Support your peers — it brings you joy, inspiration and motivation to do better yourself. I’m more excited to see my friends releasing new music and doing big things than releasing my own stuff. Seeing people grow and develop as artists when you’ve supported them for a long time is one of the coolest things out there. There’s already so much competition and envy in this industry — step back from that and enjoy the fact that you’re surrounded by so much creativity!
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing LÚNA.
Quick to follow her single “Clover” which was released with one of Sweden’s most prominent indie hip hop labels ‘Random Bastards’, Swedish female Hip Hop artist LÚNA (Josefin Larsson) releases her newest hit “TRY” on Friday 9/25. Partnered with New York indie label Baby Blue, “TRY” offers fans a transparent glimpse into the highs and lows of mental health. Having been GAFFA-nominated as ‘Best Urban’ and ‘Best New Artist’ in 2018, LÚNA also performed at the Way Out West festival that very same year. Now here in 2020, she is not afraid to confront the toll that’s been taken on the world as we’ve witnessed a massive shift in global history.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in a small town called Örnsködsvik in the north of Sweden — a tiny, but very beautiful place. I have always been surrounded by a lot of nature and wildlife and my family and I spent a lot of time up in the mountains when I was younger, very much disconnected from the rest of the world, haha. My mum is a music teacher so I’ve always studied and practiced music in all forms. Although there’s not as much of a creative scene going on back home, my friends and I stayed busy doing our music and playing the gigs we could find. I moved to London in 2016 and have lived here since — I absolutely love living here but it’s nice to have that kind of calm sanctuary to return to now and then. It was quite a simple lifestyle growing up in my hometown but in a way I think it prepared me well for taking on a big city like London.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Like I mentioned before, my mum is a music teacher and my grandparents were musicians as well. It’s kind of the only thing I’ve ever known and although I did a number of different sports and activities when I was younger, everything kind of led back to music. The hip-hop scene is huge in the north of Sweden, so growing up seeing rappers working independently and releasing music for the sake of passion and enjoyment obviously inspired me even more to contribute to that community.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I had a massive full-circle moment earlier this year. The main hip-hop collective from back home, called Random Bastards, have always been a massive influence for me and my friends in every aspect — the way they create, perform, work and promote independent artists, especially from the north of Sweden, was a big part of our growing up and doing music ourselves. In April I recorded a track with a friend from home who later on ended up being released via Random Bastards with a feature from rapper Erk — safe to say that was a huge moment for us. I cried for about four hours straight when I heard the first demo, haha. It was a really humbling experience having the chance to work with our idols that we grew up listening to.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Haha I’m pretty sure I have a few funny stories. When I just started out I played every single gig that came my way, without really checking the venue, crowd or cause. A few years ago I got offered to play at a small gig in Kingston and when I arrived I realized it was some sort of festival for toddlers. With my songs being quite explicit I got a bit stressed out, trying to amend my set list last minute. Two songs in the arranger asked me to stop my set and I had to leave. I still think the kids enjoyed it though, haha. A fun experience for sure but definitely getting the details of the gigs before I accept them now.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Obviously it’s a very different environment in the creative industries at the moment due to the pandemic. The first few months of lock down I struggled to really do anything at all — writing and making music seemed impossible for a while. I think I’ve finally reached a point where I’m able to turn all this spare time into creativity, so at the moment I am writing a lot and experimenting with different sounds and vibes, collaborating with different people and trying to turn this situation into a time of new experiences. The main goal is to have an EP ready by spring of 2021, but firstly I’m just trying to enjoy and take advantage of this new wave of inspiration that’s hit me.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
For me it really comes down to representation. Seeing people that you can identify with doing things that you yourself are interested in can be one of the biggest inspirations and motivations for me. I have a bigger interest in consuming art that I can identify with, art that allows new experiences and acts as an invitation. By having a larger and more diverse representation of artists in the entertainment industry, I think more people will feel encouraged to take part and do their own thing. I know for myself that I’m more actively choosing to not consume, what I consider to be, “out-dated” art — being a female artist I’ve come to realise that I am looking for more entertainment created by, or starring, a majority of women. It gives me more inspiration to create and develop my own art.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
There’s a lot of things haha. Majority of them can seem quite basic but you definitely live and learn in the music industry.
