Boca Songstress Mandy Moon Says: "It's All About That Soul!"

Amanda Wright, better known as Mandy Moon, hails from Thailand, and came to Boca via New Orleans. Her musical influences are as diverse as the cities she's lived, including jazz and indie sounds. She was also in chorus at FAU, and graduated from the school with a degree in classical voice with an emphasis in studio engineering.

Equipped with musical curriculum and experience, spiked with a tenacious attitude, Mandy is ready to take her band -- which shares her name -- and their music to new levels. "You can make it anywhere," she says. "You just got to know the ropes and the determination to make yourself known, and respected." She may seem tough, but at the end of the day, you'll just want to have a beer with this girl, or, as she likes, kava. Read on to find out about her love of Sailor Moon (no relation), as well as her number one fan, a gnome.

New Times: Describe your musical style.

Mandy Moon: Mandy Moon is a cultured mix of indie rock, soul, blues, and jazz.

What influences you to write music and who are a few of your idols?

What I write about in my music is real life, love, pain, and suffering. A lot coming from my own personal experiences. I leave it all out there and allow others to interpret my words. My goal in my writing is to be relatable and be able to connect with my heart and soul.

As for personal idols, I look to the '70s for sure. Jim Morrison, his style and performance was killer, unlike anyone I've seen. He had the ability to hypnotize a room. Vocalists like Aretha Franklin, Erykah Badu, Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks are just some I'm in love with. I also dig the soul, Motown era. It's all about that soul! Now, let's not forget the blues.

If your music were an ice cream flavor, what would it be and why?

Neapolitan, because we're a mixture of different flavors. We all derive from different backgrounds musically, but initially mold together to form one sound and, well, flavor.

You're from New Orleans. Describe what's different between the music scene there and the South Florida music scene.

Well I was born in Bangkok, Thailand, and lived there until I was about 8. I moved to the states, in turn, moved to New Orleans... This was where my influence of jazz and blues arose. I fell in love with the city.

New Orleans considerably is a non-stop live music city. It's the birthplace of jazz, so you're definitely getting that on every street corner. And, of course, local bands, creole and zydeco bands. It's just packed with talented musicians everywhere. I feel so lucky and proud to have experienced that. All styles of music flourish. There's even certain festivals for certain styles of music.

The South Florida music scene is varied depending on the area. It's also filled with live venues. Ranging from heavy metal to country to jazz, there is a place for everything here also. You just got to go find the niche that fits you.

What did being in the chorus at FAU teach you?

Not just chorus, but studying music at FAU helped me enhanced my musical ability. I studied classical voice with an emphasis in studio engineering. My goal was to be well-rounded as a musician, an artist, and a studio-hand. I wanted to learn as much as I could and make as many mistakes as possible before jumping into real world stuff for sure. Not to mention having an amazing vocal teacher who understood my style and ability, Mrs. Dorchin; She gave me all the skills and motivation to jumpstart my career, and I thank her for putting up with me.

Describe your EP and when it's expected to come out.

Our first EP! Wow, feels good to write. We earned our funds through our Kickstarter in early April. Our goal was to make $2,000, to help fund recording with our good friend Andre Scheidt down in Miami, and to help cover costs for pressing CDs, T-Shirts, Posters. We initially made $2,100, very proud of our efforts. It proved we were creating hype and gaining fans with our work, a definite push forward.

The EP will be available at our CD release party come Fall 2013, early September, at the Funky Buddha Lounge and Brewery in Boca Raton.

If you had to open for a band, what band would you open for?

I would LOVE to open for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. She is such a killer performer and artist. I definitely feel connected to her soulful vibes. The band is super tight, rocking, soulful, and they give everything on stage. It's amazing. Plus that epic light show they got going on is ridiculous. I can't wait to have a stage like that one day.

So gnomes are awesome, but what is the story behind them being on your Facebook page?

Oh yeah (laughs). A friend of mine gave the Gnome to me as a gift for my yard. I just got really attached to it, almost child-like, brought it everywhere. Funny stuff. I brought it to a show and people just loved it. It's definitely a signature thing we carry on our sets. The gnome also sets the space for us, making it our "home" for the night. We put it next to our stickers, merch at shows. You could say he's our number one fan.

What is the story behind your stagename, Mandy Moon; are you nocturnal?

Mandy Moon came from a girlfriend in high school who made fun of me for watching Sailor Moon. She thought, "Oh, well, since you're so obsessed, just be one of them! Mandy Moon." Then I started using it as a nickname. And yes, I do love the moon. I study the moon for spiritual and physical well being. I love nature in general, but the moon sits very close to my heart. It initially became a stage name. I was gigging solo for a few years. I did ask the band if they wanted to change the name, but they agreed that it was known already and we should keep it. It's turned into my business, as a band, engineer, and an artist, my own personal branding.

Who is in your band/what do they play?

The band consists of me. Ron, Brooke, and Sebastian. Ron plays bass, Brooke plays drums/percussion, occasional guitar, Sebastian plays keys, and I am the lead vocalist and play acoustic guitar. Very lucky to have them, they work very hard and are some of the most committed musicians I know. Sebastian is our newest member of the band, We all adore him. It feels good to play with my best friends and know it's always a safe place.

Mandy Moon with Sam Sanders, 9:30 p.m., Friday, August 16, at the Funky Buddha Lounge and Brewery in Boca Raton, located at 2621 N Federal Hwy, Boca Raton. Visit the band's Reverbnation page and Facebook.

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