Set the Controls for the Heart of the Moon Jellies: Interview with a Philadelphia psychedelic band

Phindie’s recent review of a concert by Philadelphia psychedelic band The Moon Jellies attracted many readers, so we decided to follow it up by interviewing the bandmembers. Players Eoin Murphy, Derek Sattazahn, Kevin Moran, and Kevin Segal talk about their influences and upcoming plans.

The Moon Jellies (clockwise from top left): Eoin Murphy, Derek Sattazahn, Kevin Moran, Kevin Segal.
The Moon Jellies (clockwise from top left): Eoin Murphy, Derek Sattazahn, Kevin Moran, Kevin Segal.

Phindie: What influences you to start playing music?

Derek Sattazahn: I’ve been playing since I was born. My dad was a Zeppelin head. So I kind of just took after the old man.

Kevin Segal: I used to listen to music as a kid since my parents listened to it. Then my mom came home with this crappy electric organ that I just taught myself how to play. Then I was like, “Oh this is cool!” Then when I got older, no one really played bass so I was like, “I’ll do it!” And now I’m a bassist for MOON JELLIES.

Kevin Moran: I’ve always wanted to play guitar and sing, and that’s the answer. I played violin, and guitar was way cooler.

Eoin Murphy: I actually started with drums and then somehow made my way to guitar and that was kinda about it.

Phindie: Who are your musical influences and why?

Eoin: I think the four of us have pretty different musical influences which plays into why we sound the way we do.

Phindie: Top three right now are?

Eoin: Hiatus Kaiyote, Tame Impala, and Stevie Wonder

Kevin M.: Sly and the Family Stone, J Dilla, and Flying Lotus

Kevin S.: For me it’s always The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin

Derek: I’m gonna say 30 Seconds to Mars, Zeppelin as well, and Max Roach

Phindie: How long has Moon Jellies been together?

Eoin: The idea for it started in high school. Me and Kev [Kevin Moran] kinda had the idea for the band. So I guess the idea is a few years old, as far as a full group I would say about a year. I had been playing in Kev’s band for awhile with our friend Issac. We had a band for a little bit and just played friends’ houses and stuff, so we decided once we got to school we were going to do this.

Phindie: Ideally, how do you want a fan to hear your music?

Kevin S.: I know personally for this project, I kind of just want people to feel it more than they listen to it, you know what I mean? I think our music is more vibey than anything else. I really don’t want people to dissect it, they should just feel it.

Kevin M.: The goal would be to make something complicated, because feelings are complicated. So if you want people to feel something, you have to make something musically complex.

Eoin: I think for me, being in music school you listen to music with an academic mindset trying to dissect it and formulate it. Then you also just listen to music to listen to music. I think the stuff we make is more music to enjoy. Not that it’s easy or dumbed down, but I think we’re making music that’s listenable but which still has musicianship people can respect.

Derek: Eoin basically covered it.

Phindie: How did you think your show at the Mothership went?

Eoin: The vibe was interesting when we got there. Jesse and Jim and all those guys in the Mothership are good friends of mine. But it was cool, at least for me a lot of the songs we had been practicing and practicing for a year had gotten really stagnant to us. So watching people vibe out to those songs really brought them to life. I’ve heard instructors say it all the time, once you get bored with your songs, that’s when you know you know them. But I think it was cool to see people thoroughly enjoy it. It was also cool to talk to people after. I had people come up after who had been avid listeners of our SoundCloud page for months and just never gotten to see us live. So it was cool to find out we had fans

Kevin S.: And the great thing about this band is that even though we have the songs down and there is obviously structure to them, I feel like we are a highly improvisational group. So even if we play one show we could play another show with the exact same setlist and it’s gonna be a completely different show.

Derek: I like how we’re just constantly growing. We have an idea of what we want our sound to be and everything and we have a set image for ourselves but we are still growing in that. The beauty of that is when you go on our SoundCloud you have this certain idea of this one song like Decisions for example it will sound a certain way. But depending on the vibe of our live set and the feeling that night, we can project that song a totally different way. It’s still the same exact song, just the ambience behind it will be varied.

Kevin S.: During the Mothership show  we made some mistakes, but the four of us are just so good about playing together and following each other that it kind of just became a new song in a way.

Phindie: What are your feelings on the state of the Philly underground music scene?

Eoin: I love the sense of community. Honestly, a lot of our shows and some summer plans came from word of mouth. I think its a very balanced and friendly community with no cutthroat competition. Everyone is just really chill and eager to hear new music. It also draws a diverse crowd, you have people going for different artists, so it provides a whole melting pot of different genres.

Derek: Going off of what Eoin said, I think our music is bringing back some of the essential properties of what music is supposed to do which is to make people dance and to have a good time. First of all, the article written about us mentioned that we do have properties of funk to us and I think Philly itself at least has a lot of funk happening in the city. We aren’t mainly funk, but I feel that we have a lot of those properties to us. At the end of the day, its just important the people groove, dance, and have a good time. I think we are doing a really good job of bringing that out of people.

Kevin S.: The benefit the DIY scene has over any other scene is that  it’s a lot more welcoming of different genres in a way that says, “Hey we’re throwing a show this weekend and if you come you’re going to find something that you like here.” I think people are attending the shows for the sake of just enjoying live music.

Kevin M.: And its fun to play because people are actually there to listen to music as opposed to going to a party.

Phindie: How has your music evolved?

Kevin M.: It’s become more complex. Funk is complex, Jazz is complex, and that’s what I want to sound like. We have the potential, we have a jazz guitarist and we are going to become more complex. We’re going to get more dreamy, dreamy means complex.

Eoin: I think another thing going off of that is that when this project started, it was mainly me and Kevin [Moran] writing full songs and giving it to Kevin [Segal] and Derek and saying here’s how we’re gonna play it. I think we’ve steered away from that. Now we’ll bring in bare structures of songs and let the four of us interpret it in a way that gets the best quality out of it. It’s definitely become more of a group effort in terms of writing.

Kevin S.: The less structure someone comes in with, the more room it leaves for creativity. I think that allows us to play the way we typically play and when someone hears it, they can appreciate all of our influences that much more.

Phindie: What are your summer plans?

Eoin: We are playing Noblefest which is in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Someone at the Mothership show filmed us and told someone who runs the festival. We have that slotted for August 20th. Other than that, we are mainly trying to hit as many house shows at as many colleges as we can. We have a lot of friends who can hook us up with house shows and we are trying to tour down to the festival. Check out our Facebook page for any announcements.


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