In a world full of darkness, rising country star Niko Moon has turned to his craft and unmatchable pipes to be the light. It was Moon’s unconventional upbringing in a small town not far from Atlanta that built him into the musician he is today. However, it was his working-class parents who taught him from an early age always to have a glass half full mentality. To this day, the breakthrough artist has used his songwriting abilities to spread positivity.
“My purpose in life is to make positive music. I’m really heavily influenced by Bob Marley, not instrumentally, but mentality-wise. I love that his music made people feel good, it made people believe in each other, it makes you want to be a good person,” says Moon during an exclusive Country Now interview. “It makes you fall in love with music and in such a glass half full type of way, and that’s what I want to do with my music in the genre that I am in and country music.”
Long before Moon became the platinum-selling artist for his chart-topping debut single “GOOD TIME,” he sought professional help from Zac Brown, who taught him the ins and outs of the music industry. The two kindled their collaborative friendship in a Georgia dive bar called “The Mansion.” Since that night in the sticky saloon, the urban cowboy had a hand in penning some of Zac Brown Band’s biggest hits such as “Homegrown,” “Heavy Is The Head,” “Beautiful Drug,” “Loving You Easy,” and more.
“He taught me so many valuable lessons that I wouldn’t be where I am without that information. He taught me the difference between a good song and a great song – and that’s a really big difference, and it’s a subtle art… it’s not an obvious thing,” says Moon to Country Now reporter Tiffany Goldstein.
“I feel like the biggest lesson I learned from Zac was he’s relentlessly focused on being himself, regardless of anybody else’s opinions on what he should be. I have always respected that about him. So, when it came time for me to make my own music, I really took the time to think about ‘who am I? What is my sound? What do I want to say?’ Now, I’m just going to do me, and the cards will fall where they are. But, at the end of the night, I can lay my head down easy knowing that I’m being myself,” he adds about finding his voice.
With his priorities in line and remaining true to himself, Moon quickly became a genre-bending artist who took on the challenge to push the traditional boundaries of country music. While working on his recently released record, GOOD TIME, in his home studio – the Georgia-raised vocalist pulled inspiration from his country music idols, Travis Tritt and Allen Jackson. Each track on the uplifting LP classifies as country, yet the risk-taker incorporated hip-hop elements to give a friendly nod to the city that left an ever-lasting impact on his artistry.
Moon’s innovative approach to storytelling and producing is slowly changing the dynamic of the country music scene, as he is introducing fans to a new sound. In fact, Opry NextStage has recognized his influence on the industry and named him the featured artist for September.
“It’s a big deal. I mean, there is nothing like the Opry. The first time I played the Opry, that was a big milestone, and I feel like I’m getting another step closer to the family. There are thousands and thousands of highly talented songwriters and artists here in this town and only a very small portion of them ever get the opportunity to stand on that stage, much less be artists of the month. So, to me, I’m just feeling lucky. It’s such a blessing,” he confessed about his pinch-me moment.
To continue his time as Opry NextStage featured artist, Moon grabbed his acoustic guitar to slow down his summer-inspired anthem, “Paradise to Me.” During the exclusive Country Now interview, he encouraged traditional country music fans to take the time to listen to the stripped-down version of the track. Moon hopes they recognize his catchy melodies, rare play on words, and understand that he is not hiding his vocals behind the drum beats that are projected on the original version of “Paradise to Me.”
“I wanted to strip down all that away, and it just be me and my acoustic guitar and say ‘now, listen to the song with just the acoustic guitar without any judgment on whether or not I’m too progressive for you or not,” he says while bringing to light the constant struggle he faces when introducing a fresh take on country. “Hopefully, the most traditional people can listen to it and judge it on the song’s merits and see that I’m a country artist… I’m a country dude.”
Moon expressed the importance of performers playing their own individual part to make a change within the country music space. “I think as artists, we got to do that. We can’t just show up and do what’s been done before. It’s our responsibility to push it into its next place. As a kid, my dad always told me, ‘just be yourself, and if you do that, you won’t sound like anybody else.’ It’s important to be inspired by your heroes, but forge your own vibe and just think about who you are and what your sound is,” he concludes.
As Moon remains making waves with his debut 14 track collection, GOOD TIME, and run with multi-platinum trio Lady A out on tour – he exclusively revealed that he would be keeping the positive momentum going, by embarking on his very first headline tour. “I’m getting ready to announce a headline tour that I’m going to be doing after the Lady A tour. It will be club shows, which I’m really excited about,” he shares before admitting that a second record is currently in the works.
Moon did not confirm a set date for his new music to drop. However, he shared that album two was underway before releasing his latest project, GOOD TIME. “Right now, I’m working on album two. It won’t be called GOOD TIME, but it will continue this positive feeling. As far as when it comes – I’m still working on it, but hopefully sooner than later.”
Until Moon hits the road on his party-like tour, fans can listen to his full-length album here or appreciate his acoustic rendition of “Paradise to Me” above.