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They say two heads are better than one, and even though the two heads behind Moonrise Music Club are pretty solid on their own, the idiom still holds true.
The music/audio production company is the brainchild of Rusty Matyas and Lloyd Peterson, two men who each have a lengthy backgrounds in the business as musicians, songwriters and producers. Peterson’s production credits span from the Weakerthans and Greg MacPherson to the Wailin’ Jennys and Luke Doucet, while Matyas, in addition to his producing credits, has been part of notable bands such as the Polaris Prize-shortlisted Imaginary Cities, the Waking Eyes, Novillero and the Sheepdogs.
Last year, they decided to combine their talents under one umbrella to best utilize their skillsets, and thus Moonrise Music Club was born.
Moonrise Music Club works out of Paintbox Recordings located on the Canadian Mennonite University campus (to explain it more clearly, Matyas says Moonrise is to Paintbox what the Winnipeg Jets are to Bell MTS Place) and has been active for about 18 months, officially working under the Moonrise name since January 2019. From the beginning, it was clear to both of them Moonrise was something unique.
"Rusty and I started working together and collaborating with artists and it was special. Just the feeling of having this extra brain and type of energy to bounce ideas off of, right from the get go, it was cool," says Peterson.
"I’d also admired Lloyd for 25 years before he asked me to come here. I remember in the ‘90s I recorded at Private Ear with Lloyd with Novillero and Duotang and now to get to work in the same playing field is great because we have this balance of an extra number of decades of wisdom and experience," adds Matyas.
"Not too many decades!" Peterson chimes in.
The rapport Peterson and Matyas have developed is an easy one, but it’s also deep; they finish each other’s sentences, complete each other’s ideas, round out each other’s imbalances and their different approaches to music creation have started the blur together. It’s the type of working relationship and friendship people aspire to have, and it’s been a big part of Moonrise’s early success.
Posted: 12/12/2019 7:00 PM
Almost a decade ago, JP Hoe, the singer-songwriter and local harbinger of the holidays, released a six-song EP of songs he often played at his annual JP Hoe Hoe Hoe Holiday Show.
At that time, the concert was still on its way to growing into what it has become now; a holiday tradition nearly 16 years deep for many in the city that is able to sell out the Burton Cummings Theatre in just a few days and spark festive feelings by way of silly skits, sentimental songs and stunning sets.
"We’re sort of adapting to each other," says Peterson. "I think Rusty would agree that he has a million ideas immediately and he’s creatively restless and I’m a little bit more methodical and I like to hear things and mull them over, so if anything the evolution of this partnership has meant that Rusty has started to push pause and consider a little more than he would have normally and I’m starting to just dive in and be more spontaneous."
"We complement each other in the way we work with artists and the way we express our ideas," continues Peterson. "And we both play a bunch of instruments, so we hope it’s adding value for our customers because we can just take your bare idea for a song and work with you on fully realizing it. It’s just been a really great turn of events for me, because I was used to doing it all on my own for many years and I’m thriving on the energy this has brought."
In just the last year, Peterson and Matyas have worked on myriad projects, including new albums from local acts Slow Leaves, Mr. K, Ariane Jean, the Fu Fu Chi Chi Choir and Leonard Sumner, and recently had the entire JP Hoe Hoe Hoe Holiday Show crew in the studio to record a festive full-length album that will be for sale at Hoe’s annual show Friday night.
Hoe, who has worked with both Peterson and Matyas for much of his career, describes Moonlight at a "new light in the Winnipeg landscape."
"What a cool idea. It’s these two guys that I’ve known for most of my professional career and it’s a perfect marriage," says Hoe of working with Matyas and Peterson. "Lloyd has this history and track record and he has a knowledge base that is very unique just from all of his experience, and Rusty is a weird musical genius who has more ideas than anybody I’ve ever met and his level of enthusiasm for any project they work with is unmatched, so the two of them together, it’s a perfect yin-yang situation where they complement each other."
Ultimately, Moonrise is all about the music and making sure artists who come to them get exactly the experience they want, whether that’s building a song or album from the ground up, throwing on a few bells and whistles in production, or simply needing someone to press record.
"We’re starting to get this momentum that no matter what kind of project you bring to us, we’ll find a way to make it happen," Peterson says.
Adds Matyas: "The goal is to be fulfilled through creating your art and being happy that you made it, that’s about it."
Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.