Get to Know: Moana

Interviewed by Isobel Armstrong

We caught up with the beautiful, Moana Lutton of Moana recently to chat about all things music after their release of The Trilogy of the Black Monsoon.

Isobel: So the first thing we want to know is how and why such a brilliant collaboration came into existence. How did you guys meet up? 

Moana: I had been focusing on theatre and performing arts for quite some time when my musical calling took a hold and it’s had my soul in a firm grip ever since. I bought an electric guitar and had a shitty effects amp and I realised I really craved to collaborate with others and make some noise so I went on a mission to find a band... Lochy was a fan of my solo stuff and kept nudging me for a jam so he was naturally my first choice and it felt comfortable and fun to be around him... Javan and I had been entangled our whole lives both growing up down south and we first properly met on set when he was an extra in the ‘Days In A Cage’ video and I remember his vivacious energy. But it was the fact our mums were friends and she kept telling me “You know Cass’s son Javan plays bass you should hit him up”, so I did and here we are! We played our very first gig at Yayas with Beau’s band at the time and all became best buds straight away. He joined the band about a year later after he recorded our debut EP for us. It’s one big love story really. 

Isobel: Now we have that basic but super significant question: who are your influences?

Moana: It’s a tricky one… There are four of us and we all listen to all kinds of stuff and have different tastes. I guess my influence would come through the most which is probably along the lines of Jeff Buckley, a lot of 60s and 70s rock, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey… but I’ve always found literature and visual art and nature to be more important creative influences to me than other music. 

Isobel: How would you describe your music to people who haven’t heard it? 

Moana: Like walking through a dark enchanted forest.

Isobel: How would you describe your music to your parents?

Moana: My mum plays with us sometimes and she is way cool, so she is well aware of every aspect and has seen it grow. But I’m pretty sure the boys just need to assure their parents I’m not a witch holding them against their will.

Isobel: What’s it like being the frontwoman in a scene dominated by males? 

Moana: Like being a tiger in a room of cats.

 Isobel: What’s the song writing process for Moana specifically?

Moana: Every song is different. Sometimes we jam and collaborate heaps to create something and I act as the overseeing director cutting and pasting the stuff I think is rad and structuring it. Other times I’ll have a finished song on my own and the boys add their magic. Then others there’s a nice mix of the two where we use jamming and our powers combined to get out of a writing rut I might be in with a half done song. So really, our process is all over the place, just like us. 

Isobel: Do you guys see a specific direction in terms of the progression of your sound? What direction WON’T the band be taking?

Moana: I think with this new EP we’ve progressed towards a heavier and more intense direction. Especially with this trilogy cross-collaborating with other artists it’s been a deep creative process full of poetry… who knows what will happen next. I think we write across so many different genres that we could go anywhere. I want to keep experimenting. The blues and spooky soul have been calling me a lot lately. One thing is for certain – we are way more likely to become a heavy thrash metal band than an indi-folk-pop one. Sorry, but no. 

Isobel: What other projects are you guys involved in?

Moana: Beau is the front-man of the amazing Apollo’s Son, Jay also plays bass there. Beau also dabbles with the beautiful A’tuin. I’m lucky to sing with the lads of King Cactus when that happens. I’m also involved in a few little side projects in the theatre and performing arts world. 

Isobel: You play live sets all around Perth- what’s been your favourite experience with that so far?

Moana: Oh man, there’s been so many. Supporting bands like The Kill Devil Hills, Abbe May, Lurch and Chief and Ocean Alley to packed audiences has been pretty wild. Any festival, we love those vibes. But the chaos of all the house parties we‘ve played would have to take the cake.

Isobel: Who would be your ultimate act to tour with?

Moana: Living - Marilyn Manson or The Dead Weather, jeeeepers.  Or let’s do back to 1969 and support The Doors and Patti Smith around America.

Isobel: Your videos are of an incredible standard. Who comes up with those ideas?

Moana: Thank you. It’s always a wonderful collaboration between myself and our director Laure Bernard (Via Luna Pictures). I usually have a beginning concept, or visual excitement as I write in a very visual manner. But it’s Luna who really makes it. She’s incredible!

Isobel: What’s the next major step for Moana?

Moana: Taking a breather, onto the next creations, travelling more as a band. 

Isobel: How can your fans access your music?

Moana: Moanamoana.bandcamp.com & www.soundcloud.com/moanamusic

Author note: Moana’s YouTube channel is another place you definitely want to go. The surrealist, fantastical heavy rock visuals really do enhance and complement every sound the band makes. The channel name is MO ANA and I’d give special mention to the ‘Elephant Bones’ music video as your first stop.