The Journey of Wolf & Moon
Part I : how we started our band and booked our first gig in New York
Being music lovers ourselves we always wanted more information on the bands we like. Some bands are very secluded and most of the time it feels like ‘what happens in the studio stays in the studio’. You must have had times where you were wondering how it would be like to make an album? What instruments are used, which secret ingredients are added, what is the magic that creates albums? In this series we take you along on our journey from the start of the band to the finishing of our first album. We would like to share our journey with you and as you will read; a journey is not something you do alone, we have had some amazing luck to be able to work with great producers, musicians, photographers and videographers along the way.
Before Wolf & Moon was born there was just a usual wish to travel to the USA and explore the world. But we couldn’t visit that country without playing some music, right? When we think of America we automatically think of music. So the question was; what are we playing? By that time we were both active in different music projects and we both felt that it would be nice to see what we could do together. How did we come up with the name ‘Wolf and Moon’? We were jamming on a boat through the canals of Utrecht (NL) when Stefany started singing the words ‘wolf and moon’ (imagine it with a nice melody) we both looked at each other and realised that this was going to be our name. And so Wolf & Moon was born. Now we needed songs. Through some friends (thank you Lennaert and Suz!) we were able to go to this farm where we would have the whole weekend to write some music. It is always exciting to write together with new people because it feels new and you don’t know what’s going to happen. Like kissing for the first time… but less sloppy. We knew the setup should be lightweight and that it would be just us two. So we started playing with a travel guitar, a toys’r’us keyboard on batteries and an ipad drumcomputer. We had loads of fun and wrote four or five songs that weekend. Not a bad start. Two of those songs ended up on the album we just made. Funny enough Stefany was able to get us booked in New York at the famous “The Bitter End”, an iconic music club where everybody from Bob Dylan to Lady Gaga started out their careers. And also at the Rockwood Music Hall. So we now knew that we needed a 45min set, which we wrote in just a few weekends.
For our website we needed some proper band photos. All we had until then were weird looking selfies. We somehow hooked up with an amazing talented photographer. Her name is Iris Dorine (@irisdorinephotography). The session was set in a beautiful house in Amsterdam which belonged to a friend of Iris. The results were stunning. Iris shot in black and white and very dynamic. It was perfect. We had our first press photo’s and we made some flyers and stickers to hand out during our performances because we didn’t have any records yet.
Before going on the actual trip we wanted to test the water in front of some friends and family. We created a cozy atmosphere in Stefany’s living room, made a big pot of soup, invited a bunch of loved ones and played them our freshly written songs. Of course the crowd went MAD for that (just kiddin’!). It was intimate and the people we played for were forgiving. Till to this day we still like to play in a more intimate setting every now and then because you have the chance to really connect with people. Allthough it is also quite intimidating to be so close together while your playing. Anyways…the soup was amazing, we had a great night and so we were set to go on our first travel as Wolf & Moon…
“This is my United States of America”
First stop: New York City. We just landed in NYC and ended up in a very sh*tty AirBnB in Brooklyn. People who know Stefany a little bit know that she is always ALL IN. So after we dragged her way-to-heavy-suitcase-with-a-broken-wheel through half of Brooklyn (we got out of the subway on the right street not knowing how long a street in NY can be) it was time for… some sleep? No of course not! Stefany had already found us an open mic to play. We are still laughing sometimes about that first night . It was set somewhere in a bar in Brooklyn. It was quite nice and the people were very serious. Somehow we decided to play one of our quieter songs which is called “Wake Up” (how ironic). We remember that during the song Stefany nearly fell asleep on stage, not kiddin’. Oh man, luckily there is no recording of that night. But hey, we got our first play time in the US and felt great about it. The following week were playing all over the city to sell some tickets for our booked gigs. It was Dennis’ first time in NY and we just loved the energy and the massive scale of everything. It was quite intense to play tourist during the day, walking around with our gear all day long and be the eager band at night.
We remember from those open mics how the skill level of the people playing was all over the place. You had to be on time, listen to everyones jokes and pay respect to every artist there: ‘if you want an audience, be an audience” is what we quickly learned. The most fascinating
‘if you want an audience, be an audience”
thing is that anything can happen in NEW YORK. One of those nights we were walking in a Brooklyn bar and there was this blues band playing. Some older looking band that looked like they’ve had some rough times were jamming before opening the stage and we didn’t think much of it. And then some guy walks up to us and says; that bass player used to play with James Brown for many years. It turned out to be Fred Thomas! One of the greatest bass players of all time! Later we found out the guitar player had played in a session with Jimi Hendrix. The saddest thing about it was that Fred Thomas might be “the most sampled bass players of all time” but it didn’t look like he had something to show for. The same night we had a conversation about ‘what are we chasing?’. It became clear that it should always be about the passion for making music and not about the money. Probably this is what every band in the world says but still it felt good to realise that one more time. The Bitter End was a great venue to play, there were a lot of people and we had time to play a full set. Some friends and family happened to be in New York at the same time and came to our show. After the set there was supposed to be this awesome jam-session. Stefany is always up for a improvisation jam-session . After seeing which way the wind blows she walked up to the band and asked if they wanted to jam. The session leader replies and says ‘what song do you want to sing?’. She answers ‘let’s improvise’. The leader of the jamsession kindly replies and says they don’t improvise, she has to know the chords and the melody. And then he adds ‘This is New York baby, the rest follows behind!’ with a serious look in his eyes.
‘This is New York baby, the rest follows behind!’
Stefany didn't put up with that answer and replied with that unexpected big mouth of her “Where I come from we write the music right on stage!” (thinking about good times at Pothuys in Utrecht NL). Luckily this awesome band member with a keytar around his neck walks up to see what the fuzz is about and after hearing that she wants to improvise he says ‘Oh yeah, I love to improvise’ and starts playing a tune. The band quickly follows and a great improv session follows. It is always nice to see people from different backgrounds, culture and age just come together and start playing music in an instant while creating something that is a one-off song that is pleasant to listen to. So after that improv the session leader walks up and says “That was great! Do you wanna do one more? Let’s play Superstitious by Stevie Wonder”. … … oh my … they still didn’t get it. This had us laughing until today. After the craziness of New York we were bound for San Fransisco.
“if you’re going to San Fransisco”
The west-coast, the city of the hippie culture, the great music scene, the free spirits. We were sure we were going to have a great time! First step on SF ground felt great. A relief from the stressed out NY mentality. But the longer we stayed we noticed the romantic hippie vibe was fading.
The problem is the nearby Tech Scene in Silicon Valley drove up the prices so much, it became way too expensive for artists and musicians to live there. Still, we were lucky to run into some amazing people and this great event called ‘The Circle’. It basically was a circular artwork drawn with chalk on the street where people would gather around. Beat poets, musicians, dancers, you could perform by standing up and walking in the circle, one after the other. It was an amazing experience. The lyrics portrait a lot of anger against the rich techies who were ruining this city and we could understand it completely. Being outsiders and foreigners from Europe proved to be to the liking of Americans. We were exotic and although they thought we were from the same country as the Vikings, we enjoyed it because they did pay attention.
To be continued…