DJ Moon Boots' new album 'Bimini Road' takes you on a journey to Atlantis

Pete Dougherty, a music producer and DJ who performs under the name Moon Boots, had just failed all of his classes during one of his semesters as a music composition major at Princeton. His parents, understandably, were freaking out and second-guessing his decision to switch out of the engineering school.

Dougherty convinced them to let him take music classes for another semester — one that wouldn’t include nearly as much partying.

“That adjustment was tough, being around all these type-A kids who were very career-focused,” Dougherty told AOL. “It changed my whole trajectory going through that. When I got back, I was done throwing parties, but I sent myself into dance music and learning everything I could about production and writing.”

Dougherty, who grew up playing piano and keyboards, buckled down and saw his grades improve. Before graduating, however, he moved to Chicago to play keys and synths in a band called Hey Champ that was signed by rapper Lupe Fiasco’s label. During that time, he took various gigs as a bartender, hotel DJ, tutor and telemarketer in Chicago while his production skills improved. It took a while for everything to come together, but now it’s safe to say Dougherty chose the right path. 

The 35-year-old released his second album, Bimini Road, on Sept. 6 and is set to embark on a live tour with a 7-piece band, highlighted by a performance at CRSSD Festival in San Diego on Sept. 29.

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The album is named after the mysterious underwater rock formation that some have theorized is a lost highway to the mythical city of Atlantis. After his first LP, First Landing, took on a cosmic theme that was reflected in its slick, spacey disco sound, Bimini Road fittingly features warmer, lush tracks that you want to save for a sunny day at the beach.

The lead single and opening track, “Tied Up,” features a trademark joyful piano breakdown from Dougherty and an ode to barbershop harmonies from Brooklyn nightlife fixture Steven Klavier.

“[Tied Up] is a nice way to welcome people into the album,” Dougherty said. “It’s fun, it’s cheeky. It has that sort of summery sunshine feeling.”

Dougherty pegs “Juanita” as one of the standout tracks for Moon Boots’ upcoming live performances, an unsurprising pick because of the groovy baseline and soaring vocals from house diva Kaleena Zanders. The title track is a dreamy piano sequence that clocks in at just over 100 seconds. “Trance & Dental” serves as a welcome callback to the space-disco sound from First Landing. And album closer “W.T.F.”, a song that Dougherty started working on after the 2016 presidential election, makes expert use of the album’s only vocal sample (“Where to find/Some kind of peace of mind?”). 

“It struck me as feeling stressed out and anxious,” Dougherty said. “I wanted to acknowledge those feelings but leave people on an optimistic note.”

You can understand why Dougherty is projecting optimistic feelings. After all, September will have seen him release an album, get married and start a tour. And the parties he goes to now sure beat the ones that almost derailed his career before it even had a chance to get started.

CRSSD Festival is in San Diego's Waterfront Park from September 28-29 and will feature sets from Moon Boots, Portugal. The Man, Hot Chip, Kaskade and many more acts.

Editor's note: This article previously misstated that Dougherty failed all of his classes during his first semester as a music composition major. It was actually during a later semester during his junior year.

This article also previously misstated that collaborator Steven Klavier was a groomsman in Dougherty's wedding.

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