Posted On 04 Oct 2018
Instantly infectious dynamics and musicality launch a surge of energy before a single lyric is sung; that’s what “Moon Moon Baby” does in the first five seconds after hitting play. In comes a raspy yet silky vocal that initiates a driving melody and the song doesn’t lose its tour de’ force grip for a moment.
“Moon Moon Baby” marks the lead single off “b?”, the debut full-length album from HOAX. It’s a strong introduction to those unfamiliar with the band’s trademark empathy pop style of writing and production.
HOAX is made up members Mike Raj (vocals), Frantz Cesar (bass), Paul Brower (guitar), Kevin Lopez (guitar), and Jacob Lopez (drums). They have two EP’s notched into their belt already, The Truth and Other Lies and words that end with wh(y), both from 2017, in addition to a handful of singles, all which have a strong showing in the streaming world. Currently, the band’s “Beach House” (their debut single from 2016) has over 760,000 Spotify streams and “Indian Summer” has garnered nearly 300,000 Spotify spins. These are just a couple of their most popular songs out of six on the Spotify platform that each have over 100,000 spins logged; Impressive for a band that was formed three years ago in the halls of Hofstra University during 2015.
For more information on HOAX, visit:
Learn more about HOAX in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
Honestly, probably taking the dogs for a run or something. It’s very therapeutic hanging out with our dogs after making music non-stop all day for about ten months straight.
All Access Music is currently compiling a list of our artists’ favorite songs this summer so what is YOUR song of the summer?
I feel like we go back and forth on the song of the summer. I’d probably have to say “This Is America” by Childish Gambino. Aside from the song already being a standalone phenomenon, the video was incredible. Getting the full idea of the song with the sonics and visuals was just really cool to experience. Honestly, the video made the song.
How has 2018 been treating you all? What is one musical goal that you have had for this year?
It’s bittersweet. We’re currently working on our debut album titled ‘b?’, so we go through cycles of no sleep and just 24/7 music and constant creation, but there are also times where we try to relax and play shows. It creates this Yin-Yang mentality of “being and doing”, which is the whole concept of the album.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Has anything surprised you about this ride so far?
I feel like we all had a moment where we all knew this is what we were meant to do, and we were going to make it work no matter what. This was early on too when we met back at Hofstra University years ago. In the beginning, it was a little different. When you don’t have much of a following, you’re mostly making music for yourself, and the more music we would put out, the more we realized that our music can’t be just for ourselves – it’s for everyone, for the world. That being said, I think music has helped us all mature and move our focuses outsides ourselves.
How did you come up with your name? Was it hard to agree on something that you felt was right? What other names were you considering?
Again, it just happened. I (Mike, lead vocalist) began wearing this hat I made with the word “HOAX” written on the front all the time. When we were coming up with names, nothing really stuck until we all unanimously kind of said “HOAX”. We wanted the name to represent the type of music we make, which we consider an exposition of the human condition, primarily on why people feel like they need to give up their passions for ideas of normalcy like: “getting a real job”, “fitting in” – things along that line. I don’t even remember any other contenders for a band name because we all subconsciously wanted the band to be called “HOAX”, but no one wanted to be the first person to say it haha.
How do you think your hometowns have influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group?
For the most part, I think our hometowns had been plagued with “the suburb syndrome”, which always meant that we felt bored, so we would always explore different styles of music. For a good part of both Frantz’s and my youth, we would just spend time listening to a lot of music, consuming it whole. All kinds: Motown, jazz, classic rock, R&B, hip-hop – literally everything. We probably developed musical ADHD from it, and I think it plays into how we see genre-blending as an important part of our process and sound. I also think growing up on classic literature and movies played into making music, because we feel like there is a cinematic and literary quality in our music.
Let’s talk about your newest single “Moon Moon Baby.” What was the inspiration for this track? How does it prepare listeners for your new album that was just released?
