Moontower

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MOONTOWER'S FOUNDATION

Moontower: a name that is common knowledge to USC students, and spreading like fire through a network of schools in Southern California and across the world, with their first single hitting over 100,000 plays in its first two weeks. Booking shows left and right, these three talented young musicians have had quite the atypical college semester - playing shows on boats in the San Diego harbor, booking numerous festivals, and attending record label meetings instead of studying for finals. However, as with most successful bands, there's a team behind the scenes making the rest of the magic happen. As Moontower always says, "There are three members in the band, but five members of Moontower".

To most, Moontower is just a catchy band that makes their feet move, but what many don't know are the ways the entire team is pushing the boundaries of what live music, and what being a band really means. These student's passions have ignited an augmented reality company, short films, and interactive stages… just the beginning of what is to come from Moontower.

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THE BAND

Tom, a once a signed DJ who cultivates catchy electronic beats, met Devan - a Juilliard level flutist with long flowing brown hair - during their first week at USC. They started producing and writing music, eventually catching the eye, and friendship, of Jake. A catalyst for the creation of Moontower was a Lemaitre concert they attended together. Standing in awe within the crowd, the three said to each other that they wanted to create indie dance music that made others feel the way they felt in that moment. In the fragmentation stages over summer, Moontower's grounding was built by the hands of numerous USC students. A few notable names out of the many are Rocky (Racquel) Levia who helped with their creative direction - making their first logo and artwork - and Jamie Haberman who helped them get their ducks in a row in the ideation phase. This was the start of a trend for Moontower. As their network at USC grew, a slew of young, talented, and passionate students took on the project of Moontower and made it more than just a band, challenging what is expected from musicians.

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Carina Glastris: Manager

"Shut up and stop worrying" is what the band recites as what Carina always tells them, because in their words "when she says she will do something - she does it … and when it gets done it's always better than we hoped it would be". Carina Glastris is a recent graduate of USC with a burning passion for her work and a radiant energy that ignites that passion in those lucky enough to be around her. Her involvement with Moontower began as help with branding, but during the initial meeting she started rattling off ideas and the band realized she contained the passion and drive they were looking for. Her initial mood boards she made for them blew the band away, leading them to take her on as creative direction. However, when she took on Moontower as a project, the band quickly started to see the dedication and knowledge she had push them forward in the music industry, leading them to increase her role to manager. Her housemates from this past year have become accustomed to Carina leaving the house regularly for Moontower meetings reaching past 1am, ordering 20 Amazon boxes to find "the perfect prop for the video", and daily screams of joy when Spotify updates Willam's play count. The band praises Carina's humble ability to understand what she doesn't know, and striving to gain that knowledge from those around her and surrounding herself with people who can help. "She knows how to be the coach, without being the quarterback", Tom said with a smile.

William Holywood: ???

William is one of the band's roommates who has been highlighted in "Pilot", a hilariously confusing psychedelic video to Moontower's song Marathon. William has moved many times in his life from places ranging from Czechoslovakia to middle-class suburbs. After starting his studies at USC, he ended up living with the band, but as he says, he simply "lives amongst them", mostly doing his own thing. The band was at first writing songs about William without his consent and took footage of him for Marathon by stalking him, which created a lot of animosity between him and the band. However, recently he has felt like their newer music speaks to him so has taken control of the videos - a hopeful bridge between a shaky relationship. William's next video in partnership with Moontower tells the true story of his nextdoor neighbor that he loves, or maybe he doesn't love.

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Jacob Fishman: Production & Tour Manager, Director of Live Experience, Head of Touring and Product at Mercive

Jacob, better known as Fish, has been with the band from its creation, a consistent thread through their growth. He was living in Portland when Rocky called asking for help building a stage. Intrigued, Fish drove back to Los Angeles to work on the stage that day. He came back the next day to help, and then the next day... and has been back every day since. As a child, Fish was heavily involved in competitive robotics. He strived with physical creation of mechanical objects, yet a heavy influence to music and art pushed him towards live music experiences. The full stage that Moontower plays with, including the modular stage and lights, were built by him and Rocky. He also handles all the logistics of playing other venues, from unloading and loading the gear to mixing their music live. When he graduates, Fish dreams of packing his belongings into a single backpack, and hitting the road with Moontower to continue to restructure the current box live music is within.

