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Careless Hearts, Mumlers members: Wax Moon

In Music
BETTER TOGETHER: After the dissolution of their previous bands, Paul Kimball and John Blatchford found potency in a stripped-down sound.

BETTER TOGETHER: After the dissolution of their previous bands, Paul Kimball and John Blatchford found potency in a stripped-down sound.

For singer-songwriters Paul Kimball and John Blatchford—the voices behind indie-folk group Wax Moon—making music together has always been about capturing the moment. From their tendency to play smaller, more intimate shows to their desire to explore the experiential qualities of acoustic sound, their dedication to the craft of live performance is evident in the way they harmonize with each other and their audience.

“We really built Wax Moon around the idea of harmonies and vocals once we discovered that we have a natural blend between our voices,” explains Kimball, the group’s primary songwriter. “Both our sounds have a timbre together that is pleasing, and we discovered that organically and thought, ‘Wow, that’s a good place to start. Not everybody has that.’”

Indeed, not all musicians have as deep roots in the Bay Area’s indie rock scene as Kimball and Blatchford, whose former involvement with local acts like Careless Hearts and The Mumlers  placed them in the same musical circles. It wasn’t until their individual musical ventures fizzled out that they joined together as a duo, taking on a predominantly acoustic sound from their previous “bar rock” acts. With Kimball falling into the songwriting role and Blatchford focusing on harmonies and melodies, the group recorded its first EP, Ready or Not, last winter and just released a second EP, titled Cool Blue Heat, this month.

“I’d say our new EP is more of a companion than a departure from the last record,” Blatchford says. “We didn’t try to separate the ideas behind the songs; they’ve just been flowing. Instead, we’re trying to capture them as they come.”

Wax Moon is currently gearing up for a house show and record release party in Saratoga, further speaking to their intimate and up-close musical stylings. Playing for a crowd of close friends and fans, Wax Moon will perform songs from their newest release like “Dreams Run Dry,” a somber and poignant number with hints of Americana and folk, and “My Future Crime,” which combines a bluesy guitar rhythm with the soothing confluence of Kimball and Blatchford’s vocals. The band’s preferred performance spaces—house shows, cafes, and even galleries—allow the pair to experiment with sound and feed off of the audience’s vibe.

“In terms of performing, we’re continuing to experiment, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and we may ultimately decide that the concept of a stripped-down live performance feels right for us, or we might expand things and go in a different direction,” Kimball says. “But right now, we are still supporting the idea that we started out with, which is that live performances are meant to be momentary conjurings of what we put down in recording.”

Pushing each other’s creative limits has also been central to Wax Moon’s success. Both bandmates had to expand into roles they previously never played—becoming equal halves of a cohesive sound. For Blatchford, who had never sung lead in a band before, many of the conceptual ideas about performing front and center had to be worked out individually, from choosing certain textures to incorporate into the music to simplifying chord progressions and harmonies.

“Now that I’ve decided what kinds of sounds fit the band, I’m able to focus on them deeply,” he says. “I hope to expand my musicianship and what I’ve already learned further.”

Though they’ve only played together for a little over a year, Blatchford and Kimball’s vision for their soundand each other’s musicianshipis clear. Their ability to creatively push each other’s musical limits has expanded their audience to include types of people they never connected with before, which feels both exciting and refreshing for a duo that’s only just begun their musical journey together.

“It’s been really nice seeing the way people respond to our music, which is very emotionally open and accessible in a way that a lot of the music I’ve played before hasn’t been,” Kimball says. “I really want to keep pushing that, seeing if we can bring more people into the tent of, not just our own stuff, but of appreciating live music in general. I feel like we can help build an audience, not just for ourselves, but for live music as a whole, because we’re looking at things in a different way.”

Wax Moon
Nov 26, 7pm, $10
Visit Wax Moon’s Facebook page for event info.

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