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Playing Solo with Moonya and Repetito Looping Software



Ed Sheeran, Grimes, and an increasing number of others are using technology to replace the conventional band and present great performances entirely solo.

Moonya is a great example of a musician – like Ed Sheeran, Grimes, and an increasing number of others – using technology to replace the conventional band and present great performances entirely solo.

What she describes as her “aerial dream pop music” has recently been on the road throughout Europe and Scandinavia.

Born Amandine Fontaine-Rebière, Moonya sings, plays guitar and synthesizer plus electronic drums and looping software, and has been performing in the UK and elsewhere as well as in her native France.

Since 2003 her duo project in which she sings or plays drums has been a “cold wave” duo called AÑA, “but when I wanted to start a solo project, I became interested in looping and electronic music. I really enjoyed hearing the songs being built up live. I consider the looper as a game and an instrument in its own right. Also, I like the diversity of sounds and sound textures – with electronic instruments we are free to transform the sound material, we can transform everything”.

Moonya’s musical foundation is mostly self-taught. “When I was younger I took drumming and singing lessons for a few years, and guitar lessons for one year. And now I’m starting to learn the trumpet – I like to learn how to play new instruments and experiment with them.”

So how did she approach getting into electronics? “The AÑA project is much more rock, I love playing drums while singing, it has an organic dimension, almost animal. But AÑA and MOONYA are two distinct projects with their own identity and I don’t want to change that.

“I heard bands like Depeche Mode and also Tricky, who I like very much, with the use of female voices and electronic loops. Also New Order, and Björk especially on “Homogenic,” a singer and composer who fascinated me for a long time. And Blonde Redhead (an alternative rock band from NYC), PJ Harvey, Cat Power, Shannon Wright… I didn’t only listen to purely electronic music, but also bands who mix different kinds of music.”

Songs Moonya performs live now like “I’m Setting Sail” and “Gifted Hands” begin with a pre-programmed rhythm. “And I integrate that in my looping software Repetito,” about which more later.

“I sample different parts of keyboards and voices that I overlay. During the song I control some tracks with mute and solo using a MIDI controller to give movement to the song. On “I’m Setting Sail” I also play bass sounds, and I’ve programmed those into a Roland SPD-SX drum pad.”

Repetito seems powerful but is perhaps not well known outside France. “Since the beginning of Moonya I’ve been using Repetito. It’s a laptop-based sampler/looper developed by Mathieu Pavageau, a French software programmer. It’s very practical and easy to use. I immediately loved the looping, because I could play with vocal harmonies and multiply guitar tracks. I configured it to be able to loop guitars, voices, synths, and electronic drum sounds from the SPD-SX. I consider Repetito as one of my instruments – I got in contact with Matthieu and he was able to evolve the looper according to my needs.”

So what does Moonya look for in the sound and controls of an electronic instrument – like the Nord Lead Anniversary Edition used on stage?

“Moonya started in 2014. I have always worked with Repetito, but the setup has evolved over the years and my use of electronic instruments too. At the beginning there were more acoustic sounds (beat box, melodica, electro-acoustic guitar…) plus Garageband for the sounds of drum and synth loops, driven by a control keyboard.

“But then I got a new Mac laptop and the Nord Lead for my other band AÑA. So I could give up Garage Band and simplify the live set up – the Nord Lead contains great sounds. With electronic instruments we can get incredible sounds, but also transform them, experiment and control everything. It’s magical. It’s endless, I love it!”

How do you get your guitar tones? “I have a Zoom multi-effects pedal, very practical and very complete to get different guitar sounds and textures including delay, reverb, and so on. I also have a Mojo distortion pedal. But I still have to work to expand my range of sounds and multiply the different types of atmosphere.”

Moonya recently played a great solo show in London at The Fiddler’s Elbow, a well known and busy music venue. Although complex, the stage setup – laptop, audio interface rack, MIDI controllers, guitar, and effects, Nord Lead and vocal mic – was organized in about 15 minutes and seemingly without further soundchecking gave a wonderful, complex, and multi-layered sound.

As a solo performer, does she have to fly solo on booking and promotion too?

“I do everything on my own. I update all the networks (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and my own website) and look for concerts. I select venues and contact the promoters by phone or email. And I’m happy to have been able to organize tours abroad, in England and also around Europe. Indeed, it is a hard job but it is also a great freedom.

“Now I’m working on my next record, and I hope to find a producer to finance it. I’ve already recorded demo versions and I have gigs booked for 2022. And I’m already planning a Scandinavian tour in 2023 as well as new dates in France.”

For more info, here’s Moonya’s Facebook page.

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