Moon Sounds: Grave City Interviews the Dallas Shoegaze/Postpunk Label

 Dallas label Moon Sounds will celebrate its 5th year in 2017. With about 30 artists on its roster, Grave City decided to interview the shoegaze and postpunk imprint.

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In person, Jacques Urioste is quiet and unassuming — even reserved. But the label owner’s humble in-person demeanor belies the impressive years-long accomplishment of his Dallas imprint, Moon Sounds Records. Later this year the Texas shoegaze and dream-pop label will celebrate its 5th anniversary, and Jacques is well on his way to marking that achievement with a showcase next week (March 13) at Club Dada and a new EP by electronic dreamwave act Lunar Twin on March 17.

With about 30 artists on his roster — including acts from as far away as Sweden, Denmark, and Australia — and four previous label showcases behind him, I asked Jacques if anyone in Dallas had interviewed him before. “No one has officially. Or formally for that matter,” he responded. “Someone tried to once, but I had a feeling they did just to get free stuff. They never posted about it.” Well, Grave City to the rescue!

Below, I caught up with Jacques about Moon Sounds’ past, present, and where his noteworthy venture is headed in the future.

moonsoundsrecordslogoJacques Urioste/Moon Sounds Records was interviewed by Oliver/Grave City in March, 2017.


When did Moon Sounds start? How long have you been around?

Moon Sounds Records started in December of 2012, on a whim. I needed a healthy outlet to cope with the stresses of all that I had going on at the time and one day, on my way home from a particularly bad day; I looked up and saw the moon. It was in its waning crescent position so it appeared as though smiling. I’ve always had a fondness for the moon. So when I got back to my place, I was sitting on the floor with a pen and napkin, doodled out the logo, thought of the name, and told myself that I would follow through with a passion project. Most of my friends were in bands or working on other cool things so the label was definitely something different. I had no idea where to start and then a band posted on FaceBook, “Who’s going to release our seven inch record?” I chimed in and almost four and a half years later , still here.

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Dallas, the Anti-Trump City

By about 2 to 1, Dallasites voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. That is, 459,000 Dallasites voted for Hillary and 262,000 voted for Trump, according to official polls. All major cities in Texas voted against Trump, too. So how did Trump win all of Texas last November?

The same reason he won the electoral college: Sparsely-populated rural areas that are over-represented in congress. Not only did 459,000 Dallasites vote for Hillary, 24,000 Dallasites voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson.  6,000 voted for the Green Party’s Jill Stein. As in San Antonio, Houston, Austin, and El Paso, the “please, no Trump” ticket carried the vote easily. All of Texas’ major cities chose anyone but Trump in the big election of 2016. Trump was the least-liked in all Texas’ cities.

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As well, Hillary won the national popular vote overwhelmingly by almost 3 million votes — a record number, by anyone’s standards. But Trump won the electoral college. The electoral college favors rural, sparsely populated areas. And rural counties carried the day in Texas, too.

Most of Texas, in fact, is comprised of rural counties — broad stretches of farmland with few people inhabiting them. It’s incredibly important real estate: the people that work this land are the backbone of American agriculture.

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Dallas post-industrial band Awen appears on PBS Antiques Road Show

Long-running Dallas neofolk/post-industrial act Awen, who are on Dais Records, and who’re labelmates with Drab Majesty and Them Are Us Too,  appeared on PBS’ Antiques Road Show January 9, 2017. It presents a rare time a Dallas band has had national exposure. Grave City felt it had to be documented!

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The band had a Freethinker volume from the 1880s that was valued between $200 – $300. Freethinker was a radical 19th century periodical that presaged the 1910s-1930s free speech movement.

Awen have been around in the North Texas area for about 17 years now. They have tried to bring the occult spirit of Current 93 and Death in June to the Republic of Texas for many years.

You can read an interview of mine with Awen and Gabhar (later called Dying and Rising) here.

(Thank you Andrew Neal for the screen shots.)

Gothic Rock and Deathrock in DFW in 2016 – Grave City’s Quick and Dirty Guide to the Best Bands

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Emphasis on the dirty. Dallas has quietly been cranking out quite a few gothic rock, deathrock, and dark postpunk bands in the past few years. This is a guide to a few — BUT NOT ALL — of them, and it’s why Dallas might just be the sleeper capital of traditional gothic rock not just in Texas, but in the larger US southwest region.

A few caveats: The following list is by no means exhaustive. It’s meant as more of a starting point for your own discoveries. I’m always interested in things I have overlooked; email me.

