Moon Duo's Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada play at the nexus of he/she psychedelic doom and dance. Ripley's guitar is a buzzing, gyratory spiral that heads out on possessed trajectories. Yamada's synths are go-go-drone palpitations. Together, with their bubbleglum™ vocals, the San Francisco/Portland duo billow out an oxidized and ritual trance-party cynosure. To write their most recent album, Circles, Yamada and Ripley secluded themselves within the bright glare of a house above the clouds in the Rocky Mountains. Six months later, they moved into an apartment above Lucky Cat Recordings on Mississippi Street in San Francisco to work with Phil Manley (Trans Am, Les Savy Fav, Life Coach). The finishing touches were mixed and prodded at Kaiku Studios in Berlin. Moon Duo know and open portals; their sounds of psychedelia have eyes if you let them. A sewer drain in the street becomes a window to the Mojave. The full moon is a medallion hanging off the necklace of a celestial hippie Orion. In the eye of their koi, you can see and hear the inner workings of outer space. Johnson spoke. He was extremely calm.
There's an element of drone that you hit on and do so well. I wanted to get your thoughts on the drone side to your music. I'm probably picking up on Sanae's elongated keyboard parts. Where does it come from?
I'm big into La Monte Young's Theatre of Eternal Music crew, but especially Angus MacLise and Terry Riley. Angus is my favorite because of the bongos and the general hippie spirit of his music—it doesn't suffer from the overly intellectual vibe on a lot of the minimalist classical stuff. John Cale's early experiments as well, which of course all seeped into the early Velvet Underground sound. Later "rock" groups like Pärson Sound and Träd Gräs och Stenar have been a big inspiration.