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SALT LAKE CITY — Tarot Death Card has a little of everything up its sleeve. The Salt Lake City band delivers haunting vocals, detuned synthesizers, psychedelic swirls and lyrics filled with death, destruction and revenge — all paired with a touch of pop sensibility.
The four-piece group — Chloe Muse (vocals), Aaron Moura (guitars, synths, drums), Christian Austin (guitar), McCormack Thompson — formed in 2015 out of convenience. Moura and Thompson were roommates, and Thompson worked at a restaurant with Austin and Muse.
“Our house was the hangout spot,” Moura said. “One day, after weeks of spending every free moment together, we realized we were all musicians. So we consulted (Thompon’s) brand new tarot deck and the omens were good.”
Within a few weeks of seeing its future in the cards, the band was already writing and recording songs together, pulling from influences ranging from Portishead and Massive Attack to Phantogram and MGMT.
“We all have eclectic tastes in music, which is why our sound is unique,” Moura explains. “We’ve really embraced that and have never tried to sound like anyone else. We’ve never once played, or even attempted, a cover song.”
Moura calls the band’s genre “indie electronica dreamy trip pop.”
“No one knows what that means because I made it up,” he said. “But I think it’s fitting.”
It’s been a busy year for Tarot Death Card, with the band releasing its "Moon" EP and a pair of two-song singles. Moura said the band’s musical output was motivated by a fear of dying.
“We had a lot of pent up energy at the start of the year,” he said. “We actually recorded the 'Moon' in April of 2016, but had some delays in finalizing the mix. It wasn’t until I was kept up one night by thoughts of my own death that I found the determination to finish the mixes. After 'Moon' came out, we wanted to keep up the momentum but didn’t want another year delay for the release, so we scaled down to two songs at a time.”
The band’s first release was its heaviest and darkest, filled with lyrics like “We are the poison in your blood."
“The 'Moon' EP definitely has a consistent mood throughout, which I think is really special. All of my favorite albums have that feeling,” Moura said. “We didn’t want to try to recapture that in the subsequent recordings, and you can really hear a difference. We did want the single releases to have a balance. For example, 'Across the Room' is fun and poppy but 'Over My Shoulder' is dark and moody.”
The weighty lyrical content isn’t just pulled out of horror movies or inserted for shock value.
“All of our lyrics are deeply personal and often come from dark experiences. It is definitely cathartic to express that energy in music that people connect with,” Moura said. “We’ve had fans approach us after shows to express that certain songs really helped them cope with some awful things they’ve been through. That’s what it’s all about — we want people to use our music to turn negative into positive. That’s magic.”
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