Profit-biased formulas, analytics-driven marketing and disingenuous role-based personas lie in direct opposition to an artist whose sense of self rests upon the importance of being genuine.
Complicating matters are the actions of unscrupulous individuals who coax the artist into wearing a “better mask” instead of guiding the artist towards aligning with their true self. As long as the artist continues to identify with any mask (positive or negative), they will find resistance on their path towards self-realization.
Whether it be the adherence to a personal code of ethics, a daily sacrificial offering to an all-powerful golden calf, or spiritual literature read in moments of contemplation, artists rely on their constancy to persevere.
Having a clear understanding of who we are, and what we want, is a challenging lifelong process for any artist. Finding the quintessential band member, however, may often feel like an improbability–especially when searching for talent who are on parallel paths; those willing to take on the often overwhelming uncertainties which come with a demanding project.
Matt Lowell (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Crisanta Baker (guitar, bass, keyboards and backing vocals), and Samuel Stewart (multi-instrumentalist) collectively known as Lo Moon have beaten the odds and are diving head-first into their emotional and creative centers.
Lo Moon’s first release “Loveless” is a graceful musical expression whose ebbs and flows are reminiscent of the all-consuming sense of nakedness accompanying matters of the heart. Chimerical vocals, momentous piano hits, and howling guitars effectively mimic a roiling expressive ocean while penetrating drums accent as bursts of light riding on silver-lined wave crests.
Matt, who leads the project, places great importance on connection, fully comprehending the artistic and spiritual benefits of remaining genuine.
Citizen LA: How did the band Lo Moon come together?
Matt Lowell: I had a few songs back in New York, but it was after moving to LA that the band developed in a really interesting way. When I met my band-mates, Crisanta and Sam, I approached the relationship thinking “do I like you?” and “do I wanna hang out?”
Citizen LA: I guess they did wanna hang out.
Matt Lowell: Yeah! And they’re amazing musicians.
Citizen LA: Was the idea there before the project? Or was is somewhat nebulous?
Matt Lowell: It did start out a bit nebulous, but then found a crack, which widened, and became very artistic. Lo Moon is about everyone’s voice. There is, however, a very specific sound that has more to do with spirit than anything else, and that’s what guides us.
Citizen LA: Sounds like the organic discovery process which we all wish for… well, unless you strive to be a one-dimensional product of some Machiavellian record label.
Matt Lowell: We let the music do the talking. It’s all about the art. Isn’t it?
Citizen LA: Are you familiar with Minimalism?
Matt Lowell: Yeah!
Citizen LA: The idea behind Minimalist Art is to remove the artist from the piece itself, consequently, the interaction between the person and object is what defines the artwork. On the one-side, we can say that this artist is not taking personal responsibility for what he has created. But on the other, in the act of presenting it, an artist is inexorably connected to the piece.
Matt Lowell: Yes there’s mystery in our music, but that’s just the way we’ve approached it, and it works.
Citizen LA: This touches on a “sense of mystery” that I believe has been absent from music for a while, but is now resurfacing. It’s not the enigmatic persona created from hiding behind a mask to which I’m referring. This is more exploratory, wherein a track is intentionally created to unfold itself in the ears of the listener.
Matt Lowell: Exactly.
Citizen LA: That said, as I was looking through your website, somebody posted a photo of the book Turning The Mind Into An Ally by Sakyong Mipham, a highly influential Buddhist. Why is that there?
Matt Lowell: That’s one the most important pieces of literature for me. I wrap my head around that book to better understand my meditation, which keeps me sane.
Citizen LA: Ok. But there was a deliberate action taken to post it.
Matt Lowell: That book has a lot to do with my personality, my life, and how I approach the music spiritually. At that moment I was feeling more grounded and decided to put this book on our route.
Citizen LA: I read something where you made reference to your moral compass. The line was, “how do we move forward if we don’t believe or stand for something.” So, in terms of all this, what does Matt believe?
Matt Lowell: There’s a romantic quality about the music, maybe that says a lot about me, but these things are part of my ethos, my lyrical compass. When I use the word “belief” it’s more of an emotional state, and less of a belief system.
