Moonlit Sailor, a four-piece post-rock band from Sweden, focuses on an emotionally evocative, instrumental sound. With the recent release of their album “We Come From Exploding Stars,” Moonlit Sailor have challenged themselves to create something that was new and different. I had the opportunity to speak with band member Joakim Wiik about what has inspired the band, and the evolution of their music and sound.
In 2007, you guys decided to go instrumental with your work. What was the inspiration and motivation behind that?
We felt like the instrumental parts, such as guitar melodies and atmospheric sounds, more and more took our focus when writing new songs. Eventually, we realized that it could be hard for people to understand our songs, since there were so many different melodies, rhythms and sounds going on at the same time. Something had to be cut. 99.9% of all bands would have toned down the guitar melodies, but we loved them too much. We decided to follow our hearts and go instrumental. That was such a big relief. It made us better.
I also read that Blink 182 was an inspiration for the band. How did that come about?
Moonlit Sailor consists of four childhood friends. We started playing music around the same time as Blink 182 released their success album “Enema of the State.” Blink 182 became role models for us. We learned to play pretty much all of their songs. We could have live shows only playing songs by Blink. We still play those songs sometimes, not live though. We can play them even better than Blink 182 themselves. We’re still inspired by Blink 182 when writing new songs. Guess it’s not too obvious though. But I’m sure the observant listeners can hear it.
What has it been like working in the post-rock genre since?
We are afraid of letting ourselves being a typical post-rock band. There’s already many bands doing that. They’re doing it better than we would. And we don’t have as many guitar pedals as they do. Though, our bassist has a lot more pedals than our guitarist. We’re happy standing a little bit besides the typical post-rock bands, even though we love being considered a part of the post-rock genre for many people. It gives us many opportunities and new listeners. Post-rock fans are generally very curious. They want to hear every new band, which is great. I think it has given us many new listeners.
Moonlit Sailor has been compared to Explosions in the Sky. How do you feel your work is different? How do you feel your work is similar?
When we wrote the songs for our first album “A Footprint of Feelings” we were still very young—about 15-18. We didn’t know about Explosions in the Sky back then. It feels good when people compare us to Explosions in the Sky, because we found our sound without listening to them. When we released “A Footprint of Feelings,” people told us that our music was similar to Explosions in the Sky. We were flattered of course. They are one of the best bands around and if people find similarities between us both it’s great. I think that the most obvious similarity between Moonlit Sailor and Explosions in the Sky is the will to express the melodies. Even though we are instrumental bands we do care a lot about the melodies; they always come first. Generally I think we play a bit faster than Explosions in the Sky. They are old men now; they do not have the strength to play as fast as we do 😉
In your latest album “We Come From Exploding Stars,” there are distinct elements of vulnerability and hope in the tracks on the album. What were some of the challenges writing such material?
The biggest competition when writing new songs is always to make the listener feel something. It’s easy to create massive soundscapes or heavy guitar riffs. But at the end of the day, it’ll be the melodies and chords that makes the listener feel something. If you write good melodies and put the right chords to the melody, you’ll have a great song. It doesn’t matter if it’s played with delay on the guitar or on an organ.
We experienced a lot of creativity when writing “We Come From Exploding Stars.” We had released four albums before this one. We felt like if we didn’t create something really good and new this time, it could be our last release. I think that feeling helped us making the songs more sensitive.
What can fans look forward to from Moonlit Sailor in the future?
Fans will in the future get the chance to see us live. We are planning many tours at the moment. We are touring in Europe in September / October this year. We are also planning to come back to Asia.
Interview by Laura Kemmerer