interview by Damage
Moth Complex is something to be proud of. The Dublin-based electro-rock quartet shares some roots with Switchblade Symphony, Curve, some shoegazer bands and manages to pull it off in quite a unique manner. We talked to singer Aoife O'Leary to get a glimpse on what's life around them like.
THE DOSE: Aoife, could you please start by casting a bit of light on the Dublin scene - what was the birthplace and the scene like that Moth Complex grew out from?
AOIFE: Actually, the Dublin rock scene is quite small and Moth Complex is fairly different from most of what is played in Dublin, so being based here didn't have too much to do with the creation of Moth Complex. It was more to do with where I was personally. I was singing with various bands in Dublin but nothing really suited me and I always loved heavy rock bands and industrial type music - since I was really young - and that's the kind of music I have always been passionate about, so I began to work on how to integrate my voice with the kind of music I loved and in mixing the two, come up with something new. And so Moth Complex began!
THE DOSE: What was your musical background and your musical interest like before the band started? I understand you worked as a backing vocalist, what did those experiences teach you?
AOIFE: I have a musical family background to start with. My brother, Ronan, plays guitar in Moth Complex and I was in bands previously with another brother, Fin, who is a drummer. Also my parents and my sister are musical so when I growing up, I was always surrounded by by music - we used the garage as a music room and at various times had a piano, drum kit, guitar, bass, a couple of small amps, a violin and cello in there. Our house was definitely the loudest! I tried learning guitar at some stage but I knew that I just wanted to sing so I concentrated on my singing 100%. Working as a backing vocalist came about because my brother, Fin, kept recommending me when bands he knew wanted a female vocal on their album or at live show or whatever. I started working on Moth Complex around the same time and when I was being offered too much work singing, I gave it all up to devote my time completely to Moth Complex. I learned so much from working as a backing vocalist, though. I learned about how to take care of my voice, what I am capable of as a vocalist, what works best for me, about recording, about performance. Loads of stuff! Well worth it!
THE DOSE: Although all Moth Complex songs are quite diverse, you could say there are two faces of band: the angry and the subtle one. Which is the real personality of the band?
AOIFE: I think the real personality of the band is neither of those things! Of course they are elements of Moth Complex songs, but as for the personality of the band, I'd say that our predominant feature is our individual and collective absolute passion for and love of music and desire to work hard doing what we love. Outside that we're just like all people - full of different traits, some more obvious than others at different times!
THE DOSE: What are those emotions, concepts and messages that forge songs, boost concerts and make you get up day by day?
AOIFE: What boosts concerts and forges songs is definitely as I have mentioned before, a complete love and passion for music along with a compulsion to sing and play. There's no feeling like it in the world. Our songs are written all about situations that have happened in my life or are around venting/expressing my feelings about a situation, whatever those feelings may be. Generally, though, I think I write about overcoming adversity and finding my way in life. What makes me get up day by day? Always we have something we're doing or working towards with Moth Complex, so every day I'm getting up to do what I love, which can't be a bad thing! Other than that - determination, drive, creativity, fun. All those things.
THE DOSE: If you could choose to express all emotions, turmoils and inspirations via Moth Complex but through another genre, another way of expressing yourselves - how would that sound?
DAMIEN: I would express myself not through another sound genre but through art - charcoal drawing with the basis being the human body.
THE DOSE: Aoife, how much of you is the part of Moth Complex? How much can you detach yourself from the band and how much does it serve as an outlet to express yourself?
AOIFE: Moth Complex is a complete extension of who I am and is completely tied in with my life. I love being in the band and singing and writing songs and all the rest of it. I wouldn't want to do anything else and singing really makes me happy. However, sometimes I do need to detach and take time off from everything. Then I read or go to movies or I do some dressmaking or writing. Or just get myself to the sea! Any of those things absorb and relax me and give me a break from Moth Complex and from music, if I need it.