Citizen LA: And this made its way into the first single “Loveless”.
Matt Lowell: In this song the line is “in belief we trace our steps” meaning, in belief we can look back in belief, consequently, if we truly move forward, diving into something fully, we then become a true believer in what we’re doing.
Citizen LA: From your description of Lo Moon, all three of you are in a deep symbiotic relationship. Though your band members are not here to speak for themselves, how receptive do they seem to your philosophies?
Matt Lowell: I think we all have complimentary beliefs when it comes to making music and tapping into specific emotions. There’s definitely an unspoken language between us.
Citizen LA: Strange that we’re having a conversation about if band members connect–then again with so much dysfunction in today’s music industry it seems true emotional connections in a band situation is never a certainty.
Matt Lowell: For me there has to be a depth and a quality in art and music. I’m really hoping that more bands and artists try to connect with that emotional center.
Citizen LA: So did Matt look for music? Or did music find mat?
Matt Lowell: Music found me. I started off playing drums when I was six, then over to guitar, then singing in the glee club, and eventually it took over my life in high school. My Dad and I would often go to the CDs & Tapes Store in Long Island together.
Citizen LA: In this process of finding yourself what didn’t you expect to find? What was one of the surprises?
Matt Lowell: I’m always surprised by how HARD this is!
Citizen LA: [laughs]
Matt Lowell: I have an ambitious personality, and with that come expectations — not because I think I deserve them, but because I want to be better. You may start out thinking “oh, this is just music.” Then you get obsessed, it takes over, and when you’re deep in it you realize this is a WHOLE THING!!
Citizen LA: So do you often wake up at 3am in a cold sweat and call your band-mates, or is that something that you keep to yourself?
Matt Lowell: They know my personality by now. They get it… I hope.
Citizen LA: You’ve referred to the song Loveless as a “living piece of music”, and mentioned it took years to finish. But is a song ever really finished?
Matt Lowell: Is art ever finished? No. You may discover something else about your song years later and wish you would have done something differently. But there is a point where you have to say “this is finished” because it works and has a particular emotional quality.
Citizen LA: I specifically remember a professor telling me to continue to work on a painting even after it was, what I considered, finished. You might screw something up at the beginning, but from there something even better would come out, it always worked that way.
Matt Lowell: And that’s beautiful when it does. I think “Loveless” went through a similar process, there were many phases, a lot of experimentation, so it’s really nice to finally have it out in the world.
Citizen LA: How would you define the relationship between the artist, the work, and the audience, more in terms of transfer of energies?
Matt Lowell: The job is to create something that we feel really strongly about. That doesn’t mean that everyone’s gonna like it, but if we put our energy into making great art, and believe in it, then something great will come out of it. But I definitely think it’s also important to know your audience and why you’re talking to them.
Citizen LA: It’s a three-sided triangle–the artist, the work and the audience–and they are inseparable. I feel that many artists dismiss the importance of balance.
Matt Lowell: Yeah, that’s when you really connect. I think it’s really important that you know where you live in that landscape.
Citizen LA: So, what lies at the core of Lo Moon?
Matt Lowell: There’s a feeling that we often refer to as “oceanic”; one that settles and then hits, and repeats. There’s a beauty that comes and goes in waves. At the core of that is a connection, a message, an emotion. It’s an oceanic feeling.
Remaining steadfast, engaged, and focused–while gracefully brushing aside the unsavory realities of existing as a product in today’s music industry–can be a herculean effort. Though our bodies are highly susceptible to bending and breakage when exposing our true selves, it is none-the-less a worthwhile goal for any artist.
Representing emotion as oceanic is an age old metaphor which brings to light how quickly a tranquil sea can explode into a passionate deluge capable of altering our relationship to the world. Matt, Crisanta, and Samuel have leapt into this ocean, bravely choosing to remain maskless, effectively stirring up arresting aural sensations that embrace the progressive aspects of mystery; a musical voyage elegantly personified by Lo Moon.