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Say Goodbye to Your Feral Days

Oct 07, 2011 Moonface
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Spencer Krug is a restless man who has never been shy about his myriad ambitions or apologized for them. His two bands—Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown—have been parked under “indefinite hiatus” for the foreseeable future. With his two beloved bands on the backburner, Krug is content to let his muse carry him wherever it may go.

His perpetual creative momentum has led him to creating the alias Moonface which Krug hopes will help him avoid creative stagnancy. His debut LP as Moonface, Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I’d Hoped, is full of warm, buzzing organ drones, cascading melodic figures, analog beats and loops, but, as the title suggests, no vibraphone.

While Organ Music will never be confused with Wolf Parade or Sunset Rubdown, there is still something distinctly Krugian about it—especially lyrically. Like the Dreamland EP released last year, the narratives on Organ Music contain phantasmagoric imagery inspired by dreams and water. Krug was kind enough to take some time off from rehearsals to speak with Under the Radar via email about his new album, future projects, and not looking back.

Ben Schumer: There is a lot of aquatic and avian imagery on Organ Music. What is the impetus behind that?

Spencer Krug: It wasn’t intentional. I guess when a set of songs start leaning in one direction, we start, consciously or not, trying create an overarching theme, however vague that theme might be. A theme like “ocean.” It could be carried over from the first Moonface release—Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums—wherein all the lyrics were based on dreams I had in 2009 that involved water. So maybe water is still something that I associate with Moonface music.

Also, the lyrics to a couple of these songs are based on shit that I was writing while in Mexico, and in Greece. Places with beaches. I love and fear the ocean. I am a terrible swimmer and have probably nearly died a couple of times trying to do something stupid that I can’t do, like surfing. That would be an okay way to go though—trying to learn to surf.

And birds are just everywhere. The “seagulls in the blizzard” were above a park just across the street from my house, flopping around in the snow and wind of an April snowstorm, bummed out that they had come back too early, maybe. We sing about what’s around us, I guess. And in the city, in the winter in Montreal, it’s sort of a dead zone, so maybe I was latching onto the little bit of nature that was showing itself.

But, I don’t know. There is aquatic and avian imagery on the album, yes, but I don’t think there is enough to warrant calling it a “theme.” It’s definitely not in every song. I don’t know if there is a theme to this album, but I know that I have my habits.

Since Moonface is your first truly solo venture, are these songs more personal or autobiographical than your previous work? The lyrics certainly feel more straightforward and less metaphor heavy.

No, these lyrics are not more personal or autobiographical than lyrics I’ve written for other projects. I almost always write from a personal viewpoint—just me interpreting the world around me. In the past I’ve sung from the viewpoints of Grecian heroes or shit like that, but really that’s still me, just using a vehicle to explore my own feelings of a more general topic, like love, or something. Or, on this album, there’s the song “Fast Peter,” which is a straight-up love song about my friend Peter and his love for a woman in a faraway place. But all that’s still just my version of the things he told me, and the way his story resonated with me. I don’t know how lyrics can not be autobiographical, in a way. I know that sounds ridiculous, but for me, it might be true.

“Fast Peter” does not use a lot of metaphor, it’s true. And I’m glad for that. I would like to be able to do more of that sort of writing. But for the most part, this album is still pretty metaphor heavy—for better or for worse. The metaphors are maybe less flowery or fantastical than some of my older writing, but they are still there. I think they are becoming drier as I get older, which is a good thing, I hope. Maybe less accessible, but in the end, better. (Again, I can only hope.) The song “Return to the Violence of the Ocean floor,” for example: it’s not about the beach, or the ocean, or sharks and candles. It’s about suicide.

How far along did the vibraphone sessions get? Had you recorded the same set of songs on vibraphone and later transcribe them for organ? Or did you have a completely different set of songs written for the vibraphone?

I don’t even own a vibraphone. So no, these songs were never written on any other instrument. I found the organ, figured out what it could do, and started writing based on that. Before I found the organ, I was doing a lot of writing on digital percussion instruments, but I was getting kind of lost in it. That stuff led to hours and hours of half-baked ideas that are now sitting on a hard drive in my house. One day, I will dig through that pile of beats and loops, find the two-minute bits of gold in all the hours of rubble, and release an online album called Nuggets. (This may or may not be a future-truth.)

