No Such Thing As A Stupid Question #4 w/ La Luna
For the fourth episode of ‘No Such Thing As A Stupid Question’ we caught Toronto’s La Luna for a chat. Among other topics, Vanessa, Alex, Nic and Travis talked about their upcoming full-length called ‘Always Already’, feminism and Canadian Screamo.
Hey there. Thanks for your time. Hope you’re doing great. Please, give us a short introduction of yourselves and the band you play in.
Vanessa Gloux: I’m Vanessa and I am the vocalist for La Luna.
Nicolas Field: I’m Nicolas and I play guitar in La Luna. I have a lot of trouble with genre designations for my own music. We tend to refer to it as ‘angular punk’.
Alex Kurth: Hi, I'm Alex. I play bass in La Luna. We've been a band for 7 years, of which I've been a member for 5. We play intense angular emotional punk rock.
Travis Dupuis: I’m Travis, the new drummer.
I feel like, there are tons of great screamo bands hailing from Canada. Besides your band, there is an endless list of groups like I Hate Sex, Foxmoulder or Heavy Weather who recently dropped fantastic releases. From your point of view, what could be an explanation for this recent dawn of fantastic canadian screamo?
VG: It’s perfect you mention bands like I Hate Sex and Heavy Weather as they are both Albertan bands which is where we are originally from before our big move to Toronto. There must be something in the water out west because so many amazing bands have started there, like Mahria, Gift Eaters, Raleigh, etc. And really its been going on forever and ever, definitely not a recent thing. I think that Canada wide – as a community - inspires each other. I am pals with everyone in the bands you mentioned!!
AK: Canada, and Alberta in particular, has had an excellent screamo scene for at least 6 or 7 years now. Ghost Throats, which is an Alberta Screamo and Post-Hardcore music festival, began in 2009, and has been going strong ever since. Edmonton alone has had more incredible screamo bands come and go in that time than I could name. The only difference I could see is that some of these newer bands are now beginning to receive the international recognition that they deserve, and I've never been able to understand what forces conspire to help one band blow up while another, equally excellent and deserving band falls into obscurity.
NF: Although Canada is geographically very large, the music scene (particularly when it comes to more abrasive sounds) tends to be rather insular. We all influence one another and play shows with each other. For example, Em (vocalist from Foxmoulder) released our very first cassette several years ago on his now-defunct record label A Mountain Far. Similarly, we released I Hate Sex’s “Circle Thinking” cassette and have worked with Will from Heavy Weather on stuff in the past. Our new drummer, Travis, plays drums in Foxmoulder too!
TD: Idk, I feel like there's always been great Canadian screamo bands. Maybe bands are just touring more now, also internet, also moving to a new place opens a band up to a whole new scene that represents the genre of music that they've been playing in their respective hometown.
Formally known as Brain Fever, La Luna’s debut record was straight forward and intense as heck. Four years later you finished the works on the follow-up Long Player called Always Already. I had the opportunity to listen to the ten new songs in advance. For me, your sound is a bit slower and intricate than the sound of its forerunner, which creates a darker atmosphere. For anyone who hasn't listened to the album, how would you describe La Luna’s sound on the new record to them?
VG: I would describe Always Already as the tail end of a storm. You can really hear how we as a band have progressed and grown musically as well as human adults. We have been at this for seven years and have gone through a lot and have changed a lot. We’ve had broken bones and close calls on the highway, disagreements with each other, personal turmoil in our lives not to mention we’ve all been heartbroken and heartbreakers. The sound of Always Already is a culmination of all those events that happened these past years and how ultimately we are changed forever.
AK: It's funny to me that you refer to the first La Luna album as straightforward, since I think of it as a very mathy and angular album, especially compared to the new album. If anything, I would say that this album is more straightfoward, in that it is much less focused on stops and starts, twists and turns, and trying to make the songs as complicated and intricate as possible. Instead we tried to focus more on exploring musical ideas, letting them develop and breathe on their own, and incorporating a greater sense of melody and songcraft.
NF: I’d characterize the new record as a little more patient, a little more polished. Although sonically cohesive, I think it ventures across a more widely varied terrain of song structures. Something about it strikes me as more hopeful.
TD: The new album is sick, it's chaotic at times, melodic, soft and heavy all at once.
Tell us a little bit about the song-writing resp. recording process of Always Already. How did this record come into being and how does La Luna's songwriting process look like?
NF: I began writing this album in 2012 when we returned home from a massive tour across the USA, UK and Europe. Upon returning home we each individually experienced some sort of emotional upheaval, whether that meant relationships flourishing or falling apart. Over a period of three years I wrote songs alone in my bedroom, and would bring them to Noah (our then-drummer) to flesh out. Next, Noah and I would perform songs for Alex, who would adjudicate the structure and voice his opinion on certain parts. Alex is a bit older than me, a bit more relaxed, and he cut his teeth on grunge music in the 90s so it seems like he always wants things to “groove" more. I think that influence began to come through in the new material. Finally, when the songs were structured instrumentally, we would collaborate with Vanessa on structuring the vocal parts. To prepare for the recording session we did a three-week east coast tour where we played songs off of Always Already almost exclusively to further iron them out. Then we went into the studio for 7 days and created the album. Thematically, the album deals with the idea of repetition, routine, monotony, binary thinking: aspects of the regime we’re forced to exist in, but which we resist in different ways. We might always already be essentially unfree, born into structures beyond our control, but we can still appreciate moments of transcendence and beauty and build lives around our ideals.
