Polar Moon - As Above, So Below
Hi Jonny. We are happy to have you now in the PITP family. Could you present yourself a little?
PM: Well, hello to you! Very excited to be here. My name is Jonny Radtke, and I am an American musician, based in Los Angeles, CA.
About Los Angeles, I have to ask: how are things over there with the Coronavirus? Do you make more music with the social distancing and lockdown?
PM: Yes, I’m currently in LA, and for the most part, people seem to be taking this situation very seriously, and adhering to the “safer at home” rules. As far as this experience contributing to me writing more? I’m not sure. When not touring, I’m constantly writing, and working on new material, so nothing has dramatically changed. However, during the first couple weeks of isolation, there was a lot of uncertainty (still is) as to how long this situation would last, so it was important to keep myself busy and focused on music...so, yeah, I guess there have been some positive moments within all this craziness.
Congratulations on the new album! You played in several famous rock bands (Kill Hannah, Ashes Divide, Filter). How did you decide to start your own ambient project and release new music?
PM: Thank you!! Well, I’ve always loved instrumental/ambient music. Coming from a predominantly rock background, it’s a nice change of pace for me...allows me to shut my brain off and just absorb the sounds. Initially, this project began with me trying to break into the film scoring world; putting together short pieces that could be presented to music supervisors, licensing houses, etc, in hopes of being considered for a film. That is still a very real goal of mine for this type of material. After a while, I realized I had written so much music, and felt I needed to get it out there. My friend, Drew Sullivan (Slow Dancing Society), and I, had been sending original music back and forth to each other, and he eventually recommended sending it to PITP. So, here we are! Haha!
Polar Moon is such a beautiful and dreamy name. Why Polar Moon?
PM: Thank you. It’s a name I started using back in the early 2000’s. When writing demos for the various rock groups I was working with, I would sometimes use the tag name “Polar Moon”, because I liked the way it looked; it felt calming and ethereal to me. In 2008, I started writing songs for a “Polar Moon” rock album, as a side project, but over the years, the music and idea of the whole concept changed forms; what it is today, is completely different from what I had initially set out to do.
This album is really wonderful, ethereal and minimal. Can you tell us more about it?
PM: Appreciate the kind words. Yeah, it’s exactly that: ethereal and minimal. I wanted to capture what I was feeling and thinking at the time of its development, and not try to over analyze anything, but really explore textures in each song in a cohesive way.
I love the soft piano melodies. How did it feel to work on this album? How different is the approach from your guitar work in your bands?
PM: This album was very therapeutic for me to make. It’s so drastically different from the albums I’m known for writing, but that’s what I love about it: it showcases a whole other side of me. Almost all of these songs were written with me just sitting down at the piano and hitting record. Then I’d go back, and find little themes, and develop them, and of course, build sound textures around that. I really love that process in all the songs I write, whether it’s “Polar Moon”, or for a rock band. But, it was definitely a different process. These aren’t songs that fit any specific “song” pattern; verse, pre chorus, chorus, etc. This was me just taking what I was feeling in the moment, with no specific agenda, and developing from there.
I like to ask this question: do you have any personal favorite track on the album?
PM: “Snow Angels”, and “Snow Angels (quiet)”, MIGHT be my favorites. They’re basically two versions of the same song, and idea, just slightly different from each other. I feel those themes accurately sum up the vibe I was feeling when I set started this. Songs you can listen to on a rainy day (laughs).
The album is released on tape, Side A is your album and the Side B is made of reworks by PITP artists. Are you satisfied with this release and the result? How did it feel to hear your tracks reworked?
PM: I’m really happy with my end result, and I’m BEYOND satisfied with the reworks. It’s truly an honor to have these songs re-imagined by so many insanely talented artists, whom I also truly adore and respect. I’m such a fan of all their individual work, so it was really wonderful to hear their interpretations.
What are you listening to lately? What are your main sources of inspiration while working on music?
PM: I tend to gravitate towards instrumental and ambient music regardless of what mood I’m in, or what project I’m preparing for. Slow Dancing Society, Helios, Stars Of The Lid, to name a few, are always on rotation. More recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of PITP artists: Moss Covered Technology, From Overseas, Benoît Pioulard, etc. I love it all!
Do you plan to play this album live as Polar Moon?
PM: Good question. I’m definitely open to that. It would take a lot of planning and mapping out, to properly put together a live show for this, and it’s definitely on my mind. We’ll see!
Thanks for talking with us today. Congratulations again on the wonderful album. Any last word for people out there ?
PM: Thank you for having me, and thank you to everyone at PITP for this opportunity. Hope you guys enjoy this little album!