THE LUNA COLLECTIVE
1 ISSUE I
To begin with, if you are reading this, thank you. As soon as this idea came to me I knew I had to somehow do it. I don’t know where The Luna Collective is gonna go, but it’s somewhere. Thank you to all that helped and believed in this. Always create & always make #PowerMovesOnly. You’ve got to start somewhere, so why not start now? What’s stopping you?
Much Love To: Buck Andrews @popissodeep
Carina Glastris @carina.glastris
Isabella Mente @isabellaamente
Kalyn Aolani Sarah Hesky @pineappleprinc3ss @hesky_
Victor Pakpour @rubyhaunt
Jacob Berger @thisismoontower
Wyatt Ininns @rubyhaunt
Nikoli Partiyeli @nikoliparty
Tom Carpenter @thisismoontower
Sarah Kassel @popissodeep
Shannon Sinwell @shannonsinwell
Landon Fleischman @boywillowsmusic
Patrick Kim @patrickdavery
Devan Welsh @thisismoontower
TUNES FOR MARCH
Boy Willows - Autumn Gray Slow Hollows - Hospital Flowers Cosmo Pyke - Chronic Sunshine Thundercat - Them Changes Mild High Club - Tesselation Sports - Whatever You Want Ruby Haunt - Royal Moon Triathalon - Hawaiian Boi boy pablo - Yeah (Fantasizing) Parks, Squares and Alleys - Disco Girl Banes World & Temporex - Dream Boat The Psychedelic Furs - Love My Way Bob Dylan - The Times They Are A-Changinâ€™ Eyedress - Sofia Coppola Khruangbin - White Gloves Inner Wave - American Spirits Gus Dapperton - Gum, Toe and Sole Toro y Moi - Mirage Mk.Gee - Over Here Fleetwood Mac - Landslide Phum Viphurit - Strangers in a Dream Mosie - Oh! Frenchy Good Morning - Warned You VICTOR! - Tinder Song Pinegrove - Aphasia Day Wave - Something Here Landon Cube - Victims The Doobie Brothers - What a Fool Believes Cuco - One and Only Bungalow - Never Really Leave MGMT - Me and Michael Scan to listen to the Spotify Playlist
3 Photo by Justin Dulay
BOY WILLOWS 8 18 22 58
Pop Is So Deep
All About: Change
Art: Patrick Kim Life On Film
Buck Andrews and Sarah Kassel are the co-creators of the Facebook Live show and former iTunes podcast: Pop is So Deep. Every week on PISD Buck and Kassel come up with satirical theories around their favorite pop songs. Here the infamous duo explain their favorite celebrity conspiracy theories. From Cardi B to Justin Bieber to Logan Paul and the one and only Taylor Swift, no one is safe. #PISD
Cardi B Cardi B is the real brains behind Amazonâ€”move over Jeff Bezos. Cardi first created speculation after appearing the 2018 Super Bowl commercial as the voice of Alexa. Fans and Amazon loyalists quickly pieced together that Cardi was among the founder members of the internet retail monopoly. She left in 1999 after controversy regarding the name Amazon as she took offense to the cultural appropriation of the name.
Justin Bieber Justin Bieber is a Russian operative disguised as a Canadian-American pop star. It became clear that Bieber was involved with the KGB after examination of his multiple tattoos which resemble that of Russian prison gangs. Bieber played a part in the Russian hacking of the 2016 presidential election and it has been rumored that he occasionally takes it up the ass from his boss, Vladamir Putin.
Jake and Logan Paul
Logan Paul used to be an extra in Game of Thrones. He has actually appeared in the background of over 20 episodes. People think it was Vine that rocketed him to fame but in actuality he got his acting/vlogging start on the Emmy wining HBO series. Some notable roles Paul has appeared in are as a Tully in “The Rains of Castamere,” a Bolton in “Battle of the Bastards,” and a Wildling in “Hardhome.”
Taylor Swift is slowly taking over New York City. After purchasing multiple properties all through out Manhattan, it is clear that the pop star is plotting to take the most popular borough for all her besties. While we thought the greatest threat to the Big Apple would be global warming it appears, the 1889 artist will be wiping the island from existence first.
