Among the groups I became familiar with in the past months or years, Moon Blazers rank quite high on my imaginary list of favourites. They create some beautiful, soothing, feel-good, introspective music that also allows you to have fun while listening and to travel to some kind of fantasy land in search of your inner child. Their new album Candid should drop officially any second now and it is a great pleasure for me to feature this interview, where they tell us more about the music they make, their creative process, this album and more. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Moon Blazers…
First of all, for people who are not familiar with you and your music, who are the Moon Blazers? Any interesting story behind the name?
Dyno: Nope. We jus smoke a lota weed and watch a lot of Adult Swim.
Suo: The Moon Blazers are a Los Angeles based hip hop group that focuses on honest and true expression. We are regular cats that can be very introspective, intellectual or just silly and dumb. The group consists of Suo (the white dude), Dyno (the cat with dreads) and Pensive (the guy with glasses). Additional members are Diddy Quest 5000 (who is jokingly known as Jarobi) and Dianetics (aka Milky Williams).
There is a story behind the name actually. The group was started in the dorm rooms of Dominguez Hills in Carson, CA sometime during 2003. Suo mistakenly called a set of speakers Moon Blazers that were actually called Thunder Gates. The name stuck around as a joke and became our moniker. We actually talk about it on the song “Know You” from The Milky Williams Quintet album, you can check it for free at www.moonblazers.com! Just to let you know haha.
One of the most obvious characteristics of your music is this feel-good, chilled element. Is it essential for you to spread positivity and have fun while making music?
Dyno: Um… it is not a necessary element to be positive, actually I feel we tend to get a little too introspective and depressing sometimes. As far as making the music goes I think we jus naturally have a good time, it is my art and passion I couldn’t live without making music I love it too much.
Suo: Yeah that basically sums it up exactly! We strive to deliver an experience that puts you into a better mood than you started with. We consciously pick beats that have a chill vibe to them, altho we do upbeat joints as well, the overall sound is that of one reminiscent of the golden age jazz vibe.
You also underline your appreciation for the “golden age” of hip-hop and renaissance rap, which you incorporate in your albums, while giving a modern twist. Many MCs have a similar approach and pay homage to their musical ancestors. What would you say make your sound unique?
Dyno: I think our individuality as human beings seeking to create art is in play when we make music, we don’t try and recreate golden age hip hop it jus happens to be one of our greatest influences. So our musical background is steeped in golden age hip hop that’s what we know the most. But we are acutely aware of hip hop’s immaturity, and often overly aggressive presentation. I mean you don’t hear The Shins talking shit about Arcade Fire on their records or The Black Keys saying there the savior of rock n roll. But in hip hop it seems that we are preoccupied with this kinda morose banter towards emcee’s we don’t see fit to rap, and then we become limited to what we can express because you have to keep of this facade that you’re a bad ass. The Moon Blazers aren’t concerned about that shit. So it frees us up to talk about whatever and let our own real individual personalities shine.
Suo: That’s a difficult question without sounding pretentious. I also don’t know all the cats out there that also attempt to do this. All I know is we are inspired by those cats, and when people say we sound familiar it’s the biggest compliment I can receive. As far as what Dyno is saying, that’s his perception not mine! Haha, I don’t necessarily believe hip hop is immature, it’s a different culture and the powers that be control what comes out. That’s a much larger conversation, and when it comes to braggadocio and dissin’ others, that’s been part of the culture since it’s inception. To be bigger and badder than anyone else… I don’t have issues with that. And Dyno even said it on “Classick” haha. I think he’s just tired of cats feelin’ like they can’t talk about anything but being tough. Anyhow, we made a conscious decision to be “conscious” and also to express our personal feelings and emotions into our songs. A pivotal song that sparked that decision was “Trying People” by De La Soul, especially Posdonous’ verse. If you listen to that song, you will see how honest he is. I was amazed at that.
Your upcoming project, Candid, has a very interesting concept, with a great emphasis on “honest sincere expression”, could you tell us more about that? Also, your collaboration with Katrah-Quey works perfectly well here, how did the connection happen?
Dyno: Suo will let you know about Katrah. As for the concepts of Candid, I always wanted to take the mask away from hip hop and let the listener step into the head of each artist. There is this Kanye line that I like a lot he said, “I see you on the other side of the glass of my memories museum” and that image stayed in my head. To have a person jus wander around your head looking at your memories presented as a work of art (because in reality all life is a work of art) but to capture a moment of genuine sincerity is beautiful, it’s what the Impressionists (painters) spent so much time trying to accomplish. So we decided that that’s what we wanted, a collage of candid moments strung together with a bunch of words its our memories museum.
