New York City’s Moon Kissed – the trio comprised of Khaya Cohen, Emily Sgouros, and Leah Scarpati – has just entered an exciting new chapter of its career, one that finds the group rising in the musical ranks with a reputation for delivering raw, in-the-moment performances and critically-acclaimed albums that encourage you to snarl as you dance the night away.
Their sophomore album, I’d Like to Tell You Something Important, just dropped on Oct. 22 and the group is celebrating by heading out on tour. In advance of Moon Kissed’s Nov. 3 performance at Sleeping Village in Chicago, Cohen chatted with Rebellious Magazine by phone expressing her excitement about sharing new music with fans across the country.
“This goes for all the stops on tour, I’m just excited to see America. I really haven’t been to that many cities and it’s always super eye-opening and cool especially to hear the music coming out of different places. I know Chicago has a pretty rich music history. I’m excited to meet the bands and make some friends,” Cohen said. “I’ve been to Chicago once before. I know Emily hasn’t and she’s really excited to see it. I went once with my mom for kind of no reason. I was just like, ‘I want to see Chicago.’ I really liked the art museum. I’m excited to see the city – I love my mom but – with my friends as a young person.”
One of the things Cohen is most looking forward to on this tour, is sharing the new – at least new outside of New York – songs with fans.
“There’s a ton of songs that we’ve been playing live for years now that are coming out as recorded versions so I’m really excited for people to hear those. Most of our friends in New York already know all the words which is really cute but now everyone can know all the words and we can feel more connected to them at shows,” she said.
I’d Like to Tell You Something Important follows Moon Kissed’s debut I Met My Band At A New Years Eve Party. Both albums are endlessly listenable – with infectious hooks and deviously playful lyrics – but the new release finds the band evolving as songwriters and collaborators to create an even richer listening experience.
“This album is the beginnings of the three of us starting to write together in the same room. Emily and Leah have always played on the tracks but there are some tracks on this album where we all wrote the songs together. Luckily, those are are best songs,” said Cohen noting the delicate dance that is expanding a musical relationship from one of strictly bandmates to that of writing partners. “I remember the first song we ever wrote together was called ‘101’ – it’s going to be on the third record – and there was a moment of tension before we wrote that because it was like, ‘Okay, we can play together. We have this chemistry, but can we write together?’ That song really proved that we could and that it actually was the better way to go.”
She added, “I think the third record is going to be all that. It’s going to be purely a brainchild of the three of us, even more so than this second record.”
Moon Kissed fans will recognize the new album’s title in the previously-released track five interlude, “Something Important,” from I Met My Band at a New Years Party as well as from the group’s intro music at past live shows. Cohen explained how the meaning of the phrase “I’d Like to Tell You Something Important” has evolved from a funny joke into a mantra for connection through conversation.
“We knew that’s what we wanted to call the second album. We didn’t really know what it meant though. I think we just liked the way it sounded and we also knew that this album was going to be a little bit darker and more mature so it felt appropriate. As the album’s been created, it’s gotten more meaning,” she said. “We used to play shows and our intro track was this robot voice that Emily made that was saying, ‘Hi. I’d like to tell you something important.’ It was a quote that she found from something and made this whole intro track out of it. It was kind of funny. She named the track something stupid and it was a big joke but then we made that interlude out of it to tie it in with our live shows.”
Cohen continued, “Now, it feels like [the message is] I’d like to tell you something important but I’d also like you to tell me something important and those are equally important things. It’s really important for everyone to have their own take on it and no take on it is wrong.”
Moon Kissed introduced the sophomore album to fans with the most “sparkly kind of pop” songs in the singles “Bubblegum” – a “f*ck you to the patriarchy” – and “Strange Satisfaction.” Cohen’s personal interpretation of the album as a whole is that it “symbolizes a very specific experience for [her] of coming to terms with womanhood,” something that was unintentional in the writing stage.
“It starts out really fun and flirty and you kind of get broken down, experience some dark stuff and hard realizations and have to pick yourself back up to refigure out who you are. The songs we chose to share first were some of the lighter ones because we want people to feel good and have fun. I think the only way to experience the dark stuff is to get brought into the album slowly and sweetly and lure them in.”
Cohen is looking forward to the further evolution of the album, its songs and the meaning of Moon Kissed as the trio continues to grow with fans to create a true community based on love, acceptance, and good music with each one-of-a-kind live music experience.
“That’s what has kept us going – and I know that this is true because I had the same experience through the band – is hearing people say that we helped them find their identities and come into their own. That’s in New York with our friends, but it hits even harder when we’re playing a house show in Alabama and it’s for these queer kids in a red state. Safe space takes on a whole different meaning down there and they need it. They need this space to let loose and feel free for a night. It does depend on the audience because there are some shows where we’re playing to frat bros or whatever it is, but that’s also fun in its own way.”
No matter what fans feel or hear in Moon Kissed’s music – whether it be messages about empowerment, heartbreak, womanhood, tearing down the patriarchy, or something completely unique to one listener’s individual experience – Cohen says they are correct. The music is for them and everyone’s interpretation is valid and valued.
She said, “I really want people to interpret the songs the way they want to. I have my interpretation of what that something important is but I think the whole thing with Moon Kissed from the start is it’s not really about the three of us. Our community and our audience is what makes us, us. We have evolved with our audience and we’ve come into our own together with Moon Kissed as a symbol rather than the three of us being the leaders of it.”
Click here to pick-up tickets to be a part of the Moon Kissed community at the trio’s Nov. 3 show at Sleeping Village in Chicago and head over to Moonkissedmusic.com to purchase or stream I’d Like to Tell You Something Important.
(Photo by Ken Watson)