Betty Moon

by Amanda Flinner

The LA-based singer/songwriter chats about her album Little Miss Hollywood and why she leaves her songs open to interpretation.

Betty Moon was born and raised in Canada, but she's always been a California girl at heart.

The singer/songwriter/producer - who released her 10th album, Little Miss Hollywood, on July 31, 2020 - began her music career as a teen in her native Toronto, where she spent years building a following with her rock-fueled DIY records. While studying jazz music at Humber College, she formed the minimalist punk band Bambi and released the album Rock On in 1986. The lead track, a cover of David Essex's "Rock On," landed on Toronto radio and helped the homemade album sell 10,000 copies. Moon caught the attention of A&M Records and signed a deal as a solo artist, releasing her self-titled debut in 1991, which spawned the singles "I Get High" and "One Kiss." A casualty of Polygram's takeover of A&M, she founded Violet Records and released her sophomore album, STIR.

Meanwhile, Moon had her sights set on sunnier skies. In 2010, she made a move to Los Angeles and quickly gained a reputation for her sensuous vocals and rock 'n roll aesthetic with the album Rollin' Revolution. But Moon's larger-than-life sound couldn't be contained to just one genre. Over the next decade, she incorporated elements of pop and electronic music on albums like Pantomania (2015), CHROME (2017) and Hellucination (2019) - all released through her own company, Evolver Music.

We caught up with Moon following the releases of her 2020 EP Translucent and her album Little Miss Hollywood, which once again has her pairing her trademark rock sound with electro-pop. Here, she talks about her new single "Dead Out Of Love" and the title track, "Little Miss Hollywood."
Amanda Flinner (Songfacts): What is your songwriting process? Has it changed over the years?

Betty Moon: Funny enough, it really hasn't changed but the pre-production process has. I usually come up with lyrical ideas or riffs on my acoustic or piano, then record them using voice memo or by running into my studio and laying down the basics. I've had a studio of my own since I was a teenager working with Pro Tools, and I also make good quick use of my phone (or back then, a voice recorder device) to ensure everything is saved. It's hilarious how many musicians think of something awesome, but never save the idea and the next day kick themselves in the ass for forgetting.

Anyhow, pre-production is 10 times easier due to technology being better than before, more compact and easy to use. It's saved me so much time and money, and has made the writing process way more fun.

Songfacts: What are your thoughts when you go back and listen to your early music? Are there any songs that have changed meaning for you?

Moon: My friends always coax me into revisiting a lot of my older recordings. I'm usually excited to listen to my new ideas and stay in the "2020" version of Betty Moon. On occasion I'll put on old stuff out of nostalgia, and most of it is still pretty relevant and other material I'd rather not revisit since it reminds me of times I'd like to forget. That's the great thing about music, though - it's a total reflection of what you were at that given point in life.

Since 2020 is a total wash, I like songs like "Sound" that remind me how important music and living a great life is. It's the music all along that has kept me passionate about this career.

Songfacts: One of the great things about listening to your music is that there's something for everybody. How do you maintain your musical identity while exploring different genres?

Moon: Well, I'd like to hope that I have a unique voice and style as a singer. That really lends itself to different genres of music if you know what you're doing. Think Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins. He did a fantastic job of transitioning to more electronic music, and although some fans were conflicted, everyone could agree the music was incredible. As for me, I write the kind of music I feel like producing at the time - it's not forced. That's what makes it easy for me to put my voice on it, and the music won't sound phony or off genre on my records. I think my passion is a fairly consistent thread throughout all the different genres I explore and have fun crafting.

Songfacts: Just a couple months after releasing Translucent, you surprised us with Little Miss Hollywood. What was the idea behind the album?

Moon: I've had an arsenal of music for almost a year now. Translucent the EP was a vehicle for getting some of these ideas out into the world during the pandemic and bought me time to finish the record. The first and title track of the record is a bit of a personal tale with a fantasy twist on me being "Little Miss Hollywood." Especially now, people fantasize about going out again, living the nightlife and partying till the bartenders send you home in an Uber.

I lived that life for many years during my love affair with Hollywood and LA. Even before moving to the city 10 years ago, I would fly into LA to spend days if not months in town networking, meeting with executives, playing shows and of course enjoying the best nightlife and beach life LA and Hollywood had to offer. The album has those themes and others about relationships, emotional struggles, heartache and of course having a fucking blast in life. I've always realized how blessed I was and have never taken a day for granted in this life. It's just too precious.

