Anna Wise and Dane Orr became friends when they moved into the same flat and spent the next few wintry weeks listening to Beatles covers. Now they make strange music under the name Sonnymoon, balancing meditative rhythms and poetic lyricism with sudden electronic bursts that disrupt any structural presumptions of how a song should unfold. It's like the creepy lullaby in The Wicker Man, but with synths and sleepy American vernacular tucked between Britt Ekland's wall beatings.
I asked Anna about their upcoming album, The Courage of Present Times, and the meaning of pop.
What inspired the title of your album?
It takes a lot of courage to live in the present. Being human is a big job, and the world is changing so fast. We have a responsibility to be good stewards of this Earth. It's also a reference to one of our favourite poets, Walt Whitman.
Your new single Pop Music seems too subversive to be defined as pop in its original sense. What is pop to you?
Pop is music for the masses, right? A pop song is less than three minutes and has some verses, a catchy chorus, and maybe a bridge. Kurt Cobain called them radio friendly unit shifters. The music industry stamps them out like Campbell's Soup cans. Our song gives you a taste of a chorus, and then it's over. Pop Music is the Sonnymoon version of the Campbell's Soup can. It's also really fun to play live.
What's the story behind the track?
At first, Pop Music was about dream sex and admitting to yourself and your partner that neither of you are fully monogamous, since your fantasy-self is having polyamorous experiences inside your head. The meaning of the track has changed over time. Now, Pop Music is about how thoughts live outsideour heads. Our thoughts are alive. They spin and interact like atoms.
What is SNS about?
SNS came from a poem of mine. It's about cycles: the cycle of the day, the seasons, the planets. I was thinking about us humans being stuck to the ground. We mostly travel in two dimensions, like little paper dolls.
How do you write songs?
I fill notebook after notebook with lyrics, diary entries, observations, theories, whatever. I do lots of free writes where I don't judge anything, I just write for ten minutes straight. I’m constantly receiving ideas, like when I'm dreaming or out biking and singing into open air. I bring a recorder along with me and pull over when inspiration arrives. I don't always have to be on the receiving end; I can retrieve ideas too. When I want a melody or a lyric, I peel back the curtain of my subconscious and reach in for the information. It's almost an out-of-body experience.
How do you push your experimentalist approach further?
I don't have a formal "approach". I do what feels natural. I don't think about song structures or push for "odd" choices. This could be explained by a lack of knowledge: I was a bad student in my academic days and prefer to follow my intuition.
Has moving from Boston to Brooklyn influenced your sound at all?
Oh yes. I live across the street from a playground. Every weekday the kids are out there screaming and being wild. I soak up the soundscape of life and am influenced by every place I go, everything I do, and everyone I meet.
This interview was originally published on the Oh Comely blog.