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Cam Lindsay: CEO of Mercive, partnership with Moontower

Fish remembers the moment when Cam had the idea to bring augmented reality into live music, excitedly asking how it would work, Cam replied, "Well, that's about all I've got right now". The idea was brought to life when Cam attended one of Moontower's shows and was blown away by its professionalism. For Cam, that show began to blur the line of what a professional was, and inspire him to work with Moontower as the starting point to creating his vision. The initial meetings consisted of conjuring up Fish and Cam's dream live performance, bursting the seams of current life music experiences. Reeling back their lofty ideas, they settled upon creating a 8ft by 10ft pod where two people could stand inside wearing a Mira Augmented Reality headset and Beats headphones to experience a three minute augmented reality experience catered to Moontower's song Marathon. The vast majority of people who entered had never experienced AR - not more than Pokemon Go - and their responses were overwhelmingly positive. Mercive has continued to expand their clientele, and has been accepted to be part of the Advanced Game Project at USC. Check out Mercive's experience at Moontower's show here.

Give Moontower's first single that is sweeping the world a listen on Spotify here.

Photo credits: Jacob Fishman, Carina Glastris, Anastasia Velicescu, Brittany Harper

 

New Adds: Common, 700 Bliss, Joyce Wrice & more!

New Adds: Common, 700 Bliss, Joyce Wrice & more!

Welcome back to the latest installment of the MoM newsletter. A quick shout out for our annual fundraiser going on right now: As a student radio organization we do not receive operational funding from the university so it's up to us to gather funds to keep us on the air. To support this newsletter, events, and DJs that create the content of KXSC, help us reach our fundraising goal atkxsc.org/donate!

James Earl / Duckwrth / What So Not Review By Madeleine Benn

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James Earl / Duckwrth / What So Not – Friday April 6, 2018
By Madeleine Benn / Madame Psychosis – So It Goes…

This was my first time at The Palladium, so I didn’t realize just how big the crowd was going to get, but apparently James Earl, the opening DJ, was very aware that he had maybe a ninth of the audience to keep entertained. But, if he didn’t give it more consideration than the ticket-holders for that night’s complete festivities gave him then, I don’t know what to tell you. He knew his role as the first hype man and he did his job. He played regular party mixes and encouraged fill-in- the-blank moments which kept the crowd involved and dancing and not ignoring him. Overall, he was not the most notable thing about the night.


Duckwrth was on next which was a surprise to me because I had been told that he was the  headliner, but that’s okay, I was rolling with it. Here’s the thing though, most of the rest of the audience, who by this time had made it through security (that’s a whole other story), were not rolling with it. Now I know (at the time I didn’t) that What So Not, the DJ that was the actual headliner, is an EDM artist and whoever paired his and Duckwrth’s audiences together should lose their job. Jesus were they mismatched. Only at the beginning of each other’s set were people not idling outside. Then it did a complete flip-flop. Anyway, Duckwrth had released the music video for his song Tamagotchi not two days before the show, so I thought there’d be some excitement over that, but other than making it his entrance song… nothing. His set lasted about an hour, but he was super active on stage, jumping over his stage props, taking off his shirt, etc. So that must have been exhausting. He finally caught the attention of the What So Not crowd with his last song, both because he declared it as his last song and because it is his most jammin’. It was one of my personal favorites MICHUUL. and it definitely had people up. Honestly this is the song you should get introduced to Duckwrth with (which is why we’ve hyperlinked it above, so check it out!).


As for What So Not, all I can say is that I finally get EDM music… or at least I understand why it’s something you have to experience. When I first saw the warning signs outside the auditorium for “INTENSE STROBE LIGHTING EFFECTS”, I said to myself, “What is this a haunted house?”. But a few drinks in, several types of smoke mixed in the air all around me and different colors and lengths of lights like that and I could see how it could be nauseating. The graphics behind the DJ were mesmerizing, but you couldn’t look at them for too long a stretch at a time because at that point the venue was pretty packed, so my friend and I really had to stick together. Ultimately though EDM is not for me. If you are looking to get into this artist though, the song that all of his fans seemed to yell along to was High You Are, so I would start there.

Japanese Breakfast & Jay Som at The Glass House in Pomona, CA

 Michelle Zauner singing in Japanese Breakfast

Michelle Zauner singing in Japanese Breakfast

Michelle Zauner, who formed Japanese Breakfast in 2015, and Melina Duarte, who began
recording as Jay Som in 2012, performed at the Glass House in Pomona on Saturday, the last
show of their short-lived 2018 tour together. Since the two headliners toured along with Mitski in 2016, they have garnered a passionate, dedicated group of fans who seem to trek out to their shows, again and again, becoming a group that seems as close-knit of friends as Zauner and Duarte appear to be.

Mentioning the names Japanese Breakfast or Jay Som to a general group of people won’t garner much recognition, yet it was obvious that they have their own cult fellowship that seems willing to follow them out to each and every one of their shows. The doors only opened at 8 PM, yet when I arrived at 7:30, there was already a line of a hundred people waiting – inside, a pair of girls joked loudly that they wished they could have been closer to the stage because it was “the one time two Asian American women are the headliners at a show.”

