If you feel yourself slowly becoming a slave to your screen as a result of the events of this horrendous year, Melbourne’s Moth is here to grab you by the scruff off your neck and slap you the hell out of it. When he isn’t bashing the cans for Gonzo, Darcy Berry has been pouring his soul into composing a contagious brand of proto post-punk that explores the existential threat associated with losing our humanity to digital devils. Speaking with the mind behind the madness, we discovered how a series of fortunate events lead to the development of a fully-fledged live outfit and a series of successful tapes.
Throughout university, Berry first concocted a visual arts collective under the moniker of Moth Creative. Directed to produce graphic design for a multitude of musical practicalities, Berry would soon apply the same title to his demo recordings and align the two modalities under the same enigmatic banner; “It almost became this alter ego or this mask that I could put this name to everything I made. I’ve always called Moth my alter ego”. Inspired by the symbiotic interplay between music and visual art, Berry was forever fuelled when working in either creative arm; “If I was making an album cover for a band, I needed the audio to match it to what I was making visually. With music being influenced by art, I was always into Dada and collage and then I realised I could take those principles of art and use them with music and mash up different styles. Use the freedom of art to influence music”.
Through two riotous EPs released this year in the form of Machine Nation and the more recent Modern Madness, Moth’s crusade against a computerised dystopia is off to a flying start. Recorded collectively within a similar timeframe, Berry blames “it on luck and laziness” that they would later be broken down into two cassette releases made to alert audiences to the horrors of artificiality ensconcing itself in our everyday lives; “The music was driven by a fear of technology taking over, because it has sorta already happened. I remember the first time I read 1984, I was just like, oh shit this is true, this stuff is happening. As the world has progressed technologically it’s almost becoming scary. People are definitely aware of it but they’re not really doing anything about it”.
In an effort to capture a sound that’s “rough but also shows the scary side of digitalism”, Berry places his Arturia Microbrute to the forefront of arrangements following a crash course whilst living in his first Melbourne share house; “My housemate was a really big synth guy and I was doin’ all these demos with bass drums and guitar and I felt like something was missing. I started using his synths and they fit the space perfectly”. Not letting lack of experience hinder him, Berry’s instinctive spontaneity helps conjure vivid synth sounds that replicate robotic ruins; “Using the synth was a challenge but I think a lot of it comes down to fluking it. Even now I don’t really know how to work it and I probably couldn’t recreate the same sound twice”.
Initially intended as a personal recording project, Moth has grown into a band boasting local stars of the Melbourne underground. It’s something that Berry once again denotes to his fling with good fortune; “It was honestly another fluke. Nobody really knew each other. Veeka (Nazarova, Kosmetika) and Mikey are a couple but they didn’t really know Zoe (Body Maintenance) or Mick (Byers, Alien Nosejob). Mick was probably my closest mate and I hadn’t really known Veeka and Mikey for that long but I didn’t know Zoe at all. She came about by me getting my haircut off a friend and I asked if she knew any drummers and she mentioned Zoe. I met her and asked her and it all just worked out so perfectly”. With each member helping to evolve Moth’s music with their own engaging live inflections, Berry prizes the refreshing experience of piloting his own project when compared with experiences in Gonzo; “Gonzo is definitely more a group thing whereas with Moth I can just go my own way and do what I want and I don’t have to please anyone else. Moth is more me just freestyling and trying to make songs as weird as possible with no boundaries. To hear that people have heard them and enjoyed them, it’s awesome. It’s a nice feeling”.
Having had both tapes sell out, Modern Madness is set for a re-release with Marthouse Records. Berry’s first batch donated proceeds entirely to Pay The Rent, movement, a cause that resonates with him and the Melbourne music community; “I really love the Melbourne music scene and the fact that we’re doing it on stolen land means that wherever we can, we should be giving back. It’s a terrible thing that happened to indigenous people in this country and you should Pay The Rent wherever you can, even if it’s just through a cassette or whatever”.
Whilst Berry denotes much of Moth’s successful start amid a cataclysmic year to good fortune, there needn’t be any more in the future if the quality of their first two tapes are anything to go by. Amid all this luck, however, lies one missed opportunity with a poignant potential that Berry hereby reflects on; “There’s a song on Machine Nation called ‘2021’ and I thought, fuck, I should’ve called it 2020. If only the pandemic happened a year later”.