Photo Credit: Mia Paden
This year has put my emotions through the wringer between my mom’s health and a cross country move from the only place I’ve ever called home, it’s safe to say my mind has been scattered. However, there have been little moments during the day from time to time. Moments when a song like “Bubblegum” from Moon Kissed comes through. An infectious middle finger to patriarchy wrapped in synth-pop, this song couldn’t help but make me forget the weight of the world for two and a half minutes. With that, I wanted to know more about Moon Kissed, and in this back and forth we dive into not only “Bubblegum,” but also the industry, the internet, and the big event they have planned for the release of October’s ‘I’d Like To Tell You Something Important.’
Kendra: You met at an NYE party and over the next year dropped a record, got some well-deserved love, and then – bam! The world is a dumpster fire with stupidity fueling the flames. How did last year initially impact the band overall when it came to staying creative and pushing forward?
Khaya: It for sure sucked and was really fucking hard. The end of our tour was some of the most stressful times all of us had ever had, and it created quite a bit of tension. It was disappointing to feel like a lot of steam and momentum was lost, but the time off allowed us to spend more concentrated time finishing our second album and writing even more for future records. Obviously, hindsight is 2020, but there are also a lot of things I don’t think we would have accomplished! I feel like we all grew a bunch and learned a lot about ourselves too, which is half the battle when it comes to gigging, touring, writing, and life in general.
Leah: Last year we were touring the South on our way to playing SXSW before it was canceled due to Covid. So initially we were pretty dramatically impacted. However, we used the downtime to work on finishing our second album and writing a lot of our third. So we made the best of it.
Emily: When we were on tour and the pandemic hit, everything became pretty stressful and naturally there was a lot of tension. I definitely took it as a sign to reevaluate what I was doing and how my reactions affected others. We each took a lot of personal time to be creative alone and that helped me explore my individual sound which helped me become more intentional with the ideas I add to Moon Kissed songs.
Kendra: Today, we’re moving a centimeter a minute towards whatever our new normal will be and with that, people are going back out into the wilds of their cities. Being based in New York City, if you had to compare the overall tone and style of ‘I’d Like To Tell You Something Important’ to a spot that perhaps is a more locals-only favorite, which would it be and why?
Khaya: Hmm, it’s tough because most of the album was created pre-pandemic actually so it’s not entirely relevant. But being NYC-based I think has dictated our sound immensely, and the pandemic sort of just intensified the things that make cities so intense. I noticed that for a minute during the pandemic the city was all stress and no release; all the bad parts stayed like the crowds, the dirtiness, the rush, and hustle, but there was nowhere to go out and dance or hang out to let it out so there was so much tension. I suppose this album is darker and grittier and a bit more grown-up than our last one, so in that way, it parallels the NYC pandemic transformation.
Emily: There is this spot in Greenpoint that is along Newtown Creek. It’s a bit hard to find and I get lost half of the time I go, but it’s one of the most interesting spots in the city because you have the water and cute little tug boats going by and across the water, there is a car demolition spot and the highway. It’s not loud because then that spot would suck but you can just watch cars being flattened and it’s just such a strange area. This spot feels like the album to me because it is darker and grittier like Khaya said, but it’s also calm and a lil melancholy. Also, I always have really intense conversations at this spot. You just know spots like that???
Kendra: Now I love what y’all said about “Bubblegum” and this idea of using patriarchy to get what you want because I’ve done that in the past. I’d go on a date just to get dinner because I was broke and didn’t want to starve. Of course, this is a bigger message than a free meal. So how do you feel is the best way to use patriarchy to one’s own advantage?
Leah: Sometimes I feel like the best way to use the patriarchy to your advantage is to treat it like social satire for the greater purpose of liberation. Other times I think that people should just freely rebel against the patriarchy however they want according to their feelings. The common ground I guess is just to do something, anything, to challenge it. It’s important to not compromise your personal integrity though.
