Advance Review and Artist Spotlight - Moon Palace - 'Shadowcast'
(Photo Credit - Loren Othón)
Advance Review - Moon Palace - Shadowcast - (August 23, 2019)
Moon Palace's Shadowcast features solid, dreamy indie rock that is sure to get you moving. The vocals are tight, particularly when sisters Cat and Carrie Biell invoke low and high harmonies. They seamlessly integrate synth and cello into their brand of indie rock in a way that just works on all levels.
Some tracks feature an alt edge such as "Stop When it Hurts" that reminded me of The Breeders. Other tracks on the album were more subtle in their approach, featuring more effects-driven vocals. Some tracks feature some great guitar work that evokes comps to Robert Smith of The Cure. One area where Moon Palace shines is through their use of melody. They write solid hooks and melodies that even upon a first listen, you want to sing along to them.
Songs we'd Recommend - "On The Level", "Shadowcast", "Gamma Ray", "Bold" and "Who You Are"
Rating - 4/5
Artist Spotlight - Moon Palace
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
Cat - Started playing guitar at age 14 and began writing songs at 16. After a few years of playing out as a solo/acoustic artist, I formed an indie rock/electronic band called Lucy Bland. From 2005-2013 we released 4 albums and had a small but loyal following. I took a few years off to focus on life and in that time wrote a bunch of songs. I wanted to start up another band and finally in 2016 it felt like the right time. I had been playing small acoustic shows with Cellist Darcey Zoller which inspired me to record a full-length album. I reached out to my sister Carrie and Jude to see if they would be interested in starting a band and thus Moon Palace was born!
Carrie - I started playing the cello in 5th grade, which I stuck with throughout middle school and high school. In that time period I also started learning upright bass in the school orchestra and eventually started playing electric bass in the high school jazz band. That opened my world into joining bands as a bass player in high school. Cat was learning electric guitar and I eventually started picking up the guitar as well. We both were young teens who were heavily into bands like Nirvana, Mudhoney, Hole, and L7 and we played that style of music.
At age 19 I began writing folk rock/ alt country songs on a acoustic and started making records under my name as a singer songwriter. I released 4 records and played around Seattle and the U.S. under my name for about 10 years before joining up with Cat to write music for Moon Palace in 2016. For several years before joining Moon Palace I took a bit of a break from music after having my son who is now 5. I missed playing and writing music, but I knew I wanted my next project to be different. Cat had a whole bunch of songs she was performing out as a duo with Darcey and she decided to form a full band. That’s when I jumped in on bass and vocals and Jude joined in on drums. It became the huge catalyst for me writing and playing music again.
Jude - I started playing viola in elementary school and I grew up around two uncles who lived next-door that played music. Uncle Tony show me how to play drums. It wasn’t very technical. He sat down at the kit and hit each drum with enthusiasm. He made a joke out of it. He laughed the whole time and pretended to be very dramatic with each hit. He probably even did some stick twirls and dropped one and laughed! I was so shy but loved every second of it. Uncle Dale played guitar and they would have these huge backyard parties. They built a stage And every year for uncle Dale’s birthday he would sing “born to be wild” with all of his Harley Davison friends. The whole driveway would be filled with Harley Davidson’s and everyone would be rocking out in the backyard. They gave me permission to be wild and free and make mistakes in music. I had access to all electric guitars and basses and a full drum set when I was 10 so that’s where it really started for me. I took one class on acoustic guitar when I was in high school. It was at the community college and I learned how to play Blondie and Jewel. I was kind of depressed in high school and my mom noticed. She asked me if taking a music class at the community college would be interesting and helpful to me. I said yes and ever since then music has been a healing mechanism.
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
Cat - Usually, I write a guitar riff or melody that I like and then write lyrics to go along with it. Sometimes the lyrics come first, then I'll write music to create the mood of the song.
Carrie - Similar to Cat I usually write songs outside of the band on my own time. It usually starts with me coming up with a bass line and then a melody. Sometimes they are just riffs that I play at band practice to see what it turns into or other times they are fully structured songs when I bring them to the band. Or I send them to Jude and Cat through voice memos to see if they have ideas before coming to practice. More and more lately Cat and I bring riffs and melodies to the band that then become more structured when we are all together. The lyrics always are written a little bit throughout the process as I listen to the song develop but I usually have the concept of what the song ahead of time.
Jude - It starts with listening. I listen to a variety of different types of music and memorize the drums in my head. I choose one or two that I’d like to reference at band practice. I listen to what Cat and Carrie bring to the table and mix what they’re bringing with something I’m inspired by.
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
Nirvana, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Ani Difranco, St. Vincent, The Kills, Le Tigre, The Cure, Fleetwood Mac, Beach House, Warpaint, Janet Weiss, Alison Wolfe, Dolly Parton, Indigo Girls, L7, Kathleen Hanna, Cat Power, Mazzy Star, Duran Duran, Talking Heads
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
Cat - Before Moon Palace I mostly played acoustic guitar so I'm somewhat new to playing electric. It took a couple of years to truly build my sound. I'm obsessed with my Black Fender Telecaster and Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb amp. My electro-harmonix Soul Food overdrive pedal, has a rich tone and great touch sensitivity so I can play softly or shred! Other favorites are my MXR Phase 90 Phaser pedal and Hall of Fame Reverb. Both those pedals combined create a super dreamy psychedelic sound.
Carrie - I’m still learning all the bass gear, but I love my short-scale Fender Mustang bass and most of the Mark Bass Amps I’ve played through.
Jude - Keplinger cymbals. They are made by a man in Seattle. Handmade cymbals made from industrial metals from the city. Each one is different and they have a unique sound. It’s kind of dark and dreamy.
5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
Full Band - We get good energy from the crowd! I think we try and be lighthearted and fun and not take ourselves too seriously. We love the energy that we get from each other on stage and hope the audience sees the joy that we feel when we have playing music together. We love hearing our instruments and vocals through high-quality equipment on beautiful stages of course, but there is often something magical about the rawness when we play on a floor in a small room with no monitors. We love being connected to the crowd. Each venue brings its own vibe and crew of people working. It’s cool getting to meet all the people that work hard to put on a live show on. When the sound person says they enjoyed mixing our show or the bartender pouring drinks says they loved our set it always is an extra bonus to the experience of sharing our music.
6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
Full Band - We hope it’s accessible and that young girls, womxn or gender nonconforming individuals will listen to it and think… “ I can do this too!” We want those who feel unseen and unheard to feel, inspired and represented in some way.
7. Tell us about the writing and recording process of Shadowcast.
Full Band - Carrie and Cat both wrote the songs for this record and they were all arranged with the band in rehearsals. We worked with Aaron Schroeder at his home studio Pierced Ears Recording Company, in Seattle during the winter of 2019. Aaron had somewhat of a producer role on this record as well and helped shape a lot of the overall atmosphere. He is a genius in the way he manipulates the guitars, bass, drums, and synth to add more spacey and psychedelic elements to the record. We did a lot of extra touches in the studio that came out by us messing around and pushing ourselves to be creative instrumentally and vocally.