Although the world seemed to stop when the pandemic hit in 2020, singer Nancy Bombard took to Craigslist during the early days of the pandemic to enlist like-minded artists for a band after the dissolution of her previous band. Her ad was answered, resulting Bombard, drummer Melissa Koziel, bassist Brian Bello, and guitarist Ryan Reynolds forming Move Like Creatures. With a sound that has been compared to everyone from Hayley Williams and Liz Phair to Gwen Stefani and Olivia Rodrigo, Move Like Creatures seeks to remind us that no matter how dark or desperate things may seem, we’re never truly alone in this world. Mental health is a huge focus for the band, with the Covid pandemic highlighting the mental health struggles that many people were facing. It caused many people to feel depression for the first time with no idea to manage their feelings without their usual distractions. Bombard holds a degree in psychology, and Bello is a practicing psychiatrist, citing the band as the perfect intersection of making music and making meaningful connections. It was that desire for meaningful connection that brought Move Like Creatures together in the first place. The band recently released their debut single “Mind Reader”, a rallying cry for anyone who’s ever been misunderstood or misdiagnosed and for anyone who’s ever been told to toughen up or shake it off. The track was recorded with producer/engineer Ethan Kaufmann (Ryan Cabrera, Avril Lavigne).
Ryan- My previous bands were also pop/rock. I remember playing my first show as a teen and being on stage hearing my amp turn on for sound check and my mind was blown. I was hooked after that, but during college I had to step away from music temporarily which really affected me.
I feel like this band has done all the things I always wanted to do in previous projects. In the past I was in garage bands that wrote songs and played some great live shows but were not organized or as serious.
Brian- In previous projects communication and professionalism were always a struggle and it made me not want to continue with those. This has been a very collaborate experience where everyone’s input is valued. We didn’t know what our sound was going to be, as each song started in a completely different style. “Mind Reader” originally had this weird polka sound that evolved into a punk song and then landed where it is now. The one element that stayed in our songs was our bass from the original cuts.
Nancy– I was fortunate in my previous band to be part of some big things, so when I made the decision to leave that project I was depressed even though it was the best choice at the time. Taking a break from creating music and performing was like a loss of identity, so when I put the craigslist ad up I was really hoping to find people I could go even further with. I think at first everyone wasn’t sure where it was going to go but I knew what I wanted. Musically we didn’t force anything and let it happen naturally, so I feel like that is how we found our sound.
Over the course of the pandemic, you saw a lot of people experience depression for the first time and struggle with how to manage those feelings without the ususal distractions. How did you all navigate the pandemic and what struggles did it present for you? Nancy and Brian- Do you feel you were offered a unique perspective, in that you hold a degree in psychology and are a practicing psychiatrist, respectively?
Brian- Other than not being able to play live music anymore, I was really fortunate that my life did not change that much through the pandemic. Not being able to attend or play live shows left a big void for me. I am fortunate to have found a band so that I could continue to have music in my life to some capacity, even if it was just the 4 of us playing for each other. I feel I did have a different perspective because not only did I understand the brain science behind it, I also spent the last handful of years taking on the trauma of 100’s of individuals and learning from their experiences. With my training and own personal experience being in therapy, I think I had the unique tools and resources to get through this time.
Nancy– Thankfully due to many years of therapy in my youth, and a strong support system, I felt prepared to some degree for what we all went through. I would check in with my friends and family daily, make sure everyone was ok and that we all knew we had each other. When I started to feel myself slip I would write music, work out or watch something positive. I try to remind myself that everything is temporary, even when it seems like it isn’t.
Brian- Music has been something I’ve always bonded with people about. The only reason I picked up a guitar in the first place was to connect with my cousins in 7th grade. RX Bandits and The Sounds of Animals Fighting are two of my favorite bands and going to their shows resulted in meeting friends that years later I still hang out with and collaborate with for fun.
Melissa- Jumping off Brian’s comment, I’ve met most of my friends from playing in bands and being in the scene. When I was 14 I saw No Doubt for the first time live and it is what sparked my dream of being a drummer. For me music is a way to escape reality at times. I just put it on and zone out.
Nancy– One of my favorite parts about music is how tied to memories it can be. Certain songs can really bring me back to a certain time in my life. Growing up, my mom would always blast Tracy Chapman, Alanis Morissette and other prominent 90’s female artists in the car so that is definitely where I draw a lot of inspiration from. My father was always playing different instruments in the house and my brother and I were put into theater productions at a young age. Music is part of my identity and I agree it is something that brings people together because it brought me to so many different people and places in life. I remember watching videos on YouTube during covid lockdown of people singing and playing instruments from their windows to let the community know they were not alone and we were going to make it through this. It was powerful.
Ryan- I feel like that Ethan really helped us refine our sound especially guitar wise. There would be parts where I thought I would just strum out power chords and he would say “nah that is too basic we can do better,” and it pushed me to.
