Note: The following is written by the fabulous Imade Borha. It will be featured in tomorrow’s issue of 72 Hours. Imade also writes an occasional column for us called Music & Mental Health. She’s the best and you can follow her on Twitter here. Enjoy!
Luna bubbled with joy last week at Frederick Coffee Co. Her career is gaining momentum after she dropped out of college and returned to her family’s Frederick home to focus solely on music. A year ago, she built her Frederick music community from scratch as an open mic performer. Luna now has plans to sing the national anthem at Art in the Park for the Frederick Keys’ Sept. 3 game. Luna even has a Sept. 30 gig opening up for Violent Femmes at Ram’s Head in Baltimore.
During our interview at the coffee shop, Luna came to the conclusion that she’s an experimental pop artist, due to having a melting pot of genres. The 22-year-old’s intimate compositions, coupled with her warm but weathered voice, can be described as singer-songwriter. Her affinity for acoustic instruments like the ukulele can be considered as folk, and her edgy, love-scorned anthems accentuated by her electric guitar can be listed as punk rock. But Luna just wants to make honest songs that calm a chaotic world — hence, experimental pop music.
“It’s not pop as in, woohoo!” Luna sang, evoking a bubble-gum pop record. “Pop as in popular music. As in garners a wide audience. That’s what I’m all about, connecting people to love and good vibes.”
When Luna isn’t working for an online music store or having a jam session with local musicians, she spends her Sundays working on her upcoming album, “Waves for Daze.” She plans to release an album single by her Sept. 30 show, and turn the completed project in to her promoter a month later.
“It will be ready when it’s ready,” said Luna, who frequently gets asked the album’s release date. “I try to go with the flow, because I did record a first album under my birth name [Raven Jackson] when I was in school.”
“Be Free” was released three years ago when Luna was 19. She later decided to go by a different name while at the University of Southern Mississippi to match her maturation. “That was young, naive, still like a little baby, teen girl. I’m not about that anymore.” Luna is no longer the teenager YouTubing the Dixie Chicks to learn her favorite songs on a starter guitar. Luna took a full pause to cringe in embarrassment while reminiscing on another childhood favorite. “I was in an awkward music phase, terrible, terrible,” Luna confessed regarding her Jonas Brothers’ obsession. “My dad said he liked this [Jonas Brothers] song so I made it a mission to learn it. Looking back, that was so hard, but I’m so proud.”
Luna, a name of Latin origin meaning moon, reflects the singer’s earthiness. She often performs barefoot to calm her nerves and is inspired by water. Luna’s iconic mermaid look, with aquamarine tresses and blonde highlights, couldn’t be more on brand if her appearance was designed by an image consultant. She’s adamant that “Waves for Daze” embodies her life as well. “This [album] is like my little baby. TLC all day for this thing!”
“Waves for Daze” represents the oneness between nature and Luna’s identity. “Really, at the end of the day, this album is for me. This album is a book of my growth,” she explained. “Enter the endlessly flowing thought of my heart and mind,” she wrote in an email. “With an open mind, we can all see, love and feel something deeper and more meaningful.”
Luna, who often performs solo with a loop pedal, layers harmonies that soothe. Each vocal part can represent a different emotion. One layer of vocals can sound like a helpless plea while another borders on a seething snarl. She cited Mumford & Sons for the inspiration. “Ooo, yes, I love that vibe. Their harmony vibe. That is always something that I love. Being able to play with vocal harmony — doing things that fit within but aren’t necessarily the stereotypical partnership to the melody.”
So far, songs on Luna’s album have eye-catching titles like “Disconnectivity” with eclectic sounds of punk, doom and “super chill and flowing” music. “Everything has the original starting element of who I started out as. Like that indie folk, heartfelt vibe. And I just add different layers of other genres to have complex vibes,” Luna said.
Despite having obvious talent and dedication, Luna still has to quiet her fears. “I had that anxiety and that social awkwardness and it probably came from being in the gym all the time. Gymnastics for four hours, homework, sleep, school — just like that, you know? I didn’t hang out with my school friends too much.” After leaving gymnastics at the age of 15 due to a knee injury, Luna had to learn that she is more than capable of achieving her music dreams. “Pretty recently, I talked to someone who totally changed my thinking, as far as how to deal with that crap,” Luna said. “They were like, ‘You want to be feeling like this?’ I said no. ‘Then cut that crap out!’ They were like, ‘Tell the voice in the back of your head, thank you for the concern, but I got this.’”
“Waves for Daze” promises to reveal how Luna’s past, present and future crash into each other, making one cohesive whole. “I’m grown and experienced, and lived and learned so much in the last year and a half. Raven Jackson is cool. But Luna is where it is.”