While your song Boys Club on your tour cassette deals with disparity between sexes, the absolutely fantastic song House Party on your upcoming album is about the difficulties of leaving a person you love who abuses you. When you look at those two songs as well as a few others, it becomes apparent that feminism and the prevalence of rape culture are very important subjects for you as a band. In fact, it still is a widespread problem that women* are still mistreated and treatment between sexes is still unequal. What does feminism mean to you as individuals and as a band?
VG: Yes, feminism is something that is very important to me and it affects my life and my friends lives every day in so many ways. A lot of what I write is about being a woman and dealing with the feelings and struggles that come with that – all the rules that I should be following but am not. La Luna is where I get to express my strongest most intense feelings about this very topic and while sometimes strange I find it very empowering and uplifting – especially when I hear the appreciation from other women. That just makes it so special to me.
NF: Being in this band has taught me a lot, and actually piqued my interest in social justice issues at a young age. Feminism has a long history that is rooted in women’s work, and I think it’s important to pay homage to the oft-hidden legacy of feminist resistance in our music. We titled one of the tracks on Always Already “Seneca Falls Convention” in remembrance of the first women’s rights convention in 1848. Significantly, this is also the convention where Sojourner Truth made her famous “Ain’t I A Woman” speech, sowing the seeds of an intersectional approach to feminist resistance… Anyway, I am still a man living in what is largely still a man’s world, and I need to acknowledge the privilege, and baggage, that is associated with that. I’m still putting in work on being a better man, and I don’t think that project will ever be over. However, I do think it’s time for men to acknowledge that the work of feminism can no longer simply be women’s work. I believe that feminism should be rooted in solidarity against all forms of oppression.
TD: Treating people like shit because they are different than you in some way is just dumb af. Idgaf who you are, what you wear, where you're from; everyone deserves to be treated equally. It really sucks that there are so many people who still stereotype genders and discriminate based on sex. Feminism to me represents more than just the fight for equality between gender/sex, but for people in general. It encompasses racism, mental/physical abuse etc. IDK how to properly answer this because tbh I'm not well educated on the subject, but like just don't treat people like shit? Let them wear what they want. Don't rape people. Don't manipulate people.
To our readers from all over the world, what are the persisting struggles you'd like to address, that girls* and women* have to deal with in Canada, especially in your local DIY punk community?
VG: I’d like to take this opportunity to address an issue in Canada. The recent verdict regarding the Jian Ghomeshi Trial. I don’t know if you’ve heard about this case but this public radio personality was recently charged with four separate cases of sexual harassment or assault and one charge of overcoming resistance by choking. The trial was a gong show and just ended two weeks ago. The judge blamed the victims and Ghomeshi ended up walking away, acquitted of all five charges. We are living in a rape culture where assault is happening all the time to women and pretty much expected. When victims do come forward, they are not believed and blamed for these events. It is unacceptable and unfair and a conversation about this needs to stay active. Believe victims, believe survivors, end rape culture by educating each other and practicing consent!
Just a few weeks ago right before SXSW, North Carolina based queer singer-songwriter Des Ark made a brilliantly sarcastic tweet about how excited she was to finally see some “male-fronted bands“ in order to bring to attention the differentiation by many people in punk and hardcore music between “bands“ and “female-fronted bands“. What are your thoughts on the term ‘female-fronted’?
AK: On the one hand, it has been excellent and extremely encouraging to see an ever-increasing representation and visibility of women and trans-/queer genders in all aspects of society, including music, and especially punk and hardcore, which have been traditionally dominated by men. I think this increased representation and visibility is extremely important, and that projects such as Not Enough Fest are really helping to further this. On the other hand, I find that descriptors like "female-fronted" or "all-female" can also be used to reduce the presence of females in music to a novelty or gimmick which detracts from the music itself. In the end, it doesn't actually tell you anything about the music. You don't see terms like "black-fronted" being used to describe bands, even though racial minorities are also very underrepresented in punk and hardcore. It makes me wonder what it is about the way society views women that we seem to be more okay with treating their presence as a novelty or tokenizing them than we would other minorities.
I remember playing a show with one of my other bands, in which we were opening for a metal band from Brooklyn called Mortals. It wasn't until they were setting up their gear that I even realized they were an all-female band. None of the press or promotion leading up to the show had thought it necessary to mention, because all that ultimately mattered was that they were an awesome band.
NF: The term female-fronted has a certain social utility, particularly in the hardcore scene, as it increases the visibility of women’s participation in what is undoubtedly a phallocentric genre of music. However, like many forms of identity politics, it is not without its pitfalls. Gender and genre are two very different things, and we conflate the two at our peril. Ideally, we’d create music that mirrors the communities we want to inhabit –a sort of prefigurative politics that turn gender into a false dichotomy.
TD: The term is kind of weird. Like no matter who is fronting a band, or plays what in a band, they're a band, or group or whatever. At the same time, it's kind of cool because (and I say this as a cis male) it seems empowering in a sense? Like because of the garbage that women go through in music it's like "yo fucking hell yeah, this band is fronted by a female and they're awesome and cool af."What’s next for La Luna? Where can people see you perform?
VG: We have two shows in May in Toronto, May 10th and 24th. Along with shows in New York City, Philadelphia and Buffalo. Those details will be announced shortly!
Let’s head on to the obligatory closing question: Any bands or projects you’d like to recommend our readers? And can you tell us Drake’s number? Please!?
AK: Big Brave is the only band that matters.
TD: Listen to The 1975, Saints Never Surrender and Rae Sremmurd and you'll be happy forever.
NF: The Sky Above and Earth Below from Portland deserve serious acclaim.
VG: I’ve been super into Makthaverskan, Land of Talk and Solids lately!!! A friend of mine made a joke that drakes number must be 416-666-6666 because drake is from Toronto also known as “the six”.