Like many other artists, 2020 has been a strange and challenging year for LUNA AURA. Originally planned for release this summer, but pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic and in observation of ongoing efforts surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement, her upcoming EP, THREE CHEERS FOR THE AMERICAN BEAUTY actually couldn’t arrive at a more perfect time. The concept EP touches on female identity in American culture, with each song following the main character’s journey into self-realization and rebellion. With a few songs from the upcoming release out now (most recently the powerful “HONEY“) we caught up with LUNA AURA to reflect on her year so far, the writing and recording of THREE CHEERS FOR THE AMERICAN BEAUTY and discuss what it means to use your voice to stand up for yourself and what you believe in. Read the full interview and listen to “HONEY” below. THREE CHEERS FOR THE AMERICAN BEAUTY is out on October 2nd.
Prelude Press: You ended 2019 with your singles, “CRASH DIVE” and “ENGLISH BOYS” and now, you’re gearing up to release your debut EP, THREE CHEERS FOR THE AMERICAN BEAUTY. Obviously, 2020 hasn’t really gone the way that anyone planned or expected so far, but what has been the highlight of the year so far for you?
LUNA AURA: This year has been a little chaotic to say the least. I was originally planning on releasing this EP this summer, but decided to postpone it for the fall considering the current state of this country. Although I do feel like right now is a good time to share my message, it seemed like a better time for me to sit back and learn as opposed to ask people to pay attention to me. This pandemic has been crippling for many people and in the midst of the BLM movement, I felt it was more important to spend time supporting my friends and taking time to look inwards and grow. One highlight for me was seeing the massive crowds of people in the streets marching for what they believed in. It’s inspiring to see and feel the interconnectedness that exists between strangers with a common goal. I think you would be a fool to not see the beauty in that.
THREE CHEERS FOR THE AMERICAN BEAUTY is a concept EP about female identity in American culture – can you tell us a little bit about what inspired this narrative?
I wrote this EP in a time that I was ridding myself of all the cultural conditioning and media programming that was done on me. I think culture and community are constantly interjecting into our lives to tell us what’s right and wrong, and what’s acceptable/not acceptable. We shape ourselves to it. Gender conditioning is a real thing and I was exposed to that when I attended church, heard other people’s language growing up, movies, music, the list goes on and on. We all have it and live with it here in this country. It’s our own brand of it, of course. I was tired of hearing what was okay and not okay for me to do, say, feel, create as a woman. I was tired of being mean to myself, and wanted to be free of it. Writing this EP was very cathartic for me and was during a time that I was realizing I had a voice. I’ve always had one, I just recently started to listen to it.
With each song on the EP representing a different story, was there anything that you knew you wanted to touch on when you first started working on it?
Each song on this EP is attached to a short story of a young girl living in America. Each girl personifying a different cultural/societal pressure that is put on women in this country; hyper-sexualization of young girls, gender roles, unhealthy beauty standards, etc. Each song on the EP works as the soundtrack to each story, and they come from real-life experiences that have either happened to me or women I know. I think there’s a sense of US VS THEM when discussing the female experience in this country, but I wanted to make something that also covered the battles we fight in our own hearts and minds. Sometimes the biggest thing women have to overcome in this country is the conditioning that exists within us. Once we can shed the guilt and shame of not being what the world expects us to be, I think we can take on anything.
As someone who has been involved in music from a young age, I’m sure you had your own personal stories to tell in this EP as well. How do you feel your experience in the music industry has affected the songs on THREE CHEERS FOR THE AMERICAN BEAUTY?
There have definitely been times working in this industry where I felt I wasn’t being taken seriously because of my gender or my age. I think the music industry can be a cutthroat business and a lot of the time, if you’re not vocal enough, people will write you off. I’ve had my fair share of experiences being pushed around in the studio. I was weak, because I had no idea who I was when I first started working in this industry. For a young girl, that can turn into blood in the water for people who can take advantage of that. I put myself in a box and allowed others to do the same. I took a break from writing music and working because I was started to feel like I was losing control of my own story. When I got back into the studio, I had promised myself that I would no longer let people push me around, and I was fortunate enough to write in a room with JT Daly, someone who loves and supports female creatives. He made me feel seen and heard, and I think that space to be whatever I wanted to be was what allowed me to create this wonderful EP.
What would you like for your listeners, particularly young women, to take away from the EP?
I just want this EP to inspire women, as well as men, to be unapologetically themselves. Although I am a woman and I write from my own perspective, I do believe that everyone knows how it feels to be told what they can and cannot do based on the body they were born with. I want those people to know that, no matter what they’re up against, they have the strength to fight back. It’s about learning your voice and using it, and not putting up with anyone’s bullsh*t.
Just this month, you also released your single, “HONEY” from the EP – can you tell us a little bit about this track?
Honey is about defiance and control. I think most of us have experience with people underestimating us, or making us feel small in order to make themselves feel bigger. This is a song about chewing those people up and spitting them out. Reminding them who you are.
What was the most exciting or rewarding part of working on the EP?
Working with JT was very exciting for me because I had been such a fan of his work (K.flay, PVRIS, Paper Route). I had this new sense of self and the confidence to write what I wanted to write, and it could have all been derailed if I had partnered with the wrong person. So it was exciting to be in a room with him and realize that there was no power-dynamic that I would have to overcome before I could bring my vision to life. He’s open-minded, accepting, and kind. I think that’s what makes him such a brilliant producer. He provides a space for creatives to feel safe and heard. That experience was extremely rewarding for me, because I’ll be able to take that confidence with me into every room.
Did you come across any challenges while writing and recording?
We wrote this EP in just over a week, so it was actually quite the opposite. I knew I had this great opportunity and I just wanted to get the most out of it. Songwriting almost just happens to me, I get very lost in an idea and won’t put my pen down until I feel like the idea has come to life. It was the most fluid experience I’ve ever had in a studio and it almost scares me how easy it was.
Can fans expect any more new music before the EP drops in October?
YES. I’ll be releasing another single called “Talking to Me” in September. I AM DYING to get that one out to the world. It might be my favorite on the EP. So fans can definitely be looking forward to that!
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for the thoughtful questions!!