Spotlight On... Thundermoon

Ahead of the release of their debut EP, we shine a spotlight on uplifting Edinburgh synth trio Thundermoon

Feature by Tallah Brash | 21 Sep 2023
  • Thundermoon

Edinburgh-based three-piece synthpop outfit Thundermoon's debut EP We're Still Here landed in our inbox last week and we can't get enough. It's full of soaring synths, uplifting chord progressions, dancefloor-ready beats and powerful, often feel-good lyrics. What's more, the EP's four tracks play through continuously with the songs beautifully segueing into one another. It's a strong introduction for sure, and one that certainly has us excited for what the future holds for Thundermoon.

With the EP out tomorrow, alongside a launch party at Leith Depot tomorrow night, we shine a spotlight on the trio and get to know Thundermoon a little better.

Firstly, how did you meet and what made you want to make music together?
Kat Messer: We’ve known each other for over ten years, though Thundermoon only started within the last two years. I met Lorna in around 2007 when she worked at the cinema, and I was in my 6th year of high school (LOL). We met Shaz through mutual friends in around 2013 around the time I was starting my previous band. 

Shaz Jamieson: We met in our local gay bar! 

KM: We all came together for a jam session in autumn 2021 and then formed Thundermoon in early 2022. Me and Lorna have always had a very ride-or-die relationship, and in the thick of lockdown, we tried a few Zoom-based jam sessions, but the slight delays made it not that possible. We wanted to start a band as soon as all of this was over, and asking Shaz to join us was a no-brainer. 

Lorna Kelly: Yeah, I’ve been making up silly wee songs and playing around a campfire for years. After lockdown, I was so happy to be able to be around music again! I was so desperate to be immersed in sound. I had never been in a band before, but I knew we needed Shaz for their amazing voice and keyboard skills.

SJ: Musically, we had all dabbled separately for about a decade and were brought together by Kat's master plan.

KM: Haha yeah, I’d had the idea for a synth band in the back of my head for a while, and post-lockdown I accosted Shaz at a friend’s birthday party, telling them about my new synthesiser and that we should totally start a band. I’d spent years listening to Shaz at parties, who would just sit down and play Joni Mitchell’s entire Blue album from start to finish. When I first met Shaz I was introduced to them as 'Keyboard Shaz', and that’s what they’ve remained as in my phone all these years. 

The music you’re making together has a real uplifting feel to it, who/what inspires the kind of music you’ve found yourselves making together?
SJ: We're inspired not only by our favourite artists, like CHVRCHES and LCD Soundsystem, but also we leave space for all of our own unique experiences of reality to blend in a musical form.

KM: Aside from the above influences, I’d also add Underworld, Dream Kid, and old-school 80s synth bands like New Order. I suppose we’ve all been through the wringer in all sorts of ways over the years, and the music we make is a bit about still being here after all of it, about getting through it together. That feels pretty uplifting, and I think a lot of people can relate to that.

LK: Yeah, inspiration from all life throws at you, and the people that save you from it. Pals are so important for your mental health. We also just love jamming and making tunes together, so sometimes one of us will bring an idea to the table that we all really connect with, and it all just kind of flows from there, and starts to write itself. And if I can squeeze a little drum and bass inspired beat in there I’m happy.

Your debut EP, We’re Still Here, is out on Friday. Can you tell us about some of the themes found across the record?
KM: This EP is kind of about the end of the world, but in a slightly hopeful way. The main themes for us in this record are of queerness, mental health, the apocalypse of decaying capitalism, friendship, community, and solidarity. For us, We’re Still Here connects and applies to all of those. The idea of still being here, still pushing through.

SJ: The EP title came from the first track Stay Alive. The phrase ‘we’re still here’ is basically our protest song. As an all-queer band, we wanted to represent and write a song for empowerment.

