Drummer Spotlight: Michelle Nuño of Moon Darling

By Lindsey Anderson
Michelle Nuño Photos by Jake Hanson
Band photo by Andrew Imanaka

Last year, Tom Tom premiered the title track from Moon Darling’s upcoming EP ‘By The Light of The Moon.’ After hearing that track, the excitement around this EP has grown immensely in the Tom Tom world. On January 26th 2018,  Seattle psych rockers Moon Darling will be releasing their new EP & in preparation for the EP’s release, we chatted with Moon Darling’s drummer, Michelle Nuño about the EP and what goals she has for herself as a drummer this year.

How long have you been playing and what drew you to the drums?
I’ve been playing off and on since I was about 12 years old but really consistently for about the past 8 years. I’ve always been drawn to rhythmic things. Maybe it’s the fact that my mom listened to Led Zeppelin and a bunch of disco and R&B while I was in the womb. I used to dance constantly as a kid, it’s just always been in my blood to find a beat and lock into it.

What’s your current kit setup?
I play a 4 piece: 22” kick, 13” rack tom, 16” floor tom, 5″x14″ Ludwig Acrolite snare. I play with Pearl double kick pedals. For cymbals: currently playing 14” Zildjian Custom K hi-hats, 14” and 16” Sabian XS crashes, and a 22” Zildjian Amir ride. I’ve always played with kind of a “franken-kit” and like to switch up cymbals and heads pretty regularly, but keep the same general setup.

How did you and the other members of Moon Darling meet?
I (briefly) went to college with our former guitarist, Ryan, who introduced me to Michael (lead guitar/vocals) about 3 years ago. I remember I was taking a break from playing drums because my previous (metal) band had broken up. Ryan posted on Facebook about needing a drummer for a new project he was involved with and I jumped on board. Since then, Michael and I have created the foundation for the band, and cycled through some other members. We’ve had the current lineup now for almost 2 years.

By the Light of the Moon is coming out soon! Are there any tracks you’re excited for people to hear? If yes, which ones and why?
I’m really excited about the way “Don’t Rise” turned out. We had a lot of fun recording the background percussion (tambourine, vibraslap, etc.) It’s interesting because the songs were recorded about a year ago, and naturally since then they’ve developed as we’ve played them live, but “Don’t Rise” is one that has always been super fun to play.

What goals do you have for yourself as a drummer this year?
Mostly: continue developing my style. Even since recording this album in January 2017, my style and chops have changed and improved and it’s inspiring to see that change in just a year. For 2018, I want to focus on writing our next album; experimenting with new styles and ideas. I never want to stop learning new things so I’m going to strive to really challenge myself this coming year. It’s easy to get to a place where you get comfortable and plateau; I don’t want to let that happen.

If you could pick a food to describe your style of drumming, what would it be and why?
Hmm… I don’t know if I think of it in terms of food – but wine, maybe? It can pair nicely with many different things, it ages well, it’s (literally) fluid, it sometimes becomes the centerpiece of a meal… you can go classy or trashy with wine, too. My style in a nutshell.

What other interests do you have outside of drumming?
I play a little guitar and I’m interested in learning to play the keys as well. By day, I’m a legal assistant in the patent prosecution department of a big law firm. I find the work very interesting and at times rewarding but never saw myself fully committing and going to law school. I find it a good balance to have the security and consistency of a legal job and the freedom and creativity of playing music.

Advice for folks who are just starting on the drums?
Push yourself, and don’t give up. Sometimes it takes a long ass time to teach yourself something well enough to make it sound good. It can be frustrating and at times even discouraging; but it’s so rewarding and so worth it in the end. Try to be inspired by others, not intimidated. It’s easy to see somebody else shred and think, “Yeah, I’ll just never be that good.” Not true – we all have different styles and none of them can be recreated. Hone in on your own style and perfect it. Experience has shown me that you can teach yourself to do anything. It’s a matter of putting in the time and work, and not giving up.

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