Interview | FFS 5 with Wax Moon

Photo from artist website

Wax Moon’s Paul Kimball and John Blatchford were putting in the work for years before converging as a folk duo; Kimball with fronting cosmic country-rockers, Careless Hearts, and John as a multifarious musical force known for work with The Mumlers and Doctor Nurse. After being asked by a mutual friend to play as a duo at his wedding, the rest is history.

They’ve since released a couple of EPs; their first LP, Hello Morning, is a culmination of over three years of writing and performing together. It’s nuanced, nostalgic indie folk tailor-made for intent listening experiences, where both artists work together to share their hearts with their audience.

The Bay Area duo now join us in our ongoing ‘FFS 5’ interview series, and we are all the better for it.

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Please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get started in music? Any defining moments along the path to present day?

John: Born and raised in San Jose, CA. As soon as they let me play an instrument in the 3rd grade I was hooked. I have moved around to different instruments, but I’ve been playing guitar steady since I was 16. Now it’s like a compulsion or something. If I’m not making music on the regular, I’m not happy and something feels off. 

Paul: Spent my formative years in Texas and Washington State. Started on lead vocals as a teenager, mostly in punk and metal bands, until I moved to the Bay Area, learned to play guitar in my 30s and began writing songs. I’ve been making music with John since around 2007 — he engineered the last two albums that my previous band put out, and we became good friends really as a by-product of that process.

As an artist, how do you define success?

Paul: Ad-Rock from the Beastie Boys put it best…   “If you can feel what I’m feeling then it’s a musical masterpiece. Hear what I’m dealing with, then that’s cool at least.” It’s all about that communion and mutual understanding and just diggin’ it. When that happens, that’s success. 

What do you find your greatest struggle to be when it comes to the music business?

Paul: Fuckin’ social media, which makes everything seem so important and so trivial at the same time. The modern music business makes social media inescapable. That’s a real drag, and a struggle to have to somehow prove cultural value within the frame of “likes” and “follows.” I love the personal accessibility part though, and hearing from people who feel it; that’s the deal you make with the devil. 

What do you think is the most realistic goal you can achieve as an artist and as a band? What do you hope to achieve? 

Paul: Realistically, the most ambitious goal we could achieve would be to write and play some songs that land, that move folks, and that endure in some way. Outside of that it’s all hustle and connections and we don’t have great supplies of either.

Outside of music, what do you like to do that you feel contributes to the creativity that you tap into for your music?

John: To me, most things are more conjured than planned and are usually in response to reading, seeing or hearing something either enraging or inspiring.  Like, today I was watching this Randy Newman Tiny Desk concert and was blown away by his rendition of ’She Chose Me’. I picked up the guitar and something new just came out of it. Those little unexpected moments give me the best inspiration to create.

Words by: Jonathan Frahm