Music

MOANA reveals the layers behind their transcendent art

The indestructible punk-rock group from Perth, MOANA, reveal the intricate layers behind their music and their game changing short-film.

Coming from the release of their gorgeously cathartic and riveting short film, Kingdom | Temple, MOANA’s front-woman, Moana Mayatrix, chats with Happy about her personal struggles forming the tapestry behind the visuals.

Mayatrix’s fearlessness translates into Moana’s work, nothing short of inspiring as she encourages artists to unleash their imagination – bridging the gap between inner turmoils and colour-bursting art.

MOANA

HAPPY: Hey MOANA! Where do you find yourself today?

MOANA: Helloooo, I’m in the south-west of WA in a little bush shack in the forest, it’s raining heavily this very moment.

HAPPY: Congrats on the release of your short film Kingdom | Temple! Tell us a bit about how the concept came about?

MOANA: Thank you! The music was created at a time where I was processing a lot of very deep and heavy emotions about myself, my life, my purpose, my truth.. ultimately my creation and my (self) destruction; having silently suffered with depression for a long time. Unconsciously, the sonic journey expanded into a 15 minute beast (which you can hear when we release our upcoming EP) and when I pulled myself out to look at it, I recognised a storyline that was deeply connected to my intense inner world at the time. And that felt very exposing and vulnerable in a way I hadn’t shared through Moana before.

The music was already a two part journey, so I knew I wanted to do a visual that was also in two parts and I really wanted to get deeper than previous music videos, hence why it became more like a short music-film that a regular music video. Charlie the director and I worked together to develop the concept into the final visual; striking a balance between being more raw and vulnerable, while maintaining our stylistic preoccupations towards the dark, surreal, ritualistic and wild.

HAPPY: Whilst making the tracks; Kingdom and Temple, did you have this visual concept in mind?

MOANA: I was so engrossed in my inner experience I couldn’t see anything until I eventually got to a point where I could step back and look at it as an observer. From there, noticing that the two tracks had some interestingly similar sonic explorations and lyrical entanglements, even though they have very different energies as songs, got me inspired visually. So I made a conscious decision to connect them thematically – sonically and lyrically first, visually second. Charlie helped me to simplify all my dreaming and imagery in a really awesome way for the film.

HAPPY: The video covers a lot of themes about rebirth through life’s challenges … what role did costuming/props/setting play in this?

MOANA: It was important for me to visually express a feeling of being broken down, broken apart… to go from a Queen to a wraith, to be left naked and in the ruins of all that once was meaningful. Costume played a big part in this, being in these regal but heavily armoured outfits that get stripped off to reveal the nakedness in somewhat of an exorcism at the end.

The faceless characters in red were like surreal mouthpieces inspired by the big gospel-esque choruses in both songs that lyrically connect back to “the voice in your head”, representing an ever-present part of your psyche that both helps and hinders you on the birth-death-(re)birth experience.

The sand as an element of nature connected me to the eternal desert of time, memory, change, transformation… I was also inspired by the Tarot suit of swords because on one hand to wield a sword is a powerful and mighty extension of self and on the other they are a heavy burden, a weapon onto yourself.. and I think that’s very true of the journey of depression; it can be so heavy for so long until you reach the bottom of the underworld with nowhere else to go and you start to transform and rebuild yourself anew, more true.. and whilst the path down there is painful and agonising, it’s a path of power and the sword was always an ally in your awakening. To face yourself in the darkest of the darkness is a gift. A fucking intense one, but a gift of depth and wisdom.

HAPPY: How did you translate your personal hardships and inner-journey experiences visually? What advice would you have for others trying to do the same?

MOANA: It’s all quite symbolic and surreal in these clips. That’s my style. I wanted to find a balance between being a real, raw, vulnerable human being and creating a world of fantasy and enchantment. My advice would be to really delve deep into the essence of the feeling/s you are expressing and pull from the ocean of your imagination, like you would as a child, the magical symbols/objects/places/people that make up that feeling.

From there create a story and see how you could express that visually. You are the queen, you are the mythic warrior, you are the three-headed dog of the underworld… be courageous and play in the magic. But also, you’ve got to find your own style. Watch interesting creations, read a lot, listen to music, indulge in all matters of visual art to get inspired and find collaborators who you vibe with both personally and stylistically and above all – enjoy the process!

HAPPY: The spoken word monologue during the video is incredibly powerful – can you tell us more about what inspired this?

MOANA: Thank you. Essentially it’s a bridge between the two worlds of Kingdom and Temple. It’s about descending from everything being so beautiful to everything being so dark and consuming in your internal landscape when you’re on the ride of depression. It’s like one part of yourself is in the sky – so transcendental and free, and the other in the ground – restricted to a physical body and all the complexities of navigating being human… It’s also about clinging to moments of wholeness, about wanting more and more of the divine kingdom of love rather than accepting what is.. like a mirage in the desert it’s an illusion you will chase endlessly but never obtain, and when we cling to those kinds of false and fickle ideologies, we suffer immensely because it isn’t our truth.

But for all it’s heaviness it really is a holy place of transformation, guarded by Goddesses’ like Kali or Sekhmet and I am grateful to have survived it and I hope by sharing so openly about it others who have felt this depth know they are not alone and that they are mother-fucking warriors!

HAPPY: Incredible! You also had a Premiere for the video release – funded by crowdfunder – which is really amazing! How did that come about?

MOANA: It was really incredible! We created this epic film on our own as a band and with the amazing film crew and we really wanted to put on an event that did it’s awesomeness justice and allowed all of us involved to celebrate our hard work. Being an independent artist on the outskirts is so rewarding and it can be a tough game financially, so inviting the community in to help us make it a reality was a wonderful way to make our vision come to life for a premiere party.

HAPPY: What can we expect for the future of MOANA?

MOANA: We have an EP coming out in October! Five tracks including the full Kingdom | Temple journey and three other lush, dark love, ballad style tunes you haven’t heard yet. We may have another music video before then too…

HAPPY: We can’t wait… thank you so much for your time!

MOANA: Thank YOU.