Valentine’s Day is almost upon us, and while some lovers quarrel over dinner reservations or swoon over flowers and chocolates, and some singles flip through Tinder, desperately seeking a partner in crime for a night – Maybe the Moon’s Karmen Kimball and Alex Lasner make sweet music together, while ignoring the hype of consumer romanticism.
Throughout musical history there has been musician couples that have defied the pressure of business and romance, art and exploitation and fame and fortune. Some have lasted (Jay Z and Beyoncé- despite awkward elevator altercations), some wilted to drugs and alcohol (Sid and Nancy, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love) and some made beautiful music together before unfortunately fizzling out, leaving their listeners heartbroken and doubtful of true love altogether (Gavin Rosdale and Gwen Stefani, Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks).
Maybe the Moon, the electronic R&B duo from Marin, don’t adhere to the pressures of being romantically and musically involved with each other. Their music sweats a sexiness that’s organic and somewhat cryptic, like they’re holding a secret from the rest of the world. Their name alone, Maybe the Moon, carries a type of rhetoric that creates an insatiable wonderment that maybe, just maybe, things aren’t always so black and white. Could their love last to the moon and back? Only time will tell, but in the meantime these two have a contingent bond that’s worth peeking in on, even if they’re only keeping the door open a crack for the world to observe.
This couple come from completely different musical backgrounds. Alex Lasner grew up playing guitar vehemently, becoming an aficionado while touring around the world in various bands. Karman Kimbell, the soft spoken singer with a hypnotic voice that might make Sade blush, only sang for fun throughout her life and never predicted that one day she would drop out of school to pursue her natural born talent full time. Yet there’s a common bond, as Maybe the Moon explores their vulnerabilities into an unknown musical galaxy, where Lasner putting down the guitar for synthesizers and keyboards, and Kimbell takes on the persona of an eminent diva.
We caught up with the two to gossip about how they met, their most awkward Valentine’s day together and a certain record from the 80’s that fatefully brought them together.
What’s your musical background?
Karman: I’m fairly new to music. This is my first band and project. I just sang for fun and taught myself when I was little. I took a few choir classes. It was fun when I was young, but it wasn’t really my thing. I never thought I’d be pursuing it as my profession.
Alex: I heard her sing on our first date. She lived in Bolinas at the time, a small town about an hour from San Francisco. I went to meet her at this bar called Smiley’s – the one bar in town. We met for a drink and it turned out it was this open mic night. I had met her at a party the week before and just went out there to meet her for a beer but we started talking about what songs we both knew and could perform. The only one that we could pull out of nowhere was Fleetwood Mac’s, “Rhiannon.” We completely winged it and there was an instant musical connection.
It felt like we’d been playing together for years. That feeling was the impotence for pursing music together. We’ve been doing it every since.
So did you pursue the romantic or the musical connection first, or did things kind of evolve organically?
K: We were dating first before we started writing music and making it a career goal. I was going to school and a few months in I decided to stop to focus on music. That was difficult. My family was upset at first because my whole life I just sang for fun. They were afraid I was just gonna become this blues singer, fucking off and playing at bars.
A: We had such a great connection that night, too. Not just musically. The romantic thing was the bigger thing, of course. As we were doing that we were both two complete music nerds and both music obsessive, so it was the next logical step. I’ve been pursing music since I was 11 or 12, been in tons of bands, put out records and toured – it was interesting for me because it’s very second nature. For Karman, it was super overwhelming for someone who hadn’t done that.
What have been some of the most difficult things to adjust to?
K: Late hours in the studio, unpredictable recording hours, and staying up until 6 am. Besides that, I enjoy it. It does take a lot of work. I don’t ever really focus on one goal so this is definitely a huge change and opportunity for growth.
How’s the transition been from being a full time guitarist to playing in a mostly electronic project?
