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Interview: Josie Moon on self-love, the emotional connection of music, and her upcoming album.

Interview: Josie Moon on self-love, the emotional connection of music, and her upcoming album.

"I've tried doing what I'm told / Kept my passions on the low," Josie Moon opens in her latest single 'Victor Hotel' (named after an Airbnb she stayed at on a trip to Hong Kong), a song which sees her explore her own determination and focus.

Since sharing her debut single 'Satellite' back in 2017, Josie has been striving to express honesty through her music, and has been outspoken about her own mental health journey.

In an industry where 73% of independent musicians suffer from mental health issues (anxiety and depression sit at the top of these issues), Josie acknowledges that her music existing as an extension of herself can be dangerous when constantly being unresolved, but has also placed importance on the continuous and ongoing process that self-love is.

It makes her the perfect fit for Converse's new 'Love Fearlessly' collection, inspired by the power of self-love and prioritising yourself. The new collection includes bright red hues, heart detailing, and 'Love Yourself' messaging throughout.

We spoke with Josie Moon to discuss the importance of putting yourself first, how the music industry fails musicians in regards to their mental health, as well as her own musical journey and her upcoming album...

[Josie wears the Chuck Taylor All Star Lift Love Canvas throughout.]

COUP DE MAIN: You've spoken about how 2015 was a hard year for you. How did you work through obstacles?
JOSIE MOON: It was hard because I had a kind of personality where I was easily influenced by people who I thought were important around me. And I kind of had to refocus my entire way of filtering things and then rebuilding what I had been pushing aside. So I had to rebuild all of my priorities, and let myself gravitate towards things that I enjoyed rather than being like, "Oh, they're a distraction," or stuff like that. So I think since then, I've just been... the more you put effort and work into something, the easier it is to maintain it, I think. So it's just kind of been a continuous process then of reminding myself of how much effort you put into it and how rewarding it is to invest in yourself, I suppose.

CDM: Do you think it's something that you have to always be conscious and thinking about and working on as a process?
JOSIE: I think that if I get too comfortable, I do tend to fall back into a lot of habits that I have, where I'll push away things that stress me out, and then it'll snowball, and then I'll get freaked out. So I need to develop good habits to be good to myself and to maintain being in a good spot.

CDM: What were the most important things you learnt through that process of learning how to establish better mental health?
JOSIE: I think even though everyone's experience of reality is different... you didn't ask to be born into this world, but you're stuck with yourself for the rest of your life. So even though people have expectations, and parents have expectations, people will invest a lot into you because they want something from you. It's tricky because a lot of people have different experiences of life and they may feel like they owe things to people because of the way that they've been fortunate enough to be raised, but you do need to put yourself first, otherwise you're not going to enjoy where you get to after you work hard and none of it is going to mean anything to you; you're just going to be existing anyway. Even though people might be successful, that doesn't guarantee happiness. I think a lot of people still believe that lie, that success equals happiness and you kind of just need to learn to be content on the journey, as well as the result that you gain from it.

CDM: What does self-love mean to you?
JOSIE: Self-love is patience. It's acceptance of things we can't or shouldn't have to change. It's our boundaries and our relationships and it's also fighting for ourselves. It's being your own friend and speaking to yourself in a constructive patient way. Allow mistakes, acknowledge the value, acknowledge your value is inherent, despite what others impose as important on you. It's about letting yourself be yourself. I think something really important for me to learn was that self-love doesn't have to be loving the way you look. It's accepting that you look like this and you are still valuable, still good, still have endless things to offer despite what the outside world says about our bodies. Bodies are vessels that do so many wonderful things for us and there are industries that profit from us destroying ourselves which is quite upsetting.

CDM: What are your self-care tips?
JOSIE: Don't weigh yourself. Get comfortable with yourself without makeup. Wear things that are comfortable even if they don't look how you want them to look. Always wash your face. And I think you need to allow yourself to breathe sometimes - one bad habit that I have a lot is not letting myself take enough time off. I always feel like I should be maximising my time. Even with therapy I've had to focus on allowing myself to-- I turned all the notifications off of my phone, I put it down, I go and sit outside for a bit. Even sometimes just going outside can alleviate so much. I think those are kind of the things that I try and focus on.

