Ukrainian music artist Luna has made it her mission to redefine the pop scene in her country. Tired of gimmicky, inauthentic music influenced by TV culture, she looked to the past to recreate a sound that recalled the ‘90s while also being well in tune with the times, combining silky melancholic lyrics with electronic club beats. She's due to release her new album, Trance, in September, and her new music video Dolphins was just released, a hypnotic and symbolic track that no doubt will set the tone for Trance and her upcoming tour.
Currently, you are a singer-songwriter, but some time before, you have been working as a photographer, so what influenced you to put down the camera and pick up the microphone?
My internal woman’s intuition influenced me. Once it whispered to me that this was going to be exactly where I could open myself as an author and an artist, also as a personality.
You are being said to be the face of Ukrainian musical revolution. What kind of revolution is it and how do you imagine it to be?
Yes, I represent it with my art and with affected Ukraine and nearby countries. Vogue USA called it “the Ukrainian revolution”. I think they noticed that I was the first one in my country to follow a way without television, the first to go against all the typical ideas of how a Ukrainian pop artist should be. I perform pop music but I don’t go on TV, I don’t work in that way. I don’t go to the shows. All I do is just drop my videos on the internet and my songs on iTunes. I do what I want directly, and it’s exactly how I like it to be. After Luna, a huge wave of similar artists came out in Ukraine, in Russia and in Belarus. And now, I think, there are two different markets: the TV stage and this kind of new wave.
Although you are so successful in Ukraine, your early songs were written in Los Angeles. Can you see any parallels between both these places which in fact are so different?
I haven’t quite written them there. I started to reflect on songs in Los Angeles, but at that time, I didn't even know that they would become songs. The musical part already came to me in Kyiv, when I was inspired by the rave people in Closer club and Schema parties. I felt this vibe so clearly, it was the vibe of modern music, but I didn’t know about it then. Even living in the United States, I was listening to something different. When I lost myself in all this, I started to want to create this new kind of pop with natural singing over modern club music.
The parallels between these countries… I don’t know actually, but sometimes, I want to go to Los Angeles again and I am about to write songs there. I always get inspired and discover new things when I travel, wherever I go. I miss LA because my son was born there and I have a very warm range of memories of that. My plan is to live there later for some time.
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In virtue of your success in social media, more than a thousand listeners visited your first live show in 2016. What do you think of social media and how they influence the world?
Social media are my main platforms. I promote myself there, if I may say so. I maximise my content online to drive the popularity of my music and art as much as possible. I create video content, photographs, sessions, etc., and all of this is in the conception of my albums. Each album has its own style and direction. Social media has a wide range of influences, both positive and super negative; it goes directly to the people, who sometimes find reasons to misunderstand something and interpret it mistakenly. Social media can bring you to the bottom, but if you are smart enough, it can be used for the correct purposes. For me, it’s a comfortable area to create a connection with the whole world. Wherever you are, you keep feeling that your audience and you are always in relation. You can create your own space where anyone can come and enjoy your music. I think it’s a genial invention of the century.
Your stage name Luna is the same word for the Moon in both Russian and Spanish. What does Luna mean to you?
Luna (moon) is pretty deeply connected with me and my state of soul, and it’s good with the rhythm of my life and perception of this world. I think that the moon is kind of a satellite for every woman. And the Sun, at the same time, is better for men with its energy. I think that the moon is a sacred thing for each woman. My project is directed towards the woman who opens up to the world from the very best side of what she has; she is trying to fill the world with happiness, tenderness, beauty – you know, the voice, beautiful music and pleasant feelings. The moon helps me in this, it gives me power. I took this name to bring all this credit to the world.
In your music videos, you appear as different personalities. Is this kind of imitating an important aspect of your work?
 I don’t quite agree that I use different personalities; I rather display a mood for a certain stage of my life. With design and style, I can open my songs in the ways I see them so that the viewer can perceive it. That’s why the visual part is very important. I am a woman, that’s why I like to try different images, which I like to change. It all comes from my inner feelings.
After directing so many videos by yourself, why did you decide to start working with Andrei Rubets for your new video works?
In fact, Andrei Rubets has been with me since the very first days of the project. He did the visual art for my first live show. Everything the visitors see on the screen during the show is created and made by Andrei. Currently, I don’t direct my videos myself; I have different filming crews with Andrei and Alina Gontar. They are the people I always work with. They are part of the Luna collective.
Andrei has worked on the music videos for Small Bottle, Sparkle, Cigs and the latest one, Dolphins. I like to work with his energy; it’s kind of a balance between my woman’s sight and his point of view. When they cross, we get interesting results, which as I can see, have their audience, who love and value these works. With Alina, we create more of a different mood, a girlish mood, which we base on the feeling of colours, of brightness, etc., and we get an artistic effect.
With Andrei, it’s more like about having sense, a story. He is very serious and deliberate in his work. He completes all the director’s work, and when I work with him, I appear only as an artist, a performer. On my own playground, I am a second director and an artist, that’s why I like it when I get this balance. I am so happy to trust Andrei, I am always very satisfied with the results of our work.
Your son appears on your debut music video. What does he think of your popularity?
He did not only appear in the video; he has now even participated in our stage show. He comes on tour and performs onstage with us; he dances, and his dancing is quite cool. He thinks it’s wonderful. There was a period of his life when he was younger and very sensitive, so he was warned about his mom gathering all this attention from everywhere. Now he has outgrown this. He is inspired and he is writing his own solo album.
Obviously, you get angry about modern popular music, and you prefer non-commercial, raw Russian music created in the 1990s. Why? What is popular music to you?
I wouldn’t say that I get angry. Also, I don’t think the music of the ‘90s is raw at all, they just take trendy sounds of every season, beats and samples, and they record them in a way that is already known. For me, it’s a little bit empty. It’s consumer goods, you know, it’s all about the singles. They release it, they get hype at the expense of some producers who have influence on the ground and different platforms. It’s the market where everything is destined. This way, you could become famous even if you have no talent or if you are not a very great person.
The songs are sold and written by the employees, so I like it when I can feel an author and collective. For example, Ivan Dorn, Alina Pash, Matrang, Malbec and Susanna; those who create their worlds by themselves. They live them and they progress in them. Numerous artists in Ukraine progress, but for the most, they lack zest. They probably just need more time.
The synthy electro house in your music, in connection with the sombre lyrics are a fresh decision. No one is sure if your melancholy lyrics are ironic or if you want people to cry over them! Was this a natural combination for you?
Yes. Look, my idea was about these things. When I went those Kyiv clubs and got carried away by all this music, starting with electro and house, extended by disco and rave music, I kind of realized that I would have liked to create a project with vocals of Pugacheva put on high-quality modern electro music, you know. As on the raw material, my songs sound like beautiful Russian stage music, which can be played with a piano or a guitar. But after mastering, they sound differently. Somehow, I am able to unite it all. In this world, you should always get inspired by past times.
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