MEET: Luna Shadows

Today (June 7th) indie artist Luna Shadows plays with the liminal space between fact and fiction on her new single “bleach.” Written in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Luna was inspired by her relationship with a friend who’s perception of reality became further and further from her own. Luna is at her best on the fluid, glimmering track, combining her haunting vocals with an upbeat, sparkling rhythm to explore themes of loss, denial, and veracity.

Driven by tingly, flowing electric guitars, “bleach” is full of restrained power. The muted fizz of the relentless bass line is like a soda can rolling around in the back of a car, the building pressure yearns for an outlet and will eventually explode. As “bleach” flows into the dynamic chorus Luna grieves the consequences of choosing  truth over comfort, singing, “Wash me out again / it’s like I wasn’t even here / wash me out, my friend /it’s too sad to think about it.” 

With her upcoming “bathwater” LP, LA based artist/producer Luna Shadows’ is opening a window into her memories. Her sophomore full-length effort promises all the polish of her previous work, while demonstrating a deliberate and intimate lyricism. Shapeshifting for us, she trades sparkling electro pop for emotive indie folk rock. Unveiling her background as a classically trained musician, she composed the string arrangement and produced orchestral elements for the upcoming LP’s melancholic ballads. As the upcoming album’s sole lyricist, she searches for her best self in her darkest depths. Pieced together digitally with long-distance co-producer Bradley Hale (Now, Now) over the pandemic, her vision is clear, nostalgic, and satisfying as a full moon. 

1. For someone that is yet to discover Luna Shadows, how would you describe your music? 

Sincere, light and dark, from the heart.  

2. What inspired you as an artist?

Everything is inspiring to me, I think that is perhaps what makes me an artist. There is a quote from the artist Monet that goes something like “…perhaps I owe becoming a painter to flowers.” I am constantly observing and absorbing everything around me, for better or worse. Whether it’s other art that I admire (across all mediums), or situations in my life that require reflection, I have an interest in documenting and illuminating everything through art. Sometimes, I go through this process simply to hold a moment still. 

3. What is your process for preparing to perform live? Do you have any Diva demands? 

Hoping this changes soon but I have not had the opportunity to perform live in a long time – my first US tour was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19, and I just moved straight into creating my new album. I would not say I have diva demands, but I do have stage fright and anxiety when it comes to performing live, so I definitely seek a calm, reassuring environment backstage. And I hope for a fun time on stage. In terms of preparing, I practice a lot – I think of myself more like a studio rat, so getting my show on the road requires a lot of preparation from me – which I really enjoy.  

4. Where do you feel you fit into the music landscape?

I hope to be recognized as a singer/songwriter, someone who is thoughtful with words. I’ve also worked very hard as a producer/engineer, and sonically I hope to sit amongst other artists that are thoughtful with their sound design and productions.  

5: What are your favourite musical genres, and are there any you dislike?      

I am a real lover of all music, so I would not say there is any genre I dislike. All genres inform my creative process, and depending on the day, as a listener, I shift between genre preferences. I grew up listening to pop radio (Alanis → Britney), studying classical piano (with a particular affinity for the romantic era) and learning jazz vocal standards (fav all time jazz vocalist would be Billie Holiday), participating in musical theatre (fun fact – I was called back 3x for Spring Awakening on Broadway), joining rock bands, and studying singer/songwriters in my bedroom. I also consider myself super influenced by 2000s era pop/rock-country, like early Taylor Swift and Avril Lavigne.                                                                       

Image by Alanna Durkee

6. Is there a story behind the your name?

There are many tales behind my name, which is maybe why it became my name. “Luna” is Italian word for moon (I am of Italian descent), and a nickname that my mom gave me. It’s also an anagram of my name. “Shadows” comes from a lyric from a Japandroids song called “The House That Heaven Built” – the lyric is “when they love you and  they will, tell them all they’ll love in my shadow” – I thought this was a beautiful line, and I interpreted it to signify a very monumental love in someone’s life, someone that is not easy to forget or to leave behind. I wrote a song called “Shadow” (never finished/released) after hearing that. I was considering both “Luna” and “Shadows” individually, and I put them together on a folder on my computer for my demos, almost as a joke at first because the name is so theatrical. But just like my music, it represents light and dark. I liked that it was “bigger” than me, kind of like my superhero self that I would need to show up for and grow into over time. 

