Moon King's new album Secret Life is out today on Last Gang Records, so we asked Daniel Benjamin to guide us through it. Read, listen, fall in love.


I wanted to make the ultimate driving song. People have pointed out that it sounds a bit like Neu!, and I think they were after a similar thing - capturing the rhythm of a freeway. The reason it's called 'Roswell' is because I wrote it in New Mexico. I was driving through with my brother and we stopped around dawn on this massively flat piece of land, just empty desert all around us. He slept a few hours in the car while I sat outside and wrote this. The lyrics are a bit escapist, which is weird on an album that's about trying to look yourself hard in the mirror, but I think the chorus, "no feeling", is a good way to start the record.

'Secret Life'

There's a lot of layering different electronic percussion on this one. The fast kick drum is inspired by footwork music although it's not really obvious. It ended up sounding more like Radiohead's 'Knives Out'. The lyrics are kind of this suburban American horror story, white picket fence kind of thing from the point of view of a young kid. The whole thing has this kind of noir-shadowy feeling going on. To me it sounds very black-and-white. With the 12 string guitar, it's kinda like the Byrds meets The Birds.


This is the one I usually play for people first. It's got a chorus that's easy to remember. "It's impossible"... the impossibility of finding a job, of making any money, of finding something to do in your life that you feel is worth doing and has meaning... also the impossibility of really caring for someone, really loving someone else when you have these hangups and ambitions and fears of your own to deal with. It's about recognizing that it's hard, and fighting for it. Like fighting to get better. By the end it gets really heavy and we have to push our voices hard to sing it properly. I can tell it's working when I see the audience start to let themselves get caught up in it too.

'Come Back'

This is much older than all the others on the record. I wrote it in 2010 with my friend Alex Low - way before I started Moon King - for this band we had together called Hellaluya. It was a super aggressive, very violent kind of electronic punk music. We only did a couple of shows but they were pretty physical; pretty self-destructive. We were both having kind of a rough time and that band was like therapy for us. Anyway... the production on this version is kind of influenced by Tears For Fears and the Bladerunner soundtrack.


Originally this was meant to sound like DD/MM/YYYY, who were a great band out of Toronto in the late 2000s. it was a lot faster and the drums really intense. Then we sort of loosened it up into this groove where you don't notice the time changes, which is good because that kinda thing should never be obvious. Sean played an 808 snare over top of these big tom drums doing all these different rhythms, it just sounds huge when you listen to it all together. Lyrically it's a bit nasty, describing a really negative relationship with someone you're living with - all these domestic problems that get blown out of proportion. You can hear Maddy laughing at one point saying that my singing sounds like Perry Farrell.


This is Maddy's favourite song on the record. It's another kind of noir-influenced one - kind of like a faded black-and-white movie where the film is a bit cut up and you're not sure exactly what you're seeing. Or lost on a dark street, kind of ghostly. The drums are influenced by trip-hop music, and like the rest of the record it's mostly electronic instruments played live. We wanted to capture the energy of five people playing together in a room but keep the sounds all very separate; treat each instrument as if it were a sample of itself.


I feel like this is kind of the centerpiece of the record. We play it first at most of our shows, and lyrically it's very simple; there's only a couple of lines in it. It goes, "somehow I feel no release when I'm alone with anyone else / somehow I fall to pieces when I wake up to nothing where you should be." That kind of introduces you to the mindset I'm in on most of these songs. I'm looking for a release. I wanted the production to feel almost uncomfortable for the first half, so you can feel the anticipation before that release, which happens a couple of minutes into the song. There's no effects or reverb used on anything in the whole track. The guitar is recorded straight into the board without any amplifier (this is how I always like to record guitars) and the vocal is recorded so that it sounds like it's right next to your ear. It's meant to be the most direct form of music - just about the gut feeling. 

'Golden Age'

Definitely the darkest one lyrically, and the hardest one to sing physically, but a few people have told me it's their favourite track. The verses are pretty blatantly about depression, "fall asleep and not wake up again." The chorus is about finding joy and celebration in the fact that you feel anything at all. Like, feeling bad is better than feeling nothing. There's a bit where everything starts spiralling up just before the second chorus that I feel really strongly about. I guess it's cheesy to say, but when the band played that part all together in the studio I got shivers and started tearing up a bit, and I still get a bit of that feeling when I hear it.


After the last two songs being really dark this is kind of the white light; hospital sounding. I was in Georgia or somewhere at this mall parking lot, there was this punk who was in a wheelchair, a big guy with a leather jacket and lots of metal... his friend was pushing him in this wheelchair and he was on the phone, he was really upset, he kept saying "is she alright, is she OK?" it just made me so sad, like there's this really tough kid and he's just broken, emotionally as well as physically, his life is falling apart. So I sat down and wrote in the parking lot as I was listening to him on the phone. This one is recorded differently than the others. I was staying in a little apartment in Montreal and, I won't get into specifics but I had a chance encounter with someone on the street and it really caught me off guard and fucked me up, so I went on the fire escape of my apartment and did one take of the song and that's what's on the record. I couldn't do any editing, it's pretty raw.