Luna Shadows is a dark popstress obsessed with The Golden State and its infinite inspirations.
Photog Anna Maria Lopez recently hung out with her at the Santa Monica Pier to ask some questions and shoot some pics.
What’s the story behind the title of your recently released debut EP Summertime?
“I went through a number of titles but Summertime was always the one that I came back to for a number of reasons. The project started in Summer 2014 and it was released in Summer 2016. The word ‘summertime’ appears as a lyric in a few different songs and the entire EP revolves around endless summer and Californian imagery. In a broader sense, Summertime represents nostalgia, longing, hopefulness, readiness, love, loss, youth, and freedom. Growing up in New York City, I would wait all year for the sun and the freedom that summer implied. It is both literally the season and also metaphorically what it represents: the arrival of something long anticipated. It is a simple word that means so much to me and so perfectly encapsulates how I felt during the writing of this record.”
Some of your lyrics mention life in Los Angeles and California. How has living here influenced your music?
“Speaking of summer, it was always a dream of mine to live in California from the time I was a small child. I moved out here as soon as I was old enough to come on my own. I knew no one at all when I got here and now I can’t imagine ever leaving. It was both lonely and liberating at the same time which has also been my lasting impression of L.A. I was drawn here for the same reasons as most: the palm trees, the weather, the beach, the blue skies. But I’ve come to love the small underappreciated details about L.A. too. Being here has heavily influenced my music. It feels like the summer I would always wait for except it’s all the time.”
How did you recruit Brad Hale to be your co-producer?
“I met Brad back in 2012 at one of his shows because I was a big fan of his band Now, Now. I approached him and his bandmates after the gig –we had lots of mutual friends– and offered them a place to stay next time they returned to L.A. Thinking they’d never take me up on it, I was wrong. Next time they came back they stayed with me. I baked them strawberry cupcakes before we all bonded over our love of cats and our collective social anxiety. We’ve been best friends ever since. At some point, I asked Brad if he would try working on a song with me. We sat down in Summer of 2014 and wrote most of ‘Waves’ in about fifteen minutes.”
How about Thom Powers?
“In the summer of 2014, Brad was staying with me in L.A. –he’s from Minneapolis– and working on his music. He invited me out to tacos with his friend Thom of the band The Naked and Famous –of whom I was also a big fan. I almost didn’t go because I was too tired but I pulled it together. The three of us sat and ate tacos and drank margaritas for hours. It was a right-place right-time situation. Thom had just returned home from a tour and was interested in producing a project outside of his band. So we started working together. Sometimes it would be all three of us [‘Cry Wolf’], sometimes just Brad and I [‘Waves’], and sometimes just Thom and I [‘Hallelujah California’]. We all checked in with each other and bounced ideas around regardless. The two of them are my dream team.”
Where all was the EP recorded?
“Every instrument on my EP is digital. The entire thing was created on a computer with the exception being guitar. We worked in Thom’s home studio in Echo Park for most of the demo process. I record and edit my own vocals either in my bedroom or in my friend’s closet in Mount Washington. This involves me standing in a soundproof closet in the heat of L.A. summer, with no AC or a fan –because it makes too much noise, for four to eight hours at a time. My computer would overheat and start making electrical noises so I would occasionally run into the kitchen and put it in the fridge to cool it down quickly. The things you do for love.”
What can you tell us about your collaborations with Kamtin Mohager of The Chain Gang of 1974?
“Kam was a co-writer on ‘Cherry.’ We have written a few songs together but so far this is the only one we finished. Thom is also producing Kam’s record which comes out very soon so the three of us thought it would be fun to try something together one day. The day we wrote this song I walked in and started dancing to a few trap songs that I brought in for reference. I suggested that we write something with a dark hip-hop or trap beat juxtaposed with a melancholy chord progression that would tug at the heart strings. I had written the word ‘cherry’ in my iPhone notes around that time and I didn’t yet know what I meant yet but it all came together as the melody fell into place. Kam improvised the initial idea for the verse melody. Then I reorganized that idea, wrote the chorus, added my lyrics and harmonies, structured it out, and ran home to demo vocals for what is now ‘Cherry’ –my favorite track on the EP.”
You just released a stunning music video for “Hallelujah California.” Where all was it shot?
“We shot all around L.A. but primarily in Silver Lake and Echo Park because that’s where I spend most of my time and where the EP was created. I also wanted to do something at the beach but present it in a darker fashion which most people don’t usually imagine when they think of L.A. So it was my idea to shoot a sequence at the beach where I wear all black and walk into the water at the very end.”
Who are the tattooed twins featured in the video?
“The twins are Adam and Keith Brierley. In real life, they are two amazing guys who run a thrift store and have the coolest Instagrams ever. Morgan Freed, the video’s director, found them on Facebook. We saw a picture of them and we refused to even consider anyone else. They were so perfect. In the video, their role is supposed to be left open to interpretation. I want fans to interpret for themselves who they are and what they represent. I may never tell!”
Why did you choose to shoot it in black and white? California is so sunny!
“For that exact reason. Everyone typically captures L.A.’s dreaminess and all its colors so I wanted to counter that classic image with something more modern and raw that exposed the darker parts. You can still tell it’s sunny and we’ve incorporated these prisms of paradise but then there’s this other element present where you can tell there’s something darker. It is the mission statement of my art as a whole to place dark and light things side by side.”