Right now, on my rather lengthy reviews-to-do list, there is a double-disc live release from German heavy jam trio Electric Moon. This is a situation to which I’ve become rather accustomed over the past several months, as it seems the mere act of keeping up with the band’s output would require a full-time staff working around the clock. Their music, almost always captured live, is vibrant, colorful, dynamic and hypnotic in a way that most improvisation based material simply isn’t. You want to try as hard as you can to get lost in it.
They make that easy. Recently covered albums like The Doomsday Machine (review here) and Flaming Lake (streaming here) and their split with Glowsun (review here) are extended trips to some psychic “otherplace,” they ensnare the attentions and proceed to zone out the mind’s eye. Guitarist Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt (also of Zone Six and the head of Sulatron Records), bassist/vocalist/visual artist Komet Lulu and drummer Alex offer a guiding hand, but really, even they’re not sure where the journey is going to end up, and they’re as much riding the crescendo as you are.
It only serves to make the music more exciting, and while you can put on an Electric Moon album and know you’re going to be there for a while, the spirit with which those albums are constructed and the ultra-organic processes from which they come about provides more than enough impetus for multiple visits. And unlike a lot of jam-based heavy psych, with Electric Moon, the songs never come off as wholly redundant or all pointed in the same direction. Sure, a flow is established, but the structures that exist (you’ll note I say “structures” and not “boundaries”) are open and more dependent on the whims of the players than vice versa.
As they continue to mine the visible spectrum and interpret it freeform into music, I recently hit up Sula Bassana and Komet Lulu for some insight as to how the project came about, their reliance on improv, Lulu‘s artwork, Sula‘s upcoming releases with Sulatron Records, and more. It’s kind of a short interview, but if you’re not familiar with Electric Moon or how they came to be the endearing, fascinating band they now are, it should be well enough to give you some idea of where they’re coming from. In a word: Space.
Complete email Q&A is after the jump. Please enjoy.
Tell me about starting the band. Where did the idea come from, and was there something specific about psychedelic jamming you wanted to capture? Did it grow out of the Sula Bassana project? Do you see it as an extension of your past work or a start in a different direction?
Dave/Sula: It is always very simple. Lulu (bass, artwork) and me started doing some recordings together and we asked Pablo Carneval if he likes to join us on drums. We did some recordings and were really satisfied with the result, so we did more recordings and started playing live. In the recordings we made some overdubs like organ, second guitar, vocals. All things we can’t do live as a three-piece, so we decided just to do improvised stuff live, but many people still think it’s composed material. The name comes from Lulu’s old email address! She is handling with the name since many years.
Lulu: Yeah and it’s very simple – I’m in love with the moon and it is electric… The moon is female, the mirror, our common eye, the connection to our inner stuff… So let’s join the moon-love…
Germany has a rich history of psychedelic rock. Where do you see Electric Moon fitting in? The band has many classic elements, but at the same time is quite modern.
Dave/Sula: We just make the music that comes out of our bodies. We maybe will change our style or some elements in further releases, so, we don’t like to fit into just one category.
Lulu: Electric Moon fits in with the moon, which is electric if you really stare at it…
How important is it for you to be releasing your own material? Do you consider Sulatron Records a part of the creative process, in terms of putting out your own albums and live recordings and keeping complete creative freedom? How does that differ from how you work with Nasoni Records?
Dave/Sula: Yes, you can see it this way. Also the work with my old friends from Nasoni works similar. We have all creative freedom there as well.
Lulu: I am so glad that my beloved Dave started Sulatron some years ago. It’s like it was made for us – it’s the best way for us. We want to be as free as it is possible in a world full of cages.
One of the things that most stands out to me about Electric Moon is that it seems like you’re trying to capture the jam, where most bands would distill it into a verse/chorus more traditional pop-type song. What led you to this method of songwriting?
Dave/Sula: There is no method. We only capture the moment and see what we can make out of it. Sometimes we cut it into some song-like parts, but most time we take it as it is or just doing some overdubs.
Lulu: Dave said it but there is one thing more, I feel like: Some of the recordings create a song-idea when I listen to so some lyrics are added sometimes… It’s a highly inspired holy grail to play with Sula in a band together.
Dave/Sula: J Lulu is the best bassist for me! We melt into one creature!
How important is improvisation to what Electric Moon does? Do you come in with structures or different parts in mind when you set out to record a track? Do you find that you guys go the same places in jams, or is each one different each time?
Dave/Sula: We have a handful of very short themes, that sometimes are part of our concerts, like “D-Tune,” “Triptriptrip,” “Lost and Found Souls,” “Kleiner Knaller” or “The Doomsday Machine,” but they always grow into different directions. We never composed stuff before we started recording. Except the very short tracks for singles.
Lulu: And when we improvise, it’s not only improvisation… In the best moments, it feels like we’re led by the cosmic love surrounding us all!
Do you consider live performance the core of the band? If so, where does the studio fit in? How is the process different for the three of you, jamming in the studio as opposed to on stage?
Dave/Sula: There is not a big difference between recordings of live shows or studio-stuff. We try to record everything we play.
Lulu: The difference is the symbioses with the people who join our shows. There is a huge interaction of emotions between and around us!
Did bringing Alex in on drums change the character of the band? With so many of the jams working off how the musicians interact, I’d imagine it’s a big change in how everything comes together. Is that something you’ve noticed since Alex has come on board?
Dave/Sula: It was new for all of us, for sure. But in the meantime we played more gigs with Alex then with Pablo. So now we are really connected and Alex is doing a great job!
Lulu: Yeah, everything is changing every time… And Alex is now absolutely one third of the Electric Moon… He made it possible to release live shows on vinyl because he causes some shorter freakouts! ;)
Komet Lulu’s artwork perfectly matches the music Electric Moon is making. Did you know all along that she’d be involved in the visual side of the band, and how did the cover for The Doomsday Machine come about?
Dave/Sula: Yeah, it’s perfect! Best artwork!
Lulu: Thank you! Well, the Doomsday Machine cover is made from paintings, my dad made in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but all the other stuff is designed by me with lots of love.
How did being chosen for Voivod’s curated event at Roadburn come about? You’re doing several other festivals around Europe this summer. Is there anywhere particular you’re looking forward to playing or anyone you’re looking forward to sharing the stage with?
Lulu: Well, we got told by “Walter Roadburn” that Voivod loves us and wants us at Roadburn! ;)
Dave/Sula: Yes, that’s it!
What’s up next for Sulatron Records? It seems like Electric Moon and Vibravoid are in a race for who can put out the most albums!
Dave/Sula: Hahaha, Electric Moon wins the race! For sure! There will be a new Electric Moon live 2LP out in late April. Also we work on an Electric Moon/Farflung split LP and new singles and a CD called D-Tune, featuring the stuff that was previously released on vinyl only. The new Sula Bassana solo-album will come in June, I think, on CD and 2LP. And I like to release the Sula Bassana & Modulfix album Brainwash on 2LP. Hopefully The Movements’ space rock album, For Sardines Space is No Problem, will come on LP in June as well as more Electric Moon and Vibravoid stuff later this year. And hopefully a new Tracker album!Electric Moon, Germany, Nasoni Records, Sulatron Records