7.What would you say is your greatest strength as an Artist?

Storytelling, world-building, attention to detail, and empathy.

8. What would you say is your greatest weakness as an Artist?

Perfectionism – I have recently learned an expression, “done is better than perfect” – sometimes, I spend too long fixating on small things and hold up my own process. Additionally, I’m very anxious about putting myself and my work forward sometimes – I definitely stand in the way of my own sunshine at times. 

 9.  What can fans expect from your new single “Bleach“

It combines my 90s grunge era influences with my 2000s singer/songwriter favourite’s. It’s like ethereal grunge indie-pop. Guitar driven. I wrote and performed the guitar solo, which is both simple and messy on purpose, because those are my favourite guitar solos as a listener. 

10. What music artist would you say have influenced your work? 

I think it might surprise people because (I don’t think) my work does not sound like any of these artists individually but there are pieces of all of them – for my new album, I would say some artists that come to mind are Sufjan Stevens, Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac, Broken Social Scene, Fiona Apple – but there are so many more. 

11. Who would you most like to collaborate with artistically?

Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day is one of my favourite songwriters and biggest influences. I got to go to the American Idiot tour in the early 2000s, and being about 10 rows away from the stage totally changed my life. He inspired me to buy my first guitar and to start writing songs at a very young age. I’ve always admired his ability to shapeshift. He also just writes so much music – he has written so many songs. He has so much depth and resilience as a writer and artist. He’s a hero that I hope to meet someday, and collaborating in any capacity would actually be a dream. 

12. What was your worst performance?

I have stage fright and I am super self-critical so to me, most of them (haha)!  When I was 8, I sang “O Holy Night” at a church on Christmas Eve. I was so nervous, I remember my legs were shaking and I could hear my trembling reverberating around the church. In my professional life, my first LS show in 2016 in LA was amazing in terms of turnout and community support – so much fun. But as far as my performance, I was extremely nervous, probably very pitchy, physically awkward etc. I totally blacked out and I don’t really remember being on stage. But, it’s a good memory because everyone was so supportive and kind to me. 

13: What was the most difficult obstacle you have ever faced and how did you overcome it?

In 2018, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. When she went into remission, just as we were supposed to be reuniting and celebrating, the pandemic began. We were then separated for 18 months due to geography. During that time, I found myself reflecting on life with her, how much I admired her, how much I missed her and wanted to celebrate her. I thought it would be nice to make a song for her, but the idea of creating something for someone who literally gave me life was incredibly daunting. Nothing felt sufficient – but I got quiet in my mind, and I created a song called “bathwater” which is dedicated to her – and subsequently, has become the album title. Art has always offered me a path forward, a place to put my feelings, even in the most challenging times. 

14: What is your creative process when making music. Do you work with others or is there just you? 

I am very solitary with my creative process at this point, except I love working with my favourite collaborator and close friend, Bradley Hale. Bradley is one of the most musically talented people I know, and he understands and intuits my taste. It helps that he is a genuine and kind person, always eager to help me realize my vision. We created this album over Zoom, which worked really well for us as co-producers because we were both able to use our computers at the same time. So I had ProTools open while he was on Ableton, and we sent things back and forth over Dropbox until we built a whole song. 

15. Where do you see your musical career in 10 years?

No idea where the road will lead, but in general, I am committed to life as an artist more than I am specifically committed to life as a musician. Music is my deepest love, but I also love filmmaking, visual art, and the pursuit of creativity in general. I’m not sure where my career will be, but my personal aspiration is to stay creative, to be happy, to be peaceful.