1. What have you been listening to lately?
Katie: Yo La Tengo, Dog Date, Tanukichan, Big Thief, Sheer Mag
Liam: Fugazi, The Replacements, The Only Ones, 200 Stab Wounds, and the soundtrack from The Harder They Come as of late.
TJ: Sick Thoughts’s new record “Heaven is No Fun”, Stereolab, Out Cold, Exploding Hearts, Double Negative, Woodstock 99, Unwound
Gray: Catherine Moan, Jewelry, The Ramones, Falmingosis
2. What is the background image on your bandcamp??
Katie: I used to work at a juice bar and would try to take all these slimy pics. That’s grapefruit pulp!
3. Ketchup doesn’t exist. What sauce or condiment do you eat your fries with?
Katie: Ranch and Texas Pete :P
TJ: Mayo, like a damn European.
Liam: Is there such thing as a bad orange sauce?
Gray: Any and all aioli, or sweet horseradishy mustard
4. Which 2000’s trend do you hope never makes a comeback?
Katie: Definitely low rise jeans….nobody needs being skinny as fashion to come back lol
TJ: Ed Hardy, most
Liam:Sympathy for George Bush.
Gray: My parents getting divorced
5. What was your dream job as a kid?
Katie: Rock star/whale watching guide
TJ:I don’t think I had one
Liam: Playing power forward in the NBA like KG. Still waiting on my second growth spurt.
Gray: Oh I just wanted to have a sick show on animal planet like Jeff Corwin haha
6. What animal would you want under your chef hat helping you cook?
Katie: My horrible and adorable feline sidekick Mooch, she’s a take no shit head chef and her voice really carries
TJ: Another human to help prep and clean
Liam: Racacoonie of course.
Gray: I trust none other than Remy himself
7. Go to roadtrip snack?
Katie: Chex Mix BOLD
TJ: Pizzeria flavored Combos
Liam: Flaming Hot Cheetos
Gray: Rips. Iykyk
8. Any tips on crowd surfing? I feel like I’d be too scared of someone stealing my wallet.
Katie: I’m good on that, lots of strangers trying to grab your body on purpose?? But it does look fun from far away
TJ:Just stage dive instead and jump down.
Liam: Overrated, TJ is right. Bigger tip is that if it seems like someone is surfing your way, watch your head for stray Doc Martens. Also don’t be a fucking creep.
Gray: Make sure everyone around you knows you’re coming if you can. No one likes being surprised by someone falling on you while you’re trying to enjoy a show. Stage diving is the best way fs
9. Last song that made you cry?
Katie: Drunken Angel by Lucinda Williams
TJ: Real Death by Mount Eerie
Liam: Godspeed by Frank Ocean
Gray: Sober by Alex Wons
10. Any local Richmond bands that we should check out?
Katie: So many. Catie Lausten, Cassidy Snyder & The Wranglers, Destructo Disk, Ty Sorrell, Ethanol, True Body, Hot Spit, Lobby Boy, Alfred., and Closet Space to name a few
TJ: Black Button, Destruct, Haircut, Ordinance, Hard Copy, Enforced, VV, Tempter, 11 PM Records, Beach Impediment Records,
Liam: Black Button is the best band in Richmond right now. Also love Carpet Bomb, Terminal Bliss, Ostraca, Antichrist Siege Machine, Inter Arma, Windhand, Keep, City of Caterpillar, Rikki Rakki, Gnawing, Listless, and many many more.
Gray: Cellar Dwellers, Beat Awfuls, Ten Pound Snail, Charm Offensive, Avail, there’s a pretty sick Led Zeppelin cover band in town
Isaac Gutierrez for BL Mag: To start things off, can you introduce yourselves?
Katie: I’m Katie B! I sing in Smoon! I love fantasy and the ocean and don’t like onions
TJ: I’m TJ, I play drums, I like reading dry non-fiction and listening to hardcore punk
Liam: I’m Liam, I play guitar, I like Lord of the Rings, Magic: the Gathering, and telling people that I’m personal friends with Ian MacKaye.
Gray: I’m Gray, I play bass. I also enjoy fantasy, plants, and slow mornings
I read that Strawberry Moon started off as a solo project. What was the transition of going from a solo act to a full band like?
Katie: It’s had a few phases. I started Smoon in 2017 with a self titled bedroom pop EP recorded on my laptop. Next step was buying a little ditto loop pedal and playing around a lot with that, writing loops and song after song. I played so many shows by myself in this period, it really built up my confidence and grew me up! In 2018 my friend MJ Foster joined me on drums, and we recorded the EP “Dust Bath” together. They moved to grad school shortly after but I knew I didn’t want to go back to only working by myself. It was time for some collaboration and fresh input. I invited my boyfriend Liam to join me on guitar, and Gray and TJ to join us on bass and drums and we all just worked really well together and it took off. I’ve never looked back, it feels meant to be for sure. I love these guys and they’re so talented.
Liam: Going to Katie’s shows so much and hearing the dynamics of the songs over the years, I think the evolution to it becoming a full band was inevitable. The cool thing was watching these songs that were usually pretty mellow loops getting twisted into these fuzzed-out bops.
Gray: I was always such a fan of Katie’s solo stuff, so I jumped at the opportunity when she told me she wanted to put a band together. It’s such a joy to be a part of her creative process.
What has it been like coming up in the Richmond music scene?
Katie: Really supportive. I am constantly inspired by the people around me making art. There’s so much creativity here. I love seeing other people succeeding at what they love and Richmond is exploding with talented folks. I feel really lucky to be among them doin’ my thing.
