INTERVIEW: HEYMOONSHAKER (UNITED KINGDOM)
Today, Riley comes to us with her wonderful interview of beatbox blues sensation, Heymoonshaker. Riley Beggin (her lovely website) is a Minneapolis-based writer with a penchant for great music and Dairy Queen Crunch Cones. She likes to learn about social justice, travel, and pepper conversations with bad puns. Welcome Riley!
Pioneers, inventors, musical chemists: call them what you will, but the men of Heymoonshaker are pushing boundaries. On the great frontier of the music industry, Andy Balcon and Dave Crowe are truly reimagining the blues, blending urban and rural traditions into a different beast all together. They’re calling it the beatbox blues, and with a debut LP already under their belt, the British-born boys are ready to up their ante. Vocalist and guitarist Andy Balcon took time before heading out on a European tour to speak with me about life on the musical frontier.
The band’s odyssey began in 2009 on the streets of New Zealand. Balcon stumbled upon Crowe while traveling throughout the country, and Crowe showed him the ways of street performing. From there, they each made their way to Australia, and for Crowe, to the promise of success in Melbourne. “Crowe told me all these stories about how he made money and had this amazing romantic lifestyle while living in Melbourne,” Balcon said. “So, I arrived in Melbourne with no amplifier, tried busking in this massive city, and it ended up kind of like a shot in the foot.”
The rest of Heymoonshaker’s story sounds more and more like an ancient Greek epic. Balcon was influenced by true characters before reconnecting with Crowe: “I was going out with this 47-year-old Burmese Buddhist woman who was a librarian at the local high school,” Balcon said, “And she got me into the law of attraction.”
Focusing on his desire to make music, Balcon went from Australia to France and finally to Sweden, where he reconnected with Crowe. After nearly nine months of busking, they were asked to open a show in London, and took the opportunity to record the Brick Lane Sessions.
“From that, we started getting shitloads of hits,” Balcon said. “We decided then, ‘let’s pursue this,’ so we saved up our busking money. I think we paid for the recording of our first album with [coins].”
Armed with a small fan-base in France, a brand new manager and a demo tape, Balcon and Crowe took the dive. “We were living our lives in Sweden, and we both had girlfriends,” Balcon said. “But we just left everything. We had a guitar and two backpacks, and we’ve been couch surfing ever since. It’s taken us into other universes.”
Anyone who has seen Balcon and Crowe perform would testify that their strengths lie in their live performance. Their sound is electrifying and gritty, and their charisma pushes their music throughout any-sized room. They’ve channeled this strength into the recording of their second album, which listeners can look forward to being cleaner, more lyrically cohesive and more “f**kin’ bangin’” than their previous work.
They’ve even capitalized on the range of Crowe’s percussive skills by innovating their recording methods. “It’s all hyperventilation, so we gave him a series of microphones surrounding different points on his neck,” Balcon said. “It really captures what he’s doing, and gave us the chance to play around with the panning of the drums as if it’s an actual kit—you hear the toms over here and the snare over there.”
With a European tour ahead and a sophomore album in hand, Heymoonshaker is looking to take things to the next level—one that they’re struggling to reach while recording independently. “It’d be kind of crazy if we just got together and then we signed, because this journey these past two years have really been like school,” Balcon said. “We’re buskers, we’re performers, but we weren’t really musicians before. The time signatures and the breaks and the way that Crowe and I produce live music is already there, so it was just a matter of figuring out our sound. We’ve done that, and now we’re looking to connect with record labels to help push.”
Heymoonshaker is still in the fledgling stages of their journey, but it’s certainly showing some promise: Watch out Odysseus.