FAULT Favourite: Ripley Johnson of Moon Duo & Wooden Shjips – Austin Psych Fest 2012

Ripley Johnson of Moon Duo & Wooden Shjips

Last year FAULT had the pleasure of interviewing Ripley Johnson of Moon Duo and Wooden Ships. Both his musical projects will be playing AUSTIN Psych Fest this year April 27th-29th. Check out a portion of our Interview with Ripley:

San Francisco’s Moon Duo was formed in 2009 by Wooden Shijps guitarist Ripley Johnson and his partner Sanee Yamada. The band has released two critically acclaimed Ep’s Killing Time (2009) and Escape (2010). The crafting of Mazes was both a musical and life journey for the twosome which found them expanding their sound and diversifying their recording process.

FAULT: Ripley this was a different recording process than your
previous material. What made you decide to change from exclusively
recording at home to then make the move to mixing the album at a
studio in Berlin?

Ripley: We mixed the album originally in San Francisco and weren’t completely
satisfied. We thought we had about an EPs worth of material. Some
friends of ours run Kaiku Studios in Berlin, so we thought it would be
fun to go there, remix and record some additional material. The
working title of the album at the time was “Die Blumen” so it seemed

FAULT: How did you find the new/different studio environment effected
the recording process?

Ripley: It gave us a different perspective on the material. And working with
the Kaiku guys was really helpful, having their input. Also, just
walking through Berlin everyday to the studio had some effect on our
mindset. It’s a very distinctive and vibrant city.

FAULT: Are the final tracks vastly different from the original
recordings you did in San Francisco?

Ripley: Not really. We re-recorded some parts but mostly added clarity to the
tracks. We removed some grime, allowed them to shine.

FAULT: Originally the name of the album was Die Blumen, what made you
decide to change the name to MAZES?

Ripley: We recorded a song called Flowers (Die Blumen) for the album but it
just didn’t fit well with the rest of the tracks. It was written a bit
later and had a different vibe. And then, thinking about the album as
a whole once we finished, the theme of Mazes seemed more
representative anyway. The song is about choosing paths in life,
basically, and that was on our minds when we recorded in San
Francisco, as we were about to move away from the city.

FAULT: You mentioned in the press release that “a lot of our music
has something to do with the mythology of the road”, Did you approach
writing the album’s tracks as planned journey knowing your final
destination or did you take the scenic route getting inspirations
along the way and seeing where the road took you?

Ripley: The writing and recording happens very quickly and ends up reflecting
whatever’s happening at the time. As I mentioned, we were planning to
move from San Francisco to the mountains while we made the recordings,
so that was a big influence. We were preparing for a journey and
didn’t know where it would eventually lead us. We’re still in that
process. And that’s a big theme of the record.

FAULT: What were some additional sources of inspiration behind the
songs on Mazes?

Ripley: In the broadest sense it is change and the how the decisions one makes
affects one’s life –in the macro sense. I’m a big believer in
intention, that everything that happens is manifested first in the

FAULT: How important to you as an artist are the visuals that go along

with your music?

Ripley: I think they play an important role but I’m not a good designer, so we
often have to farm that part out. I don’t like that. I’d love to do it
all. We usually come up with the concept but need help in the
execution. As far as video, Sanae has started doing that with this
record and has a real talent for it. She’s done phenomenal videos for
Mazes and Scars. And the artist E*rock has done one for Fallout, which
will come out later.

Mazes – Di­rect­ed by Sanae Ya­ma­da

FAULT: You’ve been touring North America for the past month have you
been playing most of the material from Mazes?

Ripley: We’ve been doing five tracks from the new album plus some oldies.
We’ll probably add a couple more to the set list before coming over to

FAULT: What artists/musicians inspire you?

I’m inspired especially by those who live the artist’s life, who are
committed to it. But not just musicians. I just discovered the Los
Angeles artist Roger Herman. People like that. I love Wallace Berman.

FAULT: What is your FAULT?

Ripley: Nothing. I was born this way!