CDM: In a world where so much validation is sought for online, why is it important to realise that the most important relationship to nurture is the one you have with yourself?
JOSIE: I'm someone who can be quite timid - I let a lot of people's opinions in and it kind of gets to the point where I have so many opinions floating around, and there's no one right answer. Everyone's born in different ways and experiences things so differently, so there's nothing black and white. You have to accept the greyscale. I think when I was a teenager, I was quite angry. And as I've gotten older, I've noticed that the better I treat myself, the better I treat other people. So I think it all kind of starts inwards and then goes outwards - once you become comfortable and you're not insecure about certain things, you don't want to cause harm to anyone else, and you want to elevate other people too. Even if you're in direct competition with people, if you don't have an insecurity, you're not going to want to see them fail, you want them to succeed too, so I think it's kind of a snowball effect, it benefits everything. Finding comfort in yourself and learning how to be content - you didn't have a choice the way you were born but you can choose to accept it rather than try and change it all the time. I think there's a big culture these days of fixing ourselves, fixing our appearances and maximising it, but they're not coming from places of genuinely wanting to see you be a better person. I wear make-up and stuff, but there are industries built on making us feel shit about ourselves not wearing make-up so we will buy it. Make-up is awesome as an art-form, but then I see people who are getting plastic surgery, and I support that if that's what you want - I don't want to criticise anyone who gets it - but I hate the fact that there are industries that say that you should fix yourself because you were just born with a face like this.

CDM: How do you think people can work to make themselves their own #1 priority? I feel like it's hard because you always want to please other people sometimes.
JOSIE: That's so hard. I mean, it's not even about being selfish. You can still give stuff to other people, but don't lessen yourself, don't reduce yourself. You can still be a giving person and spend a lot of time building other people up. But you have to maintain your baseline, otherwise you don't have anything else to give.

CDM: Do you think it's important for people with a platform to be vocal and honest about mental health issues in society?
JOSIE: This is something I think about a lot. I feel kind of guilty sometimes because I feel like I don't speak enough about things I could speak about. But I also don't want people to feel obligated to share every moment of their life, just because they have a platform. People shouldn't be forced to share their sexualities or their troubles or hardships, because that's a basic personal level of privacy too. I feel like you should still be able to support things without speaking on them, but then also we do need people to speak on things because they're really important. So I think the kind of thing that I'm going to try and guide myself with is that if you feel like you can speak about it, do it tenfold, and then the things that you don't feel comfortable speaking about, that's fine. You're allowed to keep things to yourself. People are still people, just because they're celebrities or musicians, they're still human beings who should be allowed to keep things to themselves.

CDM: Why do you think the music industry has such a big problem with poorly looking after the mental health of musicians?
JOSIE: For one, because all of the things we write about are the things that we're trying the hardest to resolve, I suppose. When you're in a place where you have to be constantly unresolved to earn money, it can be easy to slip into a self-destructive path. I think also the industry has a long way to go in terms of supporting their artists and understanding that they're not machines. It's also hard being in an unstable working environment where you don't always know how long you're going to be able to maintain your income, or how long you're going to be able to live with your family before you have to go on tour. It's all quite unstable. You have to get used to everything constantly being up in the air. It's not just a nine-to-five job, you still put a lot of work in but you're very personally attached to what you do. It's like an extension of yourself.

CDM: It's not like a normal job where you can go home and be done for the day.
JOSIE: You can't push it away once you're finished, you're still thinking about it, and that's why it's hard for me because I still try and maximise like, "Oh, should I write this down? Or should I just let myself exist in this mental state?"

CDM: How do you decide, when you're going through things if you should be like, 'Okay, I need to just think about it for myself,' as opposed to thinking about it for like a musical perspective?
JOSIE: I think I inherently know. There are things on my next album that I'm writing about, but I'm not going to speak about in interviews, because I'm actually a really private person. It's been really difficult for me to figure out what I'm comfortable talking about. My love life, for example, I'm never gonna write about that again. <laughs> But I don't want to write about other people because it feels wrong to do that. So I think just naturally, if you feel uncomfortable doing that, don't write about it, keep it to yourself, or just let yourself mull it over and add little hints in other things. But I think just because you write about it doesn't mean you have to open up more than what you put in your song.

