Luna Shadows: On Her Newest Music, Los Angeles, And Her Inspirations
By Kariann Tan
Luna Shadows is a Los-Angeles based singer/songwriter who has weaved her way through the indie electro-pop crowd. It’s no surprise how adored she is within the community today, as we find out more about her passion for creating music and intertwining lyrics with melody. I got the chance to sit down and get to know a little bit more about her life, her inspirations, and much more.
HEM: Hey Luna! How are you doing today?
Hey! I’m doing really well, it’s a sunny day in LA which I thrive on; I’m like a cactus, I just need all the sun.
HEM: You’re so lucky! I’m all the way up here in D.C and it’s been pretty gray lately and it’s supposed to be “spring” but it’s kind of dark and gloomy.
Aw, no! You guys are so close. Don’t worry about it.
HEM: Yeah, I’ll just wait a couple more weeks and months till it’s summer. Anyways, let’s go straight back to the beginning where you began as an artist. Was becoming a musician something that you’ve always wanted to do?
Yeah, I’ve always wanted to be a musician. In fact, I grew up in New York and there was a diary in my room that I wrote and I remember when I was six years old, [the diary] had a question that asked what I wanted to be when I grow up and I wrote musician, singer, pianist... It was just the written proof that I’ve always wanted to do this, so it’s definitely not a new thing. It was as early as I remember having a career goal, that’s what it was.
HEM: Was there ‘someone’ or ‘something’ that inspired you to go down that route?
I would say my family. While they didn’t really have the privilege of having a musical education growing up and are not musicians by any means, they were definitely lovers of music. I grew up with my mom, she would cook dinner and and put on show tunes like Evita, that broadway musical with Madonna, or my dad would bring home a Green Day record, so my family definitely helped me into the picture. Oh, and Disney movies - everything from a young age that could inspire one to sing or want to work with words. So that being said, I didn’t really come from a musical family in a traditional or career sense.
HEM: The music that you make is very dark-pop, electro-inspired, ethereal… What enticed you to go with that sort of sound?
Well, it takes a long time to find your own voice as an artist which sounds you know, a little funny, because you’d think that you know yourself and what you sound like, but actually the reality is that it takes a lot of work. At least from my experience, it takes a lot of work to find out what is the best representation of you, what you have going on on the inside, how to bring that out. I grew up studying different kinds of music - I studied classical piano, and then I went to a performing arts high school where I did musical theatre. That kind of stuff was going on, so when it came to my own music, it took a long time as I explored a lot of different paths like writing folk music…
I really had to, you know, fit all my influences and fit what I was trying to say and figure out how to put them all together without watering anything down too much, because that wouldn’t have been right either.
HEM: It’s interesting having that sort of perspective, because I feel that a lot of people never really get to see what goes on behind the scenes. What, in your opinion, is the difference between writing and performing your own music? Do you have a slight preference towards one or the other?
Good question! For me personally, they are two totally different things. I find writing to be very personal, I am one of those people who writes pretty autobiographically. Writing, for me, has always been a form of therapy - taking things that feel very overwhelming and feel very chaotic and then organizing them in a poetic way I feel gives me the understanding that I wouldn’t have had before. It really forces you to sit with your thoughts and make sense of them, so to me, writing is very personal once again.
Performing, that’s a very extroverted activity, right? Where you’re welcoming other people to the process so it can be a lot of fun. For me in particular, I go back and forth between a lot of fun and totally nerve-wracking because I identify more with the introverted side of myself. So it takes me a lot to push me out of that, but of course, the rewards is really big when I’m able to accomplish that.
HEM: I wanted to congratulate you on your cover of “Be The One” by Dua Lipa. It’s everywhere now. Lots of people are loving it, I love it; Dua tweeted you out as well which was neat! Were you expecting that sort of response from everyone else?
