Aluna releases her Sophmore Album ‘MYCELiUM’, talks new music, touring + more!
Singer/songwriter, Aluna, drops her highly-anticipated Sophmore Album ‘MYCELiUM’ and is set to go on a US headlining tour kicking off next month! While Aluna has always defied dance music orthodoxy by virtue of her own predilection for the genre, she has also made inroads for other creatives to follow her unapologetic path. It’s why she’s quietly become a boundary-breaking force, merging electronic, indie, alternative, and pop and integrating voices rarely represented in this space. Change happens by reshaping and recalibrating the ruins of yesterday into a stronger tomorrow, but rather than wait around for the system to wake up, Aluna has actively architected structures to support a brighter, bolder, and, always, more inclusive future in dance. On her latest album, Aluna shares: “The Mycelium is the cell network seeped into the fabric of nature. I’m not talking about the bloom or the fruits. You need to lay the groundwork to see the fruit one day. I got burnt out from trying to work with powerful people who have lots of money and no actual genuine care for what I’m trying to do. I realized there was no foundation where I was standing, and we have to build our own foundation. It’s not going to be all bells and whistles; it’s going to be substance. So, I broke some barriers and started mentoring creative fans. I built a community of Black Ravers in Geneva by joining groups on Instagram and social media. Now, the album is the community I’ve created.” Were so excited to have Aluna on our Beauty and the Beat Issue! Full Interview below.
What was the process behind creating your new album MYCELiUM?
I would call it a holistic process because you’ve got the main, central part of getting into the studio with amazing artists and making the best music that we can make. But then I also devised a working process that was really inspired by talking about the Black and Brown and LGBTQ founders of the genre (house and techno), and how they were using old analog gear, which I thought was fascinating and really inspiring. I took that into the studio for a lot of the sessions with the idea that I would then have a second layer of the process, which would be the digital process that I’m used to—using Ableton to bring those sounds into “the now”, but also retaining those “jam session” moments that really captured the inspiration for a song in a couple of hours. So you have all of those elements in the music.
Additionally, I thought very carefully about who my collaborators were going to be and made sure that they were reflective of the future of dance music that I see—diverse people from all walks of life. I want to be able to know that I am working with people who like me as a Black woman; people who understand this fight and have the personal desire to make the changes that we need to make in the dance music industry for this ecosystem to be healthy and fun for everybody.
How have you grown as an artist on this project?
I’ve grown so much as an artist during this project because it wasn’t only about the music for me. For most of my career, it’s only just been about the music, and I’ve always set myself as a person—as a human being, right on the back burner. I decided that it was time—that I deserve to be part of the process in a more personal way. And I love it, ’cause when I think about all the people that I’ve worked with, they’re family to me now. They’re part of the future of dance music, and I think that’s really, really cool.
So the growth hasn’t necessarily been musical, although you can hear, from my first album Renaissance, which was much more experimental, to MYCELiUM; you can hear how that experimental process solidified and crystallized into this very, very strong, driving sound that I have throughout the record. But it’s also that backdrop of creating a community, that I feel like I grew.
What track on the new album hits home the hardest?
It’s gonna be a war between “Running Blind,” “Underwater” and “Playing Wit Ya.”
You collaborated with a lot of Black, Brown, and LGBTQIA artists on this record. How important is representation to you?
Representation is an interesting word because it’s sort of banded around so much. I have to say that the reason I worked with Black Brown and LGBTQ people on this project was just personal. It was selfish. I wanted to feel really at home in the studio, and that’s how—that’s where my home is. That’s my people.
Who would be a dream musical collaboration?
Me and Kaleena Zanders were talking the other day and we were saying it would be absolutely amazing to put on a show of covers of all of the best dance music hits sung by Black women, and then actually have these women come and join us in some kind of extravagant live show. You heard it here first! If you think that’s a good idea, let’s make it happen. I can’t do it alone.
Why did you pick ‘Running Blind’ as lead single and what lyric hits home on this?
I feel like every music artist has a kind of driving message that they bring with them in almost all of their music. Mine is always freedom because I feel like freedom comes in so many forms. You know—Black people being freed from slavery was one physical side of freedom. But it’s the mental side of freedom that we’ve had to fight so hard for, both inside our minds and from society as a whole. Every one of us needs to be reminded of how to unlock that freedom. That’s why I really wanted this song to be the leader.
Let’s talk about inclusivity and safe space for women of color how are you being proactive in making this happen?
