‘Letting Go of You’ is the eighth single to be released on October 18th, 2023, from the independent artist duo Moxxy Jones’ debut synth-pop album, ‘Unnoticed,’ available in Dolby Atmos. This track, an energetic, hard-hitting pop rock tune reminiscent of U2, The 1975, and even some 1980's Brit Pop, is a break-up anthem about the power that can come from letting a relationship go. Thematically, the song aligns with other previously released tracks on love and loss. Yet, unlike some of the other songs on the ‘Unnoticed’ album, this track’s power radiates the strength that results from ending something that simply no longer works.
1. Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind your latest single Letting Go of You and the message you wanted to convey through it?
Milan: At the point in the writing process where the track started to make sense for me, the inspiration was wanting to be on stage with a guitar and just ripping into something. The track ended up having this frantic energy that just really struck me as feeling like you have to get out and make a change. It’s in the context of a relationship but it can really be about anything. You have the feelings and energy bubbling under your skin and you just have to get out there and show the world who and what you are.
Frank: When I first started hearing melodies for this song, they reflected a certain sort of somberness. But that didn’t really fit into the song that it had become until Milan workshopped it and added his guitar track AND we started collaborating with an amazing singer/songwriter on the top-line vocals. All of a sudden, what Milan had transformed into an upbeat rock song now became an anthem about the challenges of breaking up with someone and how that really can make you stronger in the end. I loved that direction, since bringing back some of the sadness from the initial melodies turned into a strong statement of how life’s challenges can really empower you.
2. Your music has been described as a blend of various genres. How do you approach creating a sound that's both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time?
Milan: It starts with appreciating and enjoying a lot of different music. My most recent listens on my phone are Turnstile, Nine Inch Nails, The Stone Roses, Roxette, Miksu / Macleod, Sofiane Parmat, and Jiro Inagaki. Having different things always playing in the background subconsciously telling you to try different things. When it comes to writing music, Frank and I will share what we’re each working on but a lot of the time we don’t tell each other what we’re thinking or what direction we want things to go in. So, we’re each creating in a vacuum to a certain extent. Frank is much kinder with my work but when I get something from Frank, a lot of the time, I’m trying to break it. If he sends a soft piano piece, the first thing I’m doing is trying different death metal drums over it.
Frank: I try to write things I’d like to listen to myself, which inevitably reflects the different styles of music I might listen to on any given day. While I’ve always been drawn to singer/songwriters, I also have a deep appreciation for modern pop, 90s R&B, prog rock, and even hair bands. This necessarily creates some level of familiarity in our sound and a blend of genres - even if not entirely intentional. But it also means that I’m adding my own creative voice to whatever I try to write.
3. What was the creative process like for ‘Letting Go of You?’ How did the song evolve from its initial ballad form to an upbeat rock tune?
Milan: Frank had sent me a pretty worked out piano piece. One melody line really stood out to me and I went down the rabbit hole of chopping everything up, throwing things out, and building things around that melody line. Other than that melody line, I’m not sure what was left from that initial track. Then, I spent a fair amount of time layering synths and experimenting with different effects until I had this wall of sound. It was a piece of ambient music that I really liked the sonics of but it didn’t go anywhere. It wasn’t anything close to a song. We kept the track in the background and I would pull it up every once in a while, play around with tempos and try programming different drum parts to try and get it to do something. Finally, one day, I wrote a bunch of drums and everything clicked. The track had energy. I pulled out a guitar, cycled through some presets on an old Korg A2 rack unit from the 90s and recorded the first few takes of whatever guitar ideas I could come up with. It was about thirty minutes of guitar playing and the whole track had morphed into a rocker. From there, Frank and I cleaned up the edges and reached out to a great singer to add her two cents. A couple of weeks later, we were at Sunset Sound in LA finishing up the track in the same room that The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin had recorded in.
Frank: I had been dealing with some personal stuff and had been writing a lot of little musical snippets, mainly in minor keys, and I ended up just shelving most of them. After doing this for a few weeks, I finally heard a really simple melody in my head, and when I sat down at the piano, out came a ballad. I kept refining it and eventually sent a pretty full thought to Milan to take a listen. In that way, writing ‘Letting Go Of You’ was a pretty typical example of how Milan and I work together. I came up with something really basic, and maybe even a bit somber, sent it to Milan, and then he completely reworked it into an upbeat rock song with driving guitars and room for powerhouse vocals. We then reached out to an amazing singer/songwriter who we worked with on the top-line vocals and turned this into an anthem about the strength that can come from ending something that just doesn’t work.
4. The juxtaposition of empowering lyrics with harmonies that contrast with the music is intriguing. How do you achieve this balance in your songs?
Milan: Contrast and friction create beauty. A great amplifier isn’t a hi-fi stereo machine. It purposefully has imperfections, which are what give you the character. For me, I’m always in search of the tension and the contrast. It’s just interesting to me. I’ve always loved The Police and how Sting’s lyrics were often the complete opposite of the bubbly happy music going on. There’s a lot of other artists like The Smiths that have taken a similar approach. I really like the subversive nature of that approach.
