A day with Sanae Yamada (Moon Duo): Some shape out of chaos


Dalla stima per i Goblin al sentito ricordo per Alan Vega.

di Nick Matteucci 

Foto Eliana Giaccheri

I read in another interview that one of your goals was quitting your day job and focusing only into music. What is your suggestion to reach this point?

Well, a lot is about luck and timing, but there are also some calculated risks involved. You have to decide to commit and then… commit.

How hard was balancing your music career with your previous jobs at the very beginning?

It was definitely a big change but it has been a fantastic experience, I really enjoyed it over all. It had been challenging a bit, but I think that having jobs for a number of years and not being able to be an artist made us more motivated.

How was it when you were still working as a teacher? People don’t see musicians in the same way you know…

It’s true, it was definitely a little bit strange for me being a teacher… it’s not an usual thing!

Yeah, I always dreamt of having a teacher playing in a psych band, but…!

It was interesting when some of the kids found out and they were like 13 or 14 years old, some of them were really excited, some others were thinking it was so weird.

Which subject did you teach?

I taught literature.

How would you describe the evolution that lead you to create ‘Shadow Of The Sun’?

I’m not sure I can describe it, I think for me it’s much more a chaotic album and came from a more chaotic time. When we made ‘Circles’ we were living in the mountains, we were isolated and it was very quiet and so that was just a very focused experience. When we made ‘Shadow Of The Sun’ we had moved to Portland, Oregon, we had toured a lot and we were feeling like disoriented, so it was definitely trying to make some shape out of chaos.

Have you ever been afraid that Moon Duo could have been marked just as a Wooden Shjips copy?

Oh sure! I know some people consider us a side project, but they can say what they want to say, we’re focused on what we want to do, moving in that direction.

When you released “Circles remix” you pushed your psych sound into a more electronic and dance attitude, were you afraid to disappoint the old school psychedelia fans, or you just didn’t care?

Certaintly for me and probably also for Ripley the idea of psychedelic music was originally connected to dancing and to movement and to experiencing things in a multisensory way by listening. I think that the idea of having dance elements to our sound was to make psychedelic music but also trying to trigger people’s bodies and inspire people to move. I hope to do that.

I remember when a band of friends wanted to cover your song ‘Night Beat’. They couldn’t find the lyrics anywhere and basically sometimes it’s hard to understand the words that Ripley sings, what is the role of the lyrics in your tracks?

(laughs) Oh! The lyrics? It’s funny, Ripley is very private about the lyrics… but I think they serve as a kind of a secret inside the song, the voice is like a texture or another instrument. The lyrics are there, they’re specific, but I think it’s a cool idea for people trying to figure it out if they can’t understand, so trying to imagine what could it be, offering to be interpreted.

What would you do if you had a time machine? Would you go back in 60’s to live that music scene from the start or travel in the future to see what music technologies have in store for the next generations?

I think I would like to see the future, because I don’t have any expectation of the future. The past is such a legend, you heard all the stories, you read the books of all the musicians involved and I think the reality is never the same so I prefer to keep my dreams about the past and see the future because I don’t know what to expect.

Is there any particular and different project you would like to fulfill, such as playing in a special venue or maybe compose for a movie soundtrack?

I would love to do a movie soundtrack, that would be amazing, we have visual elements in our shows and it’s a combination of visuals and music, this is what we do, but it would be great to create the sound on a story.

Would you play an improvisation on visuals?

That would be cool but I’d prefer to play on a movie to create atmosphere, the mood…

What kind of movie?

I think a horror movie would be fun, like an old style horror movie, you know Dario Argento style, like Goblin!

(Racconto a Sanae del tour che stanno facendo i Simonetti’s Goblin, con la proiezione di ‘Profondo Rosso’ su un grande schermo sopra al palco dove la band suona in tempo reale la colonna sonora, non ne era a conoscenza e rimane estasiata dall’idea).

Would you like to say something about Alan Vega?

It’s a loss for the world that he’s gone, it’s hard to put into words the impact that Suicide had to music and it’s impossible to repeat. I think that Alan Vega was a really special person.

Ad un certo punto stavo chiedendo a Sanae se ci fosse qualche band del panorama attuale che le piacesse particolarmente, poi però è arrivato Oliver, il simpaticissimo (e mai avaro nell’elargire affetto) cane del circolo Andrea Doria, che mi è letteralmente saltato addosso iniziandomi a leccare la faccia e mordicchiare la barba. Quindi non ho compreso bene tutte le parole della risposta di Sanae, che però mi stava parlando benissimo dei Follakzoid e degli Psychic Ills, entrambi compagni di scuderia alla Sacred Bones Records.