Hailing from Denver, Colorado, Moodlighting began back in 2020 when the couple of vocalist Sophie and guitarist Alex tried, and failed, to recruit a band via Craiglist. Originally planning to tap fully into the world of shoegaze, they found the frustration of lockdown inspired them to play something faster and catchier. As shows returned the duo became a quintet and have already shared stages with the likes of Ratboys and Wild Pinks, and back in April the band released their debut album, Boy Wonder.
Listening to Boy Wonder, it’s the sort of album that seems to exist in the fascinating cracks between genres, at times it is resplendent with Warpaint-like dream-pop, at others, like the anxious scramble of Gopher’s Rat, it goes into full-on shoegazing noise. A highlight throughout is Sophie’s way with a vocal melody, whether she’s fading into the fuzzy guitars of Drowning In It or adding a swaggering bounce to Friends Like These, she seems to always head somewhere slightly away from the expected. While there’s arguably a track here for every indie-kids personal taste, one particular stand-out is recent single Ahead Of Myself, which starts as a dreamy West Coast-bounce in the mould of Suzie True, then takes a slide towards jangling indie-pop, the always prominent bass becoming a particular moment of pure joy. Ramshackle in the best way possible, Moodlighting’s debut comes and goes in a flash, a delightful introduction to a band who sound like they’re making exactly the music they want to make and having a blast doing it: what’s not to love about that?
FTR: For those who don’t know who are Moodlighting?
We are a shoegaze/twee band from Denver, CO. We started as a pandemic bedroom project and became a real band in 2021 when we took the project live. Our inspirations range from Alvvays to Blushing to Sonic Youth, taking pieces from a lot of different genres. The band is made up of Sophie (vocals), Alex (guitar), Hawley (bass), Kyle (guitar), and Stephen (drums).
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
It was really fun! Another shoegaze band named Old Soul Dies Young was doing their tour kick-off show and was looking for new shoegaze bands in Denver. They found us through instagram and we were excited to hop on the bill, which was a mix of shoegaze and more experimental bands. I remember during our set, the kick drum pedal broke so we had to scramble to get another. I also don’t think you could hear the vocals at all since we had this terrible vocal pedal that almost completely cut the volume without us realizing. I’m sure the sound guy was pretty annoyed with us, but regardless it was a fun show and it was great to meet other bands doing similar music!
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
A lot of the members of our band have been involved in music since we were much younger, so it’s been a driving passion. I think there’s something particularly appealing about music since you get to present what you create in such an immersive way. Not only are you involving other people in that at shows, but you’re getting to do something you enjoy with people you really love to be around. I think we’re all involved in other art forms as well and really enjoy creating. We try to involve those other art forms in the band, such as making our own album and sticker art, as well as some aspects of our merch. Our bass player Hawley does stained glass so we’re hoping to incorporate that as well.
Music has also been an incredible way to meet people. We’ve made some really awesome new friends through doing this band and I think that really drives wanting to continue to make and play music. We used to practice at a rental space and during one of our first practices we kept hearing this band that was using really similar tones and chords to us and thinking “are these guys copying us??” Meanwhile, they were doing the exact same thing! We caught the other band, Mainland Break, on their way out and briefly introduced ourselves. Soon after, they offered us several shows and lots of invites to hang out and I’d say they’ve become our band’s “best friend band.” Finding community like that has really been what drives the project. If we hadn’t felt like we were making connections with other people through being in a band and making music, I don’t think we’d continue this project.
FTR: What can people expect from the Moodlighting live show?
We try to bring the energy! I think we’re definitely still figuring out what we like best in terms of playing live, but there’s a little more jangle, a little more noise and feedback, and with all projects, a little more roughness to it. We try to keep it upbeat, fast-paced, and really don’t play slow songs live. We also aren’t particularly keen on lots of stage banter/talking, so we try to move between songs quickly.
FTR: What’s next for Moodlighting?
We’re working on our next album, this time as a full band rather than just the two founding members. I’d say it leans into genres that we’ve dabbled in, but didn’t explore as fully, such as twee and post-punk. I think the second album will be more intentional and a bit more experimental as well. We want to try new methods of recording and some different ideas for song structures and sounds. It might end up being a little harder to translate to the live format, but I think that’s a fun challenge for us.
They Listen To…
Star Horse – Last Night’s Haze
Gouge Away – Ghost
DIIV – Bent (Roi’s Song)
Blushing – Tether
Alvvays – Not My Baby
Boy Wonder is out now. For more information on Moodlighting visit https://moodlightingdenver.wixsite.com/website.