Arthur Moon is a wondrous collaboration between Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Lora-Faye and musicians Cale Hawkins (Quincy Jones, Bilal) and Martin D. Fowler (a composer for This American Life). Arthur Moon is also the moniker that Lora-Faye herself goes by. (More on that in the interview.) Arthur’s debut album is out on vinyl now via Vinyl Me, Please and everywhere on August 2nd. If you’re a fan of obscure electronic music, it’s a veritable trip around the world that you simply must take. Arthur’s sound is often described as avant-pop and I can’t argue with that, but I actually hear a lot of electronica in her songs. If you’ve heard the solo albums by Caroline Polachek of Chairlift fame, Arthur’s sound is very much in that vein. Lots of burbling, bubbly beats and experimentation to bring joy to your ears. You could also describe her sound as Thom Yorke meets Imogen Heap. I taste notes of Wild Beasts, too. She’ll be touring with Oh Land starting in September and that’s a fitting bill. Listen to her songs below as you read the interview and see what you think.
First of all, what’s the origin behind calling yourself Arthur Moon? When I googled the name, many of the results were of a 90s cartoon character by that name. Did you name yourself after him?
I didn’t even know about the cartoon character–that’s amazing! The story is that Marcel Duchamp’s alter ego Rrose Selavy came to me in a dream and gave me the name Arthur Moon.
Do people call you Arthur Moon or do you go by Lora-Faye and just call yourself Arthur Moon like a band name? Or are you, Cale Hawkins and Martin D. Fowler actually a band, not a solo project? What do they contribute?
Oof, like, all of the above? I’m definitely Arthur Moon, but people also call me Lora-Faye and my band is also a super important part of what makes Arthur Moon exist as Arthur Moon. The band is Cale and Marty (on keys/vocals and bass) but also Aviva Jaye and Dave Palazola, who play keys/vocals and drums, respectively. I know maybe that’s not a concise answer with regards to branding in this industry, but I’m just really the most comfortable in the in-between, and hopefully, other people can be comfortable with that too.
Can you explain your concept/process of making “incorrect music” to us?
I kept struggling to define the “genre” of music that I was playing when people would ask me, not just because I think the music relates to a lot of different approaches and traditions, but also because the thing I’m really trying to do is cultivate and embrace those magic “mistakes” that can sometimes happen when artists let go of their attachments to the stiff rules and rubrics of “genre” to begin with. Incorrect Music is that ethos, I guess—definitely not to deny that there are systems that we are working within when we make music, but to also embrace the power of breaking those rules, of working outside those systems, or even sometimes against them.
Process-wise, I think that can mean really anything—writing lyrics using cut-up magazine and newspaper articles, building harmonies that sound “weird” or “out” in a pop context, singing the wrong note, playing in multiple time signatures at once in a way that disorients listeners to where the downbeat is, etc.
Did you self-produce your album? What program(s), if any, did you use for making beats/samples/loops and for tracking your songs? If they weren’t programmed, what instruments did you use?
I self-produced four songs on the album—Too High, Homonormo, I Feel Better, and Ships. Martin D. Fowler produced Infield, Myelin, and Reverse Conversion Therapy, Wait A Minute, and Standing Wave, and Andrew Sheron produced The Habit. Marty is a big Logic person, whereas Andrew’s mostly ProTools. In the process of writing this album, I was switching programs—from Logic to Ableton—and that really shifted my workflow. Ableton is so intuitive and because of the flexibility of its two formats (“arrangement” and “session”), it really allows for you to quickly mock up an idea and then experiment with it in a bunch of different contexts. In my experience, a lot of others DAWs have felt really constraining in that by the time I’ve actually managed to get an idea out, I’ve lost the flow of creative energy like I can’t remember where I’d intended to go next. With Ableton, I never have that issue. This probably sounds like an overstatement, but whatever: It’s fucking freeing.
In addition to some programmed sounds and samples, I also played piano, vocoder, mellotron, guitar, and banjo, and other instruments, and I recorded performances from other musicians playing cello, vibraphone, drumset, singing, and lots and lots of synths. A big bulk of my playing happened while I was on an artist’s residency in Taos, New Mexico, some of the band’s playing happened at the Buddy Project in Astoria, Queens, and most of the performances from the band and other artists were tracked at the beautiful Strange Weather Recording in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Since you’ve only released one album so far, do you do any covers to fill out your set? If so, what do you cover?
Not many covers, really. We have our song “Beatles” (which is a cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”) from the first EP, but other than that, it’s really just originals. We have tons of unreleased material that we also play live, coming soon to a recorded format, I hope!
If you had to go into the studio and record a cover song today, what would you cover and why?
“Relating to a Psychopath” by Macy Gray. I covered it live a lot in a past life and it’s just one of the most joyful, darkest, weirdest tunes. We figured out how to make our rendition feel really good live, and I’d be curious to see how that would translate in a studio setting.
Do you generally prefer creating music or performing live?
I love both, but I think at the end of the day the thing that really feeds me is the writing and arranging and recording more than the live performance—mostly because I often get SO nervous about performing. Once I’m on stage I love it and I can usually just be present, but the anxious energy before and after can be really tough.
Are you currently binge-watching anything? If so, what? If not, what were the most recent ones you watched or what are some of your all-time favorite series?
I just watched the whole first season of Pose in like two days instead of doing a lot of things I was really supposed to do, and I don’t regret a second of it.
Special thanks to Lora-Faye/Arthur Moon for taking the time to do this interview and to Mia Berrin at Girlie Action for arranging it.