Khaya: Not that it’s right to use people, ever, but I think extreme measures need to be taken at this particular moment in time in order to attempt to undo the damage that centuries of patriarchal society have solidified. So yeah, using men is necessary in my opinion in order for me to gain confidence and power that was stripped from my particular upbringing as a woman. That’s just my take though, and obviously, every person is different and hopefully, we get to a point where no one has to use anyone in order to achieve what they want.
Kendra: I couldn’t help but notice the Britney Spears poster in the “Bubblegum” video, and it got me thinking about how her career was kind of like the last straw for many artists because today, we see more and more musicians like Halsey, Taylor Swift, and Beyonce absolutely owning their careers. From the “Gimme More” performance to now, a lot has changed in the industry. So with all of that said, where do you think it’ll be in regards to women and non-binary artists in 15-20 more years?
Leah: I think this is a broad question. I think the music industry will look different for white women than it will for women of color, different for cis women than it will for trans women, and very different for non-binary people based on many factors. I think we have a long way to go in terms of liberation and equality in the music industry. Until Black Americans are being paid reparations by the music industry specifically, I think any effort by the industry to promote equality falls flat. That being said, I believe in our generation and our desire for change.
Khaya: If we take the case of Britney, it’s pretty sick how far the music industry and society have come because what happened to her probably wouldn’t fly today. So that’s a win, but yeah we still have ways to go…and yes 100% until feminism is completely intersectional and open-minded it’s not a success story.
Emily: Our generation is extremely powerful and I think many things will change because of the drive we all have!!!
Kendra: The video also presents this wonderful, 2000’s inspired hazy dream. Who came up with the overall concept, or was it more inspired by the clubbing y’all have been doing bedside since last year?
Leah: Our Friends Leeza and Mia came up with the concept and shot the video. We had conversations about style and colors, and we made an idea board to get it cohesive. Thankfully they both have really great taste and are talented artists in their own right, so it was easy finding something cool.
Emily: Yes! Leeza and Mia came up with the whole concept! We knew what style we wanted and used some references like the music video by Dream Wife for “Let’s Make Out” for the wash and prom vibes. We also referenced the video for “Rich” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for a powerful transformation. Khaya and I wore our actual prom dresses and it felt so good to cut them up!!!
Kendra: The late ‘90s and early ‘00s are always going to be close to my heart because it was the last time the internet didn’t own every facet of our lives. I tried to dodge social media for the longest time, but it’s like a double-edged sword when you’re creating content and have to get it out there. Your band though, you don’t like the social media gags that some artists play into. Do you think we’d be able to ever go back to a time that was void of constant online interaction?
Leah: I think we’re going to go offline sooner than we think. Instagram is only about 10 years old, so it’s still a relatively new toy. I think we’ll get past the excitement of it and move towards a place where we use it for ease and less for pleasure or addiction. Maybe that’s crazy, wishful thinking, but I have to think it because we really are not an internet band, the fact that we’ve lasted this long on social media is comical.
Khaya: Man, we’ve tried. We’re really just all old souls I think. But for me, the in-person interactions cannot be beat. I hope one day I’m in a good enough place to be able to say fuck it and throw my phone away, but I don’t think social media is going anywhere.
Emily: If I had $1 for the amount of times I delete and redownload instagram…..anywaysss. I feel like there is going to be a shift off big social media sites like Instagram and Facebook. We don’t shop on Amazon anymore and I think eventually Instagram will be boycotted in the same way. It’s all so complicated and I understand this is pretty hypocritical to say. Ultimately I would love to go back to the way art was shared in small mags and blogs or by word of mouth and live shows!
Kendra: With the new album out on October 22, what else do you have planned as we head closer to wrapping up this year?
Leah: We’re throwing a masquerade galaaaaaaa! For our album release show, we want to throw the party of the decade. Gowns, tuxes, jewels, ornate masks concealing your identity…it’s going to be very exciting.
Khaya: YES! If all goes according to plan it’s: album, masquerade, then TOUR, then a residency in December.
Emily: MASQUERADEEE….TOUR….RESIDENCY!!! More singleeessssss oooo laaa laaaa!