- Don’t believe it until you see it — I think this is the biggest one for me. When you’ve just started out with music, playing gigs and what not, you will receive a lot of offers that will get you really excited. I don’t even remember how many contracts, deals and gigs I’ve been promised that never actually happened. As for now, I don’t really get excited for a gig or a deal until after it’s happened since that’s the only time I can say that it actually went through.
- Do it for yourself — I spent over a year not writing a single song cause I was just thinking about what people would/would not like. It’s definitely hard to stay true to yourself and to remember that you are creating stuff simply because you love creating. I really had to sit myself down and force myself into forgetting about other people’s opinions. Unless you’re 100% behind your own art, no one else will be either. Do what you want to do and don’t worry about the outcome and commercial value of it.
- Have a good team of people around you — and by team I don’t mean management, bookers, promoters etc. A solid group of friends is crucial. You really do need people who will be there to support everything minor to major, sharing your songs on social media and showing up to those empty gigs. Staying grounded is super important and much easier with a good group of people around you.
- Persistence — nothing is going to happen overnight. Unfortunately, haha. Whatever your goal is, there will be up and downs and it’ll probably feel impossible from time to time. You just kind of have to go back to the fact that you are doing it because you enjoy it and not for the sake of “making it”.
- Support your peers — it brings you joy, inspiration and motivation to do better yourself. I’m more excited to see my friends releasing new music and doing big things than releasing my own stuff. Seeing people grow and develop as artists when you’ve supported them for a long time is one of the coolest things out there. There’s already so much competition and envy in this industry — step back from that and enjoy the fact that you’re surrounded by so much creativity!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Self-loooove. Which is HARD. I’m only just starting out in this industry but the stress is already inevitable. There’s so much more to the music industry than you can see from the outside. It’s having to stay creative, performing, maintaining and creating new relationships, social media presence, self-doubt, failing, succeeding — all of it. Especially in a time where we are expected to stay connected and reachable 24/7, it’s hard to find moments to literally just take care of yourself and forget about your job. Mindfulness is a big one for me, just taking some moments throughout the day and reflecting on your situation and your needs. If I feel like I need a day off, I make sure to take that day off, not making myself feel guilty about it. We’re kind of expected to be machines, but you have to think long-term. If I’m not in a good place mentally and physically, I’m not going to be able to maintain my relationships and creativity anyway. There’s absolutely nothing wrong in putting yourself first.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’m currently developing a platform with a few of my friends which merely focuses on lifting other creatives. It’s a space where we want to showcase people that we believe have a mindset that can change the structures of the industry — anyone from your neighbour to your biggest idol. I’ve realised that I’ve met so many people throughout the past year that really made me think differently about my own approaches and ways of working and this platform will mainly work as a way for me to actually sit down with these people and actually have a conversation about what they do and the current industry climate — rather than stalking them on Instagram thinking about how cool they are. Just a hub for creatives to come together and conquer this industry as a collective. For me, that is so powerful.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There’s so many, I’ve worked with a bunch of people that all play a massive part in what I’ve done so far. Despite this, my most obvious answer would be my parents. I have always been determined to work with music and they have never questioned or fought any of my dreams. No matter what I have decided to go for, whether it’s studying, moving to England, switching jobs and what not, they have always shown nothing but support and understanding. I know that a lot of kids have to defend their dreams for their parents and I’m really grateful to never have been doubted.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
You get what you give. I’m a huge believer in karma and I really think what goes around comes around. I guess I’ve just been taught to enter every new situation with a positive mindset and being kind will always take you far.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Oooh. Tough question. Probably Patti Smith, she’s one of my favourite writers. Her books and poems are like fuel to me, she’s got a magical way of creating.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can find me on most platforms! I am definitely getting better at being active on social media — it’s a great way to meet new, cool people!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!