premiere: moonbow, 'altering ego'

As reality edges ever closer to that of dystopian/utopian fiction, Eleanor Hardwick explores the overload of attempting to balance reality with the empowerment of curating a second self online, FOMO, and potentially losing your real self along the way.

by Francesca Dunn
21 April 2016, 2:32pm

Rather fittingly, photographer and visual artist Eleanor Hardwick moonlights as Moonbow. Collaborating with various friends and contemporaries, she crafts beautiful spacey productions that revolve around her delicate vocals and have so far been released in the form of two EPs, Chiaroscuro and Before Afterthoughts. Up until this point she has worked closely with longtime friend Beau Hulse, but new track "Altering Ego" sees the i-D contributor produce solo for the first time. Calling on fellow power females Molly Soda to transmit distorted spoken word across the planet, and Alice Go from Dream Wife to share her guitar skills, Eleanor takes influence from William Orbit-era Madonna guitar and Kate Bush vocals. Brought right up to date with layers upon layers of synths and glitchy samples, the music is brought to life with Eleanor's quietly confident performance, relaxed dance moves and ever-brilliant styling that recalls 1970s sci-fi sirens.

"As children we're told we can be who we want to be," open Molly's hard-to-hear reflections. "Our form mutates between avatars and profile pictures, behind status updates and favorites. We're trapped in our monologue, the app is our stage, but who's watching? Did I seem mysterious enough, or beautiful, or wealthy? We put so much effort into our performance thinking: 'This is my chance to get it right, to be come a vision.'" Parallel lives and altering egos, today's world is becoming more Matrix-like by the minute and the new Moonbow explores that idea. 

"I wanted to make a track about the positive and negative sides to what power social media has given us," explains Eleanor. "A lot of people tend to side with it one way or the other, whereas I think what social media does to us is a lot more complex than that. It's democratic, empowering and gives us a controlled outlet to be the best version of ourselves -- but we also need to be aware of how that can also negatively influence others' own anxieties. I also feel like the Internet was created as a tool for productivity and community -- and yet the flip side is that it has pushed us all into procrastination and short attention spans."

She goes on to describe "Altering Ego" as a sonic interpretation of this: the idea of living your life online purely through an alter ego who embodies only the bits of yourself that you love and not the bits that you are ashamed of. "I wanted it to feel as if structurally it has a hyperactive attention span, like the pace of surfing the web. To me it was really important and exciting to draw inspiration from so many different things that I like -- because that is a positive reflection of one of the things the Internet has given us, an ability to draw our taste and personalities from all different places -- and it's making us all more unique individuals with a confidence to like whatever we want to like."

"Because the lyrical content on my side comes from a more negative approach to the Internet than positive, I love that Molly's words balance that back out; she is a great example of a post Internet artist who takes the best bits of online culture and makes something thought provoking and beautiful from it." She continues. "Alice is a good IRL friend of mine and it was amazing to have her play guitar for this. We're making limited cassettes with her label Honeybabe Records which will feature all the remixes on too. Again, it was important to me to have the song remixed by several artists and to see which are the bits they would curate into their own song -- because that's how empowerment through social media comes about: taking the best part of oneself and showing the world that."

The single features artwork from Eleanor and her very talented household, photographer Meg Lavender and 3D artist Greg McCarron-Shipman, and will be released digitally on April 29 followed by a limited edition cassette complete on May 9 with remixes by talented pals Flamingods, Alice Go and Soldier's Heart. Catch them live or risk suffering from F.O.M.O all the time. 

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