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Willy Moon

Willy Moon doesn’t like to waste time. His debut album, ‘Here’s Willy Moon’, is less than 29 minutes long. Only one of its 12 songs lasts more than three minutes and not a single note is squandered. No bets were hedged during the making of this record. “Generally the most interesting stuff happen in the first two minutes anyway, the rest of it just bores me to tears,” he reasons. “I’m a great believer in simplicity and brevity. It’s also down to having a short attention span. I don’t even read books anymore, just short stories.”
Willy is 23, and whip-smart with a tinder-dry sense of humour. He loves the physical energy of Cab Calloway and Michael Jackson, the concision of the Ramones, and the style of film noir. He writes, records and produces everything on his own and he doesn’t blend different sounds; he smashes them together. There’s no middle ground. It’s as if rock’n’roll had been deep-frozen in 1965, just before the Beatles discovered acid, and abruptly reanimated 45 years later by a laptop hip hop producer.
Willy’s 2011 release, ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, was the kind of truly great debut single that makes the listener ask: Who is this person? And where did they come from? In the video he struts and jerks and testifies in a spotlight, over a monstrously metallic Bo Diddley beat. It was quite an introduction and it made him some discerning fans. Jack White released ‘Railroad Track’ on his Third Man label and invited him to support him on his UK tour. Apple picked up his Wu-Tang-sampling barnburner ‘Yeah Yeah’ for its latest iPod ad while French director Alex Courtes (White Stripes, U2, Justice) directed the song’s thrilling video. Willy spent last summer playing festivals across Europe, including Cannes film festival and recently made his startling debut on BBC2’s Later… With Jools Holland.
‘Here’s Willy Moon’ stays true to Willy’s love of extreme contrast. ‘Railroad Track’ is like Kanye West’s ‘Jesus Walks’ rearranged for a 1930s chain gang. ‘She Loves Me’ crunches Hamburg Beatles into shuddering quasi-dubstep. ‘Get Up’ is seize-the-day hip-hop blues. The instrumental ‘Murder Ballad’ sounds like Tom Waits wandering through a haunted car yard. The cover versions make alliances with the weirdos of 50s rock’n’roll: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ ‘I Put a Spell on You’ and Little Willie John’s neurotically horny ‘I’m Shakin’’ (recently covered by – who else? – Jack White). Then there are the songs that sound like they should be covers but aren’t: the blue-collar howl of ‘Working for the Company’ and industrial Phil Spectorisms of ‘My Girl’. It’s an unusual record because Willy Moon is an unusual man.
Willy grew up in New Zealand. When he was 12 his mother died of cancer. His father lost his job due to the time taken off caring for his mother, and was forced to find work abroad in Saudi Arabia, leaving 12-year-old Willy and his 16-year-old sister to raise each other. “I was always getting in trouble at school and they’d say we have to get your parents in. I’d say, well that’s difficult.”
Formerly a gifted student, he effectively gave up on school, attending occasionally only to see his friends and read science fiction novels. He was thrown out of one school, then another, and dropped out of formal education all together when he was 16. “I thought what’s the point? I am allergic to authority and besides, I have always been more of an autodidact anyway.”
Eventually he decided that something had to give so for his 18th birthday he saved up and bought himself a one-way plane ticket to London, where he found hedonism, strife, financial insecurity and a surprising musical breakthrough. When Willy met his girlfriend she played him an album by 1940s forces’ sweethearts the Andrew Sisters, which triggered an obsession with pre-1960 pop music. “I still listen to jazz more than anything, like Woody Allen!” he laughs.
After losing his job and being kicked out for not making rent, Willy and his girlfriend bought the cheapest available plane tickets — to Valencia, Spain. From there they jumped a train down to Morocco. “It was ridiculous,” he says. “Who knew what we were meant to do once we got there?” They eventually made their way to Berlin, where they would live for the next year, and crucially where Willy’s music would begin to take form. There he began writing primal rock’n’roll songs but found it too constricting. “There was a whole revivalist scene, but it felt a bit like locking oneself up and throwing away the key.”
Returning to London, he worked on developing his own sound, the first fruit of which was ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’. He posted it online and acquired a record deal. “I’d hate to be in a band, too many opinions,” he says. “I’m a dictator at heart.”
Now, finally, he is relatively settled and secure and he has an extraordinary debut under his belt. “I’ve always been ambitious,” he says. “I’ve always thought one day, no matter what, I’m going to be successful.”

  1. John says: October 15, 201212:34 pm

    I like what you are doing man, great sounds are hard to find nowadays and you hit it on the nose. I look forward to your debut album. It’s been a while since I bought a new cd, I’ve been waiting for something like this for sure. Good luck in life, I hope you get everything you want out of it.

  2. dave says: October 23, 20128:19 pm

    hi there,we thats me my 2 sons and 1girlfriend the lovely laura just saw you on tv and you blew us all away, we will see you in london in february , we cant wait goodluck for the future XXXXX

  3. Joe Jeannot says: October 24, 201211:12 am

    I would like to entertain the question? Would you consider coming to Seattle,WA to kick off our Mardi Gras week on Thursday , February 7th and perform at our place, Toulouse Petit. Thank you!

  4. Victoria-Jane says: December 30, 201211:44 am

    There’s something about your sound, just can’t get enough of it! Yes you can tell the music is influenced by particular genres/eras but at the same time it’s completely fresh! And a nice change of pace compared to some of the other artists I’m seeing. The cinematography of your Railroad Track vid isn’t half bad either, Michael Carter did a great job. Keep up the awesome work luv, can’t wait till you’re in Scotland

  5. Frances says: December 31, 20125:19 am

    In that case, swing through Portland, Oregon while you’re at it! Cool vibe and amazing food scene! :)

  6. TC says: January 2, 20137:26 am

    How come I’m not seeing the instrumental of Yeah Yeah available on Itunes USA?? It’s listed on your site. :(

  7. Mary Schulte says: January 28, 20136:59 pm

    Need press contact to get a high-rez jpeg photo to run in The Kansas City Star with tour venue. Thanks.

  8. ingrid says: February 24, 20136:50 am

    Go Willy, its so refreshing to see such a grounded and focused young man producing such great sounds with such a polished and humble attitude, xx.

  9. XIM says: March 23, 20134:45 pm

    Hey Man! great songs and good music, I´m waiting for the album, will be one of my faves this year for sure… rock´n roll isn´t dead because you are alive… Best from Spain… XIM

  10. Caitlin says: April 8, 20138:28 pm

    Just had to say that you are so cool. I mean your name is WIlly Moon, need I say more? I really want to see you in London but I have a GCSE exam on that day so now have I have to decide whether you or my exams are more important…

  11. E House says: July 16, 20136:04 pm

    Love it! I’m about to move to Austin, TX, so that I can get more live music, and you’re in the top 5 of the list of people I ‘m most looking forward to seeing there. So, can you get on that, this fall? And can you also get that next album out already? I mean, after all, it’s been a whole three months! I’m dying here!

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