Teeming with spacious atmosphere and intertwining melodies, Philly - grown Psych Pop four - piece MOON JELLIES appear to be taking steps onto the South Philly springboard in a big way. After playing BohoZone in Lancaster and being features in The Hook Journal, the band are beginning to take to the studio after riding a wave of momentum from a healthy season of summer touring. These cats have a very engaging and heady sound about them, which leaves me excited as fuck for MOON JELLIES to bring a long awaited update to their catalogue.
I sat down with the band after rehearsal to get to know them a little better, and to unearth some details on what’s to come. Don’t forget to show MOON JELLIES some love on the social media links below, they’re some rad dudes.
B: You guys have been together for about a year now?
EM: Well, it’s weird. I had the idea for the project back in high school, and a good buddy of mine who goes to Temple and also plays music (guitar). So him and I started the idea for the project and brought Kevin on board, with a completely different drummer, with really a completely different sound.
B: So what was the previous sound of the project?
EM: Kind of a psychedelic feel, but more along the lines of a Tame Impala/psych pop stuff
B: So less of the ethereal groove you have now.
K: I would say more straight forward.
EM: Yeah, so that was the group for awhile. We didn’t really do much, just practiced and played a few Philly shows and never really got off the ground. Kevin and I were both really serious about it, the other two guys weren’t as into it. They’re still two of my best friends; not slighting them in any way. They just had different musical ideas. They went their separate ways; Phil and Ethan came in just a few months ago.
B: Were they around when Moon Phase dropped?
EM: That was like our high school EP, awhile back. It’s interesting because the idea for Moon Jellies is old, but now it’s really like a whole new band. Same name, but with a different sound. That’s our thing now, cause we’re planning to record soon. The music on our Soundcloud and Bandcamp is all pretty old. We don’t play any of it with the stuff we have now.
B: I thought the mixing on the vocals was pretty cool because there’s a lot of low end in the vocal mix, which sounds almost vintage. I notice a lot of other bands in the South Philly scene, especially towards the punk end, tend to have a much higher vocal mix. But moving on from that, what is your impression of the South Philly DIY?
K: I absolutely love the South Philly DIY experience because it’s really just more of a community. Like, you go to a show with four bands on the bill, and it’s four bands that play completely different styles of music but the audience still sticks around for the entire thing. And that’s what I think the best part is. Just a community of friends helping friends and kids being sound guys, and its just awesome.
EM: I also think it goes past South Philly too. Like we just finished a tour from Philly all the way down to a festival in West Virginia. And all of that was literally “Hey, my buddy in Philly knows this guy in DC.” and so on.
B: So it’s like the most organic of networks.
EM: Yeah, the entire tour was almost entirely word-of-mouth. “Hey my buddy knows this guy who knows this guy who can throw you a show in Baltimore.”
B: Yeah I remember the first house show I went to was in late November when I was visiting. I don’t remember what the middle band was called, but I remember Excursions came before them, and I think it was Barehands afterwards.
EM: Yeah I was at that show!
P: That was the Bad Tequila Experience right?
B: Yeah that was Bad Tequila Experience. So I know the group is tight on a personal basis here, but how much of a role does social media play in bookings and promotion in this scene?
EM: I’d say it’s essential. I mean that’s how I did it, cause I handle all of the booking thus far.
E: I like that I don’t have to do anything, it’s my favorite part of this group
E: What?! I don’t have to do anything, I just show up when (Eoin) tells me to.
P: (returning to the topic) The bands that I’ve played in previously, unless we were emailing the booking dude at a commercial venue, almost always made booking arrangements on Facebook. They’ll confirm and add you to an event page.
B: So the DIY is by no means mainstream, but it seems to be growing in response to the corporatization of the mainstream music business. So I think that many people’s vision of touring life is grounded in a dated picture of the music business. What is touring life like in the DIY? Cause I know a lot of times it’s house-to-house rather than club-to-club.
K: It’s not terribly different. You just figure out who has a car and you figure out your dates and you try your best to get to that place.
EM: Then you realize none of your bandmates have a car, then we’re like “shit, how are we getting to this show?”
*more collective giggles*
K: The way I see it is that it’s the same as having a show locally, there’s just more distance. I treat it the same way. You just have to figure out how and when you’re getting there.
EM: The vibe when you’re playing a touring show is totally different though.
B: What’s it like?
EM: It’s kind of surreal. Like if we play a local show, all of our friends have seen us a million times. When you’re touring you have these houses who will throw these shows and invite all of their normal friends over to hear these bands who they’ve never heard of. There’s definitely more of a dedicated vibe from the fan’s perspective.
B: I’m assuming with how intimate the house show environment is that you gain fans fast. Like if they dig you they dig you.
EM: Yeah. I don’t know if you’ve heard them, they’re another local group, Soul Deli?
B: Yeah I have.
EM: They’re great, we co-toured with them this summer. It’s cool to have a community and people like that.
K: It’s cool to play a place with strangers who dig you and to go play a place that isn’t Philly, you feel like you’re kind of representing your scene.
EM: Yeah there are sometimes where it’s like a Wednesday night but you’ve still got a house full of people there to see your stuff.
B: Diverting to your sound specifically, my only real impression of your music is Moon Phase, so how is the sound changing now, on a more nuanced level.
P: When I saw them, when I wasn’t in the band, and it was really different. Now, I’d say we’re focusing more on really arranging our songs completely, rather than having long open-jam sections, where we don’t really have an intention.
EM. And that’s kind of the weird thing right now. We’ve got these shows next weekend, but after that we’re going to be focusing on getting in the studio. We’ve played all these shows and people ask “do you have any music?” and it’s like “kinda.” Cause on Moon Phases I did everything. So we do have music but it’s not really us. So we’re really focusing now and stuff that we as a band can give to people and it’s really ours.
MOON JELLIES ARE:
Eoin Murphy (guitar), Kevin Segal (Bass), Ethan Berkowitz, and Phil Conine (drums).