By: Aaron Lattany

Gipsy Moon’s sound has listeners humming old time melodies with a kind of Gipsygrass distinctive to the  band’s Colorado roots. Hailing from Nederland, the traveling band is composed of of five talented string and percussion musicians out to breath life into decade’s old music styles. Gipsy Moon has taken their “tell tales” with a steam punk twist, across the rocky mountain west and are bringing it home this week for four nights along Colorado’s front range.  We linked up with the band’s lead vocalist Mackenzie Page to give us insight on the band’s new release, a haunting rendition of the timeless folk classic “Clementine” ahead of their upcoming EP release “Songs of Olde” a collection of the band’s take on traditional folk music and more about the the band’s story:

How did the members of the band meet? What is Gipsy Moon’s inception story?

Silas and I met at a bluegrass pick in Nederland. Colorado has such a great music scene and you find gatherings of people all playing music together often. I met Matt our bass player in a similar fashion. Andrew we met at Rocky Grass a festival in Lyons CO at a picking circle too. Omar was canvassing on pearl street [in Boulder] newly moved from Nashville and ran into Matt busking. They started chatting about drumming and acoustic music, Matt brought him to practice one day and it just clicked. 

I noticed a small van on in a few of your social media posts. Does the group use the van to travel for performances? If so, what is like to be on the road traveling in such an intimate space?

We do have a 14-passenger van that we tour in. It has yet to be named though. Being on the road can definitely be difficult, especially sharing such a small space. Lately we’ve been getting a lot better about understanding space and ways to pack the van so its less crowded, also just being open with each other in a loving way about issues. We like to camp a lot too and getting into nature after being in hotels, vans, and venues can be incredibly healing for the spirit and body.

What is the appeal of folk music for the members of the band? In your words please describe Gipsy Moon’s unique approach to this age-old genre.

We all come from pretty different backgrounds musically but one thing I think that we all really like is old folk music. We started noticing when writing sets that we had a lot of really old folk tunes from different parts of the world that we had learned over the years and love to play. We’d have old Irish jigs next to Turkish love songs mixed in with American murder ballads. Its fun for us to take these tunes and put them in English, if they aren’t, or play them in a different tempo, kind of change them up and revive them a bit. It took us some time to recognize that this was something that we were naturally doing in song choice and so we started looking to that as a way we could move forward, hence the recording of our new EP ‘Songs of Olde”.

For “Clementine” what was the focus when you approached re-creating a well known folk standard?

Clementine was really a great step for us in writing. We had been playing the tune live and pretty straight forward, the only difference was we changed it to a minor key to heighten the creepiness. We went into the studio, recorded it just like we did live and listened back and it just didn’t move us like we thought it would. Sometimes the way you play something live doesn’t always come across as well on a record and vice a versa. So we started from scratch with it. Todd Divel at Silo Sound Studio in Denver has a really cool old pump organ so I started playing that and singing just part of the verse. Silas came up with a cool drum beat, Matt and Andrew brought out the bows and the new version was born. Later we added more harmonies and Omar on percussion. Charlie Rose from Elephant Revival stopped by the studio and played some pedal steel which just adds this amazing eerie sound to the mix. We hadn’t even written that way before and I’m really proud of what we did and the moment we captured.

Was there an overall vision for the EP “Songs of Olde”? Are there any big plans for the album release?

The overall vision for “Songs of Olde” was to really capture the sound of what we are currently doing live and have some physical representation of the songs, but also to really explore this idea of recreating old tunes from around the world. We think in the future we will do more volumes of “Songs of Olde” and continue to add these old folk tunes to our repertoire. We are thrilled to release it at the Wildflower Pavilion show on April 21st. 

Do songs such as “Dark Eyes” and “Once in a Dream” come from personal experiences?

Dark Eyes is actually a old Russian gipsy folk tune, that one I think will be on ‘Songs of Olde.’ It’s a pretty basic translation used often so I didn’t add or change the words much. I also do one verse in Russian. ‘Once in a Dream’ I wrote about an actual dream I had once about a good friend of mine that had passed away. It was a really psychedelic dream where she seemed almost real, and I thought hey, you never really left the world, you just passed into another. So I wanted to try and capture that in a song.

What is the group’s approach to song writing? Is it collective? Or individual? How much does member’s personal experiences & history contribute to a song’s outcome?

Besides learning and recreating the old tunes, we’ve got a pretty collaborative writing process. I am the only one who writes words, but the guys will bring melody ideas or an almost finished tune for me to write to. Sometimes they will have a concept to work from or melody idea, sometimes it will be more open to my interpretation. It’s really fun for me because I get to write to music that I wouldn’t necessarily have come up on my own, and it really pushes me out of my comfort zone. I also write my own songs and bring them to the band, and Silas and Andrew often bring instrumentals that they more or less have completed.

What’s in store for Gipsy Moon in 2017?

2017 is really exciting for us. We’ll be doing a lot of festivals, and Colorado shows. We have three local shows coming up this week, March 2nd at the Gold Room in Colorado Springs, March 3rd at the Bluebird in Denver CO, and March 4th at our brand new hometown venue The Caribou Room in Nederland. We are also so excited to play the Wildflower Pavilion on April 21st for our official CD release show!

We look forward to hearing Gipsy Moon‘s “Songs Of Olde”.  If it’s anything like their rendition of “Clementine” we’re in for a treat.  Don’t miss your chance to catch them at one of their 3 shows this weekend or at the record release of  “Songs Of Olde” at the Wildflower Pavilion at Planet Bluegrass in Lyons April 21st!

* March 2 // The Gold Room // Colorado Springs, CO *

* March 3 // Bluebird // Denver, CO *

* March 4 // The Caribou Room // Nederland, CO *

*April 21 // Wildflower Pavilion at Planet Bluegrass // Lyons, CO*