Almost a decade ago I was in a commission-only job and straight struggling, so I applied and got a temporary contract gig doing data entry that summer. I sat along with a dozen other people in the same boat (more or less) for eight hours a day. Many likely do not remember me as I was quiet, and honestly didn’t talk for a few weeks, but I remember most. Then again, how does one forget the name, Azuri Moon? So when his name appeared in my inbox, I instantly knew who he was and was excited to see that he’d kept pursuing music. We talked about the many official releases that came from him this year, his musical roots, and more as he gives some very solid advice to those juggling day jobs and passions.
Kendra: Being out in Venice Beach, it makes sense. You’re like a personification of the vibe Venice gives off. Are you originally from there, or a transplant that happened to find their way to the perfect locale?
Azuri Moon: That is a fair question and It’s not the first time I’ve heard that. However, not trying to be too cliché, but I am not originally from there. My parents were touring with the band, The Grateful Dead when I was a kid, and we were traveling the country until I was about five. I was born in Santa Cruz, CA which is kinda like the Venice of NorCal in a lot of ways. I was only there for nine weeks before we were back on the road as a family.
I moved to Venice when I was around seven or eight and formally when I was 11. At the time, we were living in the center of Venice a couple of blocks from the beach and historic Abbot Kenny, and later, we were homeless and living in some unfinished houses in Venice, so you can say I got my fair share of the culture there.
As I got a bit older, we moved further and further east, Inglewood, Culver City. I attended Venice High but later graduated from Culver High School before leaving for Music College. But I guess you can say I have those classic, skater, surfer, plays music and little rough Venice vibes.
Kendra: Your latest single, “When the Radar’s Gone,” came from working with your brother on a ‘Batman’ short. Is your whole family into the arts, and do you often find yourself collaborating with your brother?
Azuri Moon: Yes, a good portion of my family is involved in the arts. My younger brother is a talented dancer, lead singer, writer, actor, and director. My dad was involved in production and now activism, and my grandfather was a professional trumpeter and vocalist. At the time I wrote “When the Radar’s Gone” my younger brother was developing a YouTube series based on Batman’s first year as a vigilante that I was helping co-create.
Growing up, he and I were in a pretty serious rock band named Ship of The Rising Sun, created a dance crew with friends called, Fun-Krew (Fun-k, for short), and had developed tons of TV show concepts and books together. So, he and I have tended to work a lot together in the past, and most recently, our youngest brother has started in trap music, which I have helped him produce an EP; However, I have always had a strong solo practice going on and it hasn’t been until this past year that I started pursuing that professionally. In the past, I have collaborated a good amount with my brother and family but my new art/music is almost entirely independent.
Kendra: Has this song inspired you or pushed you towards maybe a concept record revolving around various superheroes?
Azuri Moon: Not really. To be honest, this song only started about a superhero. The tune is only using Batman as a metaphor for self-actualization and overcoming one’s boundaries, it isn’t about him overall. I have no specific artistic obsession with Marvel or DC.
Kendra: Maybe down the line because this year you already dropped ‘Quaran T.’ Was that solely based on the year at hand?
Azuri Moon: Yes. My first solo release ever was ‘When the Radar’s Gone’ on March 13th, 2020, and I never was planning on recording or releasing ‘Quaran T’ but I was in the Bay Area studying Indian Classical Music when quarantine hit, and I found myself stuck in my room.
To stay productive, I began recording music about my thoughts, feelings, and frustrations. ‘Quaran T’ is essentially a concept album and unofficial debut EP release. My OFFICIAL EP release was originally planned as ‘The Ridge, Vol. 1’ which ‘When the Radar’s Gone’ belongs to. That EP dropped September 18, 2020, and is my first official statement as an artist. This year, I plan to release two more EPs and one full mixtape. 2020 is gonna be packed. Stay in the loop on my socials and website.
Kendra: One of the tracks on that is a topic that comes up a lot, “Nostalgia.” For you, what’s the one song or record that never fails to make you feel the most nostalgic and why?
Azuri Moon: Old jazz records bring me back to a time that I didn’t even live in, with the recording techniques and players, I can’t help being transported. Same with Debussy and a lot of older music. Personally, there is a special place in every generation for the music they grew up with. Though I wish my childhood was painted with Zeppelin and Stevie Wonder, it was only older people that exposed me to that music… I grew up with it, but it wasn’t mine.
Yet, when I hear Blink 182 or Backstreet Boys, I don’t even enjoy the music but there is something deeply personal about it. The late ‘90s and early ‘00s hold that special place for me. Personally, Coltrane is deeply nostalgic in the best way. It brings me back to my introduction to jazz and my obsession with modality. Also, The Grateful Dead is where I was born; my parents and my family culture. There isn’t a song by them that doesn’t hold a special place in my heart. But that’s kinda the point of my song, “Nostalgia” isn’t about quality, it’s about an emotion. It’s a drug.
Kendra: Let’s head back to the present and talk about a reality that faces many musicians and that’s the side hustles. You probably don’t remember but we met working at some music company in the summer of 2012 in Beverly Hills. We did data entry all morning and then really didn’t do much in the afternoon. Anyways, what’s your advice to musicians when it comes to juggling a day job and their music careers when they start?
Azuri Moon: Ha, I totally remember that job. I was super young and in college and it was a classic, looking for opportunities while corporations exploit young people’s experience. I think we were working with ‘Rolling Stones Mag’ and ‘Blizzard’ for some weird immersive site they were working on.
My advice to musicians trying to juggle a day job, especially in the beginning, is don’t…The need for a day job becomes more paramount as time goes on, not less…So, take advantage of your youth. The most money I have made has been as a musician and the best opportunities come from when I committed myself to that fully. People are inspired when you are inspired.
I was teaching music when I was 16 and have always had something musical going on in my career. It was day jobs that often took up too much of my time, distracted me from my goals, and confused people when I told them I was an artist as I served their coffee. This is only advice regarding being a musician or artist. As a person, I think my experiences doing construction or working in service have been really rewarding and help to increase our empathy as people. But as Michael Jordan once said when called a jerk by past players, “My goal wasn’t to be a nice guy, it was to play the best basketball,” and I truly believe as an artist or anything you want to do in life you need to fully commit. If you must take a random side job, it should only be that, a side job. Don’t hold too much loyalty to any path that isn’t yours.
Kendra: With all that has transpired this year, how do you feel 2020 has shaped your creativity and drive moving forward?
Azuri Moon: I guess it’s just reconfirmed my sense of tenacity. Haven’t let things stop me this far and don’t see it happening anytime soon.
Kendra: Usually, this is where I ask people what they have planned in the coming months but with the world in a strange place right now, plans aren’t as concrete as they typically are. You can go ahead and let us know what you have tentatively planned…
Azuri Moon: I really appreciate the recognition and thank you for featuring me. As for up and coming releases. I dropped my debut video for “Because We Own The Night” on August 28th, and my official debut EP ‘The Ridge, Vol. 1’ on September 18th. My first mixtape drops on Halloween, and then my second EP, ‘The Ridge, Vol. 2’ will be out later this fall. There will also be some live youtube performances scheduled in the coming weeks.