Suo: We’ve actually worked with Katrah-Quey for years, he’s the homie and always a contributor to our music. Specifically with this album, he had sent me two beat CDs in the mail and I was just bumpin’ them like this is crazy fresh. Then we made a song, then another, and so forth to the point it was an album. It flows naturally and especially considering they were all beats he had made in the same time frame. It’s a very special album for me.
Something I find quite interesting and original with Candid is how it is structured as a conversation, where all shades of the emotional spectrum are touched upon. We can also get a glimpse in your creative process as a group. Was it important for you to make it that personal and intimate?
Dyno: Yes very important, I wanted the listener to feel like he/she was there with us. Which consequently would make things really contrived, but Suo and Pensive were there to stop me and keep things moving in an organic manner. I would’ve had like an 8 min conversation about Basquiat, cookies and roller coasters on there.
Suo: This actually conveys the original purpose behind the foundation of our group. The theory was to express our true emotions as emcees and be “us”. Not us as emcees, but us as people. I feel often we expose ourselves in most songs, but this album specifically does showcase who we are, what we think, how we feel, and hopefully it’s therapeutic, familiar and relaxing for listeners.
As I am writing this, I am listening to one of your tracks entitled Underground, where you touch upon this desire not to be put into a box and categorised as “underground” in a way to reduce your impact. Do you feel some labels can hinder creativity and prevent artists from reaching their full potential?
Dyno: Labels are a good thing, they are a clear signifier to what people may and may not like. I mean if rolled up in a grocery store and they decided to take the labels off of every thing and I’m trying to get some kidney beans and I can’t tell it from the canned corn then we got a problem. But seriously the thing that annoys me is the use of a label as the persona of the artist. So that all you are is a label I’m not down with that…. Honestly thou “underground” is about not being broke no mo’, I’m tired of walking around Silver Lake and seeing all these damn hipsters drinking their coffee and eating their organic cupcakes. I want in too… those cupcakes look delicious.
Suo: I think Dyno interpreted your question differently. In the context of music labels, most definitely they do, but that’s part of the deal. Someone is putting their money into you to build you and to sell you. I wouldn’t want someone to tell me what music to make, but I would take money to make music. I think that’s the short-sightedness of artists. I’m a traditionally trained painter, I would have no issue doing something an art snob would call Kitschy, if it meant lots of money. I don’t define a sell out as making a product other people want. I call that lucrative. Now if you want me to rhyme about bitches and hoes and slangin’ and bangin’… well, that would be different. I think you get my point tho. I have no issue with being underground. I love the underground, was raised in it, will probably stay in it. Like I sang in the song… “All my life ain’t gonna be underground, but if it’s… that’s ok, I’ll just say… All my life I’ve been underground”.
One of your previous projects,The Milky Williams Quintet transported you in the 1970s after a train accident and saw you go on a tour in jazz clubs all over Europe. Oh, it was not true? Anyway, I’m sure you don’t want to scare people off, but I’ll go with the flow and pretend that didn’t happen. So, in case that didn’t happen, are there any other periods in musical history you’d like to be sent back to? And on a more serious note, any plans for actually touring in the US and maybe in Europe?
Dyno: Um… the 60’s the 30’s and the early 90’s. Yeah we would like to tour everywhere. Been working on some west coast stuff for right now though.
Suo: Haha, I made up that little tale for fun. I found it amusing at least. Any time period would be cool to check out, but in context to our sound, only the early 90s would feel appropriate, but I’m happy being in the here and now. Touring in Europe would be dope, no plans yet tho.
Another element I find in most of your projects, and which is most obvious with Above The Clouds is the dreamy and imaginary dimension. This is emphasised by your lyrics, but mainly by the excellent productions. Is it important for you to inspire people to dream and keep their inner child alive?
Dyno: It’s important for us to remind people that we are living a ridiculously amazing life. We are floating in space spinning 7 hundreds miles per hour around a giant flaming ball of fire. That shit is crazy. So yea I think our dreams are our closest visions of reality.
Suo: Haha Dyno is crazy. But that’s the truth of it. Life is awesome, we try to focus on the human nature side of things, mostly the positive and mostly the freshness. Everything is important, from movements to knowledge of self to love to fun. We’re here to represent conversations not being had (very much) within Hip Hop.
Anything else you would like to add?
Dyno: Yep buy our album please, also go hit us up on Facebook and Twitter. And thanks for having us and thanks for reading.
Suo: Shouts to Fly Definition Music, Word Is Bond and Carminelitta for the interview, and anybody reading this. Go listen to our music right now at www.moonblazers.com . We love y’all.