When we talk about inclusivity and a safe space for women of color, what I’m doing is I am, first of all, being an example. There were some really interesting decisions that I made as I became an advocate. One was to try and change the narrative as to how Black women are viewed in dance music. Traditionally, for a period of time, we’ve been seen as a sample, a featured artist, someone who’s interchangeable. The DMs that I get are, “Babe, your voice is so great. I’d love to get you on a track!” as though I am something of a commodity that can just be placed in different bits of production. I’ve also been exposed to the way that the business side is in the industry. If you’re a Black woman and you’ve done a collaboration with a White producer, the assumption is always that it’s gonna be that White producer’s song. So he’s gonna own that. And then he gets to choose whether you’re a featured artist, whether you are not featured at all, whether he credits you at all, whether you have control over the master, and whether that song goes on your profile in different DSP platforms. So many things are affected by that. So, one of the things that I stopped doing was features. I don’t do features anymore because I want to represent that to other Black women. I want them to know that they can be an equal component in a piece of music by bringing what they bring to the table, which is the soul of the music. You could say that’s everything. If it’s a vocally-based song, what is it without the vocal? Why is there this assumption that it’s more the producer’s song than it is the person who created the song—created the vocal?
Behind the scenes, I am working to affect the infrastructure part of the industry—labels and events. So I’m running Noir Fever, which is a platform that is gonna cover those areas so that I can support and represent Black women and Black people and the LGBTQ community because I feel like investing in our people is gonna be another way to make that change. There are so many different ways that you have to hit this target, it’s not just one thing.
The other thing that I’m doing to change the level of inclusivity is I’m not just talking to the people who are currently in positions of power—businesses, and corporations. I’m creating opportunity, I’m creating space as opposed to trying to fight for space that’s already occupied by the White dance music community, because that has been a complete waste of my time.
When on the road what beauty products do you swear by?
When I’m on the road, my beauty regime is very similar to what I do when I’m at home, but what I do is decant all of my products into tiny little pots. So for cleansing, I am using my very, very light 360 day scrub by Germaine de Capuccini. I am using my hydration gel by Germaine de Capuccini, and then I’m using serums. That’s my cleansing routine. Of course, I also use sunscreen. Then for my show makeup, I always keep it very minimal. I focus on the eyes and I don’t go to turn on my face because I know the likelihood of me going home and cleaning my face is low, especially after performing a 4:00 AM set. So then it’s cleansing wipes and falls flat on your face. But honestly, cleansing wipes really don’t clean your face completely, so if you don’t have time to do your whole routine, then better not put all the makeup on in the first place.
What is one beauty item you can go without?
A product that I swear by would have to be a clay mask, because my skin just gets blocked so, so quickly. Especially in the summer when you’re touring and you’re doing festivals, you could have on sunscreen (which really does block your pores) and a little bit of makeup, and that combination is just terrible for your skin. I have to do a deep cleanse.
One of the things I really want to have is a portable steamer, but the problem is the plug. You always gotta change out the plug, and that’s a nightmare.
How are you disrupting music and beauty as a Black woman?
I think that one of the main ways that I have disrupted my own relationship with beauty in the music industry is by working with my hair. When I first started out in the music industry, I was straightening my hair, and I don’t believe that I was straightening my hair out of love. You know, we are in an era now of the post-natural era for Black women where we’re asking to be allowed to do whatever we want—not just to be proud of our natural hair and keep it natural only, but also to be able to straighten if we want to or wear wigs or whatever. When I first started, I was just straightening my hair because I felt “too Black” and that I would be judged and that I would not be accepted in the fashion industry or the music industry, which is where AlunaGeorge was really being pitched. I didn’t really think it was a choice at all. I thought that I would be ugly and just completely undesirable with my natural hair. So going natural has really challenged that.
I also think that really experimenting more with rave makeup has helped me to embrace my relationship with makeup in a way that’s more true to me, which is that it should be fun. Not something that changes your face and makes you more beautiful or acceptable, but something that helps you really get into the vibe of being free again. I do think that it’s hard for Black women to both feel beautiful and free. That’s what I’m trying to go for.
What would you tell your 16-year-old self?
I would tell my 16-year-old self that I’m doing a lot more things right than I think I am. I think it’s so much easier, in hindsight to realize that a lot of the things that you experienced and went through, and the choices that you made, were part of a journey that brought you to the now. If now is good, then all of those decisions were the right decisions. I would say this to my 16-year-old self; “You know, that thing where you think that everything is probably gonna turn out all right? You are absolutely right, girl. It’s all gonna turn out all right. It’s gonna be better than all right? It’s gonna be absolutely fabulous.”
What makes you a rebellious spirit?
