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Songtrust Spotlight: Luna Shadows

Luna Shadows is an artist, producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist creating alternative pop with a dark melancholy and a California twist.  She is completely DIY and oversees and executes the audio and visual for her projects from beginning to end. She loves juxtaposition and the concept of contrast applied musically and visually - dark and light subjects next to one another, generating a more dramatic interaction side by side. 

Shadows has achieved 40+ million streams, to date, across platforms and press support from Billboard, PAPER, NYLON, W Magazine, LA Weekly, Wonderland, LADYGUNN, The Line of Best Fit, Refinery 29, and Pigeons & Planes. 

In addition to her artist project, Shadows was recently a featured artist on “Boomerang” with RAC, a touring member/co-producer for The Naked and Famous, and vocal producer for Ella Vos.

Luna Shadows released her debut LP “Digital Pacific” on February 12, 2021, with +1 Records/EMPIRE. The 18-track album is mapped out like a California road trip; starting near Shadows’ home at Echo Park Lake in L.A. before sweeping across the city westward toward the ocean, along the coast, and out to the desert for a vacation getaway then circling back to her apartment. Although the expansive album peers through a digital lens, deeply human themes like self-affirmation, anxiety, and disillusionment prevail. It’s a project years in the making that has culminated in a singular vision Shadows has executed as a songwriter, producer, and creative director.

Luna Shadows

WHAT OR WHO INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO MUSIC?

I became interested in being an artist at a very young age. Not counting Ariel from "The Little Mermaid," I would say my earliest inspiration was probably Alanis. I'll never forget how badly I longed for "You Oughta Know" to come back on the radio. I would lock myself in my bedroom with a boombox, waiting for hours at a time for the chance to hear it again. Then I would try to find moments alone to attempt singing like her. 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE OF MUSIC AND PERFORMANCE? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PHILOSOPHY AND STYLE AS AN ARTIST?

I would describe my music as ethereal alternative music - honest, authentic, and lifelike, but with an air of dreaminess and surrealism. My philosophy as an artist is to practice and endure constant evolution while always being my authentic self. For me personally, the artistic process is about refinement - it's like I am metaphorically chipping away at a lifelong sculpture of myself, trying to make it more lifelike and dreamlike at the same time.  

WHAT DRIVES YOU TO CREATE, AND HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS FOR YOURSELF IN MUSIC?

My drive to create art feels very biological - something about seeing other people create art has always left me eager to do the same. Art for me is a form of therapeutic self-expression, a method of achieving balance in my life, a way in which you can say the thing you meant to say the way you intended to say it, to deliver the perfect punchline, to become the person you wish to be. 

As for success - I used to imagine success as something external, something that would happen to me. After a few years of being a full-time artist, I mostly consider success to come from within - turning a thought into a physical reality that other people can observe is in itself a success. I really believe that now. While it can feel really nice to be appreciated by a crowd, I don't think we necessarily need an audience to say "good job" if we are confident in the work and if the process of creating art is fulfilling in and of itself. 

THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER, WHO HAS HELPED YOU THE MOST WITH DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT?

I could not possibly only list one person - collaborators, co-workers, teachers, lawyers, friends, family, and partners.

SOMETIMES BEING IN THIS BUSINESS CAN BE OVERWHELMING. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR MAINTAINING PERSPECTIVE AND NOT SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF?

Always be true to yourself. It sounds so cheesy and simple, but it's the truth. And it's easier said than done. I have paid for ignoring my intuition. You have to balance accepting suggestions/ideas from the outside world with standing firm in your own convictions, vision, and truth.  

As for rejections - every kick is a boost. It stings, but if there is any way to turn failure into something more productive, that is the best path forward. Also, try to laugh about it. That can feel impossible. But it's a big relief to giggle at failure, if you can pull it off. 

HOW DO YOU THINK THE MUSIC INDUSTRY CAN DEVELOP INTO A MORE EQUITABLE AND INCLUSIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR WOMEN MUSIC CREATORS?

I think first and foremost, we need to make a safer, more welcoming environment for female music creators. Not just in theory or in PR campaign pledges, but in practice. This starts with individual responsibility (i.e. respect and encouragement towards women in creative and collaborative settings) and ascends to corporate responsibility (i.e. increasing visibility/representation in a non-tokenizing way, booking more women at festivals, seeking to expand male-dominated rosters at management companies, etc.) 

We need to stop misinterpreting the statistics surrounding low female involvement in songwriting, producing, and industry settings as disinterest, and start acknowledging these numbers as evidence of exclusion. 

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG WOMEN MUSICIANS JUST STARTING THEIR CAREERS, BASED ON WHAT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED?

Know yourself, trust your gut, don't be afraid to ask questions, don't be afraid to admit that you don't know something. If you worked creatively on something and you want your name on it - first ask, then if necessary, demand a credit. Do not give up. Do not allow your name to be left off anything. Value yourself - inquire about payment/crediting for your work. 

Financially - statistically, women are less likely to receive funding in the early stages. So take some control and stay on top of your income streams where possible: i.e. ASCAP/BMI/PRO registrations, publishing (Songtrust), SoundExchange, distributor statements, sync fees, producer fees, featured vocalist fees, session player fees - anywhere you can be collecting. If self-funding, it all adds up, and the sum of these various collections can be the difference between being able to pay for a video, photoshoot, live show mixer, etc., and not being able to do any number of them. It's tedious but empowering.  

Other advice - write that long email that you dream of sending, wait 24 hours, delete it, never send it, and send a short one in its place. Remove all instances of "just" (i.e. "just checking in!" becomes "checking in"), then finally, replace all exclamation points with periods. This advice is the "room of requirement" style advice - it will make sense when you need it most. 

FROM YOUR VIEW, WHAT OTHER KINDS OF MARGINALIZATION AND ERASURE DOES THE MUSIC INDUSTRY NEED TO ENSURE WE DON’T ENACT IN THE NAME OF GENDER EQUALITY?

The main thing I think we need people to realize is that just because women and other marginalized communities technically can participate, there are SO many barriers along the way that result in exclusion. Have you ever attended a party or social function where you were obviously not welcome? How long did you manage to stay in that environment before it became unbearable? Being "allowed" somewhere is not the same as being welcome, appreciated, and encouraged. Personally, I would like to see an industry-wide effort to make women feel more welcome. I have been in dozens of music industry environments where I was "allowed" but felt steamrolled, ignored, humiliated, or at worst, invisible. 

I also believe feminism must be intersectional - gender equality will not be possible if we do not recognize and include all marginalized communities in our efforts to move forward. 

WOMEN ARE BECOMING MORE EMPOWERED, NOT ONLY IN KNOWING THEIR VALUE BUT ALSO IN SETTING BOUNDARIES, GOING AFTER WHAT THEY WANT AND DESERVE, AND LIFTING UP OTHER WOMEN IN THE PROCESS. WHAT MOTTO, AFFIRMATION, OR QUOTE EMPOWERS YOU?

I was just reading "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath and I loved this line: "Don't let the wicked city get you down." I just liked that expression, out of context, and I think it's a good one here. The music industry is a circus, with no real merit system, filled with disappointments, etc. In moments of doubt, remember why you make art, keep creating, and keep coming back to the center of who you are. Don't let all the noise around you stop you from creating something meaningful. Hold onto tightly to your sense of self - it can be extremely disorienting at times. 

WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP IN 2022?

So much. Surprises. New music, collaborations, and more. 

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