Moon King

MOON KING with LEE PARADISE and BLUNT CHUNKS at Smiling Buddha (961 College), Tuesday (April 14), doors 8 pm. $9..

MOON KING with LEE PARADISE and BLUNT CHUNKS at Smiling Buddha (961 College), Tuesday (April 14), doors 8 pm. $9.,,

To discuss Moon King‘s upcoming debut LP, Daniel Woodhead has chosen the most bizarre place I’ve ever interviewed anyone: the Galleria Shopping Centre, a desolate mall at Dufferin and Dupont anchored by a gleaming Dollarama and mom-and-pop stores peddling discount goods.

Woodhead sits in the empty atrium, sipping a can of root beer. When I ask why the Galleria, he says, “I grew up in downtown Toronto a block away from Honest Ed’s and Lee’s Palace, so I never hung out at the mall as a kid.”

Instead, Woodhead spent his youth playing all-ages shows across the city with his brother Airick in the rabble-rousing indie pop band Spiral Beach. When they disbanded in 2009, Airick moved to Montreal and became Doldrums, bassist Dorian Wolf formed Austra, and Woodhead, as he puts it, “sort of disappeared.”

He returned to Toronto a couple of years later armed with a batch of new songs and enlisted former Spiral Beach keyboardist/vocalist and long-time friend Maddy Wilde to help transform his rough sonic sketches into the whimsical, textured songs that now characterize Moon King. After two EPs and non-stop touring, Woodhead and Wilde set to work on the band’s first true LP, Secret Life (Last Gang).

“For Secret Life there were a bunch of songs written, and we ended up choosing the bleakest ones,” Woodhead laughs. “Lyrically, some of the songs relate to depression, to a feeling of really not knowing why I’m still doing this, why I’m sleeping on a friend’s sofa when half my friends are starting to settle down, go to school properly, get a real job.”

It’s Woodhead’s most personal work, and the music is rife with beautiful harmonies, pillowy synths and upbeat melodies, giving a rose-tinted veneer to any darker undertones.

Moon King are set to embark on a tour with his brother’s band, Doldrums – with whom Woodhead admits there is a bit of healthy yet completely supportive competition – and he’s already thinking about the next album, which he says will be much “shinier.”

It’s a cliche, but Woodhead truly is like a shark: if he doesn’t keep moving, he’ll die. He’s happiest when he’s writing songs and on the road, with no fixed address.

“I want to be able to experience everything I can while I’m still young and foolhardy, and the best way to do it seems to be living out of a suitcase. So I’ll just keep doing that.” | @samedwardsTO

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