmth that many find in the midnight hour. This is the soundtrack for reflective moments at night shared with either a special loved one, or perhaps a cause for pause that is reserved for just you, your thoughts & the backdrop of the evening’s starlit sky. Melodies cascade like a waterfall/star-fall that flows with a gentle finesse that instills a sense of calm to all with ears to hear. “Midnight” is the anthem for that time of night that stands in the midst of the evening that straddles the in-between between dusk & dawn where anything can happen. After the following debut be sure to read our roundtable interview with Aaron Liu, Michael Bonham & Andrew Massett.

What is the significance behind the name Two Moons?
Bonham: The name Two Moons embodies of the recurring themes in our music. Many of our songs elicit a sense of social detachment, melancholy, the feeling of being isolated even amongst company and the cyclical nature of life’s phases.
Liu: So the backstory is that my mother grew up during the Cultural Revolution and was sent to the countryside when she was 12, along with my grandfather, for reeducation. At first the villagers thought she was an alien. You can’t blame them! The town had very little contact with the outside world. One girl asked her whether there was a moon in the sky in her hometown. If so, how many moons? So that’s really the inspiration for the name, that specific question from that specific moment in my mother’s life, and the notion of finding yourself in an unfamiliar, somewhat paradoxical world.
Describe for us the process & creative progressions made during the making of your debut EP Strings.
Massett: The process was fairly rushed. We wanted to get a decent amount of songs done quickly in a short time frame. I believe with the time that we had, we ended up having some awesome special takes of those songs and a lot of them we just kept the first take and kept rolling. During the recording, I really started locking in on drum parts for songs like “No Name And G” and “Midnight.” My drum kit was set up in a basement room with high ceilings, which ended up making my drums sound really awesome. Overall, it was just a very DIY approach and doing it live really added a certain flavor to those recording that I’m really happy with.
Liu: We got together one afternoon recorded live takes of everything we knew. Then I spent the summer layering additional parts and sort of went overboard.
Interested in hearing further about synergistic function between you three.
Massett: I think we’ve grown a lot as a band. In playing together we’ve developed a more collaborative approach to songwriting, as opposed to when we first started and I would just play drum parts to songs Aaron had already written. Now at this point we can sit down and jam out ideas when we’re rehearsing and come up with some really solid and some really interesting stuff that I think is different than bringing a song in. One more thing that I would add in would be that I think Aaron and I have always had a sort of a symbiotic relationship when it comes to his guitar playing and my drumming. I feel like we’ve always been able to figure out something that he likes and I have fun playing.
Bonham: We work really hard to evoke our emotions into our music. We like to think to think about recordings as photographs that capture our motives, desires, fears, and emotions. I think expressing ourselves in as much of a musically tangible and communicable way is our main goal.
What sorts of middle of the night fancies informed “Midnight”?
Massett: Midnight as a song has always been about the feel for me, especially on the drums, and it took me the longest time for me to figure out to play the song…but once it finally kicked in, I locked it in and haven’t changed it since. I have always been sort of a night owl and my inspiration for that was sort of pushing yourself past the tiredness, staying up late and using that as a driving force behind the way I thought about the approach.
Liu: It’s a special moment.
Tell us what’s awesome right now in the Portland scenes.
Bonham: The people are still awesome in the scene. I’ve met some really talented and just plain nice people at shows in Portland. There are so many people in Portland willing to listen and support new bands. It’s an amazing community. I hope that continues well into the future.
Massett: What’s awesome about Portland right now is the sense of community. It’s a double edged sword because there are a lot of tight knight communities that I feel by no fault of their own just end up being a little incestuous—you have a lot of bands playing with the same bands, and it’s great to go out and see everyone you know, but I feel sometimes the scene almost feels smaller than it did 10 years ago. But what I do think is great is the sense of the community, is the support the people have been giving us for the past year and a half of playing shows. There are also many important bands that are fronted by people of different genders and different orientations and I think it’s really important that we see more of that and I feel like we are seeing more of that in the Portland scene.
Tell us what’s not awesome in the Portland scenes.
Bonham: What really blows about Portland is the lack of venues that are able to put on all ages shows.
Massett: In the past three years, Portland has really taken a big hit to our all-ages scene. But I believe that the resilience that we have seen is pretty remarkable. There are places that have opened their doors to accommodate all-ages spaces, which I believe is incredibly important. Smart Collective is one—it’s an amazing skate shop space on Foster. Anarres is a really great anarchist infoshop and they have been more than accommodating a lot of the times and it’s been a safe space for people to come to shows in St. Johns. And of course the multitude of people that have opened their homes and have literally created space out of their own homes to throw shows and have really awesome experiences.
Local PDX artists the whole world should know about?
Massett: The whole world? Damn. I want to say Blowout, but they’re going to stop playing shows soon… but honestly, I have to say Blowout. They’re one of the most incredible live bands that I have seen in years. I don’t skip a single song when I listen to their newest record; I listen to that record all the way through. Dowager and Helens are both really incredible bands on the heavier end of the musical spectrum, but still fit in completely when we play shows together and are also great friends and musicians. Dowager put out one of the coolest sounding screamo records that I’ve heard in the last five years.
Liu: I would add to the list all the incredible artists on Good Cheer’s roster, for one. Also Claire Gunville, who’s designing our cover art and is an incredible photographer and visual artist all around. Quinn Jarvis Holland of Oligopolist Records, meanwhile, mastered our EP—we’re big fans of their mission and their artist affiliates. We also should take the time to mention Strange Ranger (formerly Sioux Falls) and Snow Roller—they were a major help in getting us started…
Massett: They have been instrumental in helping us out and just being supportive since literally our first show.
Liu: And then there’s our friend Jordan Demarco—who’s a major inspiration in terms of songwriting–as well as our friend Da0gpaws, who actually maxed out their Soundcloud account last year and now puts out music under the name Syry BeKind. I could go on but the list would be too long.
Next moves for Two Moons?
Bonham: We’ll be promoting our EP Strings on tour with Radler across the West Coast and Southwestern states.
Two Moons’ Strings will be available February 3 from Good Cheer Records.