Sarah Kassel and Buck Andrews
Story by Sophie Gragg Photos by Nikoli Partyeli
LA BASED DUO Ruby Haunt have come to define themselves with a combination of a lo-fi and sophisticated visual aesthetic in conjuction with a charming minimal pop sound. Consisting of vocalist Wyatt Ininns and instrumentalist Victor Pakpour, the style and genre of Ruby Haunt is difficult to define as they feature aspects from a variety of genres. Often been described as “Minimal Pop”, “Soft Punk” and “Dream Pop” the band truly questions the concept of music genres, to begin with. A combination of alluring vocals and ethereal instrumentation, Ruby Haunt produces an almost eerie and enigmatic vibe. There is no doubt their music is soft, minimal and features moments of dreaminess, but it’s difficult to describe their music style to someone. “It’s tough. That’s a question I’ll never know how to answer.” Ininns laughs. Coming from different artistic backgrounds, Pakpour from film and Ininns from architecture, the two-piece started pursuing music for fun and did not expect it to go far from there. Their passion for music, as well as their similar taste, drove them to start creating music while the two were separated, Pakpour in California and Ininns in Oregon. Once they began getting feedback from others and realized people were actually listening to their music, they understand that Ruby Haunt could go
somewhere. “It’s cool when you can share something with someone and they like it, it makes you want to keep going. I never thought I’d be doing this. You could’ve told me this 10 years ago and I’d say ‘No way I’m gonna do this!’” Pakpour exclaims. “It seems very unattainable when you’re younger, but as you get older you see other people doing it and at least what we’re doing is pretty low budget so anyone can do it.” Ininns adds. Childhood friends, it wasn’t until Pakpour and Ininns were living in different states Ruby Haunt came to life. The first EPs were written with Pakpour and Ininns separated, but fortunately, it worked out for the better, Ininns explains, “It was kind of good timing because the first three EPs were when we were just learning how to make music. As soon as we got to the level where we realized ‘Oh shoot maybe we could do this’ and started playing shows and put time into it is when I finished school and was able to move to LA.” Now that the two are in the same city and able to write together, Pakpour and Ininns find themselves still writing separately. “To be honest we write really good when we’re in our own space. It feels more like we can write purer, but then we come together which is also really fun. It’s nice to have
our own space to do music and it’s nice to do it together.” says Pakpour. After a legal dispute in 2015 forcing the group to change their name from “Haunt” to “Ruby Haunt” the band has chosen to keep the story and background of Ruby a mystery. The only information the two have divulged about Ruby is that she was someone in their lives that had a large influence on them. The band will let listeners into a tiny bit more about the mystery of Ruby in their upcoming EP. “There’s a little more answers there. It’s way more fun to keep a little mystery. People ask what lyrics mean and titles and I feel like if you explain too much you just kinda of ruin it. It’s better to keep it open-ended.” Innin shares. Ruby Haunt finds inspiration in a variety of music and has cited New Order, Suicide and Joy Division for a big source of influence. “We just try to listen to a ton of music. We listen to stuff all over the place. We just try to find little moments of songs that feel good and steal from
that kinda.” Innin tells. As for the trendy DIY visual aesthetic Ruby Haunt has come to adopt, Pakpour and Innin craft it all themselves. Given their creative backgrounds and nature, the aesthetic and style of Ruby Haunt are definitely authentic. “The thing is for us, is that stuff comes out pretty natural. A song will inspire a mood. I feel like Wyatt and I are really into just creating moods.“ Pakpour tells. Given Pakpour’s film background, the band has been able to work with photographers and creatives like the iconic Henrik Purienne as well as Vanessa Hollander and Wilson Philippe of Wiissa. Their dedication to aligning their visual content with their music has been an essential part of building Ruby Haunt’s identity. When it comes to their creative process, the artists still take an organic and simple approach to their music. “I’ll usually start out with an instrumental demo,” Pakpour explains, “I’ll
