WILLY Moon is somewhat of an enigma. The charismatic singer is sipping a double Tanqueray and tonic, rocking a slicked-back quiff and blinking in the East London sunshine. His patter is laconic and his wit is so dry it makes the Sahara look like the set of Waterworld.
Willy, who makes rock n’ roll music and then “shoves it through a meat grinder,” gives off an air of innate self-assurance. And it seems to be warranted. During our interview, he is stopped by an enthusiastic local complimenting his dusky blue suit. A few days after our interview, I find out that he’s been shot by former Dior Creative Director Hedi Slimane for Dazed & Confused.
Pretty good for an unsigned artist who is yet to play his first gig.
But despite making music that has old school references, Willy doesn’t want to travel back in time with his tunes. He was described by the Guardian as a 50s star remixed by Swizz Beats. “I love Bo Diddley and these fantastic characters, but I don’t want to make music that sounds like their music. I grew up reading science fiction novels, I’ve always been quite an adamant futurist, my whole inner world was always very forward looking.”
I don’t really like retro culture. I find it quite depressing,” he says. “I think Woody Allen summed it up pretty well in his latest film Midnight In Paris, which is all about trying to go back to times that were before because they were supposed to be better but each character found that they were really running from themselves, which is fine but I don’t really want to live in the past.”
And adds: “I like 2011. It’s fantastic.”
He has recorded a track, I Want To Be Your Man, which is accompanied by a sparse black n’ white video showing off his vintage-pop styling. After negotiating a record deal (there are a few on the table, apparently) he’ll be laying down an album’s worth of music.
“I’d really like to make a great pop record, but one that kind of comes from a different place.”
“I always like rock n’ roll music, I liked the energy and the feeling and the sense of youthful vigour. The reason why my music sounds like it does is because I didn’t want to make music that sounded like it was made 50, 60, 70 years ago. I guess I was just trying to bring that rock n’ roll energy to music for the r’n’b generation,” he explains.
Willy grew up in New Zealand, choosing to leave at 18 due to,”A general sense of disgust with my surroundings,” and moved to three different places in London before heading to the music capital of Europe – Berlin.
“The first place that I lived [in London] was with a bunch of drug addicts, the second place I lived was with a bunch of drug addicts and the third place I lived was with a bunch of drug addicts.
And what was the experience like for you? “I was spending most of my time trying not to take drugs,” he deadpans. “And failing miserably.”
Now settled in Spitalfields, East London. Willy says: “It’s far too expensive. You get a sense in East London that everybody is a lot better looking than they really are. You go out of East London and you start to realise that everybody isn’t skinny and well-dressed and it’s quite weird. It’s like a microcosm of people who take care of their appearance which is kind of strange.”
As a tourist guide he tends to leave something to be desired. “I spend a lot of time in my house, that’s a favourite place of mine,” he tells me straight-faced. “It’s a really good place to go and eat. And drink. I like the Boundary roof-top, because the tables are really long so you end up sitting about two metres away from everybody. I don’t really go out that much.”
“There’s one [vintage shop] that I like which is called Hunky Dory up the top of Brick Lane which is run by these two guys called Ian and Ian and they are fantastic.”
For someone so dry-witted, composed and considered during our interview, I quiz the singer on what we can expect from his live shows next year.
“Something very loud and something very obnoxious, I think in terms of performance, I think people transform into very different people from how they are in conversation when they are performing. Which sometimes can be a bad thing and sometimes can be a good thing. I like to put a lot of energy into everything really.
“I think that somebody like Freddie Mercury is a great example, or Michael Jackson, two great examples of people who are very considered and actually very shy people but they went on stage and transformed into someone else. I don’t know what means for me, but I would hope to be considered in the same terms.”
It’s time for our interview to wind up, so I try and get a better sense of what Willy is about, the man behind the mystery.
“Basically I garden, I drink and I make music,” he explains simply.
“That tends to be about it at the moment.”
For more information on Willy Moon, click here.