Supermoon are on a hell of a ride right now and it’s not just because their new album is called Playland.
The band is barely two years old and already have found themselves being booked for coveted slots at Sled Island, gracing the covers of Discorder and Megaphone, and streaming on outlets like SPIN. Their infectious contrast of ebullient melodies and moody lyrics made 2015’s debut, Comet Lovejoy, a delirious delight — Mint Records caught wind of them, too, and signed the four-piece to the label earlier this year. A sophomore record and a forthcoming tour (the biggest they’ve done thus far) later, and Supermoon’s upward climb is only picking up more steam.
With the exhilarating pace of their journey, as well as with Playland consisting of slightly murkier themes than its predecessor, it seems only appropriate that the band would name their latest effort after a place that simultaneously runs on heart-palpitating joy and teeth-clenching horror — the local amusement park. The title, which was also partly chosen for some old photos of the longstanding midway that guitarist Alie Lynch found leafing through the Vancouver Archives, is an acknowledgement to the polarity within Supermoon’s music. “…That double edged sword of being fun and terrifying,” bassist Adrienne LaBelle explains, adding that the album art, colourful on the outside then black and white on the inside, toys with the concept even more.
In their songs, the bandmates write about things that maintain a presence in their lives, both directly or indirectly so. On Playland, LaBelle reveals, “crafty songwriter” Lynch, who has a degree in history, often blurs the lines between personal experience and historical events. Drummer Selina Crammond dips into philosophical passages, while guitarist Katie Gravestock parallels her political science studies with a critique of the fashion industry. LaBelle’s own song, “If You Say So,” is about how women are expected to bite their tongues in certain situations.
“Generally, all our songs keep one foot in actual reality and another foot kind of in the bigger world,” LaBelle says, “but a lot of our content is politically driven and we all are very much concerned about the state of the world and, being an all-women band, often feminism is a part of our music. There’s always an underlying tone of taking ownership of these dark themes and we’re not just some cute girl band who’s gonna sing about love. We definitely think it’s important to bring up issues that we care about. ”
Respect for Supermoon as musicians can be gained with just a quick listen to the foursome’s way with sweetly sharp guitar and driving percussion, but it’s something that, infuriatingly, they’ve had to demand as an all-women band. “It’s funny, being a woman in music, you’re already kind of put to a different standard and men in crowds, especially on tour, will come up to you and decide that they are allowed to tell you what they think you should do differently — which most of my male bandmates have never, ever encountered,” laments LaBelle. Dealing with chauvinist sound technicians at live venues is one of the most common obstacles the group has encountered. “They just assume that you don’t know anything and they’re like, ‘just don’t worry about it, we got this,’ and we often end up with pretty bad sound because we’ll ask for things to be different and they just won’t listen to us,” she continues. That, LaBelle maintains, only prolongs the stereotype that women can’t be competent players. “We shouldn’t have to prove that we’re good musicians to get the same level of respect that all-male bands get for just being men.”
Sexism’s tiresome charade, however, only gives Supermoon more fuel to add to their fire. Standing on stage and seeing young women looking up to them is one of the most empowering feelings, LaBelle enthuses, and it helps to show that pursing the creative arts is accessible — and a rollercoaster ride worth taking.
“I’ve got a 9-year-old niece, she’s turning 10,” she says. “…I feel really glad to be able to show her that ‘yeah, you can do this.’ It’s a totally great and fun thing to do, and a really great way of making friends and being a social person and contributing to your community — that’s something that gets overlooked a lot. All four of us in Supermoon are really invested in our community and we want to make it a better, more vibrant city and a more interesting place.”
When: May 19, 2016
Where: Astoria – 769 East Hastings Street
Tickets: Available at the door