Moon Baby on the rise after landing in Pittsburgh | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Moon Baby on the rise after landing in Pittsburgh

"Now that I'm seeing what I want happen: Where do I go now?"

Moon Baby, the story goes, is a "celestial deity" — a character straight out of space, who "after a brief affair with Neil Armstrong" came to Earth. And judging from Moon Baby's ethereal vocals on her recent release, a collaboration with lauded local beatmaker Wise Blood, it's not an entirely far-fetched story.

The artist ended up in Pittsburgh, she explains, by implanting in the infant body of one Sam Perry, a Zelienople native who went to Grove City College before moving to Pittsburgh proper, where Moon Baby began performing in earnest. (Perry currently splits time between Pittsburgh and living in Florida with family; Moon Baby, of course, tends to follow suit.)

Moon Baby's performance career began with a residency at the now-defunct Waffle Shop, the performance-space-and-restaurant that spun off of CMU's art school. She cut her teeth at local drag shows, musically and as a performer. "When I was living full time in Pittsburgh, I was performing three or four days a week," she says. "When I come back up, I want to perform a solid one show a month that I'm really, really proud of."

Drag Queen, celestial deity, Moon Baby
Photo courtesy of Wise Blood
Better music through drag: Moon Baby

"It was a really affirmative two years of nonstop performing," she adds, "and it helped me to understand what I wanted. Now that I'm seeing what I want happen, it's kind of: Where do I go now?"

For Moon Baby, a show is more than just music: There's the gender-performance aspect, and a more general performance-art tack. Her show this Fri., Jan. 16, will also involve excerpts from Hypnotramp, the novel she penned for National Novel Writing Month, part of a trilogy of self-mythologizing prose. The show is at Assemble; Moon Baby has performed there numerous times while working to develop what she conceptualizes as a Moon Baby opera. (You can purchase an advance "ticket" in the form of a T-shirt available from Clothes Minded, 4740 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield — wear the shirt and you get into the show.)

In the meantime, last fall's stands alone as a project with Wise Blood; it stemmed from the two meeting and talking about working together. "We love working together, and it's all very quick," Moon Baby explains. "We do maybe three takes, then Chris just kind of meddles with it." She works with other producers as well, including Taylor Knight, of Slowdanger.

The recent EP came out on Future Gods, the label Wise Blood is on, getting national exposure via Vice's Noisey blog. While gaining some national exposure, Moon Baby is looking forward to coming back to Pittsburgh full time, and building her own body of work here. Working in both the original-music and drag circles, she finds more than one community to inhabit.

"I kind of get impatient," she says, "so I've tried to carve my own space by being a drag queen and creating these solo shows but with my own music."

"Drag queens are expected to lip-sync or to sing parodies, or to make club bangers," she adds. "And all of those things are great, and I love all of those things. But I want to be a musician, and I want to do it through drag. I want to elevate my drag through music, and I want to elevate my music through drag."

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By Mars Johnson