Moving Panoramas To Play It Loud!


MOVING PANORAMAS play KCRW School Night May 16 photo: Shelley Hiam

Moving Panoramas isn’t your typical newly-formed indie band, they are an all-female psychedelic pop movement of dreamy music that started as a side project, but excelled quickly into full-blown touring mode. Moving Panoramas will be at KCRW School Night! in Los Angeles on May 16.

Moving Panoramas creates a haunting sound of what they describe as “dream pop gaze,” the only truly accurate description. Their album One is the first for the newly formed group that sprouted from former bands and the School of Rock in Austin, Texas.

Leslie Sisson (guitar / vocals) has played in multiple bands, including The Wooden Birds with Andrew Kenny of American Analog Set. While playing in other bands, Sisson was involved in a group called Black Forest Fire where she met Karen Skloss (drums). Not only was Sisson playing in bands but she was also a teacher at the School of Rock in Austin, TX, which is where she connected with Rozie Castoe (bass / vocals) who transitioned from student to bandmate.

“We started playing together right when I was leaving the school, so I didn’t feel like she was a student anymore. She’s much more skilled than a lot of people I’ve played with who weren’t my students,” Sisson said.

“I thought she was never going to get what she needed at School of Rock to learn how to make her own band.

“It’s a great place and it teaches them so much and it’s a positive after school thing, but they only teach kids cover songs and I thought she could really use some guidance on how to write songs. It’s not like I sat her down and was like, ‘This is how you write a song.’ The way I learned as a teenager was being in bands and watching people writing songs, I just learned by association and watched how they did things.”

With a first tour together under their belts, the band went from what was supposed to be an EP, to an LP, to an album of unexpected success. Since Sisson had plenty of touring experience, cheap hotels and all, Moving Panoramas had a much easier first tour experience than most up-and-coming bands. That said there are still the difficulties of an on-the-road life.

“We just went on our first tour together and it was exactly how I expected it, but it’s hard being on the road, there’s things about being on the road that you can’t teach somebody, they just have to do it,” she said.

“A week after the tour, you get brain fried because you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not eating well, you’re driving the whole time.”

Even with the kinks in the road (metaphorically speaking), Sisson reflects on what makes the show worth it, and that, as you would expect, is the performance itself.

“You spend 23 hours a day in a really rough place, but it’s that one hour that you’re playing, or 45 minutes or half an hour, that makes it all worthwhile… whether it’s ten people or if it’s 100 people or more, because at the end of the day it’s a creative and therapeutic outlet. I guess anything that beats that is just when people come and see us and talk to us and tell us what our music means to them, that’s always a thing that brightens my day.”

That first tour started a tradition of ending with the song, “Harmony” that Sisson wrote about her late mother. While writing lyrics, her mom had been an inspiration, working a sense of pain and passion that lingered into each song.

“My mom passed away a few years ago and it kind of started a lot of these songs, or kind of started the process of writing these songs and that one was directly about her,” she said. “Sometimes it’s a relief to play it because if we had a bad show I know always ending on the song makes me feel better, but sometimes I get emotional for sure.”

During a stop at a Chicago venue that was apparently haunted, Sisson noticed everything kept going wrong during the show until the ending with “Harmony.”

“I don’t believe in ghosts really, but there were just a lot of things that went wrong at that show, but when we played that song it kind of just came together.

“I started doing things different on my guitar after that show, playing it differently… I’m not a very spiritual person, but if there was ever a spiritual song, it’s definitely that one. I feel that when I play it.”

Having not been a very loud band, this show pulled out the rock-n-roll roots of the group, capturing a new essence of what they would become and how they would perform together from here on out.

“We play with three amps and we came in and they said, ‘That’s too many amps for this venue, you can play through one.’ And I just said, ‘No, I play through three different amps because it’s three different sounds, don’t worry we’re not this super loud band.’ So at the end of the set I just turned it way up!” Sisson laughed.

“Suck it, we’re going to play loud, we’re a rock band. The vibe of the venue was not our favorite at first, but by the end it redeemed itself and the promoter was like ‘Fuck yeah!’ We ended on a high (and loud) note!”