THE DOSE: Moths are quite ambivalent - Europeans believe it brings fear, death and war, whereas Native Americans have a much more respectful and positive approach to them. What's your interpretation of the moth, how would you define the ‘moth complex' and what does it really refer to?
AOIFE: Moths have a positive connection for me. I'm not sure exactly why the idea of a moth has resonated so strongly with me over the last few years and in relation to this band. I do know that it intrigues me the way moths are attracted so strongly to light and the name Moth Complex comes from the idea that people too are attracted to light. That kind of tied in with themes in the songwriting of the album for me - overcoming adversity and making choice about how I want my life to be and so on. Something kind of struck a chord with me in some way. But I don't actually know much about moths or how different cultures or people interpret them. I only know what it all means to me!
THE DOSE: Please tell us about your gigs, your experiences about the German concerts and the best memories you have about them!
AOIFE: Gigs for us are the best part of doing music. I'm sure it's the same for every band. It's so good to play our songs and be completely absorbed by the music we're playing and have fun. I seem to end up bruised after every gig, from not noticing that I've hit off something (usually Vin's bass!) or how hard I'm beating out a rhythm on the side of my leg or whatever. Just cause I'm so absorbed in singing and consumed by it all. The German concerts were great. So good for us to play for people in a new place and particularly to have people in a different country come along and know our songs. It was amazing. Other than that we loved it all - sleeping against each others shoulders in vans on long journeys, having big party nights out in new places, the whole lot. It was all great!!!
THE DOSE: You're working hard on your debut album entitled "Core". What can we expect from the LP, could you elaborate on that?
AOIFE: Musically, "Core" has similar elements to the songs on our "Error 256" EP, but some songs are quieter, some are more propulsive and electronic, some are a little darker. I find it really hard to explain music, especially our music, in words - I'm too close to it all! But I am delighted with the album, I have to say, and how it's turned out. I love the songs and I'm really, really proud of the work we've done.
THE DOSE: Error 256's "When Silence Becomes Art" remix was really a pleasant surprise for the glitch/electro-heads - any plans for similar remixes or tracks?
AOIFE: We don't have any plans at present but I would love to have more remixes and tracks done in the future. I love the "Learned My Lesson" (Error 256 Remix) and think it was perfect for the EP. I also love hearing other people's interpretations of Moth Complex songs - I find that really interesting!
THE DOSE: Do you cherish any ideas about fan remixes or community cooperations? Really, how much do you think musicians should be involved with creative collaborations with their fans?
AOIFE: I think it completely depends on each situation. I think that the same song can mean such different things to different people. And I think that someone else's interpretation of my song is just as valid as my own, so it's interesting to hear what one of my songs mean to someone else. And it's really cool to hear that interpretation played out in a remix. I think each situation is different but generally, it's all good.
THE DOSE: Nowadays having talent is only one side of a band, they also have to put hard work into promoting themselves and also making themselves as attractive as possible. How much do you endorse these? How do you promote yourself?
AOIFE: I'd agree that having talent is only one part of a band. There are loads of elements needed and although music is the most important element, it is still just one of them. We just go with what feels right to us in relation to how we present and promote Moth Complex. We do our best to let the music lead the way and then people come to us. We have wonderful support from all over the world from people who love our band, so it's been working well!
THE DOSE: Dublin, unfortunately, is one scene we're not really familiar with. Could you please recommend us some fellow bands you find talented and like-minded and perhaps some clubs or venues that are worth checking out?
AOIFE: Lluther are great. Gerry Owens, who wrote the Moth Complex songs with me, is the singer in Lluther, and they're brilliant. There are some great bands over here, but not a lot in the same kind of genre to Moth Complex and not a lot of clubs and venues. Also, we recently played with a band called Laminate, who are a little different to what we do musically, but we all loved them.
THE DOSE: Thank you so much for this interview! As a final question, do you have any messages to The Dose readers?
AOIFE: We just want to say thankyou to The Dose for the support and for taking the time to interview and include Moth Complex. And thanks to The Dose readers for reading this interview and finding out about our band!