What makes me a rebellious spirit is that I generally look at barriers and I feel the fear. I feel the fear of breaking that barrier. I feel the fear of people judging me. I feel the fear of failure, and then I sort of tip my head forward and my body leans forwards and I run straight for that barrier. I don’t do all of them. I’m not fearless, so I don’t relish it. I feel like this is what I did with dance music. I felt like I was an outsider. I felt like I didn’t belong in dance music, so I went straight for it. And I didn’t do it a little bit. I did it, and I came to disrupt. And that’s just my nature—to essentially take my vulnerability, my shyness, my awkwardness, my self-deprecating under-confidence, and use it as a sledgehammer to break through everything. Because nobody sees a little shy, dorky person coming through. They don’t realize how much power we actually have, because we obviously desire that confidence. We desire that freedom. We desire to feel amazing, and because we’re not there yet, we do any and everything in our power to get there.
You have had a lot of cool moments with your makeup and hair. What has been your favorite beauty look over the years?
I really loved my look in the “Kiss It Better” video, which was one of my more recent videos. It’s giving “Mermaid Swamp Core” and I am here for it. I’ve still got much more to explore.
How would you describe your sound?
I would describe my sound as “sweaty cry-dance music.” <laughs>
What makes a hit song?
A hit song has to actually hit “The Holy Trinity.” It has to hit you in the chest. It has to hit you in the soul, and it has to hit you in the Punani. <laughs>
What do you prefer, LA or the UK?
Look, they’re really good for different reasons. I like LA to relax and work really hard. That sounds strange, I know, but that’s what you do in LA. You relax and you work really hard, but if you wanna go OUT, out, you need to be in the UK. Let’s be honest. Sure, you can find things to do in LA but you’re gonna have to be really good at researching, and you’re gonna have to know the right people. And you have to have a car. In London, you can just get on the train and just get out and be like, where’s the party at? That’s the truth.
What is next for you on this superstar journey?
We’re gonna go back in the studio, but we are also gonna go back on the road because we still have 25 shows left for the rest of the year! I am also gonna be creating and nurturing an army of new artists and they’re gonna take over the whole music industry, period.
What does the word “rebel” mean to you in regard to music?
I think the word “rebel” in music has to do with the way that certain musicians move into a space that has a typical sound or vibe, and then surprise people with something totally different. That particular way of moving through music is considered rebellious, because if you are just always doing something that surprises people, then people just expect that of you as an artist, and then you’re almost not being rebellious anymore. When it’s unexpected, that’s when the rebel comes out.
At what point did you realize the impact of your social media presence?
I think that for the whole of my career, I’ve been aware of social media presence and have always, for that reason, had a constant battle with reconciling my artistry with the art of social media. This is something in itself that influencers know how to navigate, but music artists and creatives who are doing something more nuanced can really struggle to deal with it. Social media platforms aren’t necessarily built for people to go deeper into what is being presented.
What are your top 3 beauty tricks/hacks?
- Steaming my face with a small, portable handheld steamer
- Using purifying clay masks
- Something really sparkly and glittery right in the corner of your eye.
How do you think the creator space has changed the beauty landscape?
I think the creator space has changed the beauty landscape by really sharing skills so that more people can just get really experimental at home and put a much, much higher level of creativity into their makeup. Rather than using makeup purely to keep up appearances or make yourself appear more beautiful, makeup really has become the stuff of dreams. It’s something that can really transport you to another dimension while playing around in your room.
For a list of all tour dates and details, please visit https://www.alunageorge.com/
NORTH AMERICAN TOUR & FESTIVAL DATES
07/07 – Calgary Stampede Festival – Calgary, AB^
08/05 – Bleached Festival – San Diego, CA^
08/06 – Higher Ground Festival – Seattle, WA^
08/11 – Das Energi Festival – Salt Lake City, UT^
09/01 – North Coast Festival – Chicago, IL^
09/02 – Phoenix Hotel – San Francisco, CA⇑
09/08 – The Church – Denver, CO⇑
09/09 – The Fonda – Los Angeles, CA⇑
09/10 – 916 Block Party – Sacramento, CA^
09/23 – Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO++
09/24 – Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO++
10/06 – Velvet Underground – Toronto, ON⇑
10/07 – Magic Stick – Detroit, MI⇑
10/13 – Warehouse on Watts – Philadelphia, PA⇑
10/14 – Culture – Washington, DC⇑
10/20 – III Points Festival – Miami, FL^
11/11 – Elsewhere – Brooklyn, NY⇑
++Supporting Louis The Child
Cover shot by Maya Fuhr / @mayafuhr
Wardrobe Stylist for Cover Art: @pariyaluv
Additional Image Credits:
Hair & Makeup: Emily Hirsch / @creaturecreative_
Wardrobe Stylist: Zaira Galindo
Galore Features Editor: Perrin Johnson @editsbyperry
Editor-in-chief: Prince Chenoa @princechenoastudio