Lastly, a qualification of terms: By “gothic rock,” I mean gothic rock rooted in the traditional guitar-driven, human-on-a-drum-kit, punk-was-our-foundation style of gothic rock, and not post-1990s dark dance club music that calls itself “EBM” and “industrial” and which many people confusingly also call “goth” these days. There are very divergent trends in the 30+ years that saw the birth of bands like UK Decay and Sisters of Mercy, with some acts since the 1990s using dark imagery to accompany slick dance music mainly meant for djs to play in clubs to pack the dance floor (Faderhead, et al), versus others exploring and rediscovering the actual punk/postpunk roots of the genre (Night Sins, Crimson Scarlet, Belgrado, Lost Tribe).

With that caveat out of the way, here are some –but not all — of the best current North Texas goth bands:

1) GARDEN OF MARY

As of this writing, Dallas’ Garden of Mary have a cassette-only release, The Agony in Memory, on Funeral Party Records. (Note that Funeral Party Records is not related to the Funeral Party goth/postpunk event that used to occur in Dallas at the Beauty Bar and at The Church.) Ryan’s vocals are downright narcotic, and Noah’s bass pins the music down — gives it its anchor — in true trad gothic rock style, a la the Sisters of Mercy. There are elements of dreamy shoegaze and hallucinatory 80s UK dark underground stuff at play in the mix, too.

As this blog post goes to, uhm, “press,” Garden of Mary will play their first show at my friends’ event, Mutant Wave, on Wednesday, September 21st. They will also play when Soft Kill return to Dallas in December, at a Wardance event. Look out for this band in the future.

2) AZTEC DEATH

This Dallas three-piece plays a clean but somber style of early Factory Records-inspired music that is refreshing and crisp. Singer Chris Ortega’s vocals are up front and center – unlike many current darker bands that tend to bury their vocals beneath waves of dark sludge – and are clearly enunciated. (You can understand them without a lyric sheet.) And, yes, while there is a hint of the almighty Ian Curtis in the vocal delivery, the band’s overall darker tones also recall the deeper spectrum of the original postpunk explosion – namely, oft-overlooked pioneering bands like Positive Noise and early The Opposition, or Glorious Din from San Francisco. But Aztec Death also cite influences from the shoegaze genre.

Aztec Death have been playing out a lot in Dallas — some promoters might say too much — but they are worth catching if you haven’t seen them yet. They win p(o)ints with me by featuring more smoke than a Cheech and Chong movie, and more atmosphere than a Maya Deren film. One of my personal favorite band in Texas. Or anywhere. They blew folks away that caught them at the recent San La Muerte III dark punk fest down in San Antonio in August. Check out their Facebook page.

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Grave City talks to North Texas Deathrockers in Ritual Order

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Ritual Order are a newer North Texas band that combines elements of deathrock, gothic rock, older dark purist punk (think Chron Gen or Legal Weapon), and postpunk in a galvanizing, guitar-driven, gloomy maelstrom of glorious, shadowy noise. It’s exciting to interview them here on Grave City.

Ritual Order’s roots-y deathrock sound harkens back to Iron Mask-era Christian Death and Rozz’s other more rootsy deathrock project, Daucus Karota, but they also remind of more recent offerings by bands like Portland’s Deathcharge: Ritual Order singer Waymire coincidentally sounds a bit like like Deathcharge‘s Adam Nauseam. To date, the doomy 4 piece have only a cassette demo as well as a few songs posted on Bandcamp. But their song catalog is growing.

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An Introduction to Mutant Wave at Grave City

Dallas musician-DJs Hesh Qwalino and Hampton Mills have recently collaborated to curate a new bimonthly event named Mutant Wave, a night of eclectic synth, minimal, darkwave, coldwave (and “whatever”-wave) type acts and sounds. The first outing of the event is on Wednesday, July 20, and features Dais recording artists Them Are Us Too alongside locals iill, Bathhouse, and Austin’s Missions.

I’ve known Hesh and Hampton for several years now, the former through his Hex Cult and Teen Slut projects, and Hampton primarily through his djing at the Cold Cuts industrial/EBM/synthpop night (though he’s also been in bands, too, detailed below). Hesh and Hampton are both incredibly funny, positive, supportive, and eminently like-able people that I’m happy to call friends. (Did I mention they’re funny?) Through their own efforts at bringing underground, interesting, and just plain weird sounds to folks both through their djing as well as producing some of the better industrial music coming out of Dallas now (i.e. Hesh’s KMFDM-on-acid project Teen Slut, which has played all kinds of spaces, from divey DIY venues to The Church/Lizard Lounge), Hampton and Hesh have helped form an important and inter-networked scene that includes older Church EBM-heads, postpunk fans of all ages, and younger, more artsy millenial DIY types that don’t neatly fit into legacy dark music subcultures. Their new event serves as an important bridge between older and younger demographics, something that’s often hard to find in the darker corners of Dallas’ music environs. A hearty hats off is due to them for making Mutant Wave happen.

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