A: The guitar in this project up to this point has been used as at textural thing. It’s not the main focus in any song. It’s been interesting because I spent my whole life practicing 3-5 hours a day playing scales, practicing with a metronome and making that my focus in life. To be honest, I got really bored with it. I got into this pattern where I tried to break out of by tuning my guitars all these different ways, and after a bit I realized I knew too much about the instrument and kept falling in these patterns to unlearn what I’ve learned by doing these alternate tunings.
I felt like trying to compose on the piano and keyboard, an instrument I knew nothing about. I would chip away and wouldn’t let myself get up until I came up with something, even if it was terrible. I kept going with that and eventually liked what I was making. That was the start of all of these songs. It’s opened up a huge a world and I feel like a totally different musical version of myself.
Who are some of your musical inspirations?
K: Joni Mitchel and Kate Bush. I absolutely love them, especially Joni Mitchell. My whole life I’ve loved everything about her.
A: Musically, some of ours are Brian Eno, Little Dragon…D’Angelo is a big one for us. Blonde Redhead is one of our favorite bands. We love 80’s concepts like Talk Talk, Peter Gabriel, and Bowie, of course. Roxy Music was literally the way that we even started [our first] conversation.
A: We met at this party. It was December 21st 2012 and was the day the Mayan calendar predicted the world was going to end. It was this girl’s birthday party, but the more superstitions people had that in mind…
K: like Alex…
A: Haha. I saw Karmen at the party and was totally taken, she was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. Later that night, I didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t think I’d have the opportunity to talk to her. We were outside and I was talking to a friend about Roxy Music and about the album covers and all this stuff. Karman was talking to someone else and overheard the conversation and jumped in and was like ‘that’s one of my favorite bands!’
K: Avalon was one of my favorite records. It was all that I was listening to that month and I couldn’t believe I heard someone talking about it.
A: That record is from the early 80’s and I know maybe a handful of people that ever hard of it. It was just this instant connection.
Sound pretty serendipitous!
A: We’re like, we’ve got to get that guy to marry us one day.
Who knows, maybe he’s unemployed these days…So any Valentine’s Day plans that you can reveal?
K: We don’t like to go to restaurants on Valentine’s Day because they have prix fixe menus and the prices are outrageous. We like to just go out a few days before or stay home and cook a meal together.
A: We’ve had some bad experiences. Our first Valentine’s Day we went to this restaurant that should have been the most romantic thing ever. They overbooked the restaurant so we were shoulder to shoulder with a hundred other people – while trying to have an intimate conversation about our first Valentine’s Day, and I’m getting bumped by someone trying to eat their food with their fork.
K: I feel like single people celebrate it more. It was more of an event than any other relationship I’ve been in.
I think they call it “Single’s Awareness Day.” So which musician couples have influenced you the most?
A: For us again, going back to that first date with Fleetwood Mac, Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks was one we really dug. Funny enough our favorite music from them came from their post breakup days. We really dug Buckingham-Nix, which was what they were doing before Fleetwood Mac. It’s beautiful. Blonde Redhead, the lead singer is with one of the brothers, the guitarist. I thought that was cool because they don’t really exploit that. I felt like there was a chemistry when I saw them live, so I looked it up and it made sense. The music seems to be so complementary to each other. Those are two rock n roll couples that I love. I was a sucker for Graham Nash and Joni Mitchell, too. I always loved reading about them fighting over the piano in the morning.
Ultimately, some couple’s break up, and some stay together. They just happened to be in the spotlight.
A: It’s the same as being in an office setting. Most people that know we’re a couple are like ‘oh man, you gotta be kidding.’ But at the end of the day, if it’s not [music] it’s something else.
It’s just a testament to the working dynamic and the support you’re able to give each other with anything you take on as a couple. Coming from someone being in a band forever, it’s so fulfilling when I’m in the studio and Karman does an amazing vocal track and I’m just really loving and digging it from someone I’m so in love with. It’s like this next level feeling.
What’s in store for you in 2016?
We’re going back into the studio this weekend to finish another track, and then we’re gonna mix the EP and hopefully have that out. Then we have a bunch of other songs we’ve been working on. We’re going back into the studio after about a month and then we’re gonna build a live band. It should be a busy year for us.