Musical renaissance man Danny Moon is interviewed about his earliest musical memories, his production studio/house, dream collaborations, and much more.
What first got you into music?
Some of my earliest memories are of my father singing to me at night. He would sing me Danny Boy, McNamara’s Band and other Irish folk songs. I started talking at a young age and my dad likes to tell the story of the last time he sang me Danny Boy. He stopped because with choked up tears I said, “That’s a sad song dad.” When I was in third grade I remember seeing a drum set in real life and thinking, “that’s my future.” I wasn’t able to start playing the drums until 6th grade but I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
Who are some of your influences?
On the drums I am heavily influenced by Brian Blade and Antonio Sanchez. Early in my playing days I was inspired by Buddy Rich and Drum Corps (drum line) stuff.
On Piano I am influenced by the songwriting style of Billy Joel. I try to work on independence like Brad Mehldau and technique like Hiromi Uehara.
Talk a bit about your creative process …
In writing songs my process is ongoing. I start a song and might finish it in 30 minutes or 30 months. My practice is fully inspired by how I developed in my drumming career. I practice scales, runs and exercises that I develop to try to keep myself uncomfortable.
In production I try to become engulfed by the song. I have to maintain an open mind to consider all possibilities and serve the song, the end goal of which to be helping create the best version of a tune. I like to listen to the artist and make suggestions, develop trust and then stretch that as far as I can before wrangling it back in during the editing and mixing stage based on taste and the overall goal.
Talk about your production company and recording studio, Red Porch Records …
I built my house in 2015/2016 around my music studio with the end goal being to be able to spend as much time and energy on a record as needed. I didn’t like the deadlines and budgetary barriers I had become accustomed to, and decided that to make the most authentic records I needed to be able to work as much as possible without breaking the bank. That is how Red Porch Records was started. Now I spend my free time and extra money upgrading equipment, expanding my network and figuring out creative ways to serve the music community in Savannah. I have met some amazing people in the music and film industry and have been lucky enough to work in both mediums out of my studio, not only to create content that is long lasting but also short lived promotional material and commercial songs/ videos to fulfill commissions.
Those boys can play, and without ego, which leads to a different style of dynamic and song motion.
How did you get your start in the Savannah music scene?
I first started touring through Savannah in 2012. My band would play at Live Wire on River Street and at the Tybee Social Club. I’ve never had so much fun. I fell in love with the scene. The owners, musicians and fans became my friends, to a point where I decided I simply had to live here.
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Name your top three keys to play in and why?
C is one of the easier keys to play in on piano and it also happens to draw my voice to a higher tenor register, which makes my singing stronger and gritty.
Eb is a fun key to solo in because of the way my fingers roll through. Relative keys turn into easy modulations. Cm, Ab, Bb, F, and even G. All those keys are pretty relatable with Eb.
F is a nice key for me because I can go lower or higher with my voice and create texture in a nice way. Again with all the relative keys the possibilities for motion and modulation are rather limitless.
Name a Savannah artist you would like to collaborate with?
I have always wondered what it would sound like to be the front man for my music with the Eric Jones Trio backing me.
I also want to work with Andrew Sovine in the studio. I think his style would compliment mine well creatively and it would be fun to work on soundscapes and scores with him.
I also feel a fundamental sense of ease and peace when I sit in with Erik Culberson and Big E. Playing blues drums with them allows me to leave so much space, to where the drums become inverted, rather than constant, and their musicality and sense of self lets me take many risks.
There are so many other musicians who are gems. I have discovered a similar sense of creativity that I used to have nightly with Les Racquet when I get the chance to play with Jake Menendez an Nico Chasty. Those boys can play, and without ego, which leads to a different style of dynamic and song motion. It has become one of my great joys and I always look forward to playing with them.
Rachael Shaner has been my foundational music partner since 2015 and I can’t finish answering this question without bringing her up. Our musical partnership is at a level where we can truly explore areas of music neither of us have tried before. We sometimes clash but the results are truly magical.
I think the scene is ever evolving and there is room for growth in every corner.
What are some of your favorite local places to play?
On the smaller venue local scene I love to play Cockspur and Toasted Barrel. The level of care they show toward me when I play makes me feel appreciated and like I belong. Jon at Cockspur is also a considerate sound engineer and makes my experience always special. I have also grown to like Sea Wolf and the Desoto Hotel. I have newly started bringing my talents to the Andaz hotel as well and I like the crowd there. The acoustics there sound amazing when I belt!
On a larger scale I love playing at the Savannah Theater, Tybee Post Theater and Trinity Sanctuary. I have not gotten a chance to play at the Lucas Theater yet but that would also be something I would look forward to. Apparently the front of house and sound has gotten 89better at Victory North so I wouldn’t be opposed to going back there in the right context.
Your thoughts on the state of the music industry in Savannah …
The music industry in Savannah is far more vast than any one pocket. I think we could all do a better job opening doors and avenues for collaboration with one another. I also think we should develop a baseline for booking, so people don’t undercut one another. These things take time. I think the scene is ever evolving and there is room for growth in every corner. I am very happy with who I know and what I see and hear from people I don’t know yet. I am honored to be a part of this scene.
What’s next for you?
I am working to curate some larger shows in the area, both with Lulu the Giant and on my own. I pitched an idea to the Tybee Post that I think is going to move forward. I also have been redeveloping my relationships in NYC. I have a short term goal to build some bridges between New York and Savannah, not only with live shows but also with production and TV/Film. It is time that Savannah starts to show up nationally, and I am excited to be here for it.
I am also working on a Christmas album that will mostly be out for 2022 Christmas season – Christmas in Savannah. I would like to be a record that a lot of my Savannah Colleagues can collaborate with me on. Other than that I will continue to curate my sound, my voice and my studio and hopefully keep growing!