With covers, people are very attached to the original in a lot of cases and understandably so. I think I’m really careful about releasing and doing covers and I just felt like I didn’t try to imitate the original. I wanted to do something that was totally different. Dua is such a powerhouse and has such a soulful voice so I wasn’t at all looking to compete - I just wanted to bring a different presentation. I felt like I was often thinking about my goals with [the song], it’s just for a different time of the day, it’s for a different Spotify playlist. It’s more of a chill night-time sort of dreamy thing.
So because I was aiming for a different area, I felt good putting it out in the world, you know? You never know, it’s really unpredictable sometimes, how people are going to respond to things. But honestly, I only ever put out things that I feel represents me and my likes and hopefully other people will find that authentic as well.
HEM: If there is an artist or tracks that you can see yourself covering, who would that be and why?
Ooooooh! Really good question.
I have another cover - honestly, I can’t really tell you because I want to keep it a surprise! But, it’s an old song, it’s a classic that I don’t know of anybody else covering it before. In this particular way, especially. It’s similar to the way that I treated the Dua Lipa track in terms of it being very different from the original but still keeping the original spirit familiar. It echoes the original song but at the same time it’s not trying to imitate it.
HEM: One thing I noticed about as an artist is that on your social media especially, you have this matte, ethereal sort of aesthetic that is visible within your photos, photo-shoots, everything else. Is there a particular reason why you wanted to go with this sort of thematic element?
I’m really calculated when it comes to art and for me, [Luna Shadows] is not just about music, it’s both audio and visual so everything I do, every time I’m writing songs I always have pictures in my head about how I want to represent them visually. I’m at a point where I’m an independent artist and I’m self-funding so there is kind of a limit to what I’m able to do. But that being said, I try to do things that are within my reach that fits what I’m doing, so I had to think to myself before I put all this music out. I was like, what makes me different from everyone else? What’s something that I have that maybe other people would find interesting.
It’s definitely a hard question to answer, because what I came up with was that I moved to Los Angeles from New York to pursue my dream. I knew literally no one when I first came here and this place has really shaped me and I thought that this was a bold move to some people. So, I thought about my environment in LA, and so when it came down to my visuals, I wanted to represent that Los Angeles was [and is] always with me especially in my photos. There’s a lot of that.
HEM: Do you think having an aesthetic as an artist is equally as important as creating music, especially in today’s age where Spotify’s a thing, Instagram’s a thing, and everything else?
You know, everyone has different goals as an artist and it really depends on your personal goals. For some people, I know that all they care about is writing music and I wouldn’t tell them to change. That being said, if I were helping a new artist or giving them my best advice - I get asked this question a lot in interviews which tells me that it connects with people - and I think that pairing a visual in the age of the Internet is really helpful in illustrating your art. It’s like, why wouldn’t you help someone see what you’re seeing? But again, not everybody else thinks that way and art is very personal.
HEM: So you recently finished touring with The Naked and Famous. How was that, were there a couple things you’ve picked up along the way from touring with them?
I learned a lot from touring with them and a lot of it was non-romantic, practical advice. Numbering on sets, being at the airport, what dressing room etiquette is, when you’re sharing small spaces, how to troubleshoot your technology. Me and [The Naked and Famous] both run electronic shows so how to keep everything up and running especially when things go wrong and we were operating off computers. And you know, computers like to randomly do funny things, so making your set up as foolproof as possible and really knowing your equipment and being an engineer in addition to being a performer. That’s been a big takeaway that I’ve gotten from working with them.
HEM: It certainly seems easier looking at it from an audience-based perspective. Just to close things off, what can we expect from Luna Shadows this year?
I am working on a long form body of work, so you know, an album or something like that. I don’t know when that will be, I’m still kind of far along the process as far as I am concerned. I really like having a plan and like I said earlier, pairing my music with my visuals - making sure what I put out is a really good representation of me. So yeah, I will definitely be playing some shows on the road - I’ll also be joining The Naked and Famous again on their East Coast and European tour over the summer, so yeah!
Photo Credit: Larsen Sotelo