5 Questions: Moonlover

By Leah Jing

Moonlover is the moniker of Melbourne’s Quang Dinh, formerly of Little Red. The mystic psychedelic rocker is proud to present his debut album Thou Shall Be Free. In tune with his occult signature, Moonlover releases all of his work attuned to the Lunar Calendar, with Thou Shall Be Free gifted to us under the blessings of March's Full Moon.

We talked to Quang Dinh, about his newest album, Thou Shall Be Free.

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You’re about to release your debut album, Thou Shall be Free. Can you tell us about the process behind creating this body of work?

This one has been a long time coming. I’d previously done three solo EPs as a kind of apprenticeship leading up to making this LP. I spent a lot of time on my own in my bedroom, in winter, looking at the moon, thinking about love, imagining. I had a tinge of blossom, a pang in the heart and a strange spirit that was around that informed a lot of the songs. I recorded it all alone, my little secret project, a bit of what’s he building in there? Looking back, it’s hard to say how it all got done. There’s zillions of tracks on each track and I didn’t have a strict methodology to get it done. The main thing was I tried to access the subconscious and see what was there. Then I entered a kind of conversation with these songs, trying to hear what they were asking for and then providing it.

You’ve written that the title track, Thou Shall Be Free, was gifted to you by David Bowie, who came to you in a dream. What was it like to meet the man? 

Previous to the dream, I had had a really deep experience listening and watching the film clip to Blackstar. David Bowie had died and when I watched the clip it really felt like he was trying to pass something on. His final message. There was some energy in his eyes that literally jumped into me.

I don’t really remember the dream at all, the only real evidence of the dream is this song. I remember hearing Bowie sing the first lines of the song to me and then slipping into half-consciousness. I sleep with my guitar and reached over to it, finding some chords and making sure to keep one foot in dreamland. The rest of the song poured out pretty quickly after that. Freedom has always lived in my head as one of those mighty, colossal kind of ideals, so that might have something to do with the lyric too.

You release all of your music in synergy with the Lunar Calendar—what does the Year of the Dog have in store for you?

The fact that is the Year of the Dog seems quite propitious to me as I am signed to a label called Our Golden Friend. The symbol for the label is a golden labrador. This year, I hope to play more, write more, experience more. The road seems open and wide. I also look forward to the moonier months, when it is cold and dark and the workings of the subconscious are more easily accessible. I hope to finish another record this year.

Tell us about one of your favourite tracks on the album.

Mekong Delta Blues is a song introduced by my father. I started secretly recording our conversations and what you hear in the introduction is my father translating one of his poems. He’s really been opening up more and more in his older age and it’s so great for him to share his stories with me. It’s a song with no lyrics, just a kind of memory of something that you might have once called home.

Making music as an Asian-Australian, how do you find the Australian music industry? As listeners, how can we advocate for better representation of POC within the music sector?

I find I make music as a musician and don’t think too often about being an Asian-Australian in the industry. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a proud Vietnamese man. But I just feel like a musician, reaching out in the dark, trying to gather paradise. I think if you want to advocate for better representation, your habits, your thoughts and your words are what count. Support artists that you dig. Give them a push. Get the word out. That helps them gain confidence and be able to give more and more. Get behind what hits you.