Willy Moon

By Ben Doy

Willy Moon released his debut album 'Here's Willy Moon' this April through Island Records/Universal Music. The former Wellington schoolboy has been making big waves in the U.K and garnering huge acclaim for his uniquely throwback sound and style. Moon has been tipped by everyone from Q to Vogue as the one to watch in 2013. Having been snapped up by legendary label Island Records in the U.K and music giantInterscope in the U.S, Moon seems destined for worldwide stardom.

After releasing his first single 'I Want To Be Your Man' in 2010, Moon was signed to Island Records, supportedJack White on his UK tour, had his track ‘Yeah Yeah' used for the latest iPod advert and recently appeared onBBC's Later... With Jools Holland.

We had a chance to sit down with Willy Moon and pick his brain on a few subjects.  

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Wellington and was born in the suburb of Brooklyn. So I grew up around there.

Did you study music at school?

I tried doing music for one year when I was at Wellington High School, but I picked classes that I thought I could skive off the most with. So I did music, horticulture, automotive engineering... all these things which I was interested in.

When did you start performing music?

After I'd made my first records really. I started producing and writing music before I started performing. The music was very sample heavy and electronic which was made a lot on the computer. It took me a long time to work out how I could perform it in a way that made sense. So I did my first gig at the beginning of last year. It was an XFM show in Manchester in front of about 5,000 people. It was insane and just didn't know what to expect. I didn't know if I'd absolutely shit myself and not be able to sing or perform. But it was really fun and felt really natural from the beginning.

How did your deal with Island Records come about?

I shot a little video of my first single with my girlfriend and put it up on Youtube and a lot of people started contacting me from various record labels. I'd spent the previous six months sending out a lot of demos to the labels and I don't think anyone even listened to them, and it was really soul destroying. But after I put it up on line people started watching it, and that's when I started getting phone calls from the record labels. There were a lot of labels that were interested, but I ended up with Island because they seemed like the best of the bunch. They seemed like people I could move forward with and work with, and be free to do what I wanted.

Your single ‘Yeah Yeah' was picked up for the Apple iPod campaign. That's pretty huge...

Oh yeah, that's incredible. Just thinking of the shear number of people who have heard that song; many of them not even knowing or caring that they were listening to my music, but the amount of people who heard something I created in my flat and in a very simple way, is fucking cool.

Who were your influences?

Oh, so many. Growing up I listened to a lot of different stuff. The first couple of CD's I ever got were from garage sales and picked them because I liked the covers. I got Nirvana ‘Nevermind', The Prodigy ‘Fat Of The Land', I had a Tom Waits album... and I liked bands like The Pixies, Sonic Youth and a lot of 60s stuff like The Kinks. So I've always quite all over the place and I think that probably seeps over through my music.

Where did you record you album ‘Here's Willy Moon'?

I recorded a good deal of it at my home. But moving on in the process of making the record, I did lots of little bits around studios in London. I recorded the horns and vocals for ‘Working For The Company' at this awesome studio. It's really large and has an incredible sound. But I really kind of recorded it out and about. I co-produced a bunch of tracks with a guy called Steve Mackey who's got a studio in West London. So nothing was really recorded in one place.

How long do you think the whole process took?

From beginning to end I would say almost 2 years. Mainly because I had to teach myself how to use Pro Tools, because in the beginning I had no clue. So while I was making the record I was learning how to use Pro Tools. So towards the end things started to get faster, but the beginning took a very long time because I didn't know what I was doing.

Have you started thinking about the next album yet?

I've started thinking about it, yeah. I'm always writing little bits and pieces, but I'm trying to come up with an overall theme or overall idea for the next record. For me the first record has a very strong idea or concept behind it, and I'm just trying to work out what that could be for my next album. I want to make another piece of work that has its own identity.

How long have you been living in London for?

6 years. And I lived in Berlin for a while in 2008.

What have you got planned for the next 2 years?

In the short term I'm going to be doing a lot of touring for the European summer, promoting my record and just going out on the road. And at the end of this year I want to start making my next record... once I've worked out what that is. And then it'll be to going through that mad, crazy process again... which is something I can't wait to do.