MPMF 2017: A Conversation with Moonbeau

Although Cincinnati is crawling with bands of all genres, Moonbeau completely stands out from the crowd.

Moonbeau at Midpoint Music Festival / PC: Midpoint Music Festival

Fronted by couple Christian Gough and Claire Muenchen, this power pop duo has a unique sound and awesome stage presence.

I sat down with the band after their set at Midpoint Music Festival to learn about where they came from and where they’re planning on going from here.

TIS: What was the motive for starting a band together?

Christian Gough: I kinda already had it going on. She’s a really good singer, and we were dating, so I asked her to be in the band. We were both working at Urban Outfitters and they were sending me to Phoenix, AZ for a show. They were paying for everything. I didn’t want to go by myself, because I usually just performed by myself, so I invited her. After that we just kept doing it because it sounded good.

Claire Muenchen: He had kept begging me to play for the second Sunday show. I wasn’t into it, I kept thinking “I don’t know, there’s people here…” I would sing in the car with him and I went to school for vocal performance in high school. I studied e-media in college too, so I was in that world already, but I was just nervous to do it again. It was such a commitment, and I wanted to really do it and take it seriously. Right before he was about to play, I was like “okay, I’m going to do it.”

Christian: We’ve just always done it since then. Can’t get rid of her!

Claire: It’s been fun. We started this like two years ago with our drummer, Alex. Before that I saw Christian play solo and he had a guitar, a keyboard, a drum set… I thought, “who is this Dick Van Dyke looking guy?”

TIS: You have stage outfits that are pretty unique and creative. How do you come up with those?

Christian: I feel like I see things and think “I don’t know if I’d wear that, it’s a little bold,” but I’ll do it just for Moonbeau. We wanna take it to the next level a little bit and I want to see how far I can push myself to dress funny.

Claire: I love fashion and I love being someone else…I made a flower jacket for our Fountain Square show. I wouldn’t walk around the street wearing that jacket, but I can get up on that stage and wear it and kill it.

Christian: I might wear a red jumpsuit on a normal day, but I’d feel weird about it.

Claire: We went to Walmart in those jumpsuits yesterday, before we played in Columbus. No one even looked at us weird, which was surprising.

TIS: So you’ve released the single, “Are We In Love Yet?”, what are you planning on doing next?

Claire: We want to send you our next single to premiere!

Christian: We have the first single, another single coming, and a full album that doesn’t even have those two songs on it. We want to get those two singles out so we can release the album. I recorded the two singles a couple of years ago, so to get those out is the next step.

Claire: I’m really excited for the album release, which will hopefully happen within the early months of 2018. Then hopefully we’ll go to South by Southwest. We’re doing a “gold party” for Christian’s 23rd birthday on December 23rd at the Southgate House.

Christian: We’re going to try and apply for every festival that we can for next summer…That’s what I want to do, play festivals. They feed you a lot.

TIS: What does it mean to you to be a musician in Cincinnati?

Christian: I’ve been playing in Cincinnati since I was 13 years old. For awhile people were probably saying, “let’s go check out this band of 14 year olds,” but we eventually grew up. I don’t have any other thing I want to do other than music, or any other skill sets really. I like Cincinnati a lot. It’s a good incubator for my creative stuff.

Claire: We’ve met a lot of good people that are really supportive of us. Not just in media, but other bands have been great to us. We can have great conversations with people playing.

Christian: I had to meet with Alex from Coastal Club like a month ago because I had to figure out a new way to run live tracks. He pretty much helped me make the entire set, rather than just slaving over internet forums.

Claire: As a female, it’s different, and that’s true probably everywhere. There’s not as many women here, especially in pop, despite there being a lot of boy bands. I feel a bit of a responsibility to represent women in the scene. I don’t feel like a musician, ever, so I really want to grow into my own and feel more satisfied playing music. This was Christian’s project and I don’t want to take over; he’s such a great songwriter and producer. I never want to be intimidated by that, so I want to become a better musician and do that in Cincinnati.

Christian: It’s difficult because I wrote everything digitally, so there are so many instruments going on and it’s hard to delegate what should be played live. I think the next album I want to make that easier on myself. I felt like it was frowned upon to use backing tracks until I saw Flint Eastwood at Bunbury, and most of her sounds were backing tracks…

Claire: Leave a comment! How do you feel about backing tracks?

Christian: It’s hard to get people together to play in a band. I’ve already done that with The Yugos, and even four people is very stressful. Moonbeau was a less stressful route, so if we were to add more instrumentation, it would take that away.

Claire: I have a lot of creative input for what I want things to look like, or what the songs are about. I think I’ll take a lot of ownership over logistically planning things, because I did do the e-media program.

Christian: We completely got off on a tangent there!

I’ve been playing in Cincinnati since I was 13 years old. For awhile people were probably saying, ‘let’s go check out this band of 14 year olds,’ but we eventually grew up. I don’t have any other thing I want to do other than music, or any other skill sets really.

TIS: Who are you looking forward to seeing at Midpoint tonight?

Claire: Flint Eastwood.

Christian: Yeah, for sure. I’d like to see Dan Deacon. I haven’t seen WALK THE MOON since they got really big. Last time I saw them was in 2009 at the Mad Hatter and probably four or five people were there. I would like to see where they are now, which is very big.

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