Moonfruits Hoping to Draw in the Crowd for Next Release
Images supplied by Moonfruits.
He was nine when his parents asked him if he wanted to start playing the guitar. He took that guitar, practiced his scales and for the next 12 years led about a dozen different bands. He wore morph suits. He had an alias.
She was a singer in the Oakville Children’s Choir. She moved to Ottawa at the age of seventeen, a student buried under the demands of education soon to realize the something was missing: music. She took a few classical voice lessons but had to give it up when the money ran out.
“While I was a university student, I once had a delicious dream on a train about being in a touring band with my boyfriend at the time and a whole gaggle of kids. I had no idea that that wild possibility would ever be as real as it is today,” she remembers.
He graduated with a Master’s in classical guitar and saw the world waiting. Europe was his first stop. He calls what came next his “big ol’ busking tour”. It was life changing.
“The generosity that people extended towards me as a total stranger – not just the folks that put a little something in my case but the people that took me into their homes – was more heart-warming than I could describe,” he recalls fondly.
She answered an ad on the side of a pizza place. Somebody was looking for choir members. There she met a vocal coach who helped her discover her own voice. Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye would inspire her. Her coach would guide her. It was life changing.
They are Alex Millaire and Kaitlin Milroy and though they were moving in different directions, as though guided by an unseen hand, their life choices were all just bringing them closer together. When the final piece was laid and they stood together for the first time it was…stalled. The duo were quick to put on the breaks before the car even got rolling.
Both knew their feelings for one another were stronger than that of their simple admiration for how well they meshed musically. They jammed together, discovered a mutual affinity for each other’s talents and, slowly, something more. Melding musicianship and relationship was a slippery slope, a hard line to walk. They knew their folk blend worked, the banjos, the glockenspiel, the vocals and the guitar. They harmonized there perfectly. If they crossed that line, they wondered, would something be lost?
“We felt out the friendship slowly enough at first. Both of us had feelings for one another and neither of us wanted to admit it” Alex remembers.
It would take a summer night singing to one another on a park bench and a surprise date organized by a friend to finally have the two admitting they were only fooling themselves. They were a couple. The car was off and rolling.
“I’ve loved Alex since I met him,” adds Katilin, adding that their strong bond as friends remains today. “I think it’s why we can work together. In terms of falling for someone, I fell for his earnestness, his kindess, his honesty, his silliness, his work ethic, his smile, his voice.”
With their romance budding, the duo, now called Moonfruits, would quickly move forward in recording their first album fittingly titled Début. While seeing if the relationship was the right fit, they only strengthened their resolve that music was the right fit and many late nights were spent working on songs.
“We were practicing at all hours of the night in an effort to musically get our feet underneath us,” Kaitlin tells Ottawa Life.
The motivation to work at such a pace stemmed from a desire to travel together, busk like Alex had in Europe. To do that they wanted to have their own material, something they could sell from the guitar case. They completed the album, waved goodbye to their loved ones and the Moonfruits were leaving on a jet plane.
“Busking is a neat experience because you wind up taking on the role of both a visitor and a worker in a place. In that way, you start to see familiar faces, understand how people live their lives, what’s important to them, and, in my view, gain a deeper understanding of what life is like there, “ Alex says.
“It’s also very demanding physically and mentally, especially once you break the six hour mark, which is often the case if you’re looking to really make ends meet playing in the street.”
It wouldn’t be the last time they would busk together. One proposal later, a quick wedding and the two were off again on a busking honeymoon. It was clear that after that slow start, once begun, the couple had a need for speed fueled by respect, music and love.
Earlier this year the two won the Prix Chanson from SOCAN. Their music has been called a revitalized take on folk. That’s what they were going for. To Alex, their songs evoke the old and the new, both walking hand in hand.
“I found folk music to be the perfect medium because it both made me feel part of a long tradition of music-making and allowed for the inclusion of all kinds of influences, whether they be rock, classical, blues, bluegrass or, say, Primus. I love music history and it’s always a trip for me when we get to run all our nerdy little influences through our songs. Sometimes you get a little bit of Palestrina’s choir music, or a glimpse into the middle ages, or a little Dixieland, but it always stays folk, somehow.”
For their second album they have opted to try an entirely different process. Instead of putting together a group of random songs, they have opted to go with a concept album, something usually reserved for, say, ‘70s prog-rock then folk music. The release will tell the story of a fictional village with each song acting as the voice of one of the villagers. The album will touch upon themes of inequality, worsening material realities, hope and faith. It will also be entirely in French and you can be a part of it.
Like many musicians these days, the two have turned to crowdfunding to put this release together. Using the popular GoFundMe site, the two are looking to raise $5,000. At only 12 days in, they are less than $2,000 away. Incentives –outside of helping to fund what is sure to be an amazing release– includes getting your own copy of the album, attendance at a release party and you could even have Alex and Kaitlin over for your own house concert!
“I feel many musicians go this route nowadays because we are generally much poorer as a people than we were even just a generation ago. Wages have stagnated since the late ’70s while the cost of living, education and care has risen dramatically. Money from granting bodies does help tremendously, but it is also distributed in a highly unequal way,” Alex says.
“Folks working in the culture industry now are making a living very much like it was made in the early 20th century, through live performance, with recordings mostly serving to get artists’ names out there. We feel that there is a thirst these days for music that breathes and that’s the kind of music that we want to make. If things go according to plan, the record will sound like it was recorded over a week by a bunch of people in a room out in the farmlands of Eastern Ontario”.
Learn more about their campaign at https://www.gofundme.com/moonfruits. You can hear those beautiful harmonies in person next at the Gray Whale on November 20.