INTERVIEW: Moana Mayatrix (MOANA)
Something sensational this way comes, as Perth genre-busters Moana continue to weave their otherworldly magic with their recent debut album In The Allure. Coming to life in 2013, the quartet (led by the enthralling Moana Mayatrix) have continued to delight and challenge the notions of heavy music, flexing shamanic melodics and sweeping rhythmics amongst a flurry of distorted licks and some straight up sludgy rock gumption.
Conjuring a bewitching brew that encompasses experimental art, theatre, spoken word, costuming and a whole horde of cross-media madness, it's little wonder this hypnotic bunch have commanded a local tribe of fans, allowing the magic that is Moana to fully come to fruition. And off the back of the release of their stunning LP, we grabbed some time with frontwoman and sonic sorceress Moana to chat creativity, live shows and a whole lot more. Interview below.
TIANA SPETER: Hi, it’s such a treat to chat with you today, it’s no doubt been an insane time for you with the recent release of your debut In The Allure – and can I just say, it’s legit one of the most exciting releases to pass through my inbox of late. I love me some psychy vibes and theatrical melodics, and you’ve delivered in spades with this release. How does it feel to finally have this album out in the world?
MOANA: Thanks so much! It feels quite surreal. The project was so enmeshed with my entire being for so long - so much energy, time, ‘blood, sweat & tears’ as they say - it was like I had 2 heads - one was me and the other was the album - and then on releasing it it’s like all that energy dies and all that it was is slowly vanishing from my being out into the world as I return to myself. There’s a complexity of happiness, relief, excitement, grief and loss. It’s pretty weird.
TIANA: And it’s undoubtedly an expansion on your earlier work, but as In The Allure is the first full length, did the process differ creatively and on the technical side of things compared to your previous releases? Or was it a pretty well oiled machine bringing this gem to life?
MOANA: It was quite different on many levels. We stepped it up a lot, previously we hadn’t even recorded demos before going into the studio! This time it was a lot more of a meticulous process. I was also writing with different band members (other than drummer Lochy who I’ve been playing with for a long time) and that changed the creative process hugely with the different energies, sounds and approaches of the individuals who were a lot more involved then before. My dedication to my vision, to my growth as an artist and my drive to make shit happen has not changed though.
TIANA: I also believe that your amazing fans jumped up and crowdfunded this album, as with your previous EP as well…what’s that sensation like to have people so utterly invested in your art that they’re willing to help you bring your dreams to life?
MOANA: It’s incredible. I’m super grateful. It’s what I love to do most, it’s my purpose and my happiness so the fact that there’s a community of people who truly see that and support that is amazing. It can take so much resources to create a project of this caliber and I just simply don’t know how it would have happened without that support.
TIANA: There’s a lot of beautiful fusion between art and performance with Moana overall…what inspires you creatively in that vein of things, have you always had an interest in the more primal and psychedelic side of things?
MOANA: Being someone who has invested a lot of time into different modalities of expression my whole life from playing music, writing songs, performing in theatre productions, acting in movies, dancing, practising martial arts, studying literature, art and creative writing, making things and doing art myself it all comes quite naturally to express what comes out as a ‘fusion’. It’s all just expression at the end of the day, though I believe music is by far the most powerful expression and the purest, highest form of all. The one that gets you closest to the divine. I want art that transports me to another world, that touches somewhere deep in my heart/soul/spirit and that consumes me, so to create an overall world using all those modalities is what I am compelled to do. Primal and psychedelic is definitely my jam. Primal because it touches something wild within me. Psychedelic because it takes you to an altered state, like all good art should.
TIANA: Moana have certainly played a heap of shows since your inception, both festivals and some especially kick ass supports…has there been a particularly memorable live moment that’s stuck with you, whether it was memorably good, bad or other?
MOANA: The ‘bad’ experiences that flash in my mind are the countless gigs of technical difficulties. I’ve had it all, you name it - guitar straps falling off, breaking strings, bleeding fingers, faulty leads, pedals dying, amps dying, wardrobe malfunctions… haha, but I’d have to say a beautiful moment imprinted was our Dracula launch. There’s a part in this song ‘Temple’ where I usually use a tambourine, but it was nowhere to be found and I just started clapping this weird rhythm instead and the whole room joined in. That was unexpected and super cool.
TIANA: And on the topic of live stuff…your live shows lend themselves to a very immersive experience, do you all as performers find yourselves enjoying the smaller, more intimate shows? Or do you just love each live experience equally?
MOANA: They are all enjoyable in their own way and for me personally my performance doesn’t greatly vary depending on the audience or the type of show. 10 people or 1000 people - I do my thing. I love each experience equally.
TIANA: I’ve read you previously discuss growing up as “a child of make-believe and magic” and picking up instruments in your teens…was there ever that lightning bolt moment when you realised you wanted to pursue music professionally?
MOANA: Yeah, I was writing my own songs and playing music in my country hometown, with my mum, through my teenage years and I must have been about 20 - towards the end of my uni degree, living in Perth, and this girl who I studied with was telling me she was playing a solo gig at a little restaurant and I thought “I could do that” and I called them up and asked for a gig. I guess that was my first step in alignment with this desire to pursue music on my own and it all evolved from there.
TIANA: Ok for a quick “less formal” cliched question – if you’re stranded on a desert island with only one band or artist for company…who are you bringing along and why?
MOANA: Warren Ellis. #1 Deep, mad, amazing conversation and entertainment for days #2 He’s probably not afraid to get primal with the survival tactics #3 Wild jams! I imagine we’d write an experimental album using random island stuff and that would be epic.
TIANA: And finally – in honour of your brand new album In The Allure – what’s one song that never fails to allure you? Perhaps a meaningful song or one that you just can’t ever skip when it starts playing….?
MOANA: Jeff Buckley - Dream Brother
THE DIVINE NEW ALBUM IN THE ALLURE FROM MOANA IS OUT IN THE WORLD NOW, GO GET YOUR EARS AROUND SOME GROOVY PSYCH-SLUDGE GOODNESS AND MORE RIGHT HERE.
PLUS IF YOU'RE IN SYDNEY COME DECEMBER, YOU CAN CATCH THE GROUP IN ACTION PLAYING FOR THE LEGENDARY FRANKIE'S PIZZA 7TH BIRTHDAY PARTY. MORE INFO BELOW.
UPCOMING MOANA TOUR DATES
Sunday, December 8th
Frankies Pizza - 7th Birthday Party
BY TIANA SPETER