Daily Discovery: The Urge Not to “Complicate” by Long Dark Moon

Photo courtesy Aaron Starkey

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

The Chicago-born, Seattle-based trio Long Dark Moon creates music that slinks and sticks to your ribs.

For vocalist Aaron Starkey, the group’s newest song, “Complicate,” was born from a desire to play at a certain volume. While also offering them the chance to express some difficult memories.

“I had a chord progression that I really enjoyed playing loud,” says Starkey. “But I couldn’t find a verse vibe and then eventually we just kept playing the intro chords as the verse, which led to finding a chorus that was totally different.”

Discovery is the name of the game, of course.

Adds Starkey, “I like it when the chorus is a 180 from the verse.”

In terms of the song’s content, Starkey says it’s about the feelings and experiences they had when they were a teenager, waiting for their mom, who suffered from mental health challenges, to come home late at night—wondering if she’d even make it home. Sadly, that didn’t end well.

“Part of that being that I didn’t want to complicate the situation,” Starkey says. “No matter what I could or would do, it wasn’t really in my control anyway. Sadly, she eventually did take her life, and so the song is informed by looking back at that time with adult eyes and how to make sense of that tension and how it impacted me.”

Thinking about the song, Starkey says they want listeners to know that some things are out of their control, even if they wish they weren’t.

Starkey says, “You can’t fix people that are outside of your control no matter how good you try to be. It’s their journey, and it’s your journey, but you can’t control what happens outside of your own actions.”

When it comes to songwriting, for Starkey it began with the guitar. But it blossomed from there.

“It’s a magical instrument that can be super subtle and quiet,” they say. “And incredibly loud and powerful. The first half of my musical life as a songwriter was crafting on the guitar, arrangements, sounds, but no lyrical contributions. Over time though I realized that I was missing something in my creative life and that’s when I started putting words to the music I was writing, because if I didn’t, I knew I’d always been dependent on a collaborator to bring to life the music.”

Starkey adds, “For me, the human voice always wins in terms of pure emotional connection … [and] the music should feel like you’ve gone on a journey and things are better than when the song started.”

The band will be celebrating the video release at a show at the Rabbit Box on January 27 at the famed Pike Place Market in Seattle, with an album release show slated for later this spring on March 25. Check out the new track below.

Photo courtesy Aaron Starkey

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