By ZL Boudreaux
Spanish Moon is gonna fill up with Southern tunes as local band Moon Honey returns to the Red Stick as part of their Boy Magic Tour. Described as “cotton candy dipped in peyote” by NPR, Moon Honey’s psychedelic sound is sure to please, along with opening acts Minos the Saint and Bearcubbin’! on Friday, Sept. 4. Vocalist Jessica Ramsey and Guitarist Andrew Martin sat down with DIG Magazine to talk about their upcoming show, and the progression the band has seen since its inception.
DIG: According to your website, you ended the 2013 and 2014 tours in Louisiana. Do you have any dates in the works for after the Tucson, AZ show this year?
Jessica Ramsey (vocals): We plan on completely hermitizing ourselves over the winter and completing a musical project, so this is the last Louisiana show of the year to catch. We’ll reemerge in the spring with the Easter Bunny.
DIG: Any previous local music projects before 2013?
Andrew Martin (guitar): I was in a wide variety of bands throughout my teenage years in BR. Common Curtis – Landmines, Baby. – People of Peru, and then Jessica and I started Twin Killers. All ranging from pop punk to intense progressive rock. BR was a wonderful place to form bands.
DIG: What was the Baton Rouge music scene like five years ago? Ten years ago?
Martin: A big incestuous blur of talent, love and support.
DIG: Do you remember The Darkroom? If not, where did you see shows as tweens, teenagers if you did?
Martin: YES. We all had Darkroom experiences. My band Landmines played at The Darkroom twice a month. The shows were rowdy and free-spirited. Very exciting (and sweaty) memories there. Also played and watched tons of shows at The Caterie growing up.
DIG: Any local influences on you who aren’t around or don’t play anymore? Old school bands or artists?
Ramsey: When I was 16, I worked at Sonic. One of my coworkers with an eyebrow piercing gave me a Liquid Sand CD that I cherished because it was my one link to local music. He also gave me my first Cranberries album to balance out my tastes I suppose.
DIG: You get compared a lot to different artists, combinations and sides of artists. How does that feel? Do you think people have a hard time explaining you without drawing comparisons? Do you think it takes away from you just being you? Is it a compliment?
Ramsey: We don’t mind at all. Everyone is enjoying their own unique human experience, and references are all we have to draw from. The quotes are handy in introduction to a new crowd, our favorite being “Jimi Hendrix with a Disney character as a singer.” Most people will not read a book without first reading the jacket, and everyone would summarize the book in a different way.
DIG: Any studio time in the future? Is Boy Magic a taste of the cotton to come?
Ramsey: Yes. We CANNOT wait to release the full meal.
DIG: What’s your label situation? How/where do you record?
Martin: Our first and only LP Hand-Painted Dream Photographs was recorded in my house by John Tulley and mixed by Greg Saunier of Deerhoof (a good bit of it while on tour). “Boy Magic” was created in the PreSonus studio, an audio company we all know and love based in Baton Rouge. We are completely independent and have no plans with any labels for our next release. Not that we are opposed to it, but it would have to be the perfect fit.
DIG: Are there any breakout bands that you know of that you’re excited to see progress?
Ramsey: This is tricky because we know of so many awesome musicians. We are very proud of the work of our friends in Captain Green, Minos the Saint, Rareluth and Natural Blonde in NOLA.
DIG: What’s the strangest project you’ve been approached with?
Ramsey: I don’t know if this is considered a project…but in the very first year of us being a band (when our name was Twin Killers) we were asked to play a lingerie fashion runway show in New Orleans. Between the Katy Perry and Marilyn Manson covers, girls came down the runway beside us in thongs holding sparklers. I can say with certainty that was the strangest show we ever performed.
DIG: Where do you feel most at home? On stage? On the road? Couch?
Ramsey: Now that we’ve moved away from Louisiana, home has turned into a very flexible word. The van is by no means luxurious, but it is our tour home, and we are family. We drift/work for nine hours, and in return get 45 minutes of complete release onstage. Performing is the pinnacle, and the point at which we feel most alive. Personally, I don’t feel home until I reunite with my dog, Miss Bea, or until I have coffee with my mom in St. Gabriel, LA.
DIG: What’s it like playing a venue and having one level of notoriety and playing it again later with a vastly different level?
Ramsey: For some insane reason, Baton Rouge has always had our back. Andrew and Jermaine (our former drummer) had lots of friends in the music scene, and we’ve had an enthusiastic crowd from day one. A bit of notoriety has helped tour in trickles—it’s nice to get to talk to someone who came out just because they discovered you online or via radio.
DIG: Any restaurants or shops you always hit when you’re in town?
Ramsey: We love MJ’s and will definitely pay its wonderful and encouraging owner a visit. The band plans to tear up Juan’s Flying Burrito and Seed Vegan in New Orleans.
DIG: Are you looking five or 10 years down the road? If so/not why?
Ramsey: I have my eyes on seven. So many people are enticed by the idea of overnight success or a label scooping them up and fulfilling their dreams for them, but the more research I do on artists I love and respect, the more I see it takes years upon years upon years to establish yourself as an original artist. It’s easy to get frustrated early on because you have to sacrifice financial security, good health insurance, relationships and more just to invite criticism, obstacles and relentless challenges into your life. Basically, if you want anything else your friends have in their 20s (a home, children, steady job, wife/husband), it’s going to be difficult. We are hopeful, though, because we have to be. This is all that we want to do with our lives, and if we continue creating and touring, we can build our careers ourselves, one fan at a time.
DIG: What’s the biggest problem the modern music industry faces?
Ramsey: In my opinion, figuring out how to pay artists for streaming their music. We’re pro technology—streaming is amazing. It is completely unfair, though, to not give the artists their fair cut of what the services are making off of their work. It’s exploitation. That’s the artist’s problem, maybe not the music industry’s.
DIG: Anything you want to add in general? Also tantalize some details about the music video.
Ramsey: We can’t wait to play the Spanish Moon—our very first show happened there in 2012 as Twin Killers. We are inviting up a couple of local musicians to play with us as well, in particular, Dave Hinson of Righteous Buddha.
The video is the final missing puzzle piece for our album Hand-Painted Dream Photographs. We always wanted a video for our song “The Cathedral,” but as time went by we got too busy to complete it. The week before moving to Los Angeles, we planned a trip to the Jean Lafitte swamp near New Orleans as a goodbye to Louisiana adventure. I suddenly got extremely excited at the idea of filming there, and we snagged our videographer friend Jason Bailey and a swamp boat to record on. It was a very DIY project, and I edited the footage myself. We figured there was no better place for us to premiere it than our hometown of Baton Rouge. After this release, we will be stepping off to another planet of music, and we hope our home will continue to follow us.