do a short loop and then I’ll send it to Wyatt and he’ll either be feeling it or not. If he’s feeling it he then comes up with vocal ideas and then we make it come to life”. Though Ruby Haunt is still finding their place in the music industry, the band expresses the importance of staying genuine to your artistic identity to truly get your foot in the door. “Somethings you just have to go for it. You have to make what comes naturally. For Wyatt and I, we’ve always made music that’s very natural to us, it’s not like we’re really trying to be someone else or just to make music to be cool. You can tell from an artist, you can really feel it, where it’s coming from.“ shares Pakpour. Currently, Pakpour and Ininns do all of the writing and producing of their music, but are definitely open to recording in a studio in the future. “There’s a cool organic thing when you’re doing music on your own, even if you’re not doing it right. That’s the reason why it sounds
different, but being in a studio is really fun too.” says Pakpour. The band will be playing SXSW in Austin as well as a mini Texas tour. Besides playing more shows in 2018, the duo is also interested in signing to a record label they like to help open up more doors for them, Ininns explains, “I think it would help a lot so we wouldn’t have to do so much on our own and have people who are more established help push us out.” Ruby Haunt has taken 2018 head on and plans to release a long-form EP in the Spring. After taking to the desert to write the EP, the band is excited about the release of new music “I think production wise it feels better. Everything just feels a little more mature.” Pakpour smiles. It will be no surprise to see Ruby Haunt continue to gain a presence in the music industry given their unique combination of darkwave music and mysterious aura.
THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGINâ€™
Change. It’s scary sometimes.
It’s fun sometimes. Sometimes it’s needed and other times not so much. Change is an essential part of evolving as a person and society, but it’s just as important as accepting things that don’t need to change. It’s a constant cycle that most of us are still figuring out. We asked you what your thoughts on change were and this is what you said.
Change is the glue that holds us all together, yet it seems to be loved & hated equally; loved for the ability to heal, and hated for the ability to stick everything together and create a big mess. It’s the creator of love. We all strive for it without knowing; change is the thing that keeps us going. Without change, we would all be stuck in an endless cycle of existential questions and empty answers. It’s prickly and gooey, mostly bringing confusion and gratitude, but the prickly essence of change is essential. It toughens us up to the world around us. The gooey is just the bonus points we get for taking the plunge into it. So maybe, just maybe, that’s exactly what we need to do; plunge into it and see what happens Emma Schoors / Los Angeles
“Gather Yourself” Meg Smith / Los Angeles
Justin Dulay / Los Angeles
yesterday, i glanced at myself on the way out. i wrote, “change it.” on a note, and then i left it on my mirror i walk past it everyday, thinking and wondering “change what?” i try on different clothes, expressions, accessories before i look at myself — really, truly look at myself, and realize — i need to change my outlook on myself i change what i think of myself and, alas, i feel myself growing into it — into me. Charissa Marie Love / Los Angeles
When I was younger I dreamed of this moment When I would be older And finally love myself Now looking back I see the past through my old, heavy eyes And finally see There was nothing wrong with me Now looking forward I see the future with my new, fresh eyes And finally see The new me Madison Seitchik / Harrisburg
Olivia Boryczewski / New York City
CHANGE IS AN INEVITABLE THING. One which happens regardless of if we like it or not. Spending years at a university grants one of the biggest changes in a young adult life, where the realization comes about that the life of academic is not one for them, or that the career they thought they wanted is no longer a dream they wish to obtain. But the problem comes, when the change appears to happen too late, and you find yourself playing catch up on a world you wish you had discovered years ago. That is me, today. Right now, I am trying to change many things. I am trying to read more books, watch more movies, understand more theatre, learn more languages; in short, push myself to become more of a cultural person rather than an academic person. And doing so in my junior years of college feels like I am forcing a stop on a freight train that was going over a hundred miles an hour, and I’m switching to a new track. If I don’t complete this turn, I’ll crash. No longer did I want to do anything to do with what I was studying, and no longer did I want the career I have dreamt about since I was a kid.