Amongst a recent trip to the Himalayan region of India, the biggest inspiration for Moon Moon Baby was conceptual of our debut album that we had just started to brew. It’s the very idea that our society is so obsessed with “doing” that we even build it into how we see happiness, love, and other things. “I’ll be happy when I get XYZ” or “When XYZ happens, then I’ll be happy”. All of these thoughts are very action-based approaches to everything. When we were India, we were exposed to a whole new way of thinking, and we began challenging the idea of Doing-based living with simply Being-based living. “Moon Moon Baby” was born out of this ideology, and it’s almost become the thesis statement on what the rest of our album b? will speak on.
If time and money were not an issue, what would your dream music video look like?
Oh God, don’t get me started. I wanted to go to film school for so long growing up, so I would study movies non-stop. I feel like our dream music video would be a full-length feature that combines a whole collection of songs – like a movie album. (That’s actually a pretty good idea… Maybe we will still do that.)
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere? Do you have any upcoming tour dates this fall in support of your album?
Every part of the process has its highs and lows. There are moments in the studio when you just get something right and you are just so proud and excited and can’t wait for the song to come out. Or when you are on stage and there is just that unspoken connection between us and the crowd, and it doesn’t even like we are performing. It’s like we all are experiencing the music together. Then there are also times in the studio where you would start questioning everything, even rearranging an entire song. We call this the rabbit hole.
There are times when your live performance might not be going so great and you just want to get off the stage as soon as possible, but it’s important to focus on the fact that making music is so pure and beautiful. It’s the art of creating something from nothing, and then sharing that with the world. We are currently planning our own 2019 headlining tour, but for now, our next show will be at Baby’s All Right with Yung Heazy on November 2nd.
How do you think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? What would you say is the most challenging part about it?
I think it’s the creation part of being musicians that we love. I don’t even mean the “we want to express ourselves” type of thing, but rather just taking things and making it into something different. We like to take our experiences and thoughts and turn it into a digestible medium like music where everyone can understand on some level in some way or another. It’s like being able to talk to people in different languages without knowing other languages. It’s magical.
The most challenging part of being a musician is having motivation and inspiration. We don’t like to force music out of us as a band, so there are dry periods when we are just like, “Wow, we are not making anything good.” I think for us, we’ve learned to stay inspired in those times by going to museums or traveling to different countries to gain different perspectives and experiences of the world. Staying patient is always the hardest.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how your own music is reflecting this time period? Or do you think it doesn’t? Would you say that other musicians are making music that has been influenced by this climate?
We always aim to make our music as conscious of the times as possible. We see our music as a vehicle to the change we want to see happen in the world, and for us, that means spreading empathy and love to influence positive changes. I think empathy has a big point of reflection for us on this project. Being able to hear someone out who has a completely different point of view from you is the key to working towards something. We see a lot of disrespect on the Internet and people invalidating someone because their opinions don’t line up.
I think empathy is lost, but if there is one thing you do get out of listening to our music, hopefully it is a newfound love for empathy. I think the political climate is definitely influencing musicians to use their platform to voice their opinions, which I think is beautiful because, for a lot of people, music is the best medium for that. When listening to music, you don’t feel reactionary or feel like you have to respond with a thought – you just experience it. This makes you more able to hear someone’s point of view (the artists) in a way where you can simply take in the information, and think about it. I think the more artists that make music with important messages, the more we can further the conversation on change.
What musicians would you love to work with in the future? What artists have really been inspiring this group and your music since day 1?
Collabs always seem hard for us because we are so stubborn in the way we create, but I’d love to be a fly on the wall in Frank Ocean’s studio (or wherever he writes), Kendrick Lamar’s studio, or Alex Turner’s studio. I just feel like they approach projects in such a fresh manner, and I would love to see what the process is like. These are all artists that have influenced us as well: Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Arctic Monkey’s… THIS LIST COULD GO ON FOREVER!
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
Like I said before, EMPATHY would be the truest message of our music. If there is one thing you take away from our music, hopefully it’s a dose of empathy. See things from other people’s perspective. See why other people think the way they do. Have tough conversations, and come out feeling more like a human than you did before. That’s it.
Where can our readers connect with you today?
You can find us on all social media and streaming platforms, but we’re most active on Instagram (@hoax_band).