Pop Princess Luna Aura Is Part Katy Perry, Part Alien
When you think of Phoenix, Arizona, chances are you probably think about deserts, iced tea, and Arrested Development before you think of pop stars, but all of that is about to change.
In an age where pop artists increasingly sound like they’re cut from the same cloth, 21-year-old Luna Aura stands out. Combining the quirky, charismatic charm of Katy Perry with Robyn’s ability to write catchy choruses, Luna Aura’s music is filled with bold proclamations about pop culture, feminism, and all the lust and longing that comes with being young and in love. Oh, and she self-identifies as an alien.
We talked to Luna Aura about forbidden fruit, comic books, and what it’s like to live life as a friendly neighborhood butt pincher.
So, you grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, right? What was that like?
Hot. Seriously, so hot. I love Arizona, and I grew up in a smaller town called Gilbert. It wasn’t physically small, but it was just a bunch of dairy farms, churches, nothing to do… So it had a “small-town” vibe to it. It gave me that itch to get out and actually experience the world and other cultures, and I felt that music was going to do that for me.
Have you always been interested in performing?
Performing has definitely been my thing since day one. Growing up, I would hide in my closet and sing Toni Braxton and Kelly Clarkson songs to myself in the dark. I don’t know if that makes me a freak, but it took me a while to get comfortable enough with myself as a performer to start singing for others.
So I take it you don’t get nervous performing anymore?
I ALWAYS get nervous before performing. If you don’t get nervous it’s because you’ve gotten bored of it, but performing is like air to me. I get this huge rush of nerves before I go on stage, but I just channel it into power and use it to my advantage.
When did you get serious about songwriting?
I started writing songs when I was 10. I didn’t know how to play an instrument, but I knew melodies, and I knew my voice. The first song I ever wrote was this epic love ballad about getting over a relationship. I was 10, so I didn’t have any experience with boys, but I was sassy as hell and I watched too much television.
What’s the first song you ever loved?
The first song I ever loved was “Unbreak My Heart” by Toni Braxton. I remember hearing it over and over again in the car as a little kid. It was the first song I ever learned to sing, and I truly believe Toni was the first female singer to give me chills. The desperation and longing I felt listening to that song, even as a small child, was something only she could accomplish.
That’s interesting because a lot of your songs now are longing for somebody, are any of your songs about one person in particular or are they amalgamations of different experiences?
Anything that I’ve written on SuperNova, or my first EP that involves love is about one person, in particular. I fell for somebody that I probably shouldn’t have, so it’s somewhat of a ‘forbidden fruit’ situation, but we ended up together and we’re happy as a clam now so it was worth all the hubbub in the end. If anything, it’s just an example of doing what your heart wants against what the world tells you to do.
So where did Luna Aura come from?
The name “Luna Aura” came from a Marvel comic book character named Luna Maximoff. She had the power of ‘Aura Vision’, which was the ability to sense, remove and alter the emotions of others at will. As an artist and musician, that is your power. I felt very close to her story, so I adopted her name. Luna Aura as a creature… is a whole other story. She’s that part of me that is constantly silenced by all the other parts of me. She’s the wild, out-spoken, unapologetic side of me that gives me the power and courage to stand on that stage and say exactly what I need to say.
Is there a song that you’ve written that particularly resonates with you?
You’re not supposed to have a favorite child, but “Like You” is mine. Everyone loves “Dancing With Your Ghost,” and it was the perfect song to come out swinging with. “Like You” is like “Dancing’s” underrated little sister that truly holds everything together. I love that it embraces being a weirdo, love and positivity. It’s that song that screams, “SCREW SOCIETY AND ALL THEIR STUPID RULES” at the top of its lungs. It’s about being unapologetically weird, and finding the one person who okay with it.
As somebody who writes and produces all her own songs, how important would you say that having control over the creative process is?
Having control over the creative process is essential as an artist. You’re the artist — there isn’t any other way to do it. I work alongside other artists and producers to create everything I release, as well, so I don’t have full control over every little thing. Collaboration is so important, though. It’s the difference between one mind and ten minds. The product will be so much better in the end if you are able to bounce your ideas off somebody else and allow yourself to be inspired by a fellow artist’s spirit and mind.
What’s your songwriting process like? Is it really structured or do you just sort of let it happen?
I wish I could show people my songwriting notebook so they can understand my messy process. I usually start with the music first, and then work on the melody. From the melody comes the lyrics, and so on. However, I’ve been able to adapt to all sorts of other ways of writing now that I’ve been working with more songwriters and producers lately. As long as I can get the message of the song across, the process is just an afterthought.
Do you find that consciously write with the radio in mind?
I’ve been on the radio already, and it does feel amazing, but I write all my songs with nothing in mind. Literally, nothing. When I know I’m writing for a project, I stop listening to everything: the radio, Spotify, iTunes, local music. I just feel like focusing on what’s out right now is distracting and too much noise to handle. I write what the music makes me feel. It’s not about being cool or trying to be so out of the box that it doesn’t resonate with anybody either. It’s all about writing what’s from the heart, and writing in a way that everyone can relate.
Would you ever consider writing songs for anybody?
I consider writing songs for other people a lot! I would love to do that as a living. If I didn’t have that performer bug gnawing at my insides all the time, I’d probably give everything up to just do that. I’ll stick with trying to do both for now.
What was the process of making SuperNova like?
Creating SuperNova was like shopping at the mall. You go to one store for your shoes, another for your top, swing by another spot for the perfect pair of pants, and then you end up at the last shop for accessories. I worked with a different producer for every song on this EP. All the songs were created at separate times, but ended up being so cohesive by the time we put everything together. Each song has its own style and can stand on its own, but you have to put all the little pieces of the outfit together if you’re trying to turn heads. I feel like that’s exactly what we did.
Speaking of outfits, how would you describe your style?
My style is half 12-year-old boy, half Zenon: Girl of the 21st century. I don’t know what my style is, really. I just think it’s fun to dress up and color my hair a million colors. I don’t want anyone to be able to put their finger on me as a person. I am whoever I want to be, whenever I want to be it, and I certainly don’t have to be sexy or show my skin to get your attention. I want people, young girls especially, to know they can turn heads just by walking like you have the secret of the universe hidden in your back pocket, and I lead by example. Things tend to work out when I have purple hair, so it’s more of a superstition thing really.
Who do you feel inspired by?
I am inspired by my family, my friends, and all the other beings that have been put into my life by Divine Intervention. Life is so small and can be scary, and these are the people that you happened to run into between the beginning and the end. There is something so special about that, and I am so inspired by all the relationships in my life.
You’ve called yourself ‘the friendly neighborhood butt-pincher’ before, what’s the #1 butt you wish you could pinch?
If I said I wish I could pinch Harry Styles’ butt, I might end up with a million more fans (and or enemies), but I think I would choose Oprah’s butt, just because I feel like she would have the best reaction out of everyone.
And last but not least, what do we have to look out for you next year?
I’ll be going on my first ever tour this fall called the Epic Proportions Tour, so I’m hoping to keep that touring momentum up next year. I’m always writing and working towards the next thing, so you’ll definitely hear more music from me. The most exciting thing about being a new artist is you have no idea where the hell you’re going to be in even 6 months. It keeps me up at night, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Wherever I am and whatever I’m doing next year, it’ll be exactly where I’m supposed to be.