“This is so good! Isn’t mozzarella amazing?” exclaimed Lora-Faye Ashuvud, the mastermind and lead vocalist behind Arthur Moon, as she bit into her “Prospect Park” sandwich – fried eggplant, roasted red pepper and mozzarella – from Russo’s deli in Park Slope. That mozzarella was probably the highlight of my week.
As we sat in Prospect Park on what was the first of many warmer days, we devoured the best sandwiches on the planet and chatted about Lora-Faye’s journey in music and how she got to where she is today.
Lora-Faye grew up in Park Slope and “took piano and all that other bullshit as a kid but never learned how to read music.” She would show up to class having memorized the sounds in a song and would play it from memory instead of following sheet music. She then went on to study contemporary American art at Smith College in Northampton, MA but music was always what peaked her interest.
“I realized that music was the only thing that I didn’t feel like I was crazy in my head about, I wasn’t always super critical, it felt like I could just like do it because I didn’t actually understand the rules,” Lora explains. “There was something really exciting and liberating about that.”
Throughout college and after graduating, Lora-Faye had been in many bands of all sorts. She was in a band called Yonkersville Marching Society, which was a duo where both musicians played multiple instruments and switched between drums and lead vocals throughout their set. She also had a project many years ago with her current keyboardist, Rachel Brotman, called Jane who’s songs consisted of Sylvia Plath speaking her poems looped over weird beats.
Lora-Faye’s music has always pushed the boundaries of normalcy – an interest she seemingly picked up from her studies in contemporary art – creating thought-provoking works of art with her music, and Arthur Moon is no different.
“Recently, I realized I kind of wanted to be able to get up on stage and not have to like be myself, you know?” Lora-Faye says. “There’s something kind of liberating about not feeling like I have to be authentic to my moods and I can get up and actually make a performance.”
The experience that Lora-Faye wants to bring with Arthur Moon is one that she hasn’t pursued before and she was inspired by an ailment that she has to deal with.
“I get this weird migraine where one of the symptoms is aphasia so I’ll have weird language issues,” Lora-Faye explains. “I’ll be wanting to say, ‘It’s fine, I’m having a migraine,’ but instead I just say like, ‘rainbow, flower, playground,’ like random shit, which is really terrifying for the people around me, hilarious to me, actually oddly pleasurable to sort of have that control taken away.”
Because of this, Lora-Faye became interested in delving into the topic of why human beings like the feeling of being disoriented.
“Why do we love roller coasters, why do we take drugs, what is it about falling in love that like is so off-putting and disorienting, but also amazing?” Lora-Faye asks.
She realized that, more often than not, the music that she loves has a quality to it that messes with your mind.
“You can’t tell the one from the two or you’re not sure if someone’s singing the right note but you like it anyway, you know, so that’s kind of the thing that I’ve been thinking about a lot and writing and arranging as well, with the band.”
Her plan is to make people question what’s going on, kind of throw them for a loop, but also having it not be alienating.
Lora-Faye and her band were lucky enough to record half of the EP up in Accord, NY at Artfarm Recording Studio, a converted barn where the band stayed for a week sleeping in bunk beds.
“The producer we were working with, Andrew Sharon, he brought this binaural head, which is basically a mold of human ears placed as far apart as they are on a human head, with microphones in each one so you get basically a 3D audio of sound,” Lora-Faye explains. “If somebody walks around and you’re listening to this it actually sounds like somebody is walking around in a 3D space.”
They took the binaural head and went out at 3 am and captured the sounds of frogs, crickets, and other things in the wilderness of the Catskills and used some of those sounds on the record.
This recording process was different than what Lora-Faye was used to but she explains that, “there’s something really nice about not being in the city, not being surrounded by all the other bull shit.”
The other half of the record was recorded in the city adding a more urban texture to those two songs.
“We spent a day at a little studio in Kensington and recorded the bulk of “Wind Up” and I listened to it for a while and then two weeks later I went back and was like, ‘this needs vocoder,’ which I wouldn’t have done if we were in the woods, I wouldn’t have had that thought,” Lora-Faye explains.
After recording the four songs that create their EP, Our Head, Arthur Moon put together a very moving music video to their song “Wind Up” with the help of a choreographer and beautiful dancers.
“Working on that with the choreographer, Evvie Allison, who is brilliant, and the director [Sam Jones] and seeing the dancers for the first time with the lights on the stage, moving to the song was really, really amazing,” Lora-Faye says. “It’s one thing when you can feel that the audience is feeling [a song] and it’s another thing when you can actually see people creating their own interpretation of the music.”
The music video is almost on the level of Sia-like weirdness with intricate dance moves that pierce the air at the right moment to make you feel that piercing emotion in the your own body.
This was the biggest production of a music video that Lora-Faye has been involved with so far and it couldn’t have been done without all the amazingly talented helping hands that she was able to bring into the process, including her guitarist, Nick Lerman, who actually edited the entire music video.
Lora-Faye feels very lucky to be working with such talented musicians in her band.
“My band is so amazing, they’re all like crazy jazz-trained serious fucking musicians so they’re really versatile which is awesome for me,” she says.
Because of this, Arthur Moon is able to work well together composing, writing and even producing their own music collectively with everyone putting in their own bit of creativity into the process.
“I don’t like telling people what to do, you know,” Lora-Faye explains. “I feel like the music always sounds better if someone wrote their part, so I just try to have it feel like this fun collaboration. “
You can catch the band in action at Arthur Moon’s debut show is this Saturday, April 23 at National Sawdust in Brooklyn. This is a show that can’t be missed.
Article: Merissa Blitz