Moving Panoramas bring honkey tonk to Schellraiser

Leslie Sisson and dreamy country band Moving Panoramas will appear at Schellraiser Fest on June.

Based in Austin, Texas, the group Moving Panoramas is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist music teacher, Leslie Sisson. Sisson has spent the past decade+ in the music scene writing and recording solo and group albums, as well as touring  as a guest performer with groups such as The Wooden Birds, Nada Surf, The Rated Exes, Broken Social Scene and Daniel Johnston.

Sisson’s father was a working musician, and she recalls this having an early presence in her life.


“We would spend our evenings in honky tonks, where he would be playing. My mom would be two stepping, and I’d be sitting at the bar drinking a Cherry Coke.”

Sisson came of age in Texas’ indie and alternative rock scenes – during an era of music pre-dating the internet, when driving to small venues to see performances of artists offhandedly mentioned by friends would then lead to a deep dive of influences and finding the further periphery of bands. After having helped shape her own interest in music and performing and following years of music classes, Sisson would make the decision to leave.

“As a teenager, I wanted to get as far away from that as I could. I wanted to lose my Texas accent. I wanted to escape those honky tonk roots, to escape that part of my life.”

She ended up in New York, living in Williamsburgh. During that time, she would work consistently with a variety of other musicians and performers, while also crafting her own music. She released a solo project, while also taking some of her music and having a band record it. This was the project that would become Moving Panoramas.

“During the first record, I had a television production job and had these crazy hours where I would come home and just be so wiped out. My life was working, coming home and eating, and then sleeping. So I arranged a recording set up at home and started demoing stuff.”

Partially a result of the isolation of her routine in one of the most bustling cities in the US, that contrast seeped into the music.

“I was surrounded by noise all the time. In my demos you can hear the subway, you can hear the garbage trucks, because I lived on a busy street in Brooklyn. It was the calm in the middle of the storm,” she says of those songs.

The result was the outline of what would be the first record for Moving Panoramas’, 2015’s “One”. The songs are dreamy, with tracks like “Tonight” and “Word” stringing together melodic and curious basslines reminiscent of a lighter shade of shoegaze.

During this period, Sisson left New York and returned to Texas. And with that move came a newer acceptance of that honky tonk past, and the lasting influence of music introduced by her father.

“It wasn’t until I came back that I faced that past. My father took me to see the Beach Boys as a kid. It was my first concert and I remember the harmonies. I remember being enamored of it as a kid. I think that’s why I gravitated to bands like the Bangles – they were my favorite band as a kid, because of the layers of harmony.”

In 2019, Moving Panoramas would release their second album, “In Two”. The sound became a little more full, with an evolving and increasingly sonic contribution from band members for the record. Songs like “Baby Blues” contain a more enveloping driving beat, while “ADD Heart” blurs lines between rock and americana influences and instrumentation.

The record was a place marker in an ongoing journey of navigating through a darker period in Sisson’s life. In 2011, Sisson experienced a series of events that would leave her suffering from PTSD. (She speaks openly about these events, which were written about in more detail in an Austin Chronicle story on the musician, however readers should be aware of the graphic series of events included here)

“All that stuff was super life-changing. It was a lot of stuff that happened at once. I mean, trauma has been the driving force behind my life now. Not just my music. I don’t have a time machine to go back and change it, so I just don’t let it get the best of me.”

Moving Panoramas has been the confluence of several different timely occurrences – Sisson grappling with hanging up the guitar and pivoting from the music that had been such an immense part of her life until a student she taught expressed the desire to proceed further in her musical studies and moved to New York to play with Sisson, her place in her journey of working to overcome a degree of trauma that would rightfully be crippling to others, and a change in geography from isolation in the bustling city of New York to a six piece band amidst her own roots back in Texas.

She is open about her workaholic tendencies, which might explain the list of musical projects she has been involved with in the past right up to the present.

“I teach music at a community college. I have a day job, I kinda have a lot going on. I had to keep moving because my head would take over, and with trauma and PTSD you learn to battle those negative thoughts.”

While the background story of this project is not at all conventional, the result of it is a dreamy gaze rock group who molds southern music inspiration with melodic harmonies stage tested through years of performing everything from quiet solo projects to festive tribute performances. Through it all, Leslie Sisson creates music melodically accessible, while the vague lyrics often have double meanings. Though she says, without a second of hesitation, that if her experiences and work either through music or her jobs teaching or working with others through the State of Texas can do a small part to make the world a better place, then she will be happy.

“The brain is an organ. It needs care just like any other part of our body. I’m getting better at that,” Sisson concludes.

-Shaun Astor

  • Moving Panoramas will perform at Schellraiser – a multi-day music festival set near Eastern Nevada’s Schell Mountain Range in White Pine County which features headliners Broncho, Nikki Lane, Houndmouth, Old 97’s, and more – on Sunday, June 5th. Single and multi-day passes and camping packages are available at Schellraiser.com


ABOUT Shaun Astor

Shaun Astor
Shaun Astor cites pop music singers and social deviants as being among his strongest influences. His vices include vegan baking, riding a bicycle unreasonable distances and fixating on places and ideas that make up the subject of the sentence, "But that’s impossible…" He splits his time between Reno and a hammock perched from ghost town building foundations. Check out his work at www.raisethestakeseditions.com

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