If you haven’t already heard, WERS is putting on a concert on the night of Friday, June 17th that you won’t want to miss! It’s a part of the station’s fourth annual 617 Day, celebrating all things local music, local business and local radio. Join us at Brighton Music Hall for the live show or listen in as we air it on 88.9.
Coral Moons is one of three incredible local artists on the 617 Day Show lineup. Music Coordinator Tatum Jenkins recently sat down with Coral Moon’s lead vocalist Carly Kraft ahead of the performance. The two chatted about Coral Moons’ origin, Boston’s music scene and venues, plus other recent happenings for the band.
I AM SO EXCITED TO SEE YOU ALL PERFORM AT OUR 617 DAY CONCERT! WHAT DOES 617 DAY MEAN TO YOU? HOW DO YOU SEE BOSTON AS A PART OF YOUR GROWTH AS A BAND?
Carly Kraft: As a preface, we’re coming off an emotional weekend that our Boston Calling set got canceled. It’s been really hard, and I think that we were just very excited to represent Boston amongst all these other amazing musicians.
It almost makes this event feel even more important to us because in a way it makes us feel like we’re getting a do-over on this representing Boston because it’s 617 Day and we’re playing with our favorite bands. In a way, it’s even more emotionally charged than it was before.
WERS has been very special to us over the years, and we get so many people to shows who just heard our music on the radio. It’s a huge privilege and it creates this connection for us with ERS already, so the fact that all of these things are coming together to represent local Boston, it just means a lot to us to represent. We also have a diverse lineup that I think is really important.
There [are] a lot of times where we leave groups of people out or we leave out genres, and I think we have a really wonderful blend. I think a lot of rock bands and hip-hop artists specifically kind of get the nix in the Boston scene. There [are] a lot of funk bands here because of Berklee. So it feels good to showcase some rock bands, some funk bands, and it’s just going to be a great show all around.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE BOSTON VENUE TO PERFORM AT OR SEE SHOWS AT?
CK: The Sinclair is the home. I would love to play the Sinclair. I think I can retire if I play the Sinclair. Brighton Music Hall is very much a close second.
For us, Lizard Lounge in the basement of Cambridge Common, that is our home. We were created there. Our first ever sold out show was there. It’s funny because Lake Street Dive also started in Boston and they often reference that room, that it was also their first ever sold out show. There’s just something very special about it; we all remember it because of the uniqueness and specialty of the room and the people in the room.
YOU HAVE AN INTERESTING BACKSTORY AS TO HOW CORAL MOONS CAME TOGETHER, WHICH I’VE READ ABOUT, BUT I’D LOVE TO HEAR HOW YOU TELL THE STORY.
CK: It’s kind of a joke, especially the name. People have called me Coral my whole life. And that’s how Coral Moons started. That’s kind of the funny thing.
But we started in an office building in Quincy, Massachusetts with myself and my bandmate and bassist, Manuel. Our boss at the time really loved music and he really made it his thing to put on these open mics on Tuesdays at lunch once a month. He would order pizza and invite people over. We worked at Stop and Shop, their corporate office, so there [were] so many local people in that building.
We were just playing covers of Stevie Nicks and the Eagles and lots of extremely well known music; I was singing, he was playing guitar. We realized we could do this for real if we wanted to. We started gaining the tools to do that. For me, he was teaching me how to play guitar, so I was learning some basic chords at that time and I was learning how to sing in front of people.
It just kind of inspired us to do the thing, and once we realized we could do it, we realized we had the resources, it was just kind of history.
I HAVEN’T HEARD A LOT ABOUT HOW YOU STARTED SINGING. DO HAVE A BACKGROUND WITH IT?
CK: There’s no story! I always sang in the shower and I always loved singing harmonies when I was listening to the radio, but I never thought singing was my thing until I met Manuel.
I bought a guitar as a joke in tenth grade, and I was like, “I’m gonna learn how to play guitar.” And then I never did and I never tuned it. I tried to write a song once, and then because my guitar was so out of tune, I went to go play it months later and I couldn’t figure it out.
