Calgary synth-pop artist Hello Moth on performing, evolving and having fun

“By the way, that was a moth wasn’t it?”

“Yeah. That was a moth. It happens a lot. They’re not even supposed to be awake right now. But here he his, here I am.”

And here we are.

It’s early afternoon and we’re sitting on the patio of Inglewood eatery Madison 12/12, and one moth just bumped into the interviewer sitting across from another Moth — Calgary artist Hello Moth.

The weirdness disrupts things only briefly, if not fittingly.

The musical Moth is thoughtful on this day, which is just after he returned from a recording session in much smokier Invermere and just before he hits the road on a two-week run, which kicks of Friday, Aug. 24 at the King Eddy.

He’s stepping in for friend and fellow local artist FOONYAP on the Canadian part of the tour exchange she set up and booked with Czech Republic band Ba:Zel, but couldn’t participate in (hence the FOONYAP Presents … that graces the posters).

The Alberta and B.C. jaunt with the ambient duo is something he’s very much looking forward to, not only because it’s taking him to some towns and cities that he’s never performed, but also because it’s getting him out of the studio and into a place that’s more natural to him — the live performance setting.

“I think the live element is where I feel the most like myself,” the electro-pop artist says. “I think I question a lot of the decisions that I make in the studio and I definitely question a lot of the decisions in terms of public image and posting social media content, that always seem to just trip me up.

“But when it comes to just getting onstage I think I leave the questions behind and it just feels really authentic. And I think in terms of that, like, unquestioning feeling, I feel the most confident and probably most proud of what I’m doing live.”

And it’s something that’s helped build his reputation as one of Calgary’s most exhilarating artists and also shape his music — you can often find him trying new material out at open jams around the city, including the one across the street from where we sit, at the Ironwood — as it has grown and evolved over the past half decade under the Hello Moth moniker (one he prefers to be used exclusively at this time).

His career certainly started on something of a high-note, with his debut Infinitely Repeated, a pretty and proggy work that earned acclaim from all corners of the globe — his gorgeous vocals, his sweet, synthy sound pushing him into the spotlight.

He’s since followed it up with what he describes as “Infinitely Repeated 2.0,” 2016’s Slave In A Stone, before dropping the sweet and dreamy EP Nebula Songs late last year.

Those new songs he’s been working on are for an album that he’s hoping will see the light of day in March of next year, and at least one of those tracks, Arm’s Length, will make it onto the setlist for the current tour, perhaps giving fans a preview of where his ongoing evolution has taken him.

“It’s a bit of a darker jam, but then it ends up turning into a pop chorus,” he says.

Actually, that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to where he started from and where he was the last time a Hello Moth project dropped, and especially to those who may also have been exposed to him through his mainstream breakthrough — as the producer and co-writer of Calgary singer Jocelyn Alice’s hit Jackpot.

Along with providing him a bit of a financial cushion, allowing him to pursue music full time, it also gave him something of a guiding light for what he was doing with his own art.

“In some ways I could say that it confused me because it opened up this side of possibilities and perspective that I wasn’t really aware of before,” he says.

“Just the idea that some part of the sounds that I was working on as Hello Moth could be commercially viable on a pop scale was initially confusing just because I wasn’t sure if that was something that I should embrace for myself … and would it really be true to what I wanted to do.

“But it was something that as I was considering it, I found ways to filter it through what I’d already been doing in ways that I think advanced my writing.”

We’ll have to wait until early 2019 to see exactly how much it affected the music of Hello Moth, which still his main focus despite his other forays into production for other artists and co-writes.

One of the latter is something he’s particularly proud of a song co-written with Ontario artist Glass Apple Bonzai called Lucid Dream.

So happy with how it turned out were they that when GAB was in town, they rented out Heritage Park and filmed a video for it. Because of the “budget deficit” that comes with using one of the city’s historic sites and the staff that came with it, Hello Math has set up a PledgeMusic campaign to get it out there, get it seen and get it heard.

“It’s pretty bizarre and special, and I think because it’s not core to exactly what I’m doing,” he says and pauses. “Sometimes it’s hard for me to allow myself to have fun with things, because I worry about what fun means, in a weird way.

“But I had a lot of fun with this.”

(Photo courtesy Kenneth Locke.)

Hello Moth performs Friday, Aug. 24 at the King Eddy. Tickets are available at the door.