Moonchild’s neo soul sound evolves on “Starfruit”

The L.A.-based trio, who is performing at El Club on April 23, melds unique beats and horns on their latest release.

Photo by Taryn Dudley


A shared love of music brought L.A.-based trio Moonchild together.

The three friends all went to the University of South California where they all played horns in the jazz program.

Amber Navran had released a short project of songs and did a tour along the West Coast. She brought along Max Bryk and Andris Mattson.

“We were in the car lot and we realized we just kind of bonded over our shared love of the same music and decided to try writing some music together,” Navran says.

They started working on what would become their debut album Be Free, which caught the attention of Stevie Wonder, who has a radio station in L.A.

“One of the DJs for his station found our first album,” recalls Bryk. “[The DJ] played it for Stevie at the station and they asked us to come perform at the House Full of Toys concert. We got the email, and we thought it was a joke … it didn’t seem real.”

The first album had a lot of neo soul undertones and vibes, like people finding the genre for the first time and creating their own music with it. Those undertones and vibes continue on their latest release Starfruit, which dropped this year. The three beatmakers set out to make a beat every day for a month, and that formed the basis of their latest release.

Listen: “Tell Him”

One of the more interesting beats is a sample of the voice that says “walk” at a crosswalk captured by voice memo.

Moonchild also returns to a unique sound on their latest project, bringing the clarinet back to popular music. Bryk has a weekly jazz gig where he plays artists like Benny Goodman, but he has held off on incorporating that into Moonchild.

“I’ve been kind of hesitant to bring it into Moonchild because you don’t really hear it in soul music, but Amber kept bringing in more and more flutes, which we love. And that is a sound you hear a lot in soul music. I was just like, let’s go all in on the clarinet here.”

With all of these different elements in Starfruit and as the group grows together, each member is experiencing their own sounds that they enjoy as musicians.

“Over the last 10 years, we’ve all branched off into things that some of us love more than others,” says Navran. “But it’s been really cool as a band to see those influences come in because the music is shaped by them, but it’s still kind based off of our shared love of the music.”

Listen: “Too Good”

Moonchild has a gig slated for April 23 at El Club. Navran says the group has some new arrangements, animations and a couple of opening acts that they’re excited for everyone to see.

“It’s been a rough two years as everyone knows,” Mattson says. “We need this sort of spring awakening of just feeling good in each other’s company.”

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  • Nick Austin
    Nick Austin hosts Soul Saturday, merging genres like soul and hip-hop with electronica and funk into a rich tapestry of sound that is uniquely Detroit.