I want to be a completely different person. I had seen the world and what it had to offer to me, and I felt no desire to stay bubbled up in a world which did not challenge my mind, which did not stir my emotions, and which I feel not an inch of passion relatable to the passion I currently have just wandering around the world. Yes, that’s right. I don’t have an exact destination. All I know, is my heart is calling for a change, but I have no idea what that change is or where I am going with it. It’s the uncertainty of where this train is going that keeps me curious if the destination will be worth the ride. But isn’t that what being in your twenties are about - the indecisiveness of everything, yet the pressure to be so sure of everything? The only thing giving me speed is that I want to take this trip, and I would, thoughtlessly, be willing to ride it blind, and off into an abyss. My pride won’t let me go back, and my ambition won’t let me turn around. I’m going to force this change, at least until the turn on the tracks is complete. Then, I’ll keep on this ride into the darkness, whether I fly off into the abyss, or not. Dominic Davis / Los Angeles 21
PATRICK DYLAN AVERY Photos provided by Patrick Dylan Avery & Anastasia Bachykala
A note from the artist
“Over the past year, I created work that focused heavily on the exploration and representation of one’s cultural and sexual identity through the mediums of photography, performance, and video work because, growing up in an area that was predominantly white and heterosexual, I felt as if I was hidden and never had a chance to express my own opinions. For a lot of my works, I tend to find inspiration from insignificant memories or events that I faced in the past that I feel has shaped me into the individual that I am today. One artist, in particular, that I look up is David Wojnarowicz because he created artwork that shed light on subjects that were often hidden or ignored by the public, such as the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s and police brutality against people of color. He wanted his work to speak for himself when he was no longer there to speak for it.”
Avenida Celestial (2017)
Bad Bananas (2017)
KALYN AOLANI Story by Malika Mohan Photos by Sophie Gragg
BEING A GOOD MUSICIAN within the realm of one genre is difficult enough, but young artist Kalyn Aolani manages to blend elements of R&B, hip-hop, pop and a little jazz to create catchy and distinct tracks. Her sound creates a unique juxtaposition between the angelic lilts of her voice and the soulful beats behind it, often described as “dreamy pop”. The L.A. based musician got her start in music around the fifth grade when she first began playing the ukulele and singing Hawaiian music. Aolani’s ukulele career thrived throughout middle and high school as she attended the Orange County School of the Arts, put on an abundance of performances and worked with company KoAloha Ukelele. While she loved this style at the time, as she got older she found herself gravitating more towards the tight rhythms and beats of R&B. “I think as I got older, I just started listening to music more and I kinda found that the type of music that I really loved was R&B… so I started recording a bit more and then I kinda started experimenting my senior year and once I graduated I got more into the show scene,” Aolani shared.
Her roots in the genre began when she was younger when her mom “would always bump 90s R&B, a lot of TLC, and Mariah Carey.” Now she draws inspiration from the presence and performances of other talented artists like Lauryn Hill and Aliyah, as well as Kali Uchis, in particular, for both her musical and visual style. “I really love Kali Uchis’s aesthetic, I love the way she dresses and I just love her style and I definitely think I get some inspiration from her—the bougie look,” Aolani laughed, “I definitely try to cater my social media to my music.” Aolani finds a way to correlate the cool yet charming vibe of her music with her visual social media presence, a skill that is key to succeed in today’s vast industry. While the final produced music teems with these good vibes and seemingly effortless magic, there’s a lot of hard work that transpires in the process. Creating a track with Logic Express—using tools like recorded guitars or drum samples—either by herself or with friends and other producers is usually the first step, before her favorite part of the creative process: writing lyrics. “I think part of the reason
I started making music in the first place was so that I could write lyrics, and I think that’s what makes me stand out; my voice and my lyrics,” Aolani commented, “I try to make songs that have some type of substance to them. I think definitely a lot of my material revolves around love and hurt and romance because I think that can relate to so many people.” Aolani has several tracks on Soundcloud that have reached thousands of streams including “I thought there was a me and u”, which has over 22,700 plays and “But Maybe Baby” with over 20,000 plays. In a time when DIY music is finding its place in the music scene, quality music like Aolani’s makes it impossible to discredit and deem it not up to par with music produced in studios with professionals.
