The Rifflandia festival in Victoria this weekend has some mighty impressive mainstage headliners lined up. As well as Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals topping the bill on Friday, they've got Charlie XCX on Saturday, and then New Zealand's Lorde closing things out on Sunday.
Lorde's set will be preceded by performances by such acts as Lauv, BBNO$, Priyanka, and Moontricks, but when the Straight contacts Moontricks member Sean Rodman on tour in Oregon, he isn't even aware that the Kiwi electro-pop star is sharing the same stage as him. He's happy to find out, though.
"Oh, is that happening the same night that we're playing?," he asks, surprised. "Cool! Her music's amazing; she's got an incredible sound and blend, and she's just obviously a whole legend in the [electronic pop] scene."
If Rodman hasn't had time to closely peruse the array of performers at Rifflandia, it's because Moontricks--the duo comprised of himself and Nathan Gurley--has been very busy of late. They played a release party for their new album, Currents, with a five-piece band at a packed Commodore Ballroom last Saturday (September 10), and are now in the midst of a Pacific Northwest jaunt that includes shows in Portland tonight (September 15), Seattle on Friday, and Bellingham Saturday.
"We're actually pulling in [to Victoria] on Sunday," says Rodman, "so we'll see how long we get to hang out at Rifflandia for. It's kind of how things have gone over the last little bit, especially this last summer. I mean we've been playing three festivals on the same weekend, often, so we've been just coming and going pretty quickly."
Rodman and Gurley have been working Moontricks full-time--or "living the dream", as Rodman puts it--for about six years now. The two musicians, both in their mid-30s, met up in the tiny southeastern B.C. community of Argenta, where Gurley is from. Rodman hails from nearby Nelson.
"I came from more of a folk background," he explains, "folk and kind of acoustic music, and Nathan came from more of like a hip-hop/electronic-type flavour. And there was so much of that going in the Kootenays at the time--we were all going to the same festivals like Shambhala. I think we really started hanging out at Shambhala, which is a very electronic-heavy festival."
The music Moontricks borrows heavily from the worlds of electronic and folk music, the rootsier element often heard in Rodman's downhome banjo playing.
"I picked the banjo up when I was working at a music store in Kaslo," he says. "It was a pretty quiet music store, 'cause it was a small town, not a lot of traffic coming and going, so I had a lot of time to just pull instruments off the wall and play around.
"It's funny," he adds, "you hear a lot of different descriptors [of Moontricks' music]. This woman who wrote our bio, she described it as 'technicolour campfire', and I was like, 'Oh, I like that.' I mean it is a mix of different things, but it is kind of hard to pinpoint whatever. On Spotify, narrowing in on what kind of genre it is, we have to scratch our heads a bit."
Speaking of Spotify, the band's site on that streaming service reveals that the majority of Moontricks listeners are actually located in Denver, Colorado.
"It seems like our music ends up really resonating with mountain towns," Rodman relates, "and kind of that culture. I mean Denver also has a huge electronic scene, and all kinds of live electronic artists do very well in Denver. But a lot of our music ended up in ski movies and different things like that over the years, and that kinda helped push us into those markets."
As far as where things sit with Moontricks these days, Rodman is feeling pretty positive.
"It's awesome," he raves. "We have like a great year ahead of all kinds of shows, and our album's already doing well. I mean, it'd be nice to have the full band be able to join us on our tours, and I'd be pretty excited about pushing our tours a little bit further--like out of North America. But yeah--pretty happy about all this."
Moontricks performs at the Rifflandia Festival in Victoria on Sunday, September 18. You can find tickets here.