Talking with the moon baby about queer mythologies, the pandemic and their new single ‘Yours Truly-Tom DeBlase remix’

Guest contributor Rami George speaks with the moon baby, Philadelphia-based musician and artist, about their newest single 'Yours Truly - Tom DeBlase remix.' In this exclusive conversation, the moon baby tells Rami about the single's influences, such as the myth of Narcissus, about falling in love with her partner Zach, her love of collaboration, and how she's been keeping creative during the Covid-19 pandemic.

the moon baby in a big red wig, blue jumpsuit, red gloves, and white heels, partially reclined and propping themselves up with one arm.
the moon baby. Photo by Vince Guglielmo.

Talking with the moon baby about queer mythologies, the pandemic and their new single ‘Yours Truly-Tom DeBlase remix’
by Rami George

I have a habit of obsessing over songs when I first hear them, playing them repeatedly for days on end. (Apologies to past roommates and current neighbors…) I remember first hearing the moon baby’s recent single, the “Yours Truly” Tom DeBlase remix, and immediately putting it on loop. When moon baby (also known as Sam Perry) asked if I’d be interested in being involved with premiering the video, I bit! I too have been dipping my toes more into music and small collaboration this past year, it felt appropriate to think through some of these spaces and shifts in creativity together. For ease of transcription, we spoke briefly over Zoom about the single, the remix, the new video, and what’s next for the album. Immediately after our chat I grabbed the bottle of prosecco from the fridge and popped over to moon baby’s house for my first indoor party in over a year. Bubbles and oysters to celebrate the four year anniversary of moon baby and their partner Zach Hill (another dear friend). Amidst the celebrations we continued our conversations, and as the wine flowed I got to ask some of the more pressing questions I forgot to include in this conversation, like what astrological sign would “Yours Truly” and the remix be. (After some deliberation we agreed Cancer for the original and Pisces for the remix.)

Rami George: Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to talk about this thing called the “Yours Truly” Tom DeBlase remix music video. Can you talk about the track and the remix briefly?

moon baby: I wrote this song like six years ago and then just kind of performed a voice memo version of it for every live show I could. I finally bit the bullet when I moved to Philly and recorded it professionally and sent it to my producer friend Troxum. This song kind of became the impetus for the entire album we’re coming out with. So we worked on the song for like a year and Troxum shared it with a lot of producers to get feedback and one of the people he sent it to was Tom. Tom asked if he could do a remix. I’ve always wanted remixes for my songs because I love being at the rave and I love a good remix so…yeah, that’s kind of how it all happened.

'Yours Truly - Tom DeBlase remix' single artwork featuring the moon baby in a circle in the center.
Single cover “Yours Truly – Tom DeBlase remix,” designed by Dan Polyak.

RG: The remix video is a different direction. For the original “Yours Truly” video it’s a CGI world, and this remix is rooftop Narcissus world. How were you approaching this differently?

mb: My last big video, “Everything is Cute to Me”, was all CGI, so I kind of wanted to bring people into this new world and album in a way they understood, while really injecting it with more narrative this time around. Looking at the full project of the new album, there’s no way to make it all CGI—both cost and time-wise—but I also really wanted to be a person that people are interacting with. I’ve missed live performance. So being able to give people just a little bit of what I’m like when I’m listening or playing my music, that felt important.

RG: In the remix video, I read Narcissus very quickly, and you said that was an influence. I was curious about your relationship to that story.

mb: This song is really about a person being so in their head about a hookup that they think it’s the real thing, like they think “I’m going to marry this guy!” To me that’s really narcissistic. You’re all in with a one-sided conversation, you’re not even listening. So “Yours Truly” is like that weird romance that’s not even about the other person. It’s more about how swept away one can get.

RG: I really love the imperfect viewing in the remix video. Most of it is shot in reflections and there’s all these ripples and refractions. But there are also these moments of hyper clarity that seem to come from a different world. How do you think about those two spaces meeting?

mb: I think about it like viewer and viewed. The viewer is perceiving these ripples to be something and then it’s almost like me as the actual person having that zoom out clarity of what’s really happening.

