Interview: Moonrise Nation

Chicago-based trio Moonrise Nation, made up of sisters Eva and Arden Bee and long-time friend Emma McCall, have their roots firmly dug into Americana and indie-driven pop. Their music is both heartfelt and honest, full of orchestral elements and vocal hooks. In 2014, they released their first EP, recorded under The Revolution’s Bobby Z. Their forthcoming debut album Glamour Child is a coming of age story, dealing with issues of loss, love and identity.


We talked to the band about their new album, their inspirations, and the transition from teenagers to adulthood in advance of their show on Saturday, May 20th with local opener Tabah. Tickets ($10 advance/$12 day of show) are still available here.


Q: You are on your way to releasing a new album, Glamour Child. What are you most looking forward to about getting to play these new songs?
A: We are excited to introduce our new material because we feel it has a much more full and mature sound than the tracks we released on our first EP. This catalog of music showcases each band member’s unique writing ability, which is made clear by the variety in genre influence and song structure. For example, the title track “Glamour Child,” penned by Arden, has pop feel and drive while Emma’s “Demo Day” is a bit more of an alternative rock jam. “Snow,” a song yet to be released that was written by Eva, is reminiscent of Appalachian folk music. Nonetheless, the collaborative nature of our production process has helped create a body of work that meshes together and defines our sound as a cohesive whole. The eclectic tones and fresh feel that results is something we are very proud of and can’t wait to share with everyone at The Cedar.


Q:  The cover art for Glamour Child was made by Eva and Arden’s grandmother. Can you speak a little about the decision to use her art?
A: When deciding on album work, we all agreed that we wanted something with more intrinsic emotional value and external artistic pull. Eva and Arden’s grandmother, or “Mormor” (Norwegian for grandmother), is a painter whom for most of her lifetime used only oil paint to create scenes, figures, faces and landscapes, many of which were eerily devoid of details. Over the last few years, in her mid 80s, Mormor began to cut out images from magazines and newspapers and incorporate them into her pieces. This image is one of the first bi-products of her collaging exploration, and hangs prominently in her living room. It has always grasped our attention and been a source of reflection whenever we came to visit her. The woman’s face is striking, yet you can’t help but wonder where she came from… what bigger picture and message she played a part in for the original advertisement. When we decided to title our album Glamour Child, a cheeky nod to pop culture icons that we don’t idolize, this painting popped into mind almost immediately. Just as our music has layers, the image causes one to wonder not only about the model being re-imagined, but about the artist that gave a new, and unique life to the shot. The image presented without the brand association frees it from temporary relevance; instead, it allows you to realize that this portrayal of the female has been recycled for decades. The only thing that changes is the model and the makeup. The message is the same. Similarly, the experiences we write about are themes that repeat themselves throughout history. We are simply choosing to present them in a different way, making it our own.


Cover art for “Glamour Child” 


Q: You’ve cited some of your inspirations as the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright and Ernest Hemingway. How do their legacies influence your music?
A: Both Wright and Hemingway lived in Oak Park, IL which is our hometown. We were immersed in their works as we grew up and discovered our own artistic voices. Hemingway’s writings like The Snows of Kilimanjaro, A Farewell to Arms and The Sun Also Rises captivated us in high school literature class, and we spent a large portion of our childhood exploring the secret staircases and crawl spaces in one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes on Forest Avenue (our best friend lived there). In some ways their work was so accessible we took it for granted, but when we got older we started to see the privilege in growing up in that type of environment. Wright’s work is simple in appearance but if you look closer you see a romantic ornateness. He took geometric styles and crafted them to blend into a natural backdrop. In a lot of ways our music feels similar. We are trying our best to make music that does not detract from the lyrics/content but rather builds around it.


Q: You all grew up together; Eva and Arden are sisters and Emma is a lifelong friend. What was the catalyst to start making music together?

A: Arden and Eva grew up in a musical household, singing in choir and learning classical skills on keys and strings. Our mom and dad were both jazz musicians and imparted an eclectic mix of musical influences on us. Emma grew up in a musical-loving household, pushing herself to learn drums and guitar because of her dad’s adoration for artists like Fleetwood Mac and Johnny Cash. Eva and Emma were in the same class and started casually playing covers together at local coffee shops around Oak Park. One day when they were practicing at the Baldinger’s, Arden wanted to hang out and added her big voice to harmonies on a song. Things clicked. It wasn’t long before everyone began to bring songs they’d written to the table for us to rework as a group. We thought we may as well upload some of our material to SoundCloud. Everything started to fall together after that.


Q: What’s been inspiring you lately?

A: Lately it’s been trying to make sense of our status as millennial women living in a very confused country. Emma has been writing a lot of songs to her mother. Women need praise now more than ever, and focusing on her has been very powerful. Our lives look very different than the lives of women from our mother’s generation, and communicating through those boundaries and analyzing those intangible things which make up the mother-daughter bond has been extremely eye opening.


As for outside influences, we’ve been listening to a lot of Chicago female R&B/hip-hop artists like Noname and Ravyn Lenae, both powerful lyricists and musicians. Noname’s lyrics are very poetic and candid, and the honest portrayal of her world paints an incredibly vivid picture. You learn from her music, rather than simply enjoy it.


Much of “Glamour Child” is centered around our experiences and transition from teenagers to adulthood. Now, we feel like there is so much to be discussed regarding politics and American society as a whole that we are pushing to use this musical platform as a way of opening up different discussions versus ignoring them or entirely shutting them down. It’s highly likely that our writing will continue to morph and shift as we enter this new era and time in our lives.