The first time I heard of Rick Moon was in 2012. He was a few years sober then, and his first EP Tired of Sleeping had just been released. The production was shiny and crisp, the songs fun and refreshing. It was a pop album made by a creative and obsessive mind for the simple and noble purpose of making people happy. And it did just that. Rick Moon made me happy.
Three years later here we are, sitting in my one bedroom because Rick is living in a drug treatment facility, and you know, not the best place for an interview. For a guy some consider one of the most innovative minds in local music — not to mention just an overall positive and joyfull soul — the past few years have seen him fall on hard times in the midst of serious drug addiction. Today he’s wearing a white t-shirt, which he quickly points out has a stain on it. He asks for something to remove it with, as he’s saying hello. I don’t have anything, so a Clorox wipe will suffice, he says. He’s fidgety and sits down at my desktop computer. “You want to listen to a song I’m working on?” He asks. I definitely do, and the song is great. It’s going on the next album, Rick says. At that point he hadn't even released Cottage Scenes, his second album which he’s promoting right now, but he’s already fully involved on creating another one.
If Tired of Sleeping was Rick Moon’s moment of sober happiness, then Cottage Scenes — which he's giving away for free on his website — is clearly the relapse album. The vocals are layered and harmonized in harrowingly beautiful ways. As usual the production is inventive, but this time it’s dirtier. The album evokes pain, and when I ask Rick, he admits this is intentional. “I was probably feeling sad,” he says gently laughing to himself. “I guess I made this album to comfort myself in dark times.”
The dark times Rick is talking about are the moments in which he was working on this album. The tells me about "Broken Bubble" one of the songs off Cottage Scenes. “I wrote it after going on runs. After I’d get home, high as a fuck, tired and destroyed, I’d just work on that song until I’d pass out.”
The album’s single, “Overtown,” he wrote in a rehab stint in Delray, while “super depressed” last New Year's Eve. The song describes the historic Miami neighborhood of the same name where Rick would go to cop drugs. “Wear your frown it’s Overtown/you’ll fall down if you’re headed to Overtown,” sings Rick on the final lines of the song. It’s a straightforward and powerful song that describes, in essence, the life of an addict, but it’s also Rick's reminder to himself of what will happen if he relapses. The lyrics tell a sad tale, but Rick's been able to use that pain for good. “Frequenting that area did something to me. But I like to subscribe, like many, to the idea of everything happening for a reason and maybe all of it needed to happen. Maybe the whole point of it was to be able to find beauty even in the darkest places.”
During our conversation I can tell that Rick keeps bringing up the same ideas: growth, redemption, the light at the end of the tunnel. At one point he tells me, “I always intend on transmitting something to the public that can bring a smile to their faces. Even if they had to pass through some sadness in order to get there.”
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It’s curious how sometimes the saddest people are the ones most concerned with making other people happy. With Rick I can tell this is the case. “I know the album is sad, but I don’t think it’s like depressing sad. It’s melancholic. I want it to feel like someone patting you on the back and brushing your hair, comforting you.” Cottage Scenes succeeds in that tall task. It’s a fascinating insight into broken humanity, except it leaves the listener uncertain about one important fact: if its creator has healed at all.
It’s 5 p.m. and Ricky and me have been talking for over an hour. He’s leans against the balcony with a cigarette in hand. He takes a long drag and tells me, “I’m also a really negative guy. I’m cynical...and it hurts me. I have a tough time staying positive.” He gets quiet for a moment then finished his thought. “But, what I think is that...what I did is not who I am. And I’ve been very confused about that for a long fucking time.”