The Holydrug Couple - How To Moonlust

The Holydrug Couple might just be the most accessible band on the cult-favorite, Sacred Bones label, and their recently released album, Moonlust, is their most powerful one to date. Further down this page, (front man) Ives, tells us the inspiration behind the record, giving us insight as to how it can so easily pull back our skin and calm our nerves.

Psychedelic music can alter the state of our minds in numerous ways. It can trip us out and not make sense. It can get us psyched in a moment of pure noise, or it can cause us to look inward. Moonlust, The Holydrug Couple's third album, does cause inward reflection, but more than looking inward, it causes me to not think anything at all. Moonlust is one of the most soothing psychedelic records I've ever heard. It's kind of numbing in a sense, but not to where you don't feel anything. It's numbing to the point of not feeling anything bad.

The album marks a change in sonic abilities for the Chilean duo, Ives and Manu, as it accomplishes the nearly-perfect synthesized compositions they've been hinting at with songs like "Quetzal", released last year.

"Light Or Night" has the sweetest hook on Moonlust and causes me to feel lifted above the mediocre things in life whenever I hear it. I previously assumed its chorus simply said, "Goodbye world" but as this interview reveals, it's something different. Nonetheless, I can vividly recall an experience I had listening to this song at a beach house. It was nighttime and the balcony doors were open, allowing the crash of the ocean, and it's breeze, to softly echo into my room. As I kicked backed and uttered the words, "Goodbye world," I felt the greatest sense of ease.

Every time I hear that song, and sing those words, I get a euphoric feeling. Several of Moonlust's songs instantly calm my nerves and suck me into a mental state of bliss surrounded by shades of blue.

All of their previous work has led up to this album, an album that we believe is one of the year's best psych records. Ives kindly shared with us the inspiration behind Moonlust, and how its creation began as early as his childhood.

MP: So where are you guys as you write this? What’s a day in the life of Holydrug Couple like? 

Ives: Haa, I don’t know, I’ll talk for myself.  Very regular I think. Woke up slowly, open the curtains, make coffee and breakfast with honey or avocado. Do whatever I have to do, go out of the house by bike somewhere. If not, stay all day in bed playing keyboards or guitar, record something. And in the night go out and eat something with friends or go to a party or something.

MP: How did you first get in contact with and signed to Sacred Bones records? How do you feel about being associated with them?

Ives: Through myspace, like 6 years ago. Very cool, they’re very nice people. I love them.

MP: What musicians are you guys inspired by and how did you get into making psychedelic music?

Ives: I don’t know. A lot. Pop music in general. When I was a kid I loved Nirvana. Different aspects of different artists. Life of the musicians in general. I love to read biographies of whatever musician or artist. Psychedelic it’s just a circumstance, a tag I think. I don’t know.

MP: I’ve read that Moonlust was largely inspired by the music of Air. If so, what did you hope to add to their sound?

Ives: It wasn’t directly inspired by AIR. I used to listen a lot the Virgin Suicides soundtrack when it came out. I was in high school, I used to listen to it every night before go to sleep. I think it created a mood or imaginary, or some aspect of it in myself that I wanted to replicate in Moonlust.

The Virgin Suicides is a score by French electronic music duo Air for the film of the same name by Sofia Coppola. The album was released in February 2000. There was a separate soundtrack released, which included music from Heart, Gilbert O'Sullivan and Todd Rundgren.

MP: What (else) inspired the heavy use of synthesizers for Moonlust? What is Moonlust about?

Ives: I think Moonlust it’s a more definitive album that I wanted to do. Since, I don’t know, 15 years ago. It’s for my teenager me. Melancholic, bucolic, romantic. It’s about about beauty, sensuality, darkness, romanticism. Cold and blurry and wide. It’s better to listen to it entire from the beginning to the end. You’ll understand better. 

I used more synths because I’ve always loved synths! Guitar it’s an instrument you play because it’s very common, it’s a common thing in rock, it’s like something you don’t think too much about it when you start to make music. But I was getting bored a bit of making songs in a guitar, so I started to look more about in other instruments and keyboards and synths got my attention. There’s something attractive in playing an instrument that you don’t control too much, or not at all. I started with keys like 4 years ago and I didn’t know anything about it. It has been a very fun process. 

MP: What was it like recording Moonlust? How did you stay focused on what you wanted it to feel like/sound like?

Ives: I had a lot of demos, like 30 or 40 songs, I rented a room and put all my things there. It was winter, so I remember to record most of the stuff when it was cloudy and cold. I had clear what I wanted. The tempos, the chord progressions, the drum sounds,  the production in general. I had like 6 of the songs that are on Moonlust so I started to record them again, plus more songs that started to come up in the way. I had in the wall a lot of papers with track lists and references.  

MP: Do you see yourself working more with synthesizers for your future albums?

Ives: Mmm I don’t know, It’s probably. But I’ll try to comeback to the guitar and making songs again with it. Reinvent it for myself. I’d like to use more sample machines or stuff. Unknown stuff again. 

MP:  “Light or Night” is my favorite song from the album. It’s really takes me somewhere in the clouds when I listen to it, especially the line just before the chorus that, I think, says, “Goodbye world”. Did anything specifically inspire this song?

Ives: Goodbye world??? It don’t say that but I love it! Maybe I’ll start to sing that instead of ‘word by word’ Hahaha. It’s about having sex and feeling love or not.

MP: I think Moonlust is your most beautiful album to date and parts of it feel like they could easily be the soundtrack to a nice sci-fi movie or neo-noir flick. Are you guys interested in creating scores for film? If so, what kind of film would you like to score?

Ives: Thank you! I’d love to make scores for film, really. I found it very complex, you have to be very sensitive, I’ll be good at it. I have a really good connection between visuals and sound. I make music for the images that come to my mind, that’s the first thing for me. And then I try on the keyboard or the guitar what fits better to it. Making music for movies it’s like the same, but the images come from somewhere else. Double fun. 

You can stream Moonlust here and purchase it here