When Mowgli Met Rocky
Like a lot of Angelenos it can be a little hard to find out much about the people that make up duo He Met Her, even when they’re right in front of you. It’s not that they’re standoffish, far from it. Mowgli Moon and Rocky Chance, AKA Gerardo Soto and Chanel Banoza, both have extroverted personalities. They’re just a bit hard to pin-down in conversation. To look at them, they are an Urban Outfitters/American Apparel-generation Ken and Barbie, styled by whoever it is that dresses up Lana del Rey. And somehow they found each other in Los Angeles.
It’s creepy fascinating, but only if you think about it. Kind of like the rising act’s music. Most of the tunes on their soon to be released EP Crime Novela sound like throwback disco-pop with a secret, carefully hidden hip-hop heart. (It’s easier to hear if you first check out their Le Dungeon: Chateau Music mixtape.) But, just when you think you have a handle on what they’re about, the campy doo-wop of “Passion Pity” comes along and wrecks everything. The only constant is a seedy but deathly glamorous aura.
When we sat down to talk with Moon and Chance, we discussed their non-musical inspirations, their Hollywood hang-out/home studio Le Dungeon and, of course, how he met her. We didn’t ask if they’re together, besties or just business partners. We decided we prefer the mystery. They do finish each other’s sentences.
So, how did you meet?
Mowgli Moon: I went to this restaurant Nobu for dinner and she was the hostess there. And I was like, Hey, do you do music? What’s going on? You’re gorgeous.
Rocky Chance: He told me I was pretty.
MM: I was like, I work on music, I write songs. I’m starting my production side. I said I’d love to do a cover, or try to figure something out. So, I don’t know what exactly I want to do with you yet. We got there and we started just doing that, just a random cover. We started doing Rihanna shit.
RC: We were hanging out more too.
MM: Just figuring it out.
RC: Yeah, we were seeing if we liked each other.
MM: It was funny, right when we started doing the music, we were sent to Berlin. We did the first ten songs in Berlin.
How did that happen?
RC: We just got the opportunity. A friend was out there, we had a place to stay.
MM: And it was like, let’s do it. We were in L.A. not doing music, we’re hanging out, you know?
RC: We found a studio when we got out there.
MM: We were trying to figure out what our sound was. We were like, ahhh, we don’t know what this is. You know, it’s a guy and a girl. We tried everything. You know?
RC: We didn’t want it to be too cheesy. We wanted to like …
MM: Be fun. Like I wanted people to have fun when they listen to us. I want people to …
RC: To dance. To lie back.
MM: The thing about it is to, like now, in this day and age, every artist, that’s what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to keep classic elements. And make it new, you know? And we were, I know we like, we obviously like eighties, nineties, we like hip hop, we like all this. And I was like, how do incorporate all of my you know…
RC: Jumping around.
Everyone’s schizophrenic now.
RC: It’s really crazy right? We are, right? There’s some times when we’ll have a whole idea for a song, and we’re like, ok, we can make that whole idea two songs. You know like what are we doing trying to pile everything into this?
MM: That’s what was happening in our first few songs. Every song was like….
RC: Every song was like really schizophrenic. Every song is a change of clothes, and we wanted to keep that line of there’s things we kind of associate like, palm trees or, pineapples, or we always think about certain things, and those things are certain themes in our music and our life.
Listening to your music, I get this feeling that you guys might be taking some inspiration from like noir film and literature about Los Angeles.
MM: Yeah, Exactly.
RC: Yeah. We like gore.
MM: Not in like the gruesome way. More like Tarantino.
So, how does that inspire you musically?
MM: Well we love movies, and we are constantly are watching movies.
RC: New stuff, old stuff. We kind of get inspired by the style of like, the movie Drive. It had this cool, very Dick Tracy type of feel. But like a new way of doing it. A new version of Bonnie and Clyde. You know?
MM: I try to keep classic elements always. But you know, everyone likes a twist.
When people think classic now, they think of something like Lana Del Ray. But then you guys seem to have more of an influence that people would identify with the ’80s or ’90s.
RC: I see what you mean by that, but we’re into, this disco, you know pop idea …
MM: We’re more into the idea of Studio 54. That whole scene was really brilliant and genius.
MM: We draw inspiration from any music that we hear. Anything from like ’90 to ’80s. But, even ’60s. Like, we’ve this other song that has this whole other doo-wopy sound to it.
Are you inspired by disco music in particular?
RC: We’re also inspired by the style rather than the actual songs you know? We’ve heard disco songs, but we don’t play them everyday in our car.
How do you take a visual aesthetic like that and translate that into music?
MM: As we write the song we’re creating it already. We’re like, oh, I can do it like this, or we can sing it like this. Or do it like this, it always goes with the character.
