It’s a rare thing in music when things seem to all just fit into place – and even less common for such a snowball effect to be spurred by one solitary event. However, Lo Moon frontman Matt Lowell was fortunate enough for this to be exactly the case when he moved 3,000 miles across the States from his hometown of New York to Los Angeles three years ago.
Back in 2012, Lowell started writing songs on his own with the intention of eventually forming a band. Despite musicians being of no shortage in New York City (after all, bands such as The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Vampire Weekend all hail from the city that never sleeps), the singer struggled to find people with which he wanted to complete his dream – and so the west coast beckoned. “I found there was this kind of musical exodus going on, but I needed to find musicians for what I wanted to do. Fortunately, I had friends out in LA who said I could live with them and use a room there as studio space, and I thought, ‘do you know, I’m not going to get any better than that’.”
Within mere months of moving, and armed with a demo of what would become the band’s debut single Loveless, he met Colorado-born bassist/keyboardist Crisanta Baker and London-born guitarist Sam Stewart – and Lo Moon was formed. “I showed them this song I had been working on for a few years, and a few other things I had pulled together, and we kind of took it from there.” Loveless would go on to form the basis of their self-titled album, released in February this year, but not before the band had time to develop their sound. Soon, what began as Lowell’s music became more and more influenced by his bandmates, each musician’s style shaping Lo Moon’s eventual synth-led, dreamy aesthetic, which straddles the genres of experimental rock and electro-pop. “We definitely used [Loveless] as a beacon for the rest of the album, but we’ve changed bit by bit as we’ve learned more about each other’s styles. You could say it’s an album symbolising a journey – but I wanted to make sure it sounded cohesive.”
Though Loveless was born in one place and time more than six years ago – almost a whole other life, as Lowell laments – it was finalised with the influence of his bandmates, and the same can be said for the rest of the record, which was written and recorded over the space of a year and a half. What results is a consistent assortment of tracks that reflect the band’s collective experiences of moving somewhere far from home. In short, Lo Moon reflects the things these kindred spirits have in common, rather than highlighting what separates them. “Moving from the east coast to the west definitely had an influence on our sound – there were different influences which all came into play. We all have so very drastically different personalities. I’m the boisterous New York one, while Sam’s a typical Londoner and Cristina is very outdoors-y and relaxed.” Even their live drummer Sterling Laws hails from Seattle, with Lowell describing him as “straight-talking”. “But there’s an open conversation between us musically – and that creates this kind of synergy.”
It’s something that hasn’t gone unnoticed; over the past 18 months, Lo Moon’s reputation has escalated rapidly, with record company Columbia taking them under their wing, London Grammar, Glass Animals and War on Drugs selecting them for high-profile opening slots, and their festival appearances gaining high praise. At the tail end of last year alone, their fairy-tale story came to a head, as they picked up additions to NPR’s inaugural emerging artist series, released their third single (plus details of their debut album) and performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
With the band playing two sets at The Great Escape festival this month, as well as a short European tour and a series of international festival appearances, it seems things aren’t about to slow down any time soon. But despite the fact this has all happened so quickly, Lowell is careful not to let any of it go to his head. “It’s just huge for us to have a record that allows people to understand what the band is about.”
Lo Moon: three kindred spirits, trying to make great music.