CDM: How do you use music to anchor yourself when you're feeling untethered or disconnected?
JOSIE: I think a lot of my disconnect comes from... I'm graduating in May, so I just finished university. I think it's good to have a constant source of something that I can create with. It just feels like the album that I'm working on at the moment feels like a constant. Everything else, I have no idea where I'm going to live, I have no idea what job I'm going to try and get, that's all terrifying. But at least I have one thing to ground me and I've noticed friends who don't have creative outlets, don't have the other pillar, but for me, it's very much like a pillar of how I maintain everything. I can't turn it off. I'm always thinking of stuff - what videos would be cool, colour combinations, and I just like to try and keep track of all of them, because it's fun and it's a hobby as well.

CDM: Why do you think music can have such an emotional effect/connection with people?
JOSIE: I remember when Lorde put out her first album, and I was a baby, but she was voicing all of these thoughts that I didn't know how to put into words, or I couldn't form anything with, but she was expressing all of the dissatisfaction with ways of living and frustrations that she experienced. She had found a way to condense it into an understandable form and I think I'm becoming more obsessed with trying to do that, trying to pull out the essence of that. But then sometimes the sonic aspect of it, you're just like, "Holy crap this guitar solo is pulling at my insides."

CDM: Is there a song (any song) that you like to listen to when you're sad to help make you feel better?
JOSIE: I don't know if there's always one. But I will always loop it, like over and over and over and over again until I either fall asleep or I finally talk to someone. I think it kind of lets me ruminate on it - it might not be the best way of dealing with it. What do I listen to? I think it depends. It kind of changes. I like The Japanese House a lot. Bon Iver a lot. Just because they're quite sparse, and they're not always like, 'Let's compact it all. Let's think about it a bit more and just like let it be unresolved.' [N.B. Josie also has a playlist of Disney songs she listens to when she's really sad.]

CDM: What was running through your mind while writing 'After Hours'?
JOSIE: I was mad. <laughs> I was reflecting that I had become slightly self-destructive because of someone else and I was mad about that. After that I was just like, 'There's no point.' That was kind of a time where I would go out and drink a lot and I just can't be bothered drinking anymore. I just don't. Even when you get free drinks offered at bars you play at, I just don't. I think it was more acknowledging like, 'Okay, this is a point where you need to decide that you can't let the way other people treat you affect the way you treat yourself as well.'

CDM: “I don’t deserve a lot but it’s more than nothing” you sing in '97 (Hurt)’ - do you think it’s hard for people, especially young women to decide that they deserve more than what they have?
JOSIE: Yeah, because we get taught so much in the media that we should stay quiet and we should not be expressive otherwise we are emotional bitches. It just irritates me so much. I think that whole song was just me trying to say like, "I can do something." Even as New Zealanders it's difficult for us to say, "I'm good at this," because everyone is like, 'Oh, that's a bit up yourself.' So I think that's kind of me saying, 'Even though I can't say yet that I'm backing myself on something or I'm good at it, I'm aware of myself enough to say that I'm not without something to offer.' I still deserve to try and do things anyway.

CDM: Why did you decide to sample Jane Palmer and Alan Palmer in 'Use Me (Interlude)'?
JOSIE: First of all, because it's copyright free. <laughs> I think one thing that I didn't get to talk about as much on 'Rose Tinted' was the way that money can affect relationships too. I still kind of wanted to keep a small nod into it. I think she was quite a cool strong character in that film. I watched it a really long time ago, so I don't remember a whole lot, but I think it's just especially like 100 years ago, when women weren't allowed to able to make money for themselves. Women weren't allowed to have jobs. I think owning your ability to work for something and receive the balance of the efforts you put in - I guess that's how in a capitalist society we value our work is fiscally - and women being able to own that has been such an important advancement for our independence and establishing our personalities and abilities and presence in the world. I think there's still a long way to go in terms of other people accepting that, but I think it's a good first step to kind of say that we're equal human beings who want to be equal and we want to prove that we can do stuff. I just watched 'Little Women' and that kind of reminded me of everything.

Converse's 'Love Fearlessly' collection is available now - either online at converse.com.au and in-store at Converse Sylvia Park, Converse Manukau, Converse St Lukes and selected retailers across the country.

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