“I’m inspired by queer pleasure, by the moments of ecstatic disorientation which can sometimes come from being outside a norm, upside-down, uncanny.”
Falling into the music of Arthur Moon is like falling in love with human nature. Intentionally deviating from the traditional structures and sounds of pop music, Arthur Moon projects a sense of hyperreality into their tracks by pushing the listener away from what is standard or comfortable and into an unexpected landscape. Finding balance in disorientation, Arthur Moon challenges the listener’s perspective while deriving inspiration from queer pleasure.
For someone who might not be familiar with the terms, can you describe what it means to be an avant-pop artists making ‘incorrect music?’ How are you bending and manipulating traditional pop into your distinct style?
“Incorrect music” is a term I came up with to describe a practice of making music that doesn’t align with what we’re taught is the “right” or “correct” way of doing things. Sometimes that means intentionally singing the “wrong” notes in harmony, or layering two time signatures over each other in a way that might feel uncomfortable to a pop listener accustomed to hearing their music with that steady four-to-the-floor kick drum. It’s about shifting perspectives and finding the spaces where discomfort can be this really magical, pleasurable thing. Like falling in love.
Where do you draw inspiration for the music that you write? What informs your lyrics?
I’m inspired by queer pleasure, by the moments of ecstatic disorientation which can sometimes come from being outside a norm, upside-down, uncanny.
I often make cut-up poems collaged together from magazine articles and then use them as inspiration for the lyrical material. It’s like playing Exquisite Corpse with myself.
Your recent music video for the song “Wait A Minute” compiles archival footage of NY Pride Parades and Dyke Marches, alongside images of consumerism and industrialization. Where did the idea for this come from and how did you select the footage that ended up in the video?
I wanted to be more explicit with the subject matter of the song. Writing it, I’d always imagined it accompanied by moving image—a high-budget music video following a young queer person walking around New York City at sunrise, still awake after a night out. The idea was that there would be these hallucinatory apparitions popping up and interacting with the protagonist in certain locations, representing the city’s histories of violence and resistance (and particularly queer ones). But when I was getting ready to finally make the video, I realized that a. my budget was not high, but rather it would have to be free-99, and b. there was this wealth of old open source video I could use to say something far more interesting, much like my cut-up poem technique. So instead I ended up finding some archival footage of New York Pride Parades and Dyke Marches which I edited together myself. In the end, the whole video became the hallucinatory apparition.
What does it mean to you to be queering pop music?
Oh, you’ll have to ask Paper Mag what they meant by that headline! I think maybe they were referring to what I said in an interview about always wanting to make music that disorients, and how that feels to me like an inherently queer practice.
What does the word queer mean to you?
To me, disorientation. And applying what I’m always learning from that disorientation—that a person’s humanity is not dependent upon their orientation towards me. Sara Ahmed says it better: “I would see queer as a commitment to an opening up of what counts as a life worth living, or what Judith Butler might call a ‘liveable life.’ It would be a commitment not to presume that lives have to follow certain lines in order to count as lives, rather than being a commitment to a line of deviation.”