It’s hard to get a crowd of hungover 20-somethings to start dancing at 2 pm, but Seattle-based La Luz was up for the challenge. The all-female group formed in the summer of 2012 and have created a sound that is part ’60s girl group, part surfer rock, and totally catchy. I talked with guitarist and singer Shana Cleveland, keyboardist Alice Sandahl, bassist Lena Simon, and drummer Marian Li Pino about touring Europe, why Destiny’s Child are still fashion icons, and what is it like to be tweeted at by Aaron Carter.

La Luz performing at the Sasquatch Music Festival. Photos by: Hannah S.
La Luz performing at the Sasquatch Music Festival. Photos by: Hannah S.

How did you get the band name La Luz ?

We just liked the sound of it. In France they called us La Lumière. We played a festival called Les Femmes Mêlent, which is all female musicians.

I love how you combine surf rock with a ’60s girl group vibe, how did your sound develop?

Organically, it just kind of happened. I was setting out, when we started the band, to do it. I knew I wanted it to be surfy with a lot of female vocal harmonies. All-female.

Was being all-female important?

Singer and guitarist Shana Cleveland stares out into the crowd.
Singer and guitarist Shana Cleveland stares out into the crowd.

It kind of was. It’s funny because now a lot of times that is the description of our band: “All-female” and then something else. Aaron Carter tweeted about us once and he was like, “My favoirte new surf band, check it out. ALL-FEMALE” All-female was its own sentence, all caps.

Is there something special that comes out of four female voices harmonizing?

A lot of voices is good. It’s harder, but it’s good. It’s almost easier to harmonize with girls because male voices are often deeper. With all of us together, it’s easier to blend in and sometimes I can’t tell if it is me or her singing. Multiple voices also make songs catchier. It’s like cheerleaders.

What is your song writing process?

I (Shana Cleveland) get the ideas for the songs, play them by myself for a while, and then bring them to the group and everyone puts in their input. A lot of it is messing around and playing other people’s songs, like Link Wray and the Ventures. My lyrics come from stuff that happened to me. I try not to write lyrics that are really complicated or too personal. I like the idea of people being able to see themselves in the songs.

I love the music video for “Big Big Blood”. What was the experience of acting like?

I really like making videos, it’s fun, but I’m (Alice Sandahl) so awkward. It was weird to do scenes when the song wasn’t playing and we were supposed to be responding to the music.

If you were a girl group from the ’60s or ’90s, what would be your signature outfit?

Maybe like Destiny’s Child, with different versions of the same outfit. We could have a theme, like we’re all teachers or something.

I know you just finished a long European tour. How do you still have fun and not hate each other on the road?

I have the same question. I like these people so much. And it has been two months and I still like being around them. It was a blast.

I love the “What the Fuck Are You Eating?” videos on your Tumblr. How did you come up with the idea for it and what was the weirdest food you ate?

Being on tour, all you do is eat gross shit. Some states have the craziest stuff. The weirdest was the croquet, I did not know what to expect. It looked good from the outside. I thought it was like a deep fried hot dog, but it was like liquid meat.

Bassist Lena Simon harmonizes with the rest of the band.
Bassist Lena Simon harmonizes with the rest of the band.

Where was your favorite place to play in Europe?

Anywhere in Spain and London and Germany. We made a human pyramid in Paris and tried to have a dance party. It was really cute because everyone has these funny accents. By the end of the night we were talking like them. I kind of miss Europe because you go somewhere and think, “What language am I supposed to speak and what words do I know?” I ended up saying “Merci” everywhere.

Were there any differences in the European audiences compared to the United States?

Europe was nowhere as good as playing on the West Coast. West Coast is the best coast. Paris and Spain were really good, but the West Coast gives us amazing energy. In Europe we don’t know if they like us or not until the end of the show because often they compliment us afterwards.

What is one thing you’re loving right now? It could be a book, music, Youtube video, etc.

Marian Li Pino: I’m really obsessed with Chvrches.

Lena Simon: I just started learning a lot of Mac Demarco songs on guitar and now that we’re back from tour I can sit in my bedroom by myself and play guitar and learn his record.

Shana Cleveland: I really like this Little Annie album I got. She’s a singer from the ’70s and it’s a reissue.

Alice Sandahl: I just moved and I don’t have any music on my phone and I don’t have speakers anymore and my laptop is at my old place so I’ve been sitting in a lot of silence and I have been enjoying that.

La Luz: We are all really into Key and Peele videos (at this point I mentioned the “Continental Breakfast” video and the interview dissolved into us quoting Key and Peele.)

La Luz walked away from the interview with copies of the first print issue of the Pulp Zine (score!)
La Luz walked away from the interview with copies of the first print issue of the Pulp Zine (score!)

 

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June 23, 2014