The video for “Moon & Stars” is an elaborate affair, with Tyler and model/actress Zoe Prewitt in a Corvette driving around scenes resembling Las Vegas and New York before finally taking to the cosmos.
Tyler says “Moon & Stars” was born from his thoughts about how matters of the cosmos relate to matters of the heart.
"I was thinking about … how interesting it was that our bodies are made up of different particles that magnetize and push away from each other and how everything is held together by these kinds of energies,” Tyler says. “Stars and planets are the same way, held together by gravity, but just far away enough — like people.”
Tyler says the song is aimed inward as much as it is skyward.
“Metaphorically, I compared that to a relationship,” he says. “Not just romantic ones, but all relationships — how they’re kind of pulled together, pushed apart, and there’s times in life where things are sort of aligned for two people to be in the same space at the same time. If you think about it cosmically, it’s pretty random, but it’s also really amazing and beautiful.”
For Jonathan Tyler, any conversation — music-related or not — turns into a conversation about something much bigger.
“If you get into the esoteric knowledge of the Egyptians and the masons, you look at some of these mathematical patterns that are true at a micro, molecular level and are also true on a macro level,” he says. “I think that there are things like the Fibonacci sequence and the golden ratio, these formulas that go back to the Egyptians who were correlating a lot of the mathematics of how they built the pyramids to planetary scale.”
One would think that the song’s release date of 11/23 — recognized in the scientific community as "Fibonacci Day" — was a planned event, but Tyler says he realize this until after the release date had been set. (Fibonacci Day refers to a naturally occurring numerical sequence described by medieval mathematician Leonardo Bonacci.)
“It’s a happy coincidence,” Tyler says. “It’s interesting sometimes ... for this song, how the same thing that’s in the stars, as far as gravity and science, is in you, as a human being. We have a lot more power and connection to it sometimes than we realize. The song’s an affirmation to remember that you’re actually connected to all this stuff and we’re all connected to each other. It’s a romantic song but there’s some affirmation to it as well, I think.”
“Moon & Stars” marks Tyler’s first new music since releasing four new singles in 2020, the ephemeral “Underground Forever” (which the Dallas Observer named one of the best songs of 2020), the squirming blues-funk song “Hustlin,” the hard-charging “Mister Resistor” and a gentle ode to the present in “Old Friend.” With the exception of the latter, which Tyler produced himself at his home studio, all of the tracks were produced by Rob Schnapf (Elliot Smith, Beck, Toadies, The Vines). Rounding out the recording are Luke Adams on drums, Matt Schuessler on bass (who also engineered the recording) and Jerry Borge on piano.
The new single is one of Tyler’s most sonically enveloping recordings, with effects that dip into the realm of psychedelia, one of Tyler’s favorite musical play areas as of late.
“I definitely think that it has psychedelic elements, but I would sort of put it in the Chris Isaak world,” Tyler says. “It’s definitely cerebral. More like Pink Floyd meets Chris Isaak.”
Much like a Pink Floyd song, “Moon & Stars” climaxes, musically and emotionally, with one of Tyler’s most expressive guitar solos. “I laid out the solo, then Rob came in and laid down some beautiful harmony parts. I call it a ‘guitar-chestra,’” Tyler says laughing.
Tyler says that the song serving as the emotional climax of the album inspired him to think big with a cinematic video.
“I had the album printed on a cassette so I could listen in my Corvette, which only has a cassette player,” he says. “It surprised me that even though that song is the slowest one on the album, it’s also the most impactful in the car; it had the most vibe. I thought it would be cool if we made the video where you’re driving and by the end you’re in a cerebral, psychedelic headspace, because the music took me there."
Tyler’s imagination didn’t stop there, though.
“Then I saw that photo of the Tesla in space and I always thought it was one of the weirdest photos I’ve seen in a long time; it almost seemed fake,” he says. “I thought it would be fun to play off of that imagery a bit, so I combined the two ideas and thought, ‘Let’s tell a story about a relationship — and it all happens on this car ride.'”
The video starts off with the two characters, played by Tyler and Prewitt, driving out of a sunset into the night through nocturnal cityscapes, as Prewitt’s character gradually removes articles of her "costume," as Tyler describes it.
“Suddenly the girl starts to get into her normal ... who she is without the costume, and they start to lift off and go more cosmic," he says. "By the time you hit the dissonant solo, it’s the dissonance of the relationship. By the end, there are things falling away in space, and you get this impression that the two characters are falling away from each other.”
The high-concept video for “Moon & Stars” is a Texan-grown collaboration. Tyler says that a friend of his named Aaron Brown helped get the ball rolling after a friendly encounter at the Sam’s Town Point watering hole in Austin.
“Essentially Aaron was like, ‘Let me help you, I love this idea of the Corvette in space. Let’s try and get this huge event space called ATX Events,’” Tyler recalls. “Aaron brought in the high-end cameras. One of the secret weapons was this motion-controlled robot arm by this company called Sisu Robotics. The combination of the location, the robot arm, and Aaron’s gear, we had the best equipment.
"It was a lot of synchronicity. The real work was getting it cleaned up, and it became a big editing post-production job ... Everything came together, it was pretty magical.”
Tyler says the upcoming album is practically finished, but the time and effort spent on the “Moon & Stars” project has been a priority. The album will be his first in six years since his rootsy, Thirty Tigers-released 2015 comeback solo album Holy Smokes.
“It’s coming,” Tyler says. “I’ve just been sort of shooting from the hip lately. That’s my style.”
Watch the video for "Moon & Stars" below: