Niko Moon, one of the newest artists on Sony’s RCA Nashville imprint, is determined to craft music that finds positivity in every situation, even some of life’s most painful moments.
“I always write from a redemptive lenses, and a positive outlook,” he said during a recent visit to the MusicRow Magazine offices. “I think about all my life experiences and they were great learning lessons.”
One of his recently-released tracks, “Good Time,” features a hip-hop groove overlaid with acoustic guitar, and a relaxed, soulful lead vocal that espouses campfires, clear moonlit evenings, good friends with guitars, good liquor and even a communal singing of “Dixieland Delight.”
Moon, a Texas native, relocated to Douglasville, Georgia, when he was 10. His father was a truck driver, his mother a waitress, but both parents played music and wrote songs, drawing inspiration from artists like John Prine and Patty Griffin.
“I love John [Prine]’s thought process in writing a song,” Moon says. “He’s the king of being really witty and simple at the same time, which is really hard to do. I’ve always tried to make my music meaningful but conversational.”
Moon caught the music bug in high school, often swiping his father’s guitar to learn how to play.
“His guitar was off limits because he was afraid I was break it. I would get it and watch YouTube videos to learn how to play. He caught me pretty soon and he was mad, but he realized, ‘Wow you had the guts to risk that.’ I’m left-handed, but I learned how to play guitar right-handed from videos. So now that’s pretty much the only thing I do right-handed.”
Moon also ran track and cross country in high school and earned a full scholarship to Birmingham, Alabama’s Sanford University. However, by that point, he knew he wanted to pursue music.
“I was so obsessed with music at that point and I wouldn’t go to class,” he says. “I just stayed in my room and tried writing songs.”
He soon left college and got a job installing insulation in commercial buildings. He later did construction and became an electrician, all while playing gigs around Atlanta.
He linked up with fellow Georgia musician Zac Brown, which led to Moon earning co-writer credits on five No. 1 hits for Zac Brown Band, including “Homegrown,” “Loving You Easy,” “Keep Me In Mind,” and “Heavy Is The Head,” which topped the rock charts and featured a lead vocal from Chris Cornell. Moon penned Rascal Flatts’ hit “Back To Life,” as well. He was also part of the pop-EDM group Sir Rosevelt, which he formed in 2016 alongside Brown and Ben Simonetti.
“The way I like to look at songwriting is when I write with an artist, I like to almost become that artist as much as I can. With Zac, I put on my imaginary beanie and have my imaginary five kids and then I think, ‘What do I care about? What do I want to say?’ I don’t want it to sound like he’s signing a song I wrote—I want it to sound like they are coming from him.”
Three years ago, Moon moved to Nashville and signed with Warner Chappell. He’s now signed as an artist with Make Wake/River House Artists.
Moon gets intensely personal on another track, “Drunk Over You,” which stems from a betrayal of an ex-lover which led Moon into a downward spiral for a time.
“I dated a girl for like seven years and we got engaged and two months before the wedding, I found out she was sleeping with my best friend. He was the best man in my wedding. It really messed me up for a couple of years and I wasn’t that type of person, but after that I started going out and partying and living that kind of mentality. I thought that by doing that, it would help me get over it and like two years later, I was still sadder than I had ever been. I had that epiphany people have, like ‘What am I doing?’ Getting through heartbreak isn’t through a bottle. But I wanted to write this in a positive way because if I hadn’t have gone through that, I wouldn’t have met my wife. She is best woman I’ve ever met. She’s my person and I couldn’t imagine life without her. “
In his own music, Moon draws from his Georgia roots, growing up in small town Douglasville, Georgia, a half-hour outside of Atlanta.
“The drums and bass are Atlanta and everything above it is Douglasville,” he describes the music on his upcoming album, which he crafted with his wife, Anna Moon, a pop artist signed with Monument Records.
“In high school, it was my goal to blow out the speakers in the back of my truck, and Alan Jackson couldn’t do that for me at the time, but T.I. and Outkast would They weren’t saying anything I could remotely relate to, but country music was telling my life in its lyrics. So with my music I wanted it to reflect how I grew up, with music that hits hard but is super country.”
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