Luna Shadows is a Los Angeles based melancholic singer songwriter. Shadows has a deft ability to blend a nostalgic sound and songwriting style with a modern synth pop style. Shadows has released several singles since 2016 – all of which have received some serious critical acclaim – as well as exploding online. Several of her songs – including “Waves,” “Cry Wolf,” and “Hallelujah California” have received millions of plays. I sat down with Luna to talk all things music, Lorde’s new record, and Los Angeles.
LUNA SHADOWS INTERVIEW
CONOR (HIGHLARK): Hey Luna – first off I really love your song “Waves,” and I know I’m not the first to say that – it has already received over 2 million plays. Can you tell us a little bit about the track lyrically?
LUNA SHADOWS: Thank you! I think something that’s interesting about “Waves” that maybe not everyone knows is that the “you” in the song is actually me – I’m asking myself questions, presenting myself with challenges – “can you set free all the hope that you can’t hold inside?” What I meant by this is that I am a person who very quickly and easily cares about things, people, and places – and there isn’t enough room to care about everything. And there are some things that maybe I shouldn’t care about. The verses of “Waves” are essentially a discussion with myself, where I’m wondering if I am able to let go of some sentimentality & attachment, to see if I am willing to be a bit more present and detached. The chorus is where I’m a bit harder on myself, and I find myself entangled in things I swore to myself I would let go of more easily.
CONOR: The style of your music tends to vary a little between each of the songs – what genre would you define yourself as, or do you not identify with just one musical genre?
LUNA: Growing up I studied classical piano and jazz vocal, but I always enjoyed listening to alternative, pop punk, punk, top 40, and electronic. My aim for my own music was to create songs that are as easily accessible as radio pop, but with the depth of some of my other influences. I would consider myself an alternative pop artist, though I think if you listen closely, you might hear some of those things. For example, in “Hallelujah California” I am actually playing those classical arpeggios in the verses, the vocal has a hint of jazz standard, but the drums & pads are electronic/pop sounds. I try to bring in all my influences without diluting any of them too much.
CONOR: Who are some artists that have been the most influential to your style?
LUNA: So many! Everyone from Hayley Williams to Billie Holiday to Radiohead to Chopin to The 1975. I would say my most immediate influences are the things I am currently listening to, which you can hear at my Spotify playlist
CONOR: How do you go about the songwriting process?
LUNA: It really varies, but I’m a really conceptual writer, so things start to happen when I have a concept/mood going in my head. That could be something as simple as a single word. When I was writing the instrumental for “Cherry,” I was just going through my iPhone notes to see if any words or phrases matched the tone of what I was listening to. I saw I’d written down the word “cherry,” and at the time I didn’t quite know why I had or what it meant to me. I turned it into a metaphor for perfection, desirability, youth, readiness, and something in season or full bloom. That song as a whole is about an obsession with trying to be all of those things, inside and out, maybe to the point of one’s own detriment.
CONOR: When did you first realize you wanted to start doing music professionally?
LUNA: As a very young child. I’ve never had another dream.
CONOR: Your Instagram is almost exclusively black and white or film photography – does this come from nostalgia?
LUNA: It comes more from me wanting to show LA in a different way than I’ve seen it portrayed. Most depictions of California in pop culture are super saturated and full of colorful sunsets. I wanted to do something a bit more raw, where the subject is still beautiful but the color is faded. I think a lot of my style, musically and visually speaking, is based on juxtaposition.
CONOR: What is your favorite part of the musical process, writing, recording, or touring and playing live shows?
LUNA: A little bit of everything. That’s kind of like having to pick your favorite meal. Breakfast gives you energy, lunch keeps you coasting, dinner gives you reward after a long day of work…. writing is a creative outlet, recording is a technically rewarding process, and live shows are full of energy and the reward of seeing your work in the world. Nothing that can’t be explained with food. I didn’t even mention brunch.
CONOR: Thoughts on the new Lorde record?
LUNA: I think Ella is really showing the world her skills and zeroing in on her voice. She’s totally killing it. I met her a few times, and then I saw her at a party last year, and I didn’t think she’d remember me because I never expect anyone to remember me, and I went to give her a hug but then I was nervous that she might not remember me, so I ended up giving her a half-committed awkward hug. I gave myself the benefit of the doubt and thought this incident was probably just in my head, but as it turns out, she told our mutual friend that I gave her an awkward hug, so it was truly awkward and I haven’t stopped thinking about it ever since and I really want to give her a better hug someday to make up for my disastrous attempt at an embrace and to tell her congratulations on her #1 album.