There were a lot of fake tries throughout my life because it was always something at the back of my mind, but it was never something that made sense financially. I was going to school for computers; I’m an iOs developer during the day and I still am. But that was my focus my whole life, so there’s really no story to the singing other than doing an open mic.
I always loved singing, but I never knew I could do it for real and I got my chance.
DO YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF FEELING LIKE AN OUTSIDER SOMETIMES BECAUSE YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT BACKGROUND?
CK: Have you ever heard of the term “imposter syndrome”?
YES, ONE HUNDRED PERCENT!
CK: I feel that a lot, especially being surrounded by classically trained musicians. I think that there’s a real benefit though and this may just be me trying to make myself feel better and find a silver lining.
I do think that the burnout in the music industry is very real, so when we’re talking to musicians who have been either touring or doing the whole classically trained thing since they were kids – they basically set their entire lives up to do music. By the time they have the financial and creative freedom to sit down and [make music], they’re already burnt out on it.
I think that the benefit for me coming into it later in life is that I already had a lot of skills, like business skills and networking skills, that are important to music. No musical skills, but I think I was coming at it fresh and very driven, like “I gotta learn how to play the guitar in a year before I start playing in front of people.” You know, that means playing for two hours every day. I think that kind of nature only came because I was so behind and I needed to catch up and I wasn’t burnt out. I think there is a silver lining to it, and I wish that I was introduced to it earlier. I did play the oboe growing up though.
I am so grateful for it though. I think [music] was a catalyst of where I was in my life too. I got to my nine to five and I was like, ‘Oh my god, this sucks. I worked my entire life for this.’ And then I also met Manuel at my nine to five. We had this mutual thing that we were trying to do. Then I met my partner, Justin, who’s also in my band and plays guitar.
Manuel switched over to bass because he knew that he didn’t have a chance because Justin was my boyfriend and played guitar. He just bought a bass on his own and was like, “I’ll play bass, don’t worry.”
It was like the universe did it all. Because I met all these people who inspired me to do this thing. So it almost felt like I didn’t have to do anything. That to me feels so rewarding and I don’t have to question it. I don’t have to think I’m in the wrong place because all of this needed to happen in order for me to start this thing.
I THINK WHEN SOMETHING FEELS THAT WAY, IT’S MEANT TO BE. WHEN THINGS COME TOGETHER LIKE THAT, IT’S HONESTLY MAGICAL.
CK: And it really feels that way. And I feel that way about WERS too. We would not be where we are without all these things that happened. I feel a little taken aback by it now because we had so many canceled gigs this year and it feels like the universe is telling us, “Maybe not.”
I’m really hoping that this 617 Day brings us back. Literally, we had a venue burn down. We were supposed to play a venue this weekend; it burned down. We were supposed to play a college fest two weeks ago, but the whole staff had Covid. Before that, we got Covid and we couldn’t play. And then the weather at Boston Calling. So it just feels like either the universe is telling us, “Stop what you’re doing, it’s not right.” Or, it’s like gearing us up for something very big and amazing that will make whatever this thing [is] feel even better. So maybe that’s 617 Day.
I THINK IT WILL BE! I REMEMBER WHEN I STARTED WORKING THIS JOB A YEAR AND A HALF AGO – I’M FROM CALIFORNIA, SO I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT THE BOSTON MUSIC SCENE – YOU GUYS WERE ONE OF THE FIRST BANDS I EVER HEARD OF. SO DAY ONE AT WERS, THEY WERE LIKE, “CORAL MOONS, WE’RE ALL ABOUT THEM HERE.” I REMEMBER YOU CAME OUT WITH “LIKE WE USED TO” AND THAT IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE SONGS OF ALL TIME. I WAS SHOWING EVERYONE THAT SONG.
CK: Thank you so much! It feels really cool to connect with other female music lovers or musicians. I feel like that’s one thing that’s been a struggle in the Boston music scene is there’s just not that many female-fronted bands. A lot of your staff at ERS is women and femme-fronting people, I feel like that’s really cool. It makes a big difference for an artist like me looking to connect with women in the scene.
