In March last year, mere days before the world was set to experience the unprecedented nightmare that would soon ensue, Luna Li posted her first jam video. The clip, posted to her Instagram account, shows the multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter play guitar, bass, violin and the harp, creating a shimmering, dream-like indie-pop instrumental. One clip fast became a series with each one showing off her dazzling skills in instrumentation and arrangement, and with it her online following soon swelled.
Now, her some 40-thousand-strong fanbase have (much like me) been listening to the clips on repeat as our chosen ‘work from home’ soundtracks, although I admit Instagram is not quite the ideal music listening platform. So you can only imagine our delight at her surprise announcement that today she has released the jams as an instrumental EP.
I chatted to Luna Li – aka Hannah Bussiere – about her ‘jams’ EP release, finding inspiration in her community and creating her genre-bending sound.
Congrats on the release of your ‘jams’ EP! When did you first start playing music, and who first inspired you?
I started learning piano at age 5 but was singing as soon as I could talk! My mom first inspired me to love music – she taught music classes for little kids at the time and we always had shakers and drums and other little instruments lying around the house.
Many have struggled with creative inspiration during a difficult year such as 2020 – how have you remained inspired during this year?
My online presence has grown a lot over the past year which has been crazy, so connecting with a new online community has been really inspiring and exciting for me. It’s also a great reminder that people who are excited about music are still out there, even though we can’t gather in person yet. Another thing that keeps me inspired is to continue practising my instruments because I find that the process of learning can often inspire new ideas. I also try to stay connected with my artist friends online and it’s always great to have interesting conversations about music and art!
I wrote, arranged, recorded and mixed the songs all on my own, which is something I’ve never done before.
Your talent as a multi-instrumentalist has really captivated your fans online via your jam videos throughout last year, myself included! What was the process like recording the jams?
The jams evolved from videos I used to make of guitar solos and songs that I learned on guitar. I noticed that people were really into the videos and I started making my own instrumentals to accompany the guitar, which eventually just morphed into the more arrangement and production focused jams that I’ve been making lately. Something unique about this EP is that I wrote, arranged, recorded and mixed the songs all on my own, which is something I’ve never done before!
Where did the idea come from to release the jams as an EP?
I’ve had hundreds of comments over the past year requesting that the jams be put up on streaming platforms. Maya from my new label thought of the idea a few months ago and we discussed it with everyone from the label. I hadn’t really considered releasing the jams before because they’re so different from the music I normally make, but once we actually started talking about it, it felt like a super exciting and unique thing to do.
When it comes to your songwriting, how do you know when a song is finished?
Normally when I write I’m also recording it at the same time. I like to think of it as a puzzle to put together, and there’s a lot of experimenting that happens. Sometimes the pieces fit, and sometimes they don’t, so it takes a bit of time to find the perfect combination of sounds and lyrics. There’s usually the feeling of finality at a certain point, and then I’ll leave it and come back to it a few days later with fresh ears to see if I still like it or if there’s anything I’d like to change.
Your sound is genre-bending, but to someone who had never heard your music, how would you best describe your sound?
I’d describe my sound as angelic, feel-good, orchestral, psychedelic, groovy, and pop-y. It’s tricky to try and categorize it!
I think defining genres are becoming a thing of the past. Nowadays with the internet allowing for new sounds to collide and collaborations to happen across the world, there’s so much genre-bending going on and it can be really tough to classify an artist’s style.
‘Genre-bending’ is something we’re seeing increasingly in young, emerging artists, although there’s been plenty of attempts to categorise this music (dream pop, indie-pop, bedroom-pop, dark-pop, etc). Do you think defining genres in popular music are a thing of the past?
I think defining genres are becoming a thing of the past. Nowadays with the internet allowing for new sounds to collide and collaborations to happen across the world, there’s so much genre-bending going on and it can be really tough to classify an artist’s style. It feels like an exciting new territory we’re heading into!
The music industry has had to take a long pause this year, with the recurring lockdowns preventing live events and touring. This pause, while sad, has created a moment of reflection for an industry still rife with injustice. What does positive change in the music industry look like to you?
To me, positive change looks like including BIPOC and marginalized people at all levels of the industry – artists, managers, producers, label executives, agents, etc! It looks like paying artists fairly, and restructuring systems to place value on music and art. It looks like making venues and music spaces accessible and safe for all.
I know you’re gearing up to release more music, what can you tease about that?
I have a single called Cherry Pit coming out on February 23rd! It’s one of my favourite songs I’ve made so far and I’m really excited to share it. We also shot a music video for it a year ago in California, which was directed by Yanran Zhu (who also did the Trying video). We had a really fun weekend shooting the video, (literally) running around San Diego and exploring.
What are your goals for 2021?
My goals for 2021 are to release my music to an ever-growing audience, collaborate with other artists I love, continue to connect with a creative community online, and spread love and good energy out into the world!
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