As a kid, I was obsessed with these particular books in my hometown’s minuscule library that featured different countries because they were more about how people lived there day to day. Yes, the tourism aspects are nice but I was always like, what do their homes look like, what about breakfast? I wanted what others might view as mundane because well, that’s life right? It’s those little aspects people take for granted every like walking one’s dog. So when I heard Victor Mucho’s story of living abroad in Sweden and being inspired by his time there, I knew I wanted to know more and now I do. We talked about those walks, working solo aside from Judah & the Lion, and more like his new album, ‘Moonlight in Visby,’ out May 13th.
Kendra: So you had no real intention of writing a record but you’re in the Swedish moonlight and one thing leads to another, but when did you know – like when did the switch flip in your head that made you go, oh…I’m going to want to go ahead and release these songs?
Victor Mucho: That Swedish moonlight though…there’s something in the air, I’m telling you. Haha. At the beginning of winter, I had around six songs that I really loved. That’s when I decided it was going to turn into an album. That was also around the same time that I had the idea to make the film to go alongside the album (also coming out on May 13th). At that time, we were likely to be moving home in the late spring/early summer, so I knew in the back of my head it all had to be done by then. Funny side note, I wrote the last song the day before we moved home, and I recorded it in the airport hotel after we got our pre-flight covid tests, so it really was right down to the wire!
Kendra: Again, you were overseas in Sweden at the time. Miles and miles from your regular spot in Nashville. Do you think ultimately location has any significant impact on how you create now that you’ve done so in very different places?
Victor Mucho: This journey for me was all about redefining what home meant to me. When we left Nashville I viewed “home” as a physical place. I really relied on that place for stability, because with Judah & the Lion, we had been touring for about 8 years straight, so I was always trying to balance out the constant travel with some sense of peace and stability. When we got to Sweden, I had to rediscover my own identity and my own sense of home in a foreign place.
Location does have an impact on how I create, especially in regards to this album as a whole. I think some of my favorite music memories are in cabins, or on camping trips sitting around a bonfire writing songs with friends. A big reason for that is, in those moments you are away from all distractions and you can really focus on just creating. Even when I’m at my house, there can be distractions. It’s easy to spend a lot of time doing projects, gardening, etcetera. In Sweden, I didn’t have those normal distractions so I could just be there.
Kendra: One of the things you did in Sweden was take your dog for a walk every day and that became the foundation for “the List.” However, this song also goes into ways your partner changed and how you loved her just the same. When the song was said and done, did you ever look back at how you’d also changed from her perspective?
Victor Mucho: Yes, that reflection was a big part of my identity search, and came out in the writing process. ‘so terribly hurt’ and ‘Playing God’ dive into that introspection and transformation. Living in a small Swedish town really gave me an opportunity to take life at a much slower pace. I think she would say I came home with a lot less stress and anxiety in my life. That was something I was able to re-claim through this whole process. In general, I think I’m a healthier and better version of myself.
Kendra: Speaking of taking a look at yourself. Did you notice anything different about how you approached writing and crafting a song alone compared to when you were with your bandmates in Judah & the Lion?
Victor Mucho: I feel way more secure and confident about what I bring to the band as a writer. The way I approach writing is slower. As I mentioned earlier, it’s best for me to be away from any distractions, having plenty of space and time to work through my ideas. That isn’t necessarily true for Judah, he can conceptualize a whole album in a day, which is just as beautiful. Now we have a deeper understanding and respect for how each of our creative processes thrive. I don’t think I ever would have gotten that much space if we hadn’t moved to Sweden. After having the experience of writing apart, we have both been able to bring our own style back to the table.
Kendra: Listening to the album “Pictures of Life” really stuck out to me because it reminded me of the simplicities of life that are sadly things of the past. With that, I wanted to know what are some simple aspects of life you miss most about touring and music in general?
Victor Mucho: The social aspect of touring is something that I have missed. For one, there is a unique camaraderie within the touring family. Spending 24-hours a day together on a bus and traveling together bonds us all in a rare way. Also, I miss always meeting new people, reconnecting with old friends, and hanging out with other bands. I am excited to rekindle all of those connections this Fall.
Kendra: Time for a side note…since April showers bring May flowers, I’d love to know what song makes you bloom with happiness and why?
Victor Mucho: “One Last Walk” is that song for me. It’s a bonus track which is only available on the Vinyl and within the album film. I wrote it at the very end of April, literally the day before we moved home, and I recorded it in our airport hotel room. It might be weird, but sometimes the sad songs make me happy. “One Last Walk” is a picture of what that very last moment in Visby felt like for us, and I’m happy because I get to keep the feeling of that moment with me forever in the form of the song.
Speaking of April showers, there’s a line in the song “How strange/Winter on a late April day.” It snowed on the last day that we were there, which wouldn’t be entirely uncommon, but it had previously started to feel like Spring. The snow really stung when it hit your face, but there was also a blue sky. It was such a unique juxtaposition to me that really mirrored the combination of feelings we had about moving home.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘Moonlight in Visby’ out on May 13th, what else can you let us in on? Are you touring this year, already working on new music?
Victor Mucho: I am doing an album release party in Nashville on May 15th which I am really excited about. Anyone is welcome! We will be re-creating the town, Visby, with set pieces, and aiming to immerse everyone in my experience of being there. I will also have a full band playing with me and Thad Kopec (local Nashville Producer and artist) is opening the night! I would love to play a show in Visby sometime soon. Although nothing is planned yet, I’m sure it’ll happen! As Victor Mucho, I have been writing music and collaborating a bit since I’ve been home. I had Thad Kopec produce a song, Molly Parden featured on ‘so terribly hurt’ from the album, Tyler Sjöstrom and I recorded a song together, and I’m collaborating with DoomFolk StarterKit. All of those either have been released or will be released this year!
I plan on playing more shows in Nashville as Victor Mucho, and I would love to play shows in other cities too when the opportunity presents itself. This fall there will be a Judah & the Lion tour. We have been writing and recording since I moved home, and we have a new album coming in June.
Overall, I am so thankful that I had the opportunity and space to explore my identity and songwriting while living in such an amazing place.