As far as an acoustic percussion album goes, my friend Mike Bigelow and I are slowly putting one together over 2011, to be recorded, hopefully, in November. It will also contain a lot of digital percussion, but it will be the closest thing Moonface will ever make, I think, to the vibraphone album that Organ Music was originally intended to be.

How defined is Moonface as a musical endeavor? Will it just be an outlet to record organ and beat based music or do you foresee it being a constantly evolving project?

Moonface is sort of an alter ego for me. Not a band name. I want to collaborate with different people for each album that Moonface releases, so that it will be impossible for it to NOT be constantly evolving (or devolving). I want to make it impossible to get stuck in a rut, wherein any one sound or image is expected by anyone from Moonface. But this might be impossible…. And I also don’t want to force anything…. We’ll see how it goes.

The next Moonface project is an album that I’ll be recording in Finland…with a band called Siinai. They’re an instrumental band. The idea, for now, is that they will do most of the music writing, while I take care of the lyrics and vocals, contributing very little, playing wise, to the music. I’ve never worked that way—away from the instruments—and I’m excited to see how it works out. It will be a challenge.

After that will be the percussion album mentioned above. So, yeah, I think things will continue to change for now.

I know you’ve made your feelings on Wolf Parade’s hiatus as clear as possible, but what is the status of Sunset Rubdown?

Probably most of the things I’ve said about Wolf Parade and our “indefinite hiatus” could be applied to Sunset Rubdown at this point. I don’t foresee any future for that band. It was weird, we just stopped playing. Stopped writing. We never talked about it. It was just in the air for the entirety of our last tour: that it was ending. For the most part, we still haven’t talked about it. Not as a whole band, anyway. But I know there is still a lot of love within that group of people. If we do ever play again, it won’t be for a long time from now…. Mike went to art school.

For now, I’m all about Moonface. I know that might make some people angry, because they’ll think that Moonface is not as good as other stuff I’ve done, but that’s okay. It’s like when all your friends get mad at you for breaking up with someone “really nice” so you can date someone “snobby.” They don’t know what’s in your fucking heart. And they don’t know that the “really nice” person actually got really angry all the time for little shit like not making the bed, and that the “snobby” person is actually just shy and really cool one-on-one.

I’ve heard you’re collaborating with Carey Mercer in a non-Swan Lake capacity. Can you share any details on that at all? Do you have any other projects/collaborations on the horizon?

I don’t know anything about this yet other than what was in a few emails that Carey and I shot back and forth. He sent me some guitar stuff that was really beautiful, wondering if I wanted to play organ on it. Of course I said yes. But we haven’t talked about it in a while so who knows if it will actually happen, or what moniker it will be under if it does. That’s all I know about that.

The other musical collaborations I have on the horizon are the ones mentioned above. Anything beyond that is still too loose to say out loud—it’ll fall apart. I will say, though, that I plan to quit music for the winter. Take a break, go somewhere in America for a couple of months, and just work on my shitty little attempts at fiction, because that sounds fun to me.



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October 10th 2011

Thank you for this rare interview!

October 19th 2011

Excellent interview, Ben.  You’re either a fan of Spencer’s or researched it extremely well.  Thanks for all the information (and getting a final answer on Sunset Rubdown, even if it isn’t the answer us fans wanted to hear).  I gotta say I’m extremely excited about the future works of Spencer as Moonface and I’m glad he seems happy about the musical direction he’s going.

Monte Heyman
October 19th 2011

While I’m quite disappointed about Sunset Rubdown, I am looking forward to Siinai’s album with Moonface, and super-stoked for some Krug fiction.

joe dobrowski
October 20th 2011

Great interview! Go ahead Spencer! The Moonface stuff is awesome! It gives me hope, and seeing it live at the Crocodile, was a rejuvenating experience. Never stop bud! Hope the Mercer sessions come to fruition.

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December 15th 2011

It is very exciting to have more icon discoveries on singing and music industry. Maybe they will made it to the top and I am hoping for their success.

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