Melissa– Ethan definitely helped us with direction. The whole process was very chill. I’ve had other experiences where recording was not fun and it was stressful. At Ethan’s studio he made the process really fun.
Nancy– I’ve known Ethan for a while because he worked on previous projects with me. I hadn’t talked to him for a few years and out of the blue, when I just happened to be working on new music with the band, he reached out to me asking if I’ve been working on anything new. I sent him our demos as we were working on them and once we put 5 together he had us come to the studio. Ethan is an all around great person and producer and we are lucky to know him. He helped us define our sound and tie the lose ends.
You have said that the writing process for the EP was an especially collaborative process. What do you feel that you each bring to the songwriting process and how do you feel as though you play off of each other’s strengths? Why was it important for you to leave room for spontaneity and improvisation in the arrangements when you headed to the studio and what can you tell me about the recording process?
Ryan- I feel that a lot will start with a simple idea one of us has and then we send it to each other to add upon. I generally bring some chord progression ideas building upon something Brian came up with. Sometimes I will create something on garage band and send it to Brian and then he will take it and make it cooler and then Nancy will throw on the melodies/lyrics. Later Mel brings the heartbeat with the drums. What makes it collaborative is we do not have a set process. Our songs came about in all different ways and no one is restricted to their instrument.
Brian- We typically go through many different versions of each song and it changes/evolves with each demo until it feels right to all of us.
Nancy- I don’t think we left room necessarily on purpose for spontaneity in the studio. I think we were just so excited to get in there and record and we had a lot of trust for Ethan and each other. We were just all open to see where it was going to go, so I think that is why it worked since nothing was forced.
How would you describe the message of the EP and what do you hope listeners take away from it?
Nancy– A lot of our music touches upon mental health and combines heavy subject matter with upbeat melodies. Overall we just want to connect with anyone out there who is experiencing this and feels alone or is going through depression.
You will be releasing your first single “Mind Reader” on November 11th, inspired by an ill-fated therapy session, along with an accompanying music video. What can you tell me about the track, as well as the idea behind the music video? What led you to choose this song as your first single?
Nancy- I had the concept floating around in my head a few months before I picked up the guitar and put melody/lyrics to it and showed the band. I thought about everyone and what they were going through during the pandemic. I thought back to times where I struggled the most and the terrible advice I got, but it all made me stronger and prepared for life later. When I brought it to the band it just evolved from there. It was the first song we completed as a band and we chose it to be the first because of how it made us feel. For the music video concept, Melissa had already been working on the artwork featuring taro cards for each song we were releasing. We started throwing ideas around of characters that might fit the concept, so the fortuneteller idea stemmed from that. When we met up with our producer John Marsaglia, and cinematographer Brody Anderson, the idea grew. The theme ties into the entirety of the EP. It was in the cards for us to all meet. It was fate.
With so much talk in recent years on mental health, especially in the music industry, do you feel like the stigma surrounding the topic of mental health is lessening and that there is more comfort and acceptance in having open discussions on this topic? How do you all look after your mental health?
Brian– Yes, I do feel that the stigma is lessening. I am finding a lot in my practice that younger patients.
Melissa– I focus on surrounding myself with positive people and I do things that make me happy like art and playing drums.
Ryan- I do feel the stigma is less. The most I struggled in my life is when there was a lot of uncertainty and I was doing unhealthy things. I didn’t put focus on my responsibility and I would try to avoid it. Now I really focus on taking care of things and not hiding from my problems.
Nancy- I grew up being an advocate for talking about mental health and normalizing it. I’ve always been an open book and a believer in saying how you feel and talking about difficult things you are experiencing. The less secrets you hold the less it has power over you in your daily life. I believe the stigma is lessening but we still have room to grow as society.
What do you all like to do for fun outside of music? Do you have any other music projects outside of Move Like Creatures?
Brian– Half the year I like to snowboard, the other half I skate bike.
Melissa– Other than drummer I am an artist. I created all of the artwork for MLC and I enjoy bringing our ideas to life.
Ryan– I love to travel when I get the opportunity. I traveled through Europe for 5 weeks by myself and that was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I like to snowboard and I used to be a huge skater in high school.
Nancy– I love to paint. Melissa and I actually just finished a large mural project and a few other things for the famous vegan restaurant Sugar Taco in Los Angeles that our friends run. I try to spend as much extra time as I can at the beach or scuba diving. I also love hiking and spending time with my two French bulldogs.
What’s next for you? What are some goals for the band going forward?
Ryan– Next goal is to get on some tours and keep the momentum going.
Nancy– We are going to be filming a few more music videos and writing and working on the next EP.
Brian– I’ve always wanted to play SNL and make enough money to make my day job my side job.
Melissa– I am currently working on all of our merch concepts and I am really excited to get that launched.