HOW DO YOU SEE BOSTON AS A PART OF THE BAND? WHAT SORT OF OPPORTUNITIES— OR MUSICALLY, HOW HAS BOSTON BEEN A PART OF THAT EXPERIENCE?
CK: I think about the festivals we’ve played and we’re going to play and Levitate specifically and Boston Calling. They’re two very different vibes, but I feel like we’re kind of in the middle of everything. It’s hard to define what our genre is and I think it’s because we’ve just come to Boston to absorb. Whether we like it or not, our music is kind of in the middle of it all. It could be a little bit funky, it can be indie-rock. Our music has become so palatable because we’re just in this absorbing phase and learning from all these incredible musicians in Boston. It’s just so interesting how we’ve become a product of Boston. We were going to so many shows, we were at a show at least two to three times a week. We’ve seen all the bands, we love all the bands. We’re really just there to absorb it and become it.
I’VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT THIS A LOT AND WHERE DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF THE BOSTON MUSIC SCENE GOING?
CK: It’s so hard to say. There’s not a lot of industry people in Boston. We need something new. We’re losing our small venues. Like Lizard Lounge isn’t open and there’s more risk for these venues too. It’s just circumstance; it’s not [the] venue owners’ fault. We’re losing our 250-person venue, which was Great Scott. Thunder Road closed.
We already were lacking these small venues. And that’s how we got our start. We were just playing once a month at a small venue, an 80-person room, so how do you build a fanbase in these markets?
The only venue that’s booking local music right now is Brighton Music Hall and that room is 500-cap. These baby bands are struggling to take off and there’s no place for them to build an audience. There’s less people down to go watch music too. Everything’s just so unpredictable. We’re losing places to rehearse, we’re losing venues. A lot of musicians have left; it’s really heavy.
EVERY TIME A VENUE CLOSES, A PART OF MY HEART BREAKS.
CK: But at least WERS plays local bands and thank God you’re still kicking.
THE LOCAL MUSIC IS THE BEST PART OF IT! WHEN YOU GET TO CONNECT WITH ARTISTS, HAVING CONVERSATIONS LIKE THIS, MAKES YOU FEEL CONNECTED TO A PLACE.
BUT ON TO A LIGHTER NOTE, TELL US ABOUT SCHOOLIE.
CK: Yes! Justin and I purchased a school bus. It’s a twenty-one-foot schoolie, as the cool kids say. We took out all the seats and we put some new subfloors in and we added insulation and redid the whole inside. We put some cute little benches for touring. We tour in it when the band all starts in the same place and goes around together.
It is a really fun project; it was a Covid project. We were sick of writing music and were like, “What can we build?” And we went out and bought a school bus. Mainly because it was so much more inexpensive than an actual tour van. It was dirt cheap and they last forever.
WHERE DO YOU KEEP IT?
CK: It’s in our driveway and we’ve street parked in Manhattan. It’s hilarious. It’s kind of a joke. We’d love to paint it a goofy color.
[The bus is] really fun and the band loves it. We love to bring road beers. It hauls all of our equipment and us and all of our significant others. It does the job.
SO I HAVE TO ASK: MY FAVORITE SONG IS “LIKE WE USED TO.” DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE SONG OF YOURS?
CK: I would agree that “Like We Used To” is the best song. I was listening to a ton of Etta James and old time soul stuff. I love the elements of the instruments in the song and how it builds. But it’s really hard to play live because I play rhythm guitar, so it’s just a very constant beat so there’s a lot of room for error for me on that one. I don’t get to enjoy it yet. I think by the end of the summer I’ll be able to play it and enjoy it.
“Tell Me To Run” was one of those songs that was really hard for me at first because it’s in ⅞ and then goes to 4/4 and goes back. Why did we do that? I don’t know. That song is easily the most fun to play live because it’s just like a rager. And I’m playing with my drummer, just us two for a bit, and then the whole band drops in and it just feels really special to have that moment together.
You can see Coral Moons perform these songs and others at WERS’ 617 Day Show at Brighton Music Hall on June 17th. Find out more information here.