Lo Moon's Arresting Pop Songs Come From Patience and Meditation

Lo Moon
Lo Moon Cara Robbins
Lo Moon took a different route than other bands coming up in the age of the Internet. Rather than share musical ideas and songs immediately through social media or a digital platform like Bandcamp, the Los Angeles group worked on its music for four and a half years before releasing debut single “Loveless” in 2016.

Band founder Matt Lowell started playing music in New York City. Around 2010, he was lured to Los Angeles by friends who had moved to the West Coast and the promise of more space. Through other friends, he met bassist Crisanta Banker, who is originally from Denver, and Sam Stewart, the son of the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, from England. The trio became friends and then formed Lo Moon.

The three allowed their music to develop naturally, at first recording in studios in their homes, around Los Angeles, but mostly at the Hall of Justice, in Seattle, with Chris Walla, who played in Death Cab for Cutie and Tetaz. The Hall of Justice had been home to Recriprocal Audio, the studio where many of Seattle's best grunge-scene albums were recorded.

We recently spoke with Lowell about his band's evolution, the impact of more ambitious pop bands like Talk Talk on Lo Moon, and the importance of meditation.

Westword: “Loveless” might be misconstrued as a kind of dream-pop song, in the vein of what's been going on in Los Angeles in recent years. But on repeated listens, it has a depth of detail and richness of composition that is reminiscent of Talk Talk.

Matt Lowell: They were a weird band, because [the albums] Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock were the end of that band — but also the beginning of every other band that wanted to explore that realm. I was interested how they made something so vast and experimental, but also how they made something so pop and refined and refreshing and mainstream. That's the thing I love about Talk Talk. Obviously Mark Hollis's writing is amazing, but that band had such a scope. My favorite bands have a scope. They didn't pigeonhole themselves. Probably nobody but people in bands cared about Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock, but tons of people heard stuff like “Happiness Is Easy.”

When I heard Spirit of Eden in particular, it stopped me – like, what the fuck is this? That's any band's goal.... There are beacons for Lo Moon, and I think Talk Talk is, definitely.

On your website, there's a picture of a book, Turn Your Mind Into an Ally, by Sakyong Mipham. It struck me as being like the Buddhist version of Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. It's the book that inspired Bad Brains and that whole “Positive Mental Attitude" thing and the concept of reorienting your mind to accomplish what you want.

Yes, 100 percent. I posted that shortly after the New Year. It's weird, because it's the book that I just go for when it's like January 3. I have to sit down again and meditate, because I dropped off the four months of the last year. I had a lot on my plate coming up, and I needed to get my mind ready. I've read that book so many times, and I think it's basically a handbook for me. I need to remember why meditating was working.

Why is meditating so important?

It centers me. It helps me deal with my anxiety and the perils of fucking everything. I'm a really easygoing person, but I get ahead of myself. The one thing about that is that even if you're sitting and thinking and you can't focus on your breath the whole time, you can — after twenty minutes, you realize you didn't let anything from the outside world distract you. [When] you're focusing on your breathing, even if you're not succeeding at it, you're stopping your day for twenty minutes. I try to make that as part of my [daily] routine.

Lo Moon plays with Muna, Tuesday, February 14, at the Larimer Lounge. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8; tickets are $15. For more information, call 303-291-1007.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.