Theirs is music you can prance around the house to, lay in someone’s loving arms to, drive down the country road with or take on a road trip and listen to. Their harmonies soar or zoom; natural and instinctive. Melodies like swooping birds or airplane glides and sometimes like carnival rides. Their lyrics like organically grown vegetables in the backyard, the roots of their varied rhythms played with no false hopes or pretenses. You’ll hear waltzes, two-steps, campfire strumming guitars, fingerpicking folk style, and you might envision ballerinas, tap and freestyle dancers. Ahhh, it’s just what you need.
This self-described “undie folk” duo (or trio or more!), The Moon and You is made from the creative minds, skillful fingers, hands and voices of newlyweds Melissa Hyman and Ryan Furstenberg as well as other quality friends who sometimes stop in and shine alongside.
It is their love story that we savor today; and in this ever changing world in which we live it makes me emphasize how poignant or fun it can be to escape into their romance, their funny stage presence, their musical narratives.
Connecting to their songs is easy as 1-2-3, a-b-c and do-re-me. Their increasing numbers of fans and expanding tour opportunities is testimony to their gains as they better the world one song, one venue, one show, one tour at a time; all of it because they love each other, humanity and sharing music. Their songs capture all the pathos in two-three minute segments.
Fans are waiting for their next CD release currently in the works with a TBA release in 2016. While on the last leg of their Florida Extravaganza Tour during the 2nd week of 2016, I asked Ryan and Melissa about their love, their music and their goals.
1. Who plays what instruments?
Melissa – Funny you should ask – it’s always changing! As of today, Ryan plays banjo and acoustic guitar; I play cello, guitar and ukulele.
2. How did you come up with the name The Moon and You.
Melissa – It comes from an insult by Groucho Marx, in the movie Cocoanuts. We’re both fans of the Marx Brothers.
Ryan – And of irreverence and mischief.
3. What’s unexpected for this next record?
Melissa – We’ve never put out a fully produced record with a full band. Previous releases like our 2013 acoustic EP, The Ocean’s Lonely Daughter were done live with two instruments and two voices. The new record reflects ways we’ve been learning and growing.
Ryan – Our great friend Ryan Lassiter [Uncle Mountain] produced, recorded, played drums and sang back up. Readers can get a sneak peek by visiting reverbnation.com/themoonandyou.
4. How/where/when did you first meet?
Melissa – We don’t know!
Ryan – We ran in the same circles for a while, and then I started making eyes at Melissa at a party.
5. Where and when did you feel that “in love” feeling for the other?
Melissa – I think there was a mutual crush thing going on, and I wanted to spend more time with Ryan and play music with him. I knew if I invited him to do some shows with me, it would mean we’d need to rehearse, which meant he’d come over to my house and I would cook for him. That gets ‘em every time! On our “first date” we drove to Winston-Salem to play at senior homes, and came back to Asheville in time for a show Ryan had at the Grey Eagle. I was in love by the time we were cuddled up on the couch in the green room.
Ryan – She cooked for me. Honestly, it felt right from the get-go and has only felt better with time.
6. Talk about your individual processes and how you come together to co-write.
Melissa – It’s always evolving. It’s taken a while to become comfortable collaborating on lyrics though we’ve been co-writing in other ways for years.
Ryan – My writing process is stream-of-consciousness. It often starts with a chord progression and/or a melody, lyrics follow. I try different instruments, different styles while a song is in progress …
Melissa – Ryan can play anything. He explores the possibilities of a song before completion. My method is the opposite. I begin with lyric and structure. Then I add melody and chords. I’m usually inspired by an overwhelming feeling and use the framework of lyric-writing to help process and put words to what’s going on in my head.
Ryan – These days there’s more collaboration going on at various stages of the process…
Melissa – Which is a Jedi-level relationship-skills challenge!
7. Name your favorite song to play these days and why.
Melissa – We’ve written 12 new songs in the past few months. New material is fresh air for us, and reminds us how exciting it is to be creative for a living.
8. Which songs get the most attention/applause/comments?
Melissa – The Bottom has these huge vocal harmonies, a slow waltz feel, and a gospel-style chord progression…
Ryan – People connect with it; it’s easy to feel in your bones. Folks are digging the breezy, uptempo, bluegrassy stuff.
Melissa – Those are pretty good crowd-pleasers anywhere, but especially in areas where NC-style music is more of a novelty.
9. Imagine what your lives will be like musically, looking into the future.
Melissa – We have big plans! While we’re waiting for this full-length record to come out of the oven we’re working on a new EP: six songs with full string arrangements.
Ryan – We hope to do a fundraiser show for that project very soon so check our website for that announcement.
Melissa – Oh man, we’re excited about that one! We’ll be recording the strings EP with producer Daniel Shearin [Uncle Mountain, River Whyless].
Ryan – We hope to do another, similar EP project but with horns. I’m pretty stoked on the whole tuba-as-bass concept. We want to return to Europe to tour with musicians we met on our honeymoon tour last year. In April we’re hoping to do some shows with Scottish and Belgian friends when they cross the pond to tour.
Melissa – For us, touring is one of the best things about being a professional musician.
Ryan – We especially want readers to know about TWO local shows on Valentine’s Day: Melissa will be playing early at Isis with Sweet Claudette, and then The Root Bar in East Asheville at 10:30pm with our punk/metal side project, Electric Shark Thermometer which features members of Tina & Her Pony, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, and the two of us screaming alarmingly over distorted guitars.