RC: We create a character and think about what they would wear, how their hair is, where they hang out. And that’s whose singing these songs, you know? We do figure out like a Rocky and a Mowgli for every song. It’s like a little outfit you put on. I don’t know.
What is Le Dungeon?
Mowgli Moon: The dungeon is kind of like our of little, like crew. A bunch of our friends are musicians, and what we decided, is that like any other artist, we consistently want to make music, but you don’t do it all for free, have as much content as possible. We kind of formed it with all our friends. We were like, oh let’s do a mixer together. My studio, we just ended up calling it Le Dungeon.
Now you’ve got Crime Novel coming out?
MM: We have just “Control” out, and “Take Me Tonight.”
RC: We’ve got three more songs that are coming out on that EP. But that’s like He Met Her, not only Le Dungeon. Like, we worked with other producers.
MM: Yeah we worked with two other producers. Jessie Rogg and Simon Katz.
I couldn’t help noticing that you guys have matching tattoos. Did you get them together?
MM: Yeah out in Berlin, “No pain, no brain” was the place. And we didn’t get the bow ties until L.A.
Had it been your logo for very long when you got them?
MM: Yeah, like when we first started. The first six months when we started, when we first met, before we went to Berlin, like I said, we were just getting to know each other. And we had the whole idea of like the bathroom symbol, and we were like, that’s a little bit too much bathroomy symbol as opposed to, like, band. So we need to add a little funk.
RC: Add a little flair.
MM: And that’s how the bows came into place.
There are lot of people on Chateau Music. How did you bring so many people together?
MM: They’re all our friends.
RC: It’s like Le Dungeon is a hangout spot. You know, it’s like where are you? Over here. And people just came through. People that didn’t even do music, like, one of our old friends. She’s a voiceover actress. And she does this whole like avant garde type thing.
MM: And it becomes more like a movement you know, cause you inspire everyone else to be involved, and you’re there, pushing yourself out there.
What does this Le Dungeon look like?
MM: “La Dungeon” is a room it has….
RC: A hookah, our star projector….
MM: Yeah we have a like a star projector that shoots up on the sky, on the ceiling. Keyboards, mics …
RC: Palm trees outside. Its nice.
Where was your first show?
RC: Yeah it was. It was a nightclub in L.A. It’s right outside of Santa Monica. It’s this club, they do kind of Burlesque type things. They have, like, topless dancers.
MM: So cool.
RC: We loved it. But we got there and the stage was … this big. [Not very.] And we were like, oh. And at that time we were really working on our show. It was with the old songs you know? We had dancers, we had full-on lights. We were freaked out. We didn’t even know how we were going to fit everyone up there. It was six of us. Four dancers and two of us.
What was the audience’s response?
RC: Oh, they loved it.
MM: We had lasers. We’re big into the aesthetic as much as the sound. So we’re always playing with lights. Even, I mean now, we’re a little bit more creative. We do it ourselves. We want to be able to control it, set it up ourselves.
Are there any places in Los Angeles that have found their way into your songs?
RC: Hmm let’s see… McDonalds. No, I think that, we more allude to ideas of L.A. lifestyle, you know? But we don’t really, it’s more like a tone, you know? Because there is a tone of Los Angeles, that is different than lots of other places. I think that we try to get that across. It’s not really where you go, it’s who you’re hanging with.
Are you guys from there originally?
RC: I’m from L.A. originally.
MM: I’m from Oklahoma.
When did you move to Los Angeles?
Mm: I was nineteen.
Right after high school?
MM: Yeah. I went one year, I did at college and I kind of transferred over to Cal State, and then I withdrew within a month, after I got my internship at a music management company, and then I quit that within a month, and I just started doing music. Because I was like, I need to do what I need to do.
RC: Just do what you like.
MM: I need to be happy.
How do you guys know when you’ve just played a great show.
RC: You feel it. And, like, everyone, you can just tell. Like, at our first show in London, people came up to us, like, that was cool! People we didn’t know, and I was like, yes, high-five. This one girl was from the Bay Area, and there’s this one song “Tropical Trident” that we do a shoutout to the Bay. And she’s in London, and she just came over like, “God, I feel so good.” We made her feel good.
What kind of music gets either or both of you dancing?
RC: Trap is great, man
M: But then we’ll jam out to Grimes.
R: Yeah Grimes gets me dancing.
Do you believe in love?
MM and RC: Yes.
RC: Yeah, one hundred percent.
MM: For sure.
RC: I mean, there’s love at first sight, there’s love love, there’s in love, there’s lots of love.
MM: We have a funny saying, I’m always like, “you love.”
MM: You know when somebody’s doing something, you know, when your friend is at your house and drinks like a Capri Sun or something. “You loooove Capri Sun.” Always go for the Capri Sun.
RC: Yeah, its kind of like we don’t even say anything else anymore. You just like you like see someone…..
MM: ‘You love’.
RC: “You love.”