Moon Boots entered the world in the mid-1980s via Cape Canaveral. After years of service as the preferred footwear of celebrity astronauts (notably Tom Hanks), Moon Boots came to life during a classified experiment aboard the International Space Station. Little is known of what actually transpired aboard the shuttle, but in short, Moon Boots became a sentient creature, equipped with reason, intuition, and groove.
Before long, he grew tired of working for the space-military-industrial complex and found solace in the soothing sounds of underground disco and R&B boogie records. He knew it was only of matter of time before he was hung up like so many boots before him. He abandoned the program and used his savings to build a music-production studio in an unnamed U.S. location, where he is currently working.
So you’re originally from Chicago, and then you went to Princeton for your bachelor’s degree? Tell us about your background: were you out and about in the local Chicago club scene or not so much?
I actually grew up in Brooklyn and Connecticut and moved to Chicago after school. Up until midway through college, I was heavily into playing keyboards – piano, synths and organ; in all styles – and hadn’t given production much of a thought. Princeton was a pretty stressful and intense place, and at a certain point I had to take a break from it. When I was getting ready to go back, something clicked and I just became obsessed with Disco and House and wanted to learn everything I could about DJing and producing.
As I was wrapping up school, I kept getting calls from my friend Jonathan (Rogue Vogue/Hey Champ) to move to Chicago and play in his band. Even though I’d barely been to Chicago at that point, I knew it would be the perfect place for me to start fresh and learn my craft.
A lot of the places I played the first few years I was in Chicago were more in the “indie dance” scene, mainly in Wicker Park. When I moved up to Wrigleyville with Kyle Woods (the artist formerly known as “Kid Color”), he introduced me to a lot of the community at SmartBar and Berlin and that was a real eye-opener for me. This was before Primary opened up, but when they did I would catch as many gigs there as I could too.
When did you start making music and who were your inspirations at the time?
I’ve been playing piano since I was five years old, but I started producing about ten years ago. Destroy Rock N Roll by Mylo had just come out, and I remember that being one of the first albums that people said “wow, this was all made on a laptop.” That was a really new thing at that time, and I thought, “well holy sh*t, I can try this out.” I was influenced by artists like Felix Da Housecat, definitely a lot of French House, and of course Discovery by Daft Punk. The Upper Cuts was this compilation of tracks by Alan Braxe and Fred Falke–it was very French House. I can’t even tell you how many times I listened to that. Paul Johnson, LCD Soundsystem, and PeteStrumentals by Pete Rock were all big influences.
What was the first record you bought?
Human League “Mirror Man” & Duran Duran “Rio” were both bought on the same day from Debenham’s in Wigan. I was quite late into actually buying my own records. Prior to that I was obsessed with my Dad’s Beatles LPs
Did you ever get moon boots as a present when you were a kid?
I had really corny snow shoes, but never had actual moon boots.
Do you own any currently?
Yeah, a couple. Different varieties. I call them show shoes, though some of them are more moon boot-inspired. But I don’t have any of the official brand Moon Boots. They’d be too hot to wear on stage.
All jokes about space footwear aside, how does your chosen name reflect in your sound and vice- versa?
I came across the name almost by accident. It came from a song I’d been listening to a lot at the time, and I think it reflects a lot in the sound because even if people have never heard of my music before, they just kind of smile and they’re like, “okay cool, I get it.” It’s something welcoming but also funky and otherworldly.
You said you heard the name in a song – what song was that?
Moon Boots by Orlando Riva Sound.
You played at some big festivals, including Coachella and Tomorrowland. Can you tell us a little bit about those experiences?
I played so many festivals this year. I’d never done anything like that before. I only did a handful the year before. It’s interesting because you get to reach a whole new audience. Most of the kids that go to big festivals are there for the headline acts, so it’s nice to be able to snag some of them and get them on your side. I don’t play a festival set per se; I play what I feel like playing, but of course I’m paying attention to what people are reacting to. I don’t water down my set to make it more festival-friendly, though. It’s nice to get good reactions from people and make a bunch of new fans who might not have had any clue who you were before. I try to go into the experience with as little ego as possible and just play the best set I can
How does playing at festivals differ from playing in smaller, more intimate venues? Do you prefer one over the other?
I generally prefer playing venues. For all the benefits I listed before, the drawback of festivals is that at the end of the day you realize people aren’t there to see you–they’re there for the experience. It’s nice to play in clubs for people who are there for a night out of dancing and not for all the other things that festivals have to offer.
As a member of French Express, how would you define its style and sound? Do you only put out music from the four of you or do you also take in outside artists?
The sound of French Express has been evolving over the past couple of years. We’ve done all kinds of combinations of House, R&B, Disco and Pop, but I think “protectors of the feel good” has always been the best way to describe what we do.
As for guest releases, they make up a really small portion of the output of the label, and that’s always up to Perseus, who started French Express and still runs everything on his own.