Whitey on the Moon founder Jamie Osborne's introduction to popular music was by way of the Electrifying Mojo, a Detroit, Michigan radio broadcaster who helped to bring techno to public awareness. Fueled by Mojo's eclecticism, Osborne wrote wrote hip-hop tracks with a high-school friend, seeking to emulate the euphoric tunes he discovered on the radio. Excited about a possible musical career, he and a friend auditioned to be engineering interns at Juan Atkins' Metroplex studio, but it was a somewhat bitter experience as Osborne felt he was scolded and kicked out the door for his lack of experience.
Insulted by the Metroplex slight, Osborne quit songwriting and instead turned his attention to college radio. While an electrical engineering student at Georgia Tech, he directed WREK Atlanta's public affairs programming and hosted a weekly show, A Toast to the Boogie, that focused on classic soul, Motown, and pre-disco funk. As it was the early '90s, WREK's playlists and Atlanta's music venues echoed the emergence of independent rock. Becoming immersed in such artists as Sonic Youth, Slint, and Fugazi, Osborne gained new motivation and inspiration to write his own material.
Osborne developed Whitey on the Moon while living in a tiny studio apartment in Denver in the spring of 1999. At the time he was moonlighting as a late-night radio host, writer, producer, and live performance engineer assistant for KUVO, Denver's public jazz station. He was later fired by the station for spinning the likes of Amon Tobin, Derek Bailey, DJ Cam, and Albert Ayler instead of adhering to the Wynton Marsalis style of music the station dictated. He learned much from assisting recording sessions with Medeski, Martin & Wood, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Bob Dorough, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and a gaggle of Denver free jazz musicians, such as Ron Miles, Fred Hess, and Joe Bonner. Osborne took advantage of his access to the recording studio and jazz community in creating his debut album.
Released in 2000, Special New Band was recorded over the course of a week during the wee hours of the night. Osborne recorded the album with the help and input of jazz musicians and friends from Denver, Atlanta, Detroit, and Oakland. Initially mixed by engineer Bob Burnham and recorded straight to two tracks, the album was later mixed and mastered in Oakland at Tree House studios.
A move to the Bay Area in 2001 saw Osborne writing and performing compositions for theater, film, and video. In 2002, he eventually crossed paths with drummer and percussionist Greg Marasso (Go National/Fulcrum Break). The duo played BART stations, street corners, and house parties until they met up with bassist and multi-instrumentalist Amir Djaveranian in spring 2004. The trio began to write new material and continued to play living rooms, local bars, and street festivals during the summer of 2004. With the help of AJ Wilhelm (Filibuster), Whitey on the Moon's sophomore album, Discolandia, was recorded and mixed over three marathon days at Hangar Studios in Sacramento, California. Discolandia was released in the fall of 2004 on Vela Para Todo Records.