As a creator of music that can influence and inspire those who listen to it, Luna Aura has already been championed by the likes of Idolator and MTV. As she prepares to head out on tour and release her new EP Madhouse, she kindly agreed to this interview to chat David Bowie, social media and songwriting inspiration.
PW: Please introduce yourself.
Luna Aura: My name is Luna Aura, and I'm a 22 year old pop singer-songwriter-producer from Phoenix, AZ.
PW: How would you describe your music in a few words?
LA: Spunky, cosmic, left-of-center pop.
PW: How and when did you first discover your love of music and performing? Was there an album you bought or concert you attended that inspired you to pursue it as a career?
LA: I've always loved music. I began singing at the age of three and slowly but surely began teaching myself how to play guitar, write songs, perform. If I ever wanted to go to a concert, I would have to win the tickets from a radio station because I didn't have the money to buy them myself. When I was 15, I won the "summer concert series" tickets, and I got to see 10 concerts in one summer for free. I was able to see Paramore, Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry, Rihanna, and a ton more. I think that summer is when I really started itching to be a performer.
PW: Which bands or artists influenced you growing up, and have those influences changed over the years?
LA: Toni Braxton was my first love in music. I learned soul from that woman and how to turn pain into a passionate performance. Norah Jones and her ability to tell a story and paint a picture with her voice -- she was so different from everyone else. Gwen Stefani, David Bowie, and Janis Joplin taught me what a brilliant performer looks like on a stage, and Katy Perry taught me that it's okay to be ridiculous and to not take making music so seriously.
PW: Is there a band or artist you might say you're similar to, or do you make a determined effort to be as unique as possible?
LA: I don't know if I make a determined effort to be unique. Everybody is different, I don't think there's any effort put into that. You're either trying to be like other people, or you're just being yourself. I'm just being myself. I've had people compare me to a lot of amazing artists, but everyone's perception of me is different, and it's always very flattering.
PW: Who or what most inspires your songwriting?
LA: I write for anyone who has ever felt like they're worth nothing -- the people who try to keep up with the rest of the world and can't. I've always danced to my own beat, and, at times, it can feel lonely. I'm here to say that it's okay to be weird, it's okay to feel different, and that life is not about stifling who you are. If you're just like everyone else, then you might as well be nobody at all. I want people to feel proud of what makes them unique.
PW: In your opinion, which is the greatest song ever written and why?
LA: "Life on Mars" by David Bowie. I think it's such a brilliant narrative of a young girl seeking for a life that's better than her own through the media and finding that it's just an empty world that people have created in order to cope with their own reality. I think there's a beautiful sentiment in that, in not looking toward other people's lives as an example of how to be happy or how to be.
PW: You're releasing your new EP Madhouse in October. Without giving too much away, what can you tell me about it and how would you say it differs from Supernova?
LA: Madhouse is by far the most pop-like thing I've ever done. The music and melodies are on par with a lot of that big-sound-pop that's out there right now. The message is very different however. Every song is different from the next musically, but they all have the same underlying theme. Let's just say Madhouse is the perfect word to describe that theme.
PW: Could you pick a favorite track on the collection?
LA: That's always so difficult to do, but I would say that "Body" is my favorite track right now, though that'll probably change tomorrow. It's very lyrically driven, but the production is what really makes it the monster that it is. There's a lot of heart in it, and I'm very proud of it.
PW: The EP was produced by Evan Gartner and engineered by Justin Hergett, who has worked with the likes of Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Jessie J. What did they bring to the creative and recording process?
LA: It was an honor to work with such an amazing team of people on Madhouse. Evan produced four of the five tracks on this EP, my good friend Josh Li produced "Boys Don't Cry", and Justin recorded and mixed all the tracks and vocals. They all gave me the space I needed to be creative but also pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and make this EP what it is.
PW: You've shared stages with The Ting Tings and Aloe Blacc, to name just two, but, if you could share a stage with four other bands or artists who can be living or dead, who would they be and where would you play?
LA: Joan Jett, No Doubt, Toni Braxton, and Katy Perry at Red Rocks Amphitheater. I'm sure there's a million more I can think of but I don't think anyone would be bored watching that show!
PW: Could you choose your favourite performance to date?
LA: I opened up for Steve Aoki in Phoenix a couple of years ago. It was the first time I ever performed on a stage that big, and it was for 8,000 people. I almost felt like I didn't belong, like somebody got something wrong, and I shouldn't have been there. That was the first and last time I ever felt like that. It was a monumental moment for me as an artist, and it made me hungry for more moments just like that.
PW: What are your upcoming performance plans?
LA: I'll be going on tour starting at the end of September, right around the release of the EP, followed by some pretty rad festivals, including the Dusk Music Festival in October. There are big things on the horizon. I'm giddy as hell about it, to be honest!
PW: You've been championed by and featured on MTV and VH1, together with having had coverage in GQ among other publications. How important does acclaim and support like that matter to you?
LA: Any kind of support always means the world to me. I used to dream about being able to say I was on MTV, and there's nothing better than making your childhood dreams come true. That kind of coverage tells me that I'm heading in the right direction, that people are hearing what I'm saying, and that they actually care.
PW: What are your thoughts on social media, and to what extent has it helped boost your career?
LA: I've always had a love-hate relationship with social media. I love that I'm able to connect with the entire world through social media, and I wouldn't be where I am today without it. But part of me thinks back to that Bowie song "Life on Mars" and feels like people use social media to present themselves in false ways. I think that has a huge effect on young kids who are trying to figure themselves out. They deserve reality, and what you see online most of the time doesn't even come close.
PW: What else does the rest of the year have in store for you?
LA: Writing, writing, and more writing! I have tour in the fall, a few festival shows lined up, and just planning on writing and producing more music! It never ends, and I love it.
PW: Finally then, what's your ultimate ambition as an artist, and, with that in mind, whose career would you most like to emulate and why?
LA: My ultimate ambition is to create a safe space in my artistry for people to be whoever they want to be. I want my music to help people; I want my shows to be a sanctuary for anyone who wants to feel like they belong to something. We're all living on this planet together at the same time. That's an incredible thing. I want people to remember that fact, and be happy to be alive exactly as they are.
Luna Aura heads out on tour this month. A full list of dates and venues is below. For more information, visit her website, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Her Madhouse EP is available for pre-order now on iTunes.
Sep 28 -- Seattle, WA -- Fun House
Sep 29 -- Portland, OR -- Analog Lounge
Sep 30 -- Boise, ID -- The Reef
Oct 01 -- Salt Lake City, UT -- Kilby Court
Oct 02 -- Denver, CO -- Lost Lake Lounge
Oct 04 -- El Paso, NM -- Lowbrow Palace
Oct 05 -- Albuquerque, NM -- The Co-Op
Oct 06 -- Phoenix, AZ -- Crescent Ballroom
Oct 07 -- Tucson, AZ -- The Flycatcher
Oct 08 -- San Diego, CA -- Voodoo Room @ House of Blues
Oct 09 -- Los Angeles, CA -- The Bootleg
Oct 18 -- Phoenix, AZ -- Pride's Rainbow Festival
Oct 21 -- Roosevelt, AZ -- Apache Lake Music Festival
Oct 22 -- Tucson, AZ -- Dusk Music Festival