We caught up with Portland band Moon and Bike (Boone and Michael, the band’s name is a play on words) and asked them 10 questions +1. The duo started writing together during the pandemic and published their debut album in 2020. Their sophomore venture is currently in the works so we asked them the hard questions: Why Portland? How has COVID affected the music? Who are some of your musical influences? Where are we going for a late breakfast? You know, the important stuff.
Bridgeliner: What has Portland meant to your music?
Boone: The main thing about Portland is that we both live here now! We actually started this project and released our debut album in 2020 during Covid, when Michael was living in Portland and I was in Bend. The fact that we are now living 20 minutes from each other, and that we can actually work on music together in the same room and hang out as friends also is great. Being part of a vibrant community that supports the arts like Portland is so important to us.
Bridgeliner: If you could go to one spot in Portland and write a song, where would that be and why?
Boone: We tend to be studio-dwellers, locked up in a room or basement most of the time, recording ideas, etc., but for me, being in some natural outdoor setting, like Crystal Springs, would be a cool place to write something. I tend to be inspired by the natural world often, and people that are fighting to preserve it.
Bridgeliner: If you could play with another Portland band you haven’t yet played with, what band would it be and why?
Boone: We’d ideally love to play with bands with similar traits as ours, so people that attend shows will enjoy all of the music performed. There aren’t a lot of instrumental guitar acts that compose music like us, so it makes that difficult. Marisa Anderson, Blue Cranes, and Hawks Do Not Share come to mind because they each share some overlap with us; instrumental music, guitars, original musical style, focus on strong melodies.
Bridgeliner: Other than the obvious, how has COVID affected your music?
Boone: For me, music is salvation, and during Covid, it has taken on even more importance in keeping me grounded and having my energy focused on something positive and creative.
Michael: Moon and Bike wouldn’t exist without COVID. Boone and I had decided to record the track that we ultimately named the band after, but didn’t have a plan after that. Once lockdown hit, we dove into writing music together.
Bridgeliner: Climate change, homelessness, the 1%ers, how has that influenced your music?
Boone: Because our music is non-vocal, and not specifically descriptive of specific events or feelings, I tend to focus on the beauty of music and sharing that with others, which usually takes the shape of something soothing and engaging, an escape from the insanity of life in some way, instead of reflecting the chaos of our world. In 2019 I began writing a song that will hopefully be on our new album, at about the time Greta Thunberg was traveling to the U.S. by boat for the United Nations Summit. I’m inspired by her efforts and resilience, and decided to use her story and personality as a basis for that song.
Michael: As a writer of instrumental music, it hasn’t, at least not in any quantifiable way. Sometimes Boone has a specific theme he wants to explore, but I tend to write music for the joy of writing music.
Bridgeliner: What’s a mistake you’ve made that turned out to be great for your music?
Boone: There is a song we have that hasn’t been released yet, which I have envisioned with drums since I composed it, but the reality is that it sounds better without drums, which it has taken me awhile to realize, but have come to accept over time. I think the song will be more powerful because of it.
Michael: Falling down and breaking my finger back in April comes to mind. When it first happened, I was worried that I would never be able to play guitar correctly again, but the physical therapy and strength training got me back to 100%, and actually improved my playing.
Bridgeliner: Name some of the people who have made big influences on your music.
Boone: Michael Hedges, Don Latarski, Sam Phillips, J.S. Bach, Cocteau Twins, Michael Swanson, so many musicians!
Michael: R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and The Police’s Andy Summers influenced my playing style; film scores like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind by Jon Brion, Owning Mahowney by The Insects, and Paris, Texas by Ry Cooder, among others, influenced my writing style.
Bridgeliner: What was something one of you suggested that the other disagreed with, but it turned out to be the right thing to do.
Boone: We are constantly bouncing ideas off each other, trying new things, so I say this is a constant, and is what makes our music turn out the way it does. We’ve agreed that we both have to like our songs to release them.
Michael: Musically, it’s usually just a question of arrangement or dynamics that we’ll initially disagree on, and then come to a consensus.
Bridgeliner: What’s the worst and best thing someone has said about your music?
Boone: Worst: That it’s “ambient” music. Best: “Great melodies, great songs that I connect with.”
Bridgeliner: Let’s bring it back home…where’s your favorite place to eat in Portland and what do you order?
Boone: Right now, I live close-in in SE, so I’m really enjoying walking to Broder for a late breakfast. Great staff and great food! And for my Thai food fix, two weeks rarely go by without me grabbing something from Pinto Thai.
Michael: Pizza Thief on NW Vaughn! The best pizza ever, and the nicest people.
Bridgeliner: What’s something you just want people to know?
Boone: We don’t consider our music ambient, even though it’s been labeled as such. I think a lot of people automatically label instrumental music as being background music, but we compose music to be actively listened to. We try to write engaging melodies and interesting chord structures and time signatures to keep people interested in the song itself.
Michael: That we’re all in this together.
Friday Night Coffeehouse Series at Artichoke Music
Fri, Dec 3 @ 7:00PM
Artichoke Music, 2007 SE Powell Blvd., Portland, OR
Show at Sam Bond’s Garage!
Wed, Dec 15 @ 6:00PM
Sam Bond’s Garage, 407 Blair St., Eugene, OR
Corkscrew Wine Bar
Sun, Dec 26th @ 7:00PM
Corkscrew Wine Bar, 1665 SE Bybee Blvd., Portland, OR