RG: I had a question about being creative in a pandemic, like being forced to shift away from live performances—which I know has been your zone for a long time—and instead working in small scale collaboration. What has this album meant for you in terms of your creativity within a really restrictive year-plus?

mb: I’m so used to recording a demo and performing it all over the place, playing it for my friends, and getting people’s takes on it, but this has been more of an intimate creation. Like this is what I wrote and I fully trust you, Troxum, as my producer and we’re going to lob it off to the pros that we’re friends with, but it’s a secret that we’re going to keep working on. I think a lot of my previous work is very in the moment: it’s about the performance, whereas this is… I mean Troxum is a producer, he is a music theory genius, so diving into that world has been very different from my past lo-fi, quick production, bedroom-pop work.

the moon baby staring blankly at the camera with their mouth slightly open, wearing dramatic makeup, contacts, and a blonde wig.
the moon baby. Photo by Vince Guglielmo.

RG: Have you done this close one-on-one collaboration in the past, or is this new territory for you?

mb: My past work was more separated, like me as a vocalist working with a producer, and not necessarily giving each other input. This new album feels different in that we are way more collaborative, challenging ideas. I’ve been more involved in the production, like I want this to strip back or I need this more chaotic. That was less of a conversation in my previous music. People who know my work are like, wow, this is different! So that feels good.

RG: I’d love to hear more about how “Yours Truly” fits within the full album.

mb: One of the reasons that the Narcissus thing felt so good was that a lot of my writing often starts with queer mythology. So the concept of the album is kind of diva worship and how a godlike presence enters Earth and informs it or maybe becomes entrapped in it… There’s a myth of the creation of the Hyacinth flower that’s the backbone to a lot of these songs, where this God falls for a prince and they’re trying to impress one another on the discus field. By accident the prince dies and is immortalized as a flower. So there’s this overarching concept that as queer people—when we fail, or fall for one another—we create things that protect or are tributes to each other. “Yours Truly” is a tribute to everyone I’ve ever fucked in Pittsburgh. (laughs). It’s funny to have that be the first release, but then the next song I’m coming out with, “Super Natural,” is about falling in love with my partner Zach.

RG: And by chance, today is your four year anniversary!

mb: Yes, how interesting! With the music video for the next single, all the sets I’m in are inspired by Zach’s sculptures, so his work almost becomes the intimate body that I’m involved with, they become the character.

RG: In “Yours Truly” and the remix, they both end on an exclamation, with “oh my god.” What is that for you? And maybe we also can end on an “oh my god…” (laughs)

mb: I think It’s like that clarity at the end of something, where you’re like, Oh! Okay! I get it. When you’re really able to zoom out you realize this is not what it seemed to be. I just spent four minutes singing about how amazing it was, but that’s not what it is…

RG: I resonate… Is there a release date for the album we should keep in mind?

mb: The next single, “Super Natural,” is out June 3rd. We’re still figuring out when to release the album, but I think it’s going to be out in July. Originally we were going to wait until September, but it’s such summer music, I’m like, let’s just do it.

RG: And you mentioned remixes for each track?

mb: Yeah. Some of the tracks are more acoustic, so there might also be covers. I just want to lean into where this music grew from. So much of it is about rave culture and nightlife, I want to honor those connections and that family by exploding it out from what it is.

RG: And it does feel like it’s at a perfect time where we really need that again…moon baby, slutty summer, oh my god!

mb: It’s time!

Author Bio

Rami George is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in Philadelphia (Lenni-Lenape land). Their work has been presented in exhibitions and screenings at MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge; Anthology Film Archives, New York; Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow; Grand Union, Birmingham; the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; LUX, London; the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; and elsewhere. They continue to be influenced and motivated by political struggles and fractured narratives.