Songfacts: What songs/artists were you listening to while you were making the album?

Moon: I took a dive back into some of the rock artists I liked in the '90s like Alice In Chains and Queens Of The Stone Age. But I am not trying to copy or emulate any of it. In fact, what I do is more customized to how I like to sound. If I wanted to do metal I'd layer guitar on top of guitar and make the drums huge. I typically have playlists rolling on Spotify and listen to whatever happens to come on in different genres.

The internet really changed it all for me. I don't like holding on to CD or vinyl collections and just like to find new stuff online to check out. St. Vincent is pretty cool, Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa and even some Royal Blood here and there. My tastes are all over the place - whatever is good, of course.

Songfacts: How would you describe the title character, "Little Miss Hollywood"?

Moon: Little Miss Hollywood is that girl you know from the Hollywood scene. She has her shit together, has fantastic style but knows how to have a great time. She knows all the right people, and the bouncers at the club know her by name. Living life through her eyes is fun because every night is a new story, and perhaps you meet a new celebrity or work out a record deal because you happened to meet the right person. Living in Hollywood is the perfect place to mix business and pleasure, and that's Little Miss Hollywood right there.

Songfacts: How did the single "Don't Stop Now"/"Dead Out Of Love" come together? What was the lyrical inspiration?

Moon: As you probably know, it's the same song but I wanted to create a single out of it that stood on its own. The lyrics are super simple, and it really revolves around that arena-sized riff that comes in at the start. Just like Rage Against The Machine, certain riffs help carry a song completely and I wanted this one to be just that.

I'll leave the meaning of the lyrics to be interpreted by the listener though. It has your classic "no but yes I can't resist" theme.

Songfacts: It's obviously difficult to get out and shoot music videos right now but did you have any concepts in mind for "Dead Out Of Love" or any of the other songs from the album?

Moon: I do for sure, but am waiting just a little longer to see how things pan out with this pandemic. My ideas require a team, but I want to play it safe like many others are as well. I have other ideas in the works though, including a lyric video and something that may revolve around animation instead of real-life acting.

Songfacts: What are your memories of shooting the "Save My Soul" video?

Moon: Well, it just reminds me how much I love Malibu and being along the beachside. We shot most of the first part of the video in LA at night on Hollywood Boulevard and had to get the crew out there without permits. The Malibu beach scenes on El Matador and Leo Carillo Beach had to be permitted for the full day. The beach scenes were great fun and brought a lot of friends and talented people together with the perfect attitude and energy to create the magic that day.

Songfacts: One of the tracks I keep returning to is "Did It For Nothing." What is the story behind that song?

Moon: It's really one of those songs that tells a story about trying your best to save a situation, but it doesn't work and you feel like it was all for nothing. You had the best of intentions but that somehow backfired on you. Even if you believe 110% that you're right, sometimes when it doesn't work out it can be really disheartening. Especially when people twist it into some other dark place that you never want to revisit.

Songfacts: You've said that your songs can be open to different interpretations. What was one of the most surprising interpretations you've heard of one of your songs?

Moon: Well, someone recently asked if "Little Miss Hollywood" was about acting or being a famous actress. I told that person to listen to the lyrics, and that it was not even close.

I know some people don't pay attention to those things, but I strongly believe that understanding the lyrics to a song, or at least making your own interpretation, makes the song that much better. Fantasies and dreams are just the best way to live your life. Without them we lose hope.

Songfacts: What has been your favorite usage of one of your songs in media so far? What TV show would you be most excited to get a placement on?

Moon: Over the past season or two I've had a handful of Teen Mom placements of my music. I think it's awesome because it helps shape the mood of this real-life situation that's being documented for a show. Compared to a movie, it just felt like my music was the perfect fit for those scenes. It was almost like they were listening to the music in their car or on a stereo.

Songfacts: From a producer's standpoint, what song from Little Miss Hollywood are you the most proud of?

Moon: I'd say the title track, "Little Miss Hollywood," would be that for sure. It has a little bit of everything, electronic, rock, guitar riffs and a lot of Betty Moon energy. Everything else on the record is great as well, but I placed that song first for a reason. It helps the album explode from the second you start it, and the rest ties together with the song perfectly. I also can't wait to play around with remixes of the track.

August 11, 2020
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