Strawberry Moon is part of who Katie Bowles is. The young band was the brainchild of her obsession with music, and wanting to create her own “stuff.”
“I’ve been in some weird, crappy relationships with musicians who were not always super supportive of you making your own stuff and are looking for that support themselves,” Bowles said. “It felt really good to do [music] myself.”
The name Strawberry Moon originated from who Bowles is as a person. Bowles has a June birthday around the time of the moon phase ‘strawberry moon’. Combined with her ginger hair and her birthday, the name of her band feels serendipitous.
“I just remember one year I was at the beach with my family and we were sitting on the sands and there was the full moon in the sky,” Bowles said. “I’m obsessed with the ocean and just felt really powerful and nice.”
MJ Foster joined lead vocalist and guitarist Bowles as the new drummer. Bowles, who identifies as bisexual, and Foster, who identifies as queer, said the whole fruity vibe of Strawberry Moon fits them both, as “they’re both pretty gay”.
Strawberry Moon released their second album, “Dust Bath,” in May of this year. This was the first album the band had produced with Richmond-based label Crystal Pistol Records. Bowles had recorded and produced her first album, “Strawberry Moon,” released Valentines Day of 2017, without the help of a label. She had been working with another musician for the first album, but after a falling out, Bowles went back to being a solo act.
Writing all the songs on “Dust Bath,” Bowles said a lot of the songs are based on a relationship that didn’t go anywhere. Not receiving much support for her music while in that relationship, she became even more determined to make music performing on her own.
“I remember one time I played him a song that I wrote, and he was also a local musician, and he was like, ‘Man, so many people are going to come out to your shows because you’re a cute girl,’” Bowles said. “I was just like, ‘That’s the least supportive thing you could say.’”
Even so, Bowles said she hopes anyone who might come for that reason would stay simply for the music.
Both Bowles and Foster described the music scene in Richmond as being a ‘dudes club’. Bowles said that while it can be intimidating to be the only girl surrounded by a bunch of guys with gear, everyone is welcoming. Still, the ‘dude club’ feel is pervasive.
“We’ve made a lot of friends with the other local musicians here, and it’s a really fun to play shows where you are supporting one another and you’re happy to be around each other and are excited to see what they do next,” Bowles said. The band feels lucky to have a large base reaching out to them for performances, as they’ve played many house shows and benefits, such as the Reproductive Freedom Project.
With their newest album, Strawberry Moon is continuing to make its mark on the Richmond music scene. With the addition of Foster, and new production by the label, it has added a new depth to the band’s music. The accompanying vocals and the instrumentation creates an impressive and full sound for the band. One song, “At It Alone,” stood out from the rest. Bowles and Foster said the song teases at a possible change in sound for Strawberry Moon.
“It’s got a weird beat,” Foster said. “When I first started out, I was like this doesn’t have a beat at all, but then I started playing to it. This is kind of unusual but I really like it.”
Bowles said the additions to the band’s album by Pete Curry from Crystal Pistol Records helped make the album more mainstream in a positive way. She said it turns the tracks into a more indie rock album. The two of them said it’s hard to put the band’s music in a certain genre, but they do have a sound similar to Katie’s favorite band, The White Stripes, as a guitarist and vocalist duo. Bowles said she feels like a gender flip of Jack White, the lead singer of The White Stripes.
“My high school dreams achieved,” Bowles said.
Together, Foster and Bowles are a great support system for each other. The greatest struggle for both of them has been anxiety. “It’s hard to be mindful in the moment when you’re playing a show,” Foster said. “You get kind of tunnel vision when you’re up there. I think we’re getting way better at going beat by beat.”
Foster said there’s a lot of comfort in knowing that they can look at each other and know that they are doing their best.
Soon, though, Strawberry Moon might become a solo act again. Foster will be studying for his masters in bio-statistics at the University of Wisconsin Madison starting at the end of August.
Foster said he believes Bowles is the foundation of Strawberry Moon. Wherever she goes, the band still exists. “This kind of feels like it’s own thing,” Bowles said. “I don’t know if Strawberry Moon would morph into something else, or if I should just give it a new name.”
Listen to Strawberry Moon’s newest album on their bandcamp.
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