It's not every day we get to interview an Americana band who formed in New York City and emigrated to the UK. Mahoney & The Moment (the project of British musician Steve Mahoney and Boston-born singer Emily Moment) are determined to be a big deal on both sides of the pond, and frankly, they deserve to be. The pair cut their teeth in the Anti-Folk scene in the East Village in 2011, and moved to London the following year. They currently run the Chalk Farm Folk Americana night at The Monarch club in Camden.
Get better acquainted with them by checking out our exclusive premiere of the video for "Kiss My Frowning Face," from their upcoming album Confession Note, below. If you can't make it out to their CD release show on March 5 at The Slaughtered Lamb in London, you can hopefully see them during their next trip stateside, later this year.
Emily, what's it like being an American musician in the UK?
E: There are actually a lot of Americans here. London is a melting pot just like New York and there are people from all of the world. I definitely don’t feel like the lone Yank in the British crowd. Some of the British musicians we play with genuinely seem far more ‘American’ than I am.
S: And you’re treated like a superstar… like Andie MacDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral!
E: I don’t feel like that though. Because we’re in the Americana community, people expect Americaness from us so I’m not sure I get special attention. But we do have the same hair…
Tell us a bit about Chalk Farm Folk. Do you ever get Americans there?
E: We get Americans both on the stage and in the audience.
S: It started off as a residency for us, and we find that the best way to control the quality of the music night you play is to actually run it! It's really good for being part of a community and meeting like-minded people... Us musician types need to stick together, collaborate and help each other out!
E: We were also looking to create an atmosphere like what exists in New York.. A free entry night, where people can see you from the street and be enticed to come in. The venue’s stage is perfectly situated with it’s back to the main road, but on most nights you would never know because it’s closed off by a red velvet curtain. The first thing we did when we got in there for Chalk Farm Folk was open the curtain. Last night there was a couple just kissing behind an act while they played and that became part of the show.
S: I suppose it's actually also like the vibe of all those bars in Nashville on Broadway, where there's live music all along the street and free entry venues... But with Chalk Farm Folk, we were trying to replicate the strictly music based / tip jar venues in New York City like Rockwood Music Hall.
Has Americana replaced Anti-folk in popularity in the UK?
E: I would say yes – in London anyway. I know there is an Anti-folk community here but Americana seems to have really risen in popularity. There are some really good Anti-folk musicians around but they don’t seem to have a base in here like I had the Sidewalk Cafe back home. It used to be all about the 12 Bar Club which was a big deal in London, but that’s unfortunately closed now.
Is there a big difference in the way audiences receive you in the US versus the UK?
E: We always say it takes the British a couple of drinks… As audience members, Americans are boisterous and give you a lot of energy back, and they will come straight up to you, drunk or not, and tell you if they like what you've done. Whereas in London, not only will they sit in silence and politely tap their legs while they watch, but they usually have to be drunk to come up and talk to you.
S: Yeah... same as the dating really!
Have you ever played Nashville?
S: I’ve been years ago and I loved it! I didn't actually play though. Funnily enough I went along Music Row giving out demos to these humongous record corporations! I was trying to go straight to the top... and was enjoying the bars in the evening!
I remember thinking it was amazingly cool, that I was dancing with all these 18-21 year old girls to songs like "Sweet Home Alabama," "Fortunate Son" and stuff like that. In the UK, young people only dance to music that sounds like it's been created by a cyborg on an iPhone. So I really appreciated and enjoyed that! I also remember just loving walking down the street in Nashville - just the smell of BBQ everywhere! I also traveled to Nashville from Miami Beach... which was such a massive culture shock. It was like two different planets!
We’re planning to come to Nashville this Fall and we’d love to play a gig, so if anyone wants to offer us one we’re available!
E: .For weddings, funerals, openings of an envelope…
Musicians Corner was inspired in part by London's Speakers' Corner. What's it like these days?
S: I haven’t actually been to Speakers' Corner, London seems too stressful to walk in the park!
E: So it’s this spot in Hyde Park where a lot of people are ranting on soap boxes about politics, religion, and philosophy. My mother took my there when I was 14. I’m sure it has changed quite a lot since then... a few prime ministers and a couple of new wars will do that… but even so I’m sure it’s nothing like the headline inducing vitriol it used to be in the 70’s.