Producer Moon Boots – also known as Pete Dougherty – has been readying for his third album, prepared to drop in March 2023.
A self-professed studio geek, Dougherty released the nostalgic “Come Back Around,” featuring Cherry Glazerr singer Clementine Creevy, over the summer on Anjunadeep as an initial offering accompanied by a video shot in Coney Island.
He followed this in October with “Hot Minute,” featuring Black Gatsby, expected to be the second single from the release titled Ride Away.
Born in Brooklyn, Dougherty’s musical background went in a number of directions. While he studied classical and jazz, he ended up playing keyboards and synths in a few bands and attended neighborhood block parties where dance music classics served as the soundtrack.
Dougherty went onto study at Princeton University, where his interest in disco music grew, and then later moved to Chicago, where he watched legends like Frankie Knuckles, Paul Johnson, and Derrick Carter perform and started to DJ and play in a band called Hey Champ. Today, Moon Boots’ sound reflects this eclectic, experimental attitude.
Dougherty’s initial releases were on French Express, before he signed with Anjunadeep and returned to Brooklyn. Since then, he has released two albums, First Landing in 2017 and Bimini Road two years later.
Both releases mixed elements of soul, disco, R&B, and house and gained over 100 million streams – plus endorsements from Annie Mac, Diplo, and other key tastemakers. He’s also added his signature sound to remixes for Dua Lipa, Robyn, and Nile Rodgers.
Production for Ride Away started in early 2021. Thematically, the album is expected to mix love and companionship with a sense of personal exploration – a product of uncertainty and unsteady times across the globe.
Along with his familiar sounds, the addition of breakbeats and synthpop will shake things up. Leading into the release, Moon Boots has updated his sets, which frequently feature a backing band.
With the release of “Hot Minute,” we had a chance to speak with Dougherty about his projects:
Let’s talk about your background: You played in a live band, Hey Champ, when you were in Chicago. What influenced your decision to additionally do or switch to production?
I started producing and DJing right around the time I joined Hey Champ. Before then, I was a keyboardist, practicing for hours and then jamming with friends, stuff like that.
But with Hey Champ, I never really “switched to production,” I was already producing at the time. Moon Boots was never supposed to amount to anything! It was something I did on the side for fun.
You now perform with a live band and do DJ sets. How does your approach to performing vary between these formats?
Doing live band shows and DJ sets are vastly different. The live show is a more compact thing, where each minute is dialed in on a set that lasts roughly 75 minutes (on the last tour).
I’d rehearse each song dozens of times with the band and many more times at the studio while re-arranging the songs, programming the synths, sequences and patch changes for all of the keyboards, electronic drums, even the guitar pedals.
Ultimately the goal is to present my music in an entertaining, meaningful way that’s a more elevated experience than listening to the songs at home.
When you’re DJing, the music you play is already finished. You can do creative things with EQ and blends, but you aren’t making new music from scratch, and you’re up there by yourself.
The goal is to keep the party and the dancefloor going while presenting music you’ve made along with your collection and your sensibility, your vibe.
On the subject of touring, you had to cancel a live tour due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some producers shifted to streaming their performances over this period. What did you find yourself doing, performance and production wise?
Livestreams and studio. I’m glad we were able to livestream at the time, but I don’t really miss it!
Your next album might drop sometime next year. How far along is this release in production, and what should listeners expect?
It’s getting mastered very soon! Expect something beautiful and hopefully you won’t be far off.
How will this release differ from your first two full-length albums?
Faster tempos, breakbeats, and more synthpop. On the vocal features, I feel like the lyrics are stronger. The instrumentals are happy and open and less angsty.
Recent track “Come Back Around” is expected to be on your upcoming album. The track has a minimal yet groovy vibe. What was your vision for the track?
Rather than stack complex chords on top of everything, I wanted to keep that song all about the groove.
I had a vision for it being a song to listen to with the top down on a convertible driving in the West Coast. Which is kinda funny, because I live in Brooklyn and don’t have a car.
“Come Back Around” also features Clementine Creevy. How did you end up working together?
I was into her music and reached out. Fortunately, we were able to make it work and record in my studio in Brooklyn.
She’s a rock star and plays massive shows – right now, she’s opening for the Pixies – but she also genuinely loves electronic music and is exploring it. Her voice was perfect for the SoCal vibe that I imagined on the song and it was really fun to write with her.
Aside from original music, you’ve done remixes for Dua Lipa, Robyn, and Nile Rodgers. How do you add your unique sound to a remix?
When it comes to remixes, I’m mostly just using the vocals and building a whole new track around it.
With Nile Rodgers, naturally I used some of his rhythm guitar, but only one measure. In a way I’m not really “remixing,” it’s more like reproducing a new song from scratch with someone else’s vocals!
Outside of music, you recently became a father. How has this experience been for you so far?
The best. My 8-week-old daughter is sleeping next to me as I type this out. She’s so darn cute.