An AllSwell Music Interview
By Laura Rubin + Glen Walsh
“Everybody thinks they have good taste and a sense of humor,” states a classic line from a classic movie and these days it seems like everyone is the “Creative Director” of something. But John Moore is the real deal. Among the professional hats he wears Moore is Chief Creative Officer of sustainable menswear brand Outerknown (which he co-founded with that legend Kelly Slater). As founder of design studio Group Efforts, Moore’s aesthetic vision and dedication to storytelling through design has many of the top brands calling, including Levi Strauss and Abercrombie & Fitch (for whom he created Hollister) and accolades such as being named GQ’s Menswear Designer of the Year. He’s also dad to a family of beautiful, roadtripping blue jean babies.
Moore sets the aesthetic bar high so we were particularly excited to dig into his personal soundtrack as part of the ongoing series of interviews created in conjunction with Whalebone. Read on and listen in to the playlist DJ Glen Walsh put together based on Moore’s responses and experiences – including Perry Farrell rocking out on a tennis court.
What’s your go-to first listen of the day?
First thing, I go to reverberationradio.com and click the top of the feed. Love the mornings when there is a new playlist.
Do you listen to music while you create or do you consider that a distraction?
Music is always on: in the studio, in the car, in my headphones when I’m flying. Music keeps me going.
Old school question. What were you listening to in Junior High? And be honest.
A lot of classic rock like Zeppelin, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, The Band, etc. I changed schools in Junior High and didn’t have a lot of friends at the new school. I remember a girl named Beth got mad at me for something and Black Dog was the song she requested for me over the P.A. during a lunch hour music session. This is the sort of junior high school memory you never forget.
Sounds like Beth had a heavy thing for you. Do you have certain music that puts you in the mood to create?
I’m always influenced by what I am listening to. A song I haven’t heard in a long time can take me somewhere in my head and become the jumping off point for an entirely new project.
I used to listen to Sigur-Ros religiously as I took off on any flight. Inspiration flows on airplanes and I sketch a lot in the air and lyrics and melodies find their way into the ideas I’m putting on paper.
When I get stressed out I’ll listen to classical like Pascal Rogé or something mellow in the studio when I’m researching a project. When I’m driving around Los Angeles, I’ll just plug my phone in and it bounces from Pavement to De La Soul to Sonic Youth to Beyoncé to The National to the Migos to Leon Russel. Literally that eclectic. I like to be surprised. Too much consistency in music is like talking to the same person for too long; you get tired of listening.
And, what music puts you in the mood for nookie?
God bless. Who are your musical muses? Who inspires you / influences your work?
Changes everyday. Seriously, one day it’s someone like Harry Nilsson, but the next day it’s Kendrick Lamar. And songs like 2HB from Roxy Music is something that takes me on an entire journey when I listen to it. My kids are named after John Lennon and Cat Stevens so what does that tell you? I’m all over the place.
First concert you ever went to?
First actual concert was U2 Joshua Tree at the L.A. Coliseum in 1987
Classic. Most recent live show?
Willie Pipkin & Friends at the Continental Club in Austin, Texas
We love a good roadtrip. What musical memories do you have from roadtrips past?
Remember the days before WIFI and Bluetooth systems in cars? Choosing the right music before you left was a critical decision. Now my family takes a lot of roadtrips, and all of our iPhone libraries get plugged in so it’s an eclectic spin of musical genres and eras. We always listen to some local radio, as well. Just curious what the local sound is.
Most unlikely but amazing live music moment?
There’ve been a few. I saw Chuck D & Flavor Flav hang a phony Klu Klux Klan dummy over the stage at Sun Devil Stadium after Arizona voted down recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a state holiday. “By the Time I get to Arizona” was their accompanying soundtrack.
I saw Jane’s Addiction on a tennis court in the backyard of someone’s house in Beverly Hills around 1996. Perry Farrell on a tennis court.
First album you ever bought with your own money?
Janet Jackson “Control” -- no joke. Second album was Tears for Fears’ “Songs from the Big Chair.” I’d buy cassette tapes from Sam Goody in the Oaks Mall.
Was music a big part of how you grew up? What was the soundtrack from your early youth?
My Parents listened to a lot of 50’s & 60’s Beatles and Beach Boys and musical soundtracks. My best friend Kyle Field was a huge musical influence on me when I was young. Turned me onto classic rock like The Doors and Hendrix early on, then onto punk and straight edge a few years later. Today, Kyle makes music under the name Little Wings. He’s put out something like 12 albums.
We know you’re happily paired up but what would be a dater deal breaker in terms of music? AKA: If they own the T-shirt from the tour, you’re out.
After living across four decades, there’s not much I can’t try to wrap my head around, no deal breakers. And this is Los Angeles, so the ironic concert tee is always in style.
Quick: Vinyl, Cassette or Digital? Don’t think just answer.
How do you discover new music? Who widens your musical world?
The cool kids. Used to be Matt Sohl. But now it’s just the kids, always the kids.
Best lyricist? Barry Manilow to Solange, nobody is off limits except Springsteen and Dylan. Too predictable.
Dylan has to be on the list, so let’s go with proper names:
Robert Allen Zimmerman, Nesta Robert Marley, Neil Percival Young, John Winston Lennon, Brian Douglas Wilson, Shawn Corey Carter, Roberta Joan Mitchell & Harry Edward Nilsson III.
Favorite music venue?
Check out the latest sustainably-produced collection from Outerknown, find out how to get involved in their new environmental campaign #ITSNOTOK or follow along John’s California sunshine-soaked familial adventures at @bonfirebeachkids.
Photo Credit: Jeremiah Klein