A Russian singer/songwriter and Icelandic singer and instrumentalist probably isn’t your usual indie-rock vibe. But the currently Iceland-based Pale Moon offer an engaging laid-back sound that borders on psych-rock and is perfect for chilling out to on a Friday morning ahead of a busy weekend.
The duo of Árni Guðjónsson – who previously played in hugely popular Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men – and Natalia Sushchenko formed a couple of years ago then released debut EP Dust of Days back in April.
The EP crosses many boundaries, with the uplifting, explorative Waiting For The Sun, more psychedelic Everything Is Alright and the rockabilly feeling Exile, which the band sent us to have a listen to.
Exile opens up with a cool looping guitar riff and light drums, with dreamy drawn-out guitars in support. Árni’s catchy vocals take over, including the cool line “They call me Jesus, said someone on the street.” More atmospheric instrumentals come in through a laid-back, singalong chorus then diving back into the more staccatoed nature of the verse.
The pace slows right down, with twinkling sounds in the background behind reverby vocals. Then more upbeat drums bring in a fun instrumental section of the opening guitar riff, which is soon joined by psych-rocky vocals. It’s really cool and catchy, and you can check it out below.
We had a chat with Natalia to find out more about the band and their interesting background…
GR: Who are Pale Moon? And where are you from? What’s the backstory, how did you get together?
NS: “Pale Moon had a slow birth, we started writing songs a few years ago together, but Pale Moon didn’t come to be until late of 2018. I was born in the Siberian part of Russia and was raised in St. Petersburg and Árni is from Iceland. We met in Barcelona during my studies in Design Institute and we clicked right away. We moved to Reykjavík a few years ago and the idea of recording our songs together became more serious.
GR: You just released Exile. What should people be expecting from the song? What inspired you to write it?
NS: “Exile was the first song we wrote together during a trip to Mexico. It’s a bit surreal and we tried to convey the same feeling in the video. It’s almost like a happy dream. The song had an intention to have that mellow groovy vibe and Árni, who was reading Brian Wilson biography at that point could not resist the Beach Boys influence.”
GR: How would you describe your sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
NS: “It’s hard to self categorize, but I guess we have a bit of an old-school 70s vibe to our music. Our first EP is diverse. Most songs are guitar-driven and we love to experiment with effects, so you can find hint of psychedelic too.
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
NS: “We both love music and it’s the main drive really. I keep the Voice Memos app at a fingertip because usually my ideas come in the most random moments and when we finally sit on the piano to develop those ideas it feels more like remembering that non-existent song rather than writing it. Many times these initial voice recs contain a hint about the topic and sometimes it’s just emotions that are boiling inside me at that moment.”
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
NS: “Árni’s would be Air, The Beatles, Beach Boys, The Shadows, Zero 7, Portishead and ELO. My favorites are The Doors, of course, The Kinks, Carole King, but I also love to explore USSR music or listen to Cambodian Psychedelic Indie from the ’70s or rare funk recordings.”
GR: What have you got coming up through the rest of 2019? New music, new gigs, recording etc…?
NS: “We are taking a real 180 turn this year. We decided to move back to Spain, rent a house on the outskirts of Barcelona and record. But also we can’t wait to take the band on tour and it would be so much easier from the mainland. We have our next EP in the making right now and demo material for a whole album.”