What Zauner, who is half-Korean, and Duarte, who is Filipino-American, have in common,
along with their other frequent tour mates and friends, Mitski, and Sasami Ashworth (previously of Cherry Glazerr), is that their unintended yet obvious representation of Asian women in the indie music scene, which until recently was majorly dominated by white men, attracts a certain crowd. Along with myself, the friends I attended the show with, and others I recognized from attending other Japanese Breakfast and Jay Som performances in LA, I noticed that the crowd was filled with young, excited, Asian American kids who saw themselves represented on stage and found within the music some kind of profound relatability.


After Meg Duffy of Hand Habits opened the show with a moving set, Jay Som performed as a
five-piece band, who displayed a rare chemistry and closeness as a group by improvising surreal, flawless instrumental transitions between each song. Not a moment passed where Duarte or her bandmates had to pause and consider what would come next – when the group’s 2017 single “The Bus Song” began, whose music video was directed by the other headliner, Michelle Zauner, the crowd became extremely overwhelmed, exclaiming the signature line, without planning or hesitation, “BUT I LIKE THE BUS” at the top of their lungs, to which Duarte just muttered, “Oh my god…”


Japanese Breakfast closed out the show in her iconic, all-white outfit and light up sneakers, an
ensemble she has worn at each of her performances in the past year, almost as if “JBrekkie” is an alter ego of Zauner in which she vocalizes in autotune and sings songs about “falling in love with a robot” (her closer, “Machinist”). She faces the crowd, holds out her hand to the audience, and jumps excitedly to each one of her self-proclaimed bangers – yet she also expressed that she felt her music, lyrically, is filled with her own complex emotion, saying she felt “it’s so special when a large group of people come together and feel something together”. This really came to light during a song she wrote while grieving for her late mother, “Till Death”, when the audience stayed silent in respect for her vulnerability and authenticity in her performance.


Japanese Breakfast herself struck up a conversation with the security guard at the front of the
stage mid-performance, introducing him as Christian. He advised her against her attempt to crowd surf during the final song, so instead, she wailed her final notes in her dreamy, high
pitched voice as she fell into his arms, off the stage and alongside the crowd who screamed and cheered her on. The adrenaline, spontaneity, and passion for that performance, at that moment, was found somewhere within everyone in the room. We were in complete support of each other – which is why I’ll continue to follow Jay Som and Japanese Breakfast as musicians and role models wholeheartedly, along with, I presume, every other hyped up Asian kid in the crowd that night.

-Marii Krueger

 

 

New Adds: Moss Kena, Moaning & more!

New Adds: Moss Kena, Moaning & more!

March is a time for celebration. The weather is warming up, spring break is coming, March 4th is the only day of the year that makes a sentence; everything is looking up. On top of that, MoM is here to deliver unto you the music you need to make it through the week. Special shout out to DJ Andres Guzman for his review on Sylvan LaCue with Apologies in Advance. Check it out alongside with MoM's usual suspects below.

New Adds: Christoph de Babalon, Velour Afternoon, Ryuichi Sakamoto & More!

New Adds: Christoph de Babalon, Velour Afternoon, Ryuichi Sakamoto & More!

As February comes to a close, we want to give a big shout out to MoM's very own R&B Director, Lani Renaldo, for spearheading KXSC's Black History Month initiative. By all measures, its been hugely successful. Of course, this doesn't end March 1st, and we have more things planned going forward. Keep your eyes out for more as the year goes on, and as always, keep it locked to KXSC! And here are some new adds for you.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH PLAYLIST #5 - Natalie Lee

Another dope playlist by KXSC's own Natalie Lee! Here's what she has to say about it:

"In honor of the start of Black History Month this playlist is all black bands/bands with black members. There's a cool mix of punk, garage rock, ska, etc. Here's to more punk music by POC!"

Check out the playlist here.

New Adds: MGMT, Rejjie Snow & Masahiro Sugaya!

New Adds: MGMT, Rejjie Snow & Masahiro Sugaya!

For all y'all who had the day off, hope your extended weekend was nice & relaxed. To those who had to go to work, at least the traffic wasn't too bad. Imported a review from Chile for this week; our Soft Rock director, Virginia, reports from abroad. As always, whether you're listening on the air, online, or on your phone, keep it locked to KXSC.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH PLAYLIST #3 - Zoe Citterman

A playlist curated by alum and former R&B Director of KXSC, Zoe Citterman! Here's what she has to say about it:

While we’re not taught black history in our classrooms, it’s all around us. Whether intentional or not, American popular music provides an alternative textbook, giving a platform to voices that would have otherwise been silenced.

American popular music IS Black American Music. This month, I encourage you to look at your favorite songs and examine their roots.

Check out the playlist here.