TJ: Diverse, lots of different music scenes and lots of different people, but it has its equity problems like most small-mid sized city music scenes. You can definitely find a place to fit in if you are friendly and not an asshole. But even if you aren’t friendly and/or an asshole you can still find a scene.
Liam: I always loved the cross pollinating between scenes that you would see. It wasn’t uncommon to run into people coming out to a rap show and then run into those same people at a powerviolence gig. Even within this band, I met TJ when I was 18 playing indie shows and then would catch up with him years later seeing Inzane Johnny in a basement. The best music scenes are ones where everyone respects all types of genres and all types of people.
Gray: The city is definitely diverse in everything that it has going on. Moving here, and throwing myself into the local music scene has shaped my life in so many positive ways.
The band formed only a few months before the pandemic. How did you keep the momentum going as a band?
TJ: The group chat
Katie: I kept writing skeletons of songs to take to the band when we could be back together again, and recorded a dreamy lil “Quarantine Songs” EP that’s currently up on bandcamp. It was super depressing to have a taste of collaborating and performing with friends, finally not solo anymore, and then yanked back into like the most intense version of being alone you can get. It helped to keep working on songwriting and thinking about the future. Also, yeah, staying connected through the group chat.
Liam: Grilling dogs and cranking hogs.
Gray: 15% concentrated power of will
Congrats on your latest album, “Habitual Creatures”! What was the writing/recording process like? And what were some of the inspirations behind the album?
Katie: Thank you!! We wrote the songs over the course of like three years. I would record voice memos of super simple versions - skeletons - and send them over and then we would flesh them out into what they are now. Gray would add some dancy tumbling bass line, Liam would bring the fuzz. I’d be writing songs on the beach, in the car, in the shower, anywhere. I have a soft spot for those lo-fi demos. Definitely have a lot left to work with, haha. After that, we reached out to Levi Douthit for recording and mixing in his space. We recorded the drums analog, reel-to-reel, and the rest digitally. It was really, really fun to spend a few weeks bringing this to life. We are all really happy with the work that Levi did. A few musical inspirations for Habitual Creatures are New Order, Screaming Females, Hole, and Courtney Barnett.
The cover art is sick! Talk to us a bit about that.
Katie: I had like a rough draft in my head and pitched it to our friend Alexa Traveras and she absolutely brought it to life. It’s very Princess Mononoke meets Breath of the Wild and I’m so about it. She’s an incredible local artist and made some shirts for us as well this year. Infinitely recommend working with her.
I think my favorite track right now is “Outshine Everything”, can you give us some background on that song?
Katie: I was living in a cabin out in Western VA by myself for a brief period last fall, and had this bass line mantra going in my head over and over. I plucked it out on my acoustic guitar when I was feeling so lonely in the misty woods, wishing my loved ones were near, and feeling inspired by the mountains and forest surrounding me. When I’m alone for so long I definitely can get super in my head, and start to doubt my connections with people and feel anxious about how I’m perceived in my absence, I feel like that’s a big part of where these lyrics came from. This is the only song on the album that we have never played live, we’re waiting for the right moment to bring it out. It’s become one of my favorites as well.
Liam: Katie and I got snowed in and fleshed out a bunch of riffs she had written. I was having a lot of trouble figuring out what she wanted it to sound like, but eventually she got her idea across and it became my favorite song on the album too.
Is there any memory in particular that you think you’ll always associate with the making of this album?
Katie: Definitely our studio time. It was special to hole up with the band and Levi for a couple weeks and just put our all into this project. Lots of brainstorming and hyping up each other’s ideas. It was a hopeful and exciting time and I feel like I got to know the guys way more. Also meeting with the Sockhead Records team for the first time!! Gideon and Molly have been an amazing support system and I wouldn’t wanna make this album any other way.
TJ: Cigs in the studio
Liam: I remember Levi saying that some of the gear we were using was stuff his dad used, and that guy worked with bands like Sparklehorse, so that rocks. Really just Levi being the people’s champ.
Gray:More than anything just the joy of getting to play together, and bringing these songs into life. Writing is always my favorite part of the process, and I feel like that feeling of everything coming together is a high I chase every day of my life.
Any plans to do any touring for the album?
Katie: We wanna so bad!!! Definitely will be planning some east coast tours this year. That’s a goal of ours for sure.
Liam: Please clap.
Do you have anything that you want our readers to know?
Katie: We are so grateful for whatever space we are allowed within this scene and have much more up our sleeves! Thank you for your interest and please stream Habitual Creatures!
Liam: I’m personal friends with Ian MacKaye and I’m not making that up.
To wrap things up, do you have any questions for me?
Katie:How dare you? :) Also which Philly bands do you think might be a good fit for a Smoon show on tour?
Born Loser Mag: 1. What did I do??
2. Oh man, I'll have to look into the Philly band thing and get back to you on that one.
TJ: Yeah …..
Why does US foreign policy display such continuity despite changes in presidential administrations since the conclusion of WWII?
How do you sleep at night knowing what you did?
Where do babies come from?
Born Loser Mag: 1. I think there are a few goals for the US when it comes to foreign policy that have remained consistent since the end of WWII. Examining these goals closely reveals that they are based on cooperation with other nations, although "preserving the national security of the United States" implies possible competition and conflict.
2.What did I do??
3. Babies come from cabbage patches
Liam: What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
If pee is stored in the balls then why is my tummy so full of piss?
Born Loser Mag: 1.What do you mean? African or European swallow?
2. your tummy is backup storage
Gray:Should I get chinese for lunch? Getting kinda tired of tbell, and ngl that’s kinda scary to me
Born Loser Mag: As long as you don't get Taco Bell breakfast I think you'll be good.