Frank: Music is most interesting to me when it’s a bit unexpected, and I think this song does that pretty well. After we started laying down some early vocal track ideas, we were able to refine the song and focus on every specific element - making sure the bass line was massive, that there were still certain heavy synth lines, and that the melodies and harmonies stood out over all of the music that was now coming into place. If you listen closely, you can even hear some country-inspired harmony lines, which I think is a great contrast to the rest of the song. This whole process takes a lot of patience and a willingness to put the song over anyone’s personal egos - what ends up in the final track is what sounds the best, not what someone likes the most.
5. Working with producer Starita, you expanded the boundaries of your sound. Can you share more about this evolution and the industrial influences in this track?
Milan: I remember hearing Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Head Like a Hole’ on a pre-concert mixtape for a band I went to see. I had no idea what the song was called or who did it. But, “bow down before the one you serve…” was permanently etched in my brain. It was years later when a friend wanted to play me the new band he had just discovered before I actually made the connection that it was Nine Inch Nails I had heard and that they were playing industrial music. That led me down the road to Ministry, KMFDM, the Wax Trax Box Set and all the artists on their label. Growing up in Portland, those bands and that sound really resonated for me in the dreary, rain soaked, Chuck Palahniuk Pacific Northwest. I think Starita has a similar love of industrial music. For his part, I don’t see Starita as trying to shape our sound in any one direction. We come up with a lot of different sounds and ideas and he’s a much more skilled technician than we are. He’s a great sounding board and guide on how to get what we’re after to work.
6. Moxxy Jones is known for pushing the boundaries of pop music. What motivates you to ignore conventions and explore new musical territory?
Milan: Why would you want to be like everyone else? There’s a lot of them, there’s only one of you. I’m trying to make music that I want to hear but I’m not otherwise hearing anywhere. We may not be entirely successful at making the music we want to make, but we’re trying and we’re on our way. Hopefully, other people want to hear what we’re after and want to come along for the ride. But, we’re doing this entirely for ourselves.
Frank: The nice thing about Moxxy Jones is that we just write music that we want to hear, not what someone tells us to write. That allows us to incorporate our inspirations, add sonic elements that may not always be conventional, and let the song develop in a way that’s organic rather than forced.
7. Your musical partnership has been described as a study in contrast. How do your individual influences and creative differences contribute to the unique signature sound of Moxxy Jones?
Milan: What resonates with you and what you want to listen to everyday can be very different from what you appreciate at an intellectual level. 2001 is a fantastic film but if I have to watch one movie every day for the rest of my life, it’s not going to be 2001. While there’s a lot we do collectively, a lot of the music that individually moves Frank or me has the complete opposite effect for the other person. We can appreciate what the other is into but we absolutely are not a fan of it. Since we are our influences, as writers Frank and I are in a seemingly endless cycle of pushing things on each other that we’re not fans of and forcing each other to deal with it and make it something we are a fan of. It’s a labor intensive process but we’re trying to break new ground. Frank comes up with melodies and chord changes that there’s no way I would stumble upon in a hundred years. I think he would say the same about me.
Frank: My influences really come from what my parents listened to when I was a kid. My dad was a huge classical music buff, and that’s probably where I first developed an appreciation for melodies, counterpoints, and complex harmonies. But what I really ended up gravitating toward was the stuff my mom listened to - Billy Joel, The Beatles, the Beach Boys, and other classics. Those influences and the music I was listening to when I started writing my own songs (lots of hair bands, alternative, and even some Top 40) really helped me develop my own sound. When you match this with Milan’s style (incorporating his own influences), you get something that sometimes is a bit weird but always is pretty unique.
8. Your debut album, ‘Unnoticed,’ is available in Dolby Atmos. How does this technology enhance the listening experience, and what led you to release your music in this format?
Milan: We spent a fair amount of time talking with Starita about it and comparing how different things sounded. Higher ups in the industry appear to be invested in it as the future and film appears to be going along as well. You never know how things are going to shake out but you don’t want to be the artist refusing to put your music on CDs but cassettes are the number one seller. You have to try and take a chance to be ahead of the game.
Frank: Dolby Atmos really helps you hear all of the textures in our songs. What may sound like a fairly simple track can sometimes reflect dozens of different instruments, voicings, and production choices. Putting this in a format that allows you to hear this nuance in a new and different way makes a lot of sense. And the fact that this is how the industry is trending further validates this choice.
9. Can you share your thoughts on the significance of being independent artists in today’s music industry, and how it has influenced your fearless creative process?
Milan: In starting Moxxy Jones, the number one rule Frank and I had was that no one was going to tell us what to do. We’re going to follow whatever muse and work with people that excite us and chase whatever we’re hearing. We want people to enjoy what we’re making but business is not dictating what we’re doing. That kind of creative freedom is difficult to maintain in big business. Beyond being a phenomenal artist, Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean are really spiritual guides on that level of integrity. We may end up with fewer toys at the end of the day, but we’re going to make things that matter.
Frank: It’s great being an independent artist because we’re allowed to explore ideas that might otherwise get shelved because they didn’t fit someone else’s preconceived notions of what our music should be. While that may mean that some of our songs might fly a bit under-the-radar, this still allows us to be true to our own creative process and allows our songs to rise or fall based 100% on our own efforts and creative processes. Hopefully people still like what they hear, though!