The first song Angelina Moysov wrote is about a little girl standing at a window watching the moon cry tears of blood. The moon is saddened by the way humans treat one another. Moysov was 13 when she penned the song, living in her hometown of Pyatigorsk, Russia, under a perpetually pale sky.
The porcelain-skinned Russky’s prose continued to blossom from there. When accomplished guitarist Tom Ayres got a taste – shortly after Moysov moved to the States – Persephone’s Bees took flight.
Trying to confine the Oakland-based quartet to a specific genre is a lost cause. Persephone’s is more like an elephant-sized beehive stuffed with Russ Meyers’ Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy, the poetry of Osip Mandelstam (“Persephone’s Bees” is a phrase from one of his works) and most importantly, life experience.
Moysov finds muses in everything she experiences and at some point, it overflows into her songwriting.
“I can never force myself to write a song,” Moysov says. “I need inspiration; I have to read, watch my favorite movies, look at art and the people around me. When someone asks me what kind of music we play I always say, ‘It’s everything,’ or ‘It’s music.’”
One book that inspired a new song was The Master and Margarita (also the title of the song and Mick Jagger’s inspiration for “Sympathy for the Devil”) by Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov.
Persephone’s Bees released their first album City of Love in 2002, but the world took notice in 2005 after they signed to Columbia Records and released their second album, Notes from the Underworld. Some of the songs from the album have been featured in commercials, video games and even on The Sopranos.
“Home,” the tune featured on the Jersey mobster series, is the last song on the L.P. and a perfect match for a series about misunderstood criminals. Ayres’ guitar begins with a placid wah, like soft footsteps in a forest, before it builds into the bat-out-of-hell chorus: “When I left you, when I left him, when I left her, I left myself.”
Moysov’s explanation of the song’s lyrics: “It’s hard leaving the people you love, but it’s very liberating – like a little leaf that fell from a tree. You’re all alone.”
The first song on the album, “Way to your Heart,” is a mesh of gypsy-prog-psychedelia that’s like a conversation between Ayres and Moysov. Ayres brings crunchily distorted Thin Lizzy riffs, and Moysov answers with playful jabs on the keys and taunting vocals. “In the morning when I wake up, I think about how I can get you tonight.”
“Way to Your Heart” is proof that Moysov and Ayres are both strong forces – and without one, the group just wouldn’t work.
Persephone’s Bees continues to prevail even after leaving Columbia Records: Its third album "New In Berlin". Without the lavish, big studio production, Ayres and Moysov were tasked with the intricate process, but Moysov says she cannot be happier with the outcome.
“New In Berlin is a lot more philosophical,” she says. “It’s more of the way I see Persephone’s Bees in my mind.”