Hunger Moon originates at the meeting point between the different sensibilities, ideas, and inspirations of the project’s two creators, Natalie Jenkins – responsible for the intense, atmospheric, sometimes haunting vocals that are one of the trademarks in their music – and James Attwood, whose ability as a multi-instrumentalist provides the many layers that make their voice as a studio act so distinctive. There is something very intimate in their music which makes it a perfect fit for the times, restless and self-reflective at once, and which is sure to resonate with many an audience, perhaps more than ever in the current climate. But Hunger Moon’s breath is much broader, and however much they might already have achieved, they are just getting started.
Q. Tell us something about what inspires your creative process, and the mood you try to create with your music.
A. All of our songs spawn from reality – whether that’s a direct personal experience (like our single Patience), or global events and situations that have a much wider impact on humanity. Our single Honey, for example, was written about male suicide following the death of Keith Flint from The Prodigy. One of our unreleased tracks references the lack of response to the refugee crisis that is going on all around us. We use our music as a platform to speak up and raise awareness on important issues such as these.
If something doesn’t come naturally to us, whether it be instrumentally or lyrically, we become detached. If we struggle to associate ourselves with our music, our audience won’t connect with it either.
Q. How would you describe your sound in one sentence?
A. A flood of heartfelt euphoria, mixed with melancholy pop goodness and a drop of Jeff Buckley.
Q. Working as a duo, what individual ideas and sensibilities do you think each brings to your music?
A. I (Natalie) am an incredibly empathetic person, which feeds into our songwriting so much. I think James would agree that I’m also the one in the band who tends to be a downer more often than necessary. I mean, is it possible to be a melancholy songwriter if you’re not sad 90% of the time? With that, James is on the opposite end of the spectrum and is the yang to Hunger Moon’s yin. Anything happy-sounding you hear – it probably comes from him.
On a mutual level, we are driven people and tend to be perfectionists. That’s one thing that we can agree on. James is normally the 1\2 that brings forward the beautiful guitar you hear on our tracks, whilst I bring forward the lyrics and vocals. This changes though – we both write music, sing and play guitar, so our process changes all the time. With different approaches to our music, come slightly different sounds.
Q. Have you been working on something new recently, and what are your plans for the second half of the year?
A. There isn’t a day that behind the scenes, we aren’t working on new music. Due to Covid-19, we have had to push back our debut headline shows – one in London and the other in Birmingham. With things still very unpredictable, it’s hard to set any live plans in stone, but we’re working eagerly to get back on stage. We’re looking to release our first EP early next year, so hopefully we can be back performing in time for that!
Q. If you could choose your dream venue to play after reopening, what would it be?
A. Paradiso in Amsterdam, NL. Every. Single. Time.
Q. What do you think about the music community’s response to the lockdown? Have you been taking part in any projects?
A. The community’s response to lockdown has been one of the things that have kept us going throughout. Like all other artists, we’ve had to put important things on hold and it’s easy to see these things as a setback. Our Instagram notifications have been forever buzzing letting us know about artists going live, and there’s been plenty of online festivals launching. It’s been so cool to see the persistence in the scene, there’s an understanding that when it reaches a point of live music returning, the scene’s going to come back bigger and better!
Social distancing has made it difficult for us as a duo to take part in the online scene during the lockdown, but we have been busy writing music (and finishing our degrees!). I know James has been posting some groovy covers and learning bass and in all honesty, I’ve read twenty thousand recipe books.
Q. The lockdown has been an occasion to reflect collectively on mental health, especially for those who drew strength and support from live music. Have these themes been part of your reflections and songwriting recently?
A. Did I mention how good these questions were?! Mental health has been at the forefront recently and it’s so refreshing to see people breaking the stigma. It has been part of reflections, for sure. We too took strength and confidence from live shows, without those we kind of lose our identity. In relation to our songwriting, I don’t think this is something we are going to be able to fully comprehend until we are out of the situation – just to see things a little more clearly. Our songs always try to touch on mental health (take Honey as a prime example), but you will definitely see the theme re-occur as we begin to really understand the extent of the situation we have all been in.
Q. Your single Patience speaks to the deeper, more intense feelings we have all experienced in our life. What’s the story behind the song?
A. Patience was written during the end of a three-year relationship. I finally acknowledged my insecurities as a person and how they negatively affected my ability to love my partner and myself. It was a vicious cycle in which I was constantly chasing myself, and my partner was going in circles trying to make the situation better for me, and in that question himself. I’m so glad I acknowledged these things when I did, or else the damage I could have done to us both could have been deeper. The real message we wanted people to take away from that track was that it’s okay, that however you’re feeling is OK. We are only human.
Q. What have grassroots venues meant for you in your personal experience? Can you tell us something about a grassroots music venue that is particularly dear to you, or that helped shape your love of music?
A. Grassroot venues are SO important in breeding new talent and supporting upcoming artists. Hare and Hounds in Birmingham holds a huge venue shaped space in our heart. We’ve had the pleasure of playing this venue more often than any other, and I’m pretty sure I’m right in saying they have live bands on every night of the week? During normal circumstances, of course. As music consumers, we have watched so many bands we love here and due to the venue size, managed to stay and chat with them after too! We played our first two main support slots with Adam French and Methyl Ethyl in this venue, so it will always be dear to us. If you’re reading this and you’re local – go and check their lineup for the end of the year!
Q. What is, to you, the most exciting thing about playing in a digital festival?
A. Having the opportunity to be in front of an audience again!!!
Hunger Moon are playing on Friday, July 24th, at 6:00 PM.