Willy Moon was born William Sinclair in Wellington, New Zealand, and grew up poor. His family moved around a lot, including stints in Hong Kong and the U.K., but poverty followed them: For a while, he and his parents and his sister all shared a single room in a London YMCA, where Moon and his sister slept on the floor, subsisting on bread and cheese. Whatever belongings the family did have were mostly stolen from local department stores. “I learned that the best way to steal is to do it as brazenly and openly as possible,” says Moon, now 23 and living in London. “Don’t attempt to hide things. Act natural and self-assured.”
Moon seems to have taken those lessons to heart in his music, as he pillages ideas, phrases, and imagery from the heyday of mid-1950s rockabilly, mixing in his Buddy Holly–style vocals and the 21st-century beats he cooks up on a laptop. There is an almost Warholian emotional blankness to Moon’s songs, which are, in many ways, a throwback to a time when music was virtually message-free (aside from the implicit one: to have fun). “I have always been a great admirer of simplicity,” says Moon, who offers that he has a “loathing for the unnecessary.” Earlier this fall, Jack White’s Third Man Records released a Moon single, “Railroad Track.” A second one, “Yeah Yeah,” was featured in an iPod commercial, and a full album is in the works for Universal.
Though Moon now favors vintage suits and styling wax, he wore his hair down to his shoulders in high school. His teachers, though, threatened to cut it, so he ended up doing what he describes as “this weird Donald Trump thing—sweeping it up and over to make it look shorter.” Since then, Moon has developed an almost obsessive fastidiousness when it comes to his appearance. “I just don’t really like the way people dress these days, but it’s more of a personal idiosyncrasy than anything else,” says Moon, who explains that despite all of the nostalgia mining, he is a futurist at heart. “My obsessions with the past are as a mirror to the future.”
PHOTO: WILLY MOON IN LONDON, OCTOBER 2012. SUIT: ALEXANDER MCQUEEN. SHIRT: DSQUARED2. GROOMING PRODUCTS: CLINIQUE MAXIMUM HYDRATOR. STYLING: ANDREW DAVIS. HAIR: LEE MACHIN/CAREN. MAKEUP: ARIEL YEH. RETOUCHING: ADOOR/DYTX. SPECIAL THANKS: PROVISION STUDIOS.