LK: Dust is another track that’s about the end of the world, if it even exists! We wrote this one in January when Kat brought the idea to us after Christmas; it all started on Vocoder with the chorus hook – ‘Will this all end in dust? / Will this all end with us?’ I love simulation theory and anything Matrix-related, which is mentioned in the lyrics. There’s some eco-anxiety in there as well, which I think is pretty common right now for a lot of people. 

KM: Our debut single Wild, the third track on the EP, is about escaping the late-stage capitalist hellscape that we’re all trying to survive in. It’s about laughing away the pain, having an adventure with your pals, putting your toes in the water, and climbing trees. Like, if the world is going to end, let’s meet in the wild, let’s start again. 

The artwork has a UFO on the cover – what was the reason for this?
LK: We all love space, and the moon, and the stars, and black holes, and whatever else is out there! It would be pretty cool to just jet off in a spaceship and fly somewhere that’s not run by Tories and millionaires. We wanted Arthur's Seat in the background too, it’s a very special place.

SJ: We all relate to feeling a wee bit ‘other’ and wanting to escape to alternative realms. Space also features in our creations as a solution to our apocalyptic lives.

KM: So many reasons for the cover. As Lorna said, we all have a really deep connection to Arthur’s Seat, it seems to be a bit of a magnet for us. So many special things have happened there, some of them unexplainable. We took all the shots for the EP there – including the covers for our singles Wild and No Regrets – we have our amazing pal and super talented photographer Blanka Bandi to thank for those.

The idea for the UFO sort of came to us all at once. With the EP being about the end of the world, and the idea of starting again and building something better that works for everyone, not just for a few, we couldn’t think of anything more perfect than a UFO over Arthur’s Seat. Maybe that has already happened a couple of million years ago, or last week – we think it probably has. We’re also heavily inspired by all those classic nostalgic movies and shows like E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and The X-Files, which all fit with the synthy vibes too. 

SJ: Also, it just looks cool!

To celebrate the launch of the EP, you’ve got a launch party at Leith Depot on Friday too. What can people expect on the night?
LK: We have some super cool cassette tapes for sale that are fully DIY. Honestly, it’s been a huge deal to make these so we really hope folk are going to love them as much as we do. Also, they are made from recycled purple plastic! 

SJ: A varied and cosmic collection of inspiring local artists and queers, and a safe, welcoming space where we celebrate uniqueness! [Also], radge synthy beats and fairy lights!

KM: All of the above! We’ve invited some of our super talented friends to perform, so folk can expect some awesome performances too. We have our incredible pal Lisa Fannen – an amazing spoken word performer who uses sound textures and loops. We also have our friend Elsie MacDonald who is an awesome local folk-punk singer-songwriter, and we have the one and only Sha Rivari – the 21st century one-person synth-punk band. 

LK: I’m really looking forward to the afterparty to be honest, there’s a lot of build-up to events like this and it will be very nice to ride the adrenaline to the wee hours. We’ve been putting some hilarious gift bags together as well, we’re not very good at half-assing things.

And what does the future look like for Thundermoon? What's next?
SJ: A band writing trip to space with a hot tub. Evolving our soundscapes and building upon our setlist. And general good vibes.

KM: I think we want to gig more and write more. This year has been awesome, playing shows for Sofar Sounds, Meadows Festival, and the Fringe. We’re already booked up until February next year. Next up we have another event at St James Quarter, followed by our Halloween Party at the Wee Red Bar with some special guests, and a slot coming up at Sneaky Pete’s at the end of November, with a couple more shows at Leith Depot in between. A busy end to the year, but can’t wait to gig the EP. We’re having such a blast making music and playing shows. We’ve made so many new friends and everything feels a bit more hopeful than it did before. 

LK: We really need some time to deep-dive into all the gear we now have – for me it’s really been a learn-as-you-go situation. That and making time to write some new songs; we’re going to get away for a few days, somewhere with minimal interruptions, a wee bit of peace and bloody quiet (and a hot tub).

KM: Somewhere out in the wild. 

We're Still Here is released on Friday 22 Sep; Thundermoon play Leith Depot, Edinburgh, 22 Sep