The Pluto Moons sound like lying in your bed and having funky daydreams of mistakes you made in high school. There was a period of my life where I didn’t really listen to anything but 2011’s 'Paste' EP after I met their lead singer/bassist Zach Levine loitering around Union Square. Since then the Moons’ debut LP 'Mannequin Legs' proved the three-piece Lower East Side outfit to be capable of producing knockout tracks that feature arpeggiating synths, looped world music samples, and gang vocals. I sat down with Levine to talk about old songs, dropping out of college, and Mumford and Sons.
Shuf: Do you consider your lyrics to be that of a persona or character?
Depends. Sometimes I try to channel maybe another person's story who I know. Sometimes I just pick words that sound good. Use words for their phonetic- phonetic? Is that the right word? Phonetic qualities. Other times I just talk like I would talk to you right now so it’s different.
Shuf: Songs like 'Animal' or 'Mom', would you say that the persona or the character is a good person?
I think those songs were more just like me talking about myself. Those are from a while ago… when I was a senior in high school. That depends on whether I think I'm a good person or not... which I do. (Laughs) But good people do fucked up things sometimes.
Shuf: Has your Mom heard 'Mom'?
Yeah… She's cool with it. She knows I love her. She also knows that it was coming from an honest place. So she can’t- like my mom is gonna hate on something if its real.
Shuf: What's your dream collaboration and do you think it would be rewarding or inevitably disappointing?
I would love to work with Kanye and that would obviously be disappointing. I would love to work with St. Vincent and that would not be disappointing.
Shuf: Do you believe in heroes?
No... Not really, sort of- With art, it’s different. My heroes are like fucking Malcolm X and Muhammed Ali...you know what I mean? Those types of people but with art, there's just people I really dig. I definitely don’t idolize though. I don't have posters of people on my walls.
Shuf: Do you think you romanticize dropping out?
What? No, I mean it’s funny 'cause like I love school and school is a great thing. I haven't dropped out. I'm still in school right now. I mean, I am dropping out next semester (laughs)
Shuf: So if you're not romanticizing it, does that mean you're not happy about it?
I'm not, I mean, when you say romanticizing-
Shuf: I'm just saying you have a song called 'Dropping Out'
(Laughs) That was mainly just like everyone feels like dropping out. Especially artists who are in school pursuing their art who realize that there might be no point to this. "Dropping out" as a concept like "Oh, dropping out is cool" - No, it might be cool for you or it might not be cool for you but I mean its definitely cool for me right now.
Shuf: Was 'Boxfan Blues' Mumford and Sons Influenced?
(Laughs) Yo, fuck Mumford and Sons. 'Boxfan Blues' was another song that literally just an African guitar loop that we just sampled and looped. That's funny to us to be like "we're just gonna loop some song and put some words over it." We get off on that shit.
I think that song is like early Yeasayer but maybe thats me just wanting to be early Yeasayer.
Shuf: What's the last artist you got into that actively influenced your work in the Pluto Moons?
Max and I have been digging on this band Clipping. Everyone should look them up. I think we've been exploring that kind of noisy hip-hop shit.
Shuf: I saw a live video of the band called "Pluto Moons Stripped Naked In Bushwick" where you did some sort of absurd stand-up comedy; what's your relationship with stand-up?
Oh my god well fucking stand-up is music. Dave Chapelle has that whole rant where he says it's all timing and every musician thinks they're funny. Stand-up just deals with fucked up shit in the best way. You know what I mean? Illuminating it and making you feel good about it and music is the same thing. It’s a way of dealing with the inevitable sadness of life and trying to see some light in it.
That whole spoken word thing was mainly influenced by Bryan Bane who's my mentor, you could say. In his stand-up - he has a one man play that I do music for - there's a lot of sound effects interwoven with this lyrical thing he does.
Words: Nick Boyd