Bridgette Moody and John Seasons were friends for about 10 years before they started making music together. It began in 2012 with a set of Animal Collective covers they'd agreed to play for a Halloween show in Los Angeles. Moody and Seasons billed themselves as "Haunted Summer" as a nod to the occasion. The name had strong personal resonance for the Highland Park, Calif.-based couple, too.
"The summer leading up to the whole project really blooming was a very difficult one," Moody reflected. "We lost a lot of friends and things we thought we knew, but it was a great thing ultimately. We were shedding a lot of things that were trying to sabotage us. It was a crazy summer, but we're thankful for it."
Today, Moody and Seasons have much to be thankful for as well. In the past 18 months, Haunted Summer has opened for a wide variety of prominent acts, including psychedelic pop band The Polyphonic Spree, former Bauhaus and Love and Rockets bassist David J and shoegaze-black metal group Deafheaven. Buzzbands.la premiered the duo's single "1996" in 2013, declaring that it "floats past like four minutes of French cinema, pensive and preoccupied (possibly by its own beauty) and completely lost in the moment."
Boiseans can lose themselves when Haunted Summer plays Neurolux on Tuesday, Jan. 27. Foul Weather and local ambient act Cloudmover will open.
Haunted Summer's music combines dulcet melodies and soothing atmospherics with Moody's serene vocals. Her and Seasons' cryptic, quietly troubling lyrics undercut the dreaminess of their sound and give the songs an appropriately haunting quality. This balance of light and dark reflects the duo's creative process.
"It's weird: When we first started writing as a project, we just took from real-life things that happened to us," Seasons said. "The project kind of became this whole thing that it is today through similar dreams and nightmares we were having at the time about finding each other in the woods. That's kind of what led to those images that we use today—the concept of finding each other in a dark place but [having] that light to reach another place."
When Haunted Summer formed in 2012, both Seasons and Moody were in a dark place. They'd each spent the better part of a decade in separate bands: Seasons played with the psychedelic group Seasons for eight years while Moody performed with the indie-rock group Torches for seven. But just as each band had begun to play larger shows and earn more money, Moody and Seasons left.
Seasons told the Radio Free Silver Lake blog that they and their former groups' lead singers "couldn't get along anymore. Things had gotten too far as far as where the line was drawn, as far as being able to work together and respect each other."
Moody and Seasons, who are now married, don't have those problems in Haunted Summer. From that first Halloween show, their strong chemistry—both personally and artistically—was clear.
"We had just begun dating right around that time, but we had yet to really play any music together," Moody told Boise Weekly. "He had guested in my old band and I would kind of jump onstage and be annoying [with his band], but we hadn't actually collaborated together. ... After that [Halloween show], we realized, 'Wow, we're really on the same page musically.' And everything just kind of flowed out really easily after that."
It didn't take long for audiences and industry pros to notice them either. Within three weeks of releasing the first Haunted Summer demo, Moody and Seasons' manager approached them with an offer to open for the renowned Brazilian psychedelic group Os Mutantes at the Troubadour. They turned the gig down—they hadn't figured out how to play their songs live yet—but soon enough, they began playing with a diverse set of groups.
"That's definitely one of the most awesome parts about being in this band—how versatile it's ended up being," Moody said. "We've opened for so many different styles [and] people. It's amazing, being in that much of an open market where you're not just playing for dream-pop bands. We've opened for Icelandic composers or French pop-stars or Latin Grammy-winners."
Moody and Seasons have connected with some impressive people in the studio as well. In 2014, they got to record at Jim Henson Studios in Hollywood with Nicolas Essig, who served as assistant engineer on Daft Punk's Random Access Memories (2013) and Paul McCartney's New (2013). The couple hopes to work with multiple producers on a new album soon. They also hope to play South By Southwest and tour Canada later this year.
Whatever challenges await Haunted Summer, Seasons and Moody are ready to face them.
"Trust me, man, coming from those two bands [and] playing the L.A. tour a billion times," Seasons said, "that's when you realize... there's a difference between having a hobby and wanting to be in a touring band. That's the big leap of faith."