Celebrating nearly 10 years as a band together, the Canadian trio and award-winning Juno Half Moon Run are ready to share their new EP, Inward and forward. We sat down with band members Devon Portielje and Conner Molander, who shared their views on the meaning of the songs, the creative processes, what to expect from their new music and the growth of Half Moon Run at the over the past decade.
Known for its colorful sound of “folk music for the modern dark age, rock art for harmony-pop lovers, and rustic indie hymns for neoclassical heads,” Half Moon Run continues to do what they do best: leave you with tears in your eyes and covered in goosebumps.
Inward and forward presents their singles “How Come My Body” and “On & On”. Both pieces feature their three-part harmonies, rich poetic lyricism and enchanting musical arrangements. Tomorrow (June 18), four other songs will be in the spotlight.
Listen to their singles and find out what the band had to say about their new EP below.
Indie88: Your last EP, Seasons of change, was made up of songs that you originally wrote when creating your album, A spot in the great light; are the tracks on the new EP brand new? How did the creation process go?
Devon: Well actually two are very old. “How Come My Body” must be 10 years old. We have this system where we have two big whiteboards in our studio and we have all the songs of all time that haven’t been written on them yet. I guess we just picked up âHow Come My Bodyâ at one point and it hit a vibe and we finished it. âIt’s trueâ too, it’s very old.
Indie88: For the other tracks, were you influenced by the pandemic and the containment? I feel like there has been a ton of pressure on artists to create and publish all the time. Did you feel affected by this?
Conner: Yeah, sure. When we were writing some of these songs, I remember we had discussions about all kinds of things, sometimes going on for 5 hours before we grabbed our instruments to start playing or writing. We still do it now, although it’s not something we’ve always done. I guess there was just a lot to think about. All the glitz that surrounds the industry has been stripped and you are there, you and your instrument locked in with your collaborators. So when you look at yourself in the mirror like that, there is a lot to think about and say when you analyze what is looking at you. So those are some of the motifs and themes that I think inevitably came across in the lyrics. Especially on the song called “On & On”.
Indie88: It’s really amazing, your ability to draw specific scenarios and realistic characters in your lyrics. Many of your songs have such vivid images, but they are so poetic that they leave a lot of room for interpretation. I think we are getting the same here and especially on “Fxgiving”. Can you tell me the story behind? Or maybe more generally how do you go about writing songs?
Devon: Well it started out as a bit of a joke. If you celebrate Thanksgiving, you give thanks. If you celebrate “Fxgiving” you don’t care, and if you don’t celebrate, well, you don’t care. We had a little laugh about it. Also, if you’re having enough trouble to say you don’t care, it could very well mean you care a lot. It was like a little relaxation with this song, and maybe the joy of letting go of a few reproaches.
Conner: There was a lot of deliberation as to how this happened. Because you can imagine some people felt rubbed the wrong way, I’m just guessing in bad words. Mainly because the song builds itself in this atmospheric way, and the punchline is basically “I’m not celebrating fxgiving”. So we tried everything, we tried to think of a new word, we tried to obscure the word so that it didn’t sound quite like that, we thought of not releasing the song. Then finally we thought, you know what, this is something. Not everyone has to love him and if we kill him then it’s bad karma so we let him live.
Devon: Usually the writing process is, I’ll sit down with a guitar or sometimes the piano and see what happens, see what happens. That riff just came in and “I don’t celebrate fucking” were the first words out of my mouth, I was like “eh, this is a new concept”. Then I got most of the lyrics pretty quickly and the guys laughed about it and just jumped in and we developed that dark vibe. Some songs come very easily, others take years of carving.
Indie88: How do you intellectualize the difference between your best songs and your most famous songs? Have you ever done what you thought was a personal best song or a favorite song and it isn’t getting as popular?
Devon: I think at some point every time you do a song, in order to give it enough fuel to be successful, you have to believe it’s pretty amazing. There were a lot of times you thought ‘people are going to lose their hogwash when they hear that’ and then 6 months later you think ‘I don’t know about that one at all, maybe nobody does. should even hear it.
Conner: It’s usually a surprise to know which ones I find good. “Grow into Love” has been going well recently, if I had known it was going to become popular I would have planned around it. I think overall your best bet is probably to consciously let go of all of these considerations whenever possible. We encourage each other to drop it, not think about it, and just write something you like. I try to write things that Dev likes and Dylan likes and that’s all you can really do.
Indie88: You’ve come such a long way and it’s so cool to watch and be a part of the journey as a fan. How would you describe your journey and the evolution of Half Moon Run from its beginnings until we hear on this EP?
Conner: If I had to roughly sketch the trajectory from my point of view. Right before the 2014/2013 period, we had just emerged and we were a little surprised that we could actually do what we always wanted to do. It was unbelievable. There followed a period of extremely intense touring from 2013 to 2016. Relentless touring, a lot of ups and downs, good times, but it got a little dark, difficult and unhealthy. What followed were periods of soul-searching and reframing. We wrote the third record, then Covid hit, and now we’ve really been forced to reexamine our identities and where we’re headed. Isaac, our fourth member, left the group, so the three of us had come back and lost a lot of income because of all the canceled festivals. All of these things got us to where we are now, which is, in a way, back to a semblance of where we started: the three of us in a room working hard to make music that we love. . It is as if a seasonal cycle has passed from the beginning until now.
Indie88: The music video for “How Come My Body” is a really sweet and sentimental montage of music videos. I bet it sparked big waves of nostalgia?
Devon: Absolutely. It was quite moving, indeed. I don’t know if I cried or if I was almost going to do it. Images of us embracing, or of fans so close to each other. It’s almost surreal to believe that we had done this before or could do it again.
Conner: We have had some great adventures. It was a real privilege, it was moving in front of our eyes when I watched this video for the first time.
Indie88: On the subject, given that we all lack live music and shows, what aspects of the tour are you looking forward to?
Devon: I like to go to new places. I can not wait. I intend to be more carpe diem in the whole adventure for as long as I can. Being in front of an audience too, it just feels right in the groove where I should be in my life and I miss that feeling.
Conner: Just to enjoy where I am, on a beautiful sunny day like in Amsterdam, for example, to get up early in the morning and have a coffee, read your book or write in your journal. Also, just have a show to look forward to that night.
Indie88: What do you think we can expect from the next EP?
Conner: You can expect to hear some evidence of why the three of us believe enough in this project to continue hopefully into the future.
Main photo courtesy of Alexis Sevenier
Photos in Charlotte Jailli’s article