29 Mar 2023

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Two hypnotic Alt-folk-Pop-Psychedelic-NeoAcoustic folks creating some truly beautiful songs combined with gripping powerful vocals and melodies.

So we have been around in different musical forms since the mid 80s, for Chris it started by moving to N.Z Tauranga in 82-83 after seeing Flying Nun bands via TV/radio in West Australia. Could not resist the music, it was a starting point, and has evolved musically from first Punk band Some Social Deviants, to Kiwi pop Three Men Missing (Bandcamp) still in 80's, they lasted until 88 with various members coming and going. Rhonda was a vocalist in 3MMissing when they met, we discovered we clicked besides the obvious ha, and began writing and recording on 4 track cassette tape as a duo, doing sporadic live work using the name Beat Angels. During 1991 hard edged rock seemed appealing so Chris joined up with a former 3MM member and formed Hula Troupe played lived then self destructed 95?, but not before 3 or so EPs? (Bandcamp)

Next up, Electronica/Industrial music seemed appealing and ran into brothers Scott/Andrew Newth who had formed Love and Violence we ended up a 3-piece (Chris's introduction to computers and there capabilities/frustrations in music production) Chris recorded a few tunes/video at the Rock 93 premises in Hamilton and a few Electronic/Industrial gigs. They had already recorded an Album before Chris joined. (Bandcamp)

Next up GROK and Department of Correction (hazy memories) in 96 at the same time. Brothers Scott/Grant Brodie saw an ad for a Waikato Uni battle of the bands so we entered GROK who had no songs, no practice, and no name for the gig. Chris has Korg MS10, still using today, we reversed Korg and came up with GROK. Funny thing happened, there are now two GROK band versions, a Northern Hemisphere version gigging in London U.K and a Southern Hemisphere version based in NZ. Come December the NH version members are heading here for xmas and we gig at the Nivara Lounge 17th Dec. Been a long wait for travel plans. GROK totally improv with audience participation via The Wheel of Destiny much like an carnival old spin the wheel to get a starting chord/chords and audience involved, it's real chaos but so good fun.

They won 1st place at the battle earning them studio time at 89FM Hamilton Uni studios with an album recorded by Scott named Bubbles complete with bubble wrap cover, kind of in the 'Kraut Rock' category. Also during this time Department of Correction (Industrial strength vibe) entered and came in second place, 'funny story' there was a band called Trinket who later named themselves The Datsuns who also entered.

Next up 97 - releasing under the name Beat Angels it was early days Internet but already a band in the U.S threatened us using that name, so Rhonda and Chris came up with MOofish and quickly wrote some songs for a self titled album. Recorded by MOofish on the farm (farmers then ha) Early days on the Internet were exciting, we hired a publisher and promoter and released it along the U.S West Coast college radio scene with some success, especially in the mp3.com days, musicians made money for their efforts. It was so new we got invites to music colleges to demonstrate to students how to record/market your music via the Internet. (digital recording tech was new for the D.I.Y, to us it just seemed like an affordable way to capture creativity).

We gig'd some, but really Chris was busy with Rhonda raising a family. We decided to shelve our musical creativity as a duo, though we did not stop writing, recording became sporadic as MOfish. By early 2000's to 2006 we started to gig again in various forms as MOofish.
By 2008 a new experience showed up, so we headed to Canada for 8 years (Ottawa based) where we worked and gig'd as a duo. Met so many greats, mostly Blues players, and here's Chris who always seems to play 13 bar Blues, no one cared it was awesome, and we flourished as a live act.

We recorded many of our songs with a handycam in our apartment so we could remember them. We wrote so much that they really needed to be captured or end up in the cardboard box. Chris discovered a looper and partial capos for the guitar, and at times would use three simultaneously much to the amusement of the Blues enthusiasts.
Still use a few today for songs like Ash Trees Lament. We have a MOofish acoustic Distro Playlist on YouTube.
A couple of those tunes were reworked when we came home from Canada and ended up in 2017 -2018 released recordings released as MOofish.

By 2020 MOofish older/wiser discovered themselves, and the urge to produce art became the real driver of our releases, so much so we pretty much release a song a month now, or that is our goal. We live in Tokoroa, not many musicians to meet unless your Bunny Walters brother and want to play at the local market. Live is not our focus these days, we just want to get ourselves out of the way to get these songs created.

So we have a small art/music studio literally where we sleep, we find in your face reminds us to carry on.
Interestingly the approach to recording the written word with music never goes to plan and we have learnt to get out of the way of the creative process; it is what it is, for MOofish that's art.

Rhonda is the primary lyric writer/vocalist, with boxes to her credit. Last year a MOofish song Phrophecy was selected by Oz TV show 'Murder She Wrote' giving us a need piece of direction and positivity around music.
We mainly have a two versions approach to the initial idea/concept of writing a song, either guitar or keys, sometimes just a vocal melody.

We're thinkers and we write/record accordingly, we are an acquired taste musically, and prob as people lol.
MOofish have used other musicians in their recording, mostly Mark Tupuhi a talented multi instrumentalist from Hamilton who gets our ethos.
Mark plays Bass and keys on 22 released MOofish recording since 2017

Since Covid we have re-organised and now Chris writes most instrument parts via midi (Bass - keys - drums)

Chris plays guitars, acoustic and electric, a little piano on all recordings, and so we let the process run its course.
Self taught recording/mixing/mastering/its digital nightmares for him.

In one sense you could say MOofish are very isolated musically because we do it all ourselves these days. You could argue this process really lets one reach their musical potential, but we have been around for a long time, luckily for us it seems never ending and joyful.
Another learned jem is the mistakes that creep into songwriting/recordings, they are the unexpected pieces that make you smile ear to ear without knowing, how the fuck did I do that.

None of us are classically trained, it all by ear/feel. We never search for little gems in the process. Though they may seem hidden at first, experience has taught us to trust the process you develop, they will find you, if it works, don't change it.

Sparrow the latest song was lyrically written in about 15 minutes, Rhonda finds the best are the quickest, and if it's too laborious creating, forget it.
What's it about? good question. It could be a love song! definitely we use the psychedelic imagery in the videos to tell a story. We find from our experience the two, song and video are inseparable, the two are needed in order to tell that song's story and this somehow is closure for the song and us.
So more skills learned and still learning around video creation.
We read loads of ancient texts/audios etc., mainly because the ancient past is really inspiring us. There is so much missing/forgotten/and re-written by the conquerors. Authors/thinkers/inventors like Immanuel Velikovsky, Wilhelm Reich, Nikola Tesla all get wrath from academia, and still do today.
So the song is about our experience of the 'World' and together as Chris and Rhonda, and the MOofish persona, feeling out/experiencing our relationship with music and each other at that particular moment (never gets old).

Musically it was ready within two days. Started as a melody, first the chorus line 'Like a Sparrow' then it appeared from that point, recording tracks like acoustic guitar and drums, then Bass, and then piano.
Electric was last, from experience we find Chris's style really is masterful at washing over melodies and playing like you think there's more recorded on the track than actual; maybe this a result of creativity meets the need, just get out of the way and get on with it.

Think of a Sparrow, probably has a family, is free to fly, does not need a job, gets its food and lodgings free, has no ego, and is literally a free spirit.

Band Members:
Rhonda Hofmans Johnson (vocals, guitar)
Chris Fish Johnson (guitar, vocals)


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