Welcome to In the Studio, a feature dedicated to exploring the fantastic independent musicians at Kenyon. This week, we showcase Day Moon, a three-piece band consisting of Alex Inciardi ’21, Molly Walsh ’21, and Maddy Moriarty ’21.
What’s the origin of your name?
Molly Walsh: Okay. My freshman year, an album that was really important to me was Lomelda’s thx, T-H-X. There’s this song called “Only World“, and there’s a line in it that goes, “The day moon is out again; I thought it knew me well,” and we just really loved that line and I think the notion of there being just a dichotomy between a night time thing and day. I like the abstraction of the moon during the day, I think it’s really beautiful and that line specifically struck us and we thought, “What a cool band name!”
The band was originally comprised of Alex and Molly. How did you bring Maddy in on the bass?
Alex Inciardi: So basically, I was asked to play in this femme show that was hosted by seniors at the Horn last year. And obviously, we’re all friends. We were just like, “Do you want to maybe try to play together?”
Molly: It’s interesting because when Alex asked me to do it, I had played drums all of high school, but I have never played in a band, let alone in front of anyone before, so Alex had never even heard me play. The main thing was just being in a practice room and playing music with another person. It was really really invigorating. I think that once we did it once, we realized that it was something we wanted to keep doing. After that show happened, we were like, “Let’s keep going with this,” and then we asked to open for Soccer Mommy [at the Horn]. That was kind of where that process began and then once we played that show and wrote our own song we realized that it was something we wanted to keep doing and be more serious about, and then that’s where Maddy came in.
Maddy Moriarty: So, I’ve been playing guitar and piano my entire life and I knew that we didn’t need another guitar player because Alex plays the guitar and if you have three people you can’t have two guitars, and I’m pretty good at self-teaching similar instruments. I bought a used bass to see if it was something I was interested in and I taught myself a Vampire Weekend song and I could play it. Later I got a nice bass and over the summer I taught myself how to play.
Are there any other musicians that you guys have discussed to essentially be pillars of your band? They may not even be the sounds you’re trying to produce, but musicians you admire the most collectively.
Alex: My favorite musician of all times is a huge influence, Jeff Buckley, and I definitely mimic my voice after his style of vibrato and intensity, or at least I try to. I use his tuning, also. A lot of our songs don’t have traditional tuning and that’s because I listen to Jeff Buckley’s songs and then try to learn his songs and then create chords out of that.
Molly: Specifically for me on the drums, the drummer Dave King with the Bad Plus. He’s probably my all-time biggest drum influence.
Maddy: Lorde for lyrics, Fleetwood Mac, Girlpool, Snail Mail. I feel like I’m always guiding us about lyrics even though like you guys do a lot of the writing, but I always think wordy lyrics, like Girlpool and bands like that, are cool.
Molly: Pinegrove, too.
Maddy: Well, not really Pinegrove. All of their music sounds the same.
Molly: I mean, I disagree.
In what ways does Kenyon shape your music?
Molly: I think I have a pretty clear-cut example of the song that I literally just wrote last night. The title of it is Idle, like I-D-L-E, and the chorus is all about idleness, which comes from a conversation I had in Chaucer: Canterbury Tales English class. We were talking about the idleness and how it affects characters and how it’s negatively perceived, and all during that class discussion I got fixated on this word. I immediately came home and wanted to bring it to the song.
Alex: With the exception of one song that I’ve written that we play, I just feel generally inspired at Kenyon. Maybe it’s like the fact that I went to the same school for 15 years and wasn’t exposed to anything new. This such a special place, I wouldn’t have been able to write “Living Room” if I didn’t go to this school and have new guys. To feel like I can have a creative outlet like that. Even if it’s not geographically, the lyrics aren’t directly referencing a building or whatever. That’s definitely influenced me for sure.
Alex: I just think this is the type of place that would appreciate an alternative sound.
It seems like Kenyon music scene is really saturated with a lot of men. As much as there are all these great male-centered bands, do you ever find yourself feeling like defined “the girl band” or defined as something like this?
Maddy: I think we have had to prove ourselves, and we still haven’t finished proving ourselves because at Kenyon. The music scene is dominated by this idea of bros jamming out and bros listening to their bro bands at the Horn. If you’re an all-female band, you have to prove that you’re somehow worthy of that or on the same level of that, just be experiencing that in the same room or be a part of it. Honestly, it’s been challenging.
Alex: It won’t stop us. You don’t want us to fucking play, go fuck yourself.
Maddy: The thing is, we’re here to stay and we take this very seriously and we’re recording an album, and we’re not going away. The harder we work, the more blatant it is that it’s just exclusion. People definitely treat us differently because we’re all girls.
Alex: You know, that’s not surprising. Rock & roll is a boys club; jazz is a fucking boys club. I was in a jazz band for eight years and I was the only girl with two other women for eight years. With that aside, given the opportunity that I get to play with two women that are incredible as people and as musicians is so powerful that the fact that we do have to prove ourselves is just so fucking frustrating. I’m glad we’re a girl band.
Molly: I was going to say that in the context of this question, “girl band” has a charged association. I embrace it. I think it’s a part of the dynamic, it’s a part of the inspiration. Just this past week, we played a GoGo’s song– it’s just so cool to play.
As friends, we talk a lot about current obsessions. Is there a piece of culture or an artist or an idea that’s really on your minds as you write and record?
Maddy: Yes, we’ve been thinking a lot about a “You” with our lyrics. A lot of our lyrics are really about general things and a little bit obscure.
Molly: Yeah, that’s true. I don’t even think this is specific to songwriting, just any writing in general. Creating transparency within the abstraction of human emotion and experience is very, very challenging, like looking at a blank canvass is really intimidating. I think that something I personally and I think all of us collectively have been striving to work towards is being a lot more specific and less abstract in lyrics and also just in general ideas about songs. I think the more intimate and specific and easily recognizable the sentiment you’re trying to express is more people latch on to the song. That’s something I’ve been trying to work on is taking the lyrics and making it more and more and more specific until it’s the most specific thing you can reach.
Alex: I also feel like at least with the two songs we’re writing right now, they feel very Kenyon specific and that might–since we are also collaborating more so than we have on past songs I think that might be part of the reason why.
What are you working on right now? What is the next step for the band?
Maddy: We’re recording our first album with WKCO, so we’re finishing writing for that and recording the songs we already have. That’ll be released on streaming music apps, so Apple Music, Spotify. Our music is going to be used in a documentary that Kenyon students are going to be working on as soon as we’re done recording.
Alex: Yes, we’re currently working on three songs and then we have, I think, four others that are coming so I think we have collectively about seven possibles for listening within the near future.