day, this can prove a little difficult at times with having to balance it with work and other obligations. Despite her family suggesting for her to put music on the back-burner, her drive remains, acknowledging that it can be rough but passionately expressing, “I think for this it’s worth it because I’m going to relentlessly chase my dreams. I’m not gonna give up on this. I don’t want to work at Starbucks forever. I want to put my 100% into music so I’m gonna do it even if I’m tired.”
This incredible dedication to the craft has culminated in an EP that’s set to be released sometime in the Spring and her music will be put onto platforms including Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes. While these are crucial first steps and As for practice, this typically involves using a Aolani has certainly come a long way from when friend’s SP-404 and singing and dancing in she first picked up a ukulele, this is just the befront of the mirror, as long and often as she can. ginning for her. Her goals are set high—making While having the talent is a key part of getting more music and playing more shows—and her your foot in the door, Aolani recognizes the val- entrancing sound is sure to captivate the hearts ue of having a charasmatic and entertaintaining of many and help her attain these ambitions. stage persona. While she tries to practice every 28
MOONTOWER Story By Sophie Gragg Photos By Carina Glastris
GOING THE EXTRA MILE when it comes to creativity and talent is truly what’s needed to get a foot in the vast world of music, and that’s exactly what Moontower is doing. Merely releasing music and playing typical house shows isn’t enough for the band as they strive to truly bring the live experience to the next level. Electronic pop meets alternative rock would be putting the unique sound of Moontower mildly. A democratic creative project, the members don’t subscribe to roles within the group; everyone does everything from writing the music to producing the final track. In a live setting, Moontower is composed of vocalist and guitarist Jacob Berger, DJ and bassist Tom Carpenter and keyboard player and guitarist Devan Welsh. To put it simply, Moontower is much more than your average band. An amalgamation of the member’s diverse musical backgrounds, the band combines everything that’s good in the music world to provide tunes for a good time. All juniors at the University of Southern California, the boys each have a unique background that all brought them together to form Moontower. Originally from Irvine, California, Berger comes from a previous alternative pop band that he spent a great deal of time touring with before ultimately coming to USC. A little bit of an outcast from his clean-cut suburban town, Berger did not originally intend to pursue higher education, but is grateful for his decision as it it lead him to meet Carpenter and Welsh.
On the other end of the spectrum, Carpenter hails from St. Louis, with a background in electronic music and hip-hop music production, which lead him to sign to a micro-label before arriving at USC. Carpenter applied only a mere hours before the application deadline and was fortunate to find a music production major like no other in the country. A Maryland native, Welsh “was always getting electrocuted as a kid because I just have a fascination with how stuff works”. Once Welsh was able to combine his passion for figuring out how things work and music through recording and production, he knew that this was what he wanted to do. Welsh ultimately decided on USC as he felt like he has much more to learn and the Music Industry program at the school encompassed what he and his parents felt was the best fit for him. The band emphasizes the importance of making the best of whatever situation you find yourself if, whether it be starting a band in college or in Los Angeles, so they’re simply just making the best use of what USC has to offer. Before Moontower was created, Carpenter and Welsh had begun making music together their freshman year for a friend and musician, Thad. Upon meeting Berger in the Spring of their freshman year the three realized what they all could all bring to the table together. However, it wasn’t until Berger and Carpenter together saw the Norwegian electric due Lemaitre live at the El Rey Theatre that they decided they wanted to
create something together. Carpenter explains, “I’d seen them a couple times and it was Jake’s first time and he was like ‘We have to do something like that!’ and I was like ‘Dude I’ve been trying for so long!’” Carpenter had been wanting to create a similar project previously but struggled to find songs. Fortunately, Berger had been writing music for years as he had been in a band for seven years. All three of the musicians were able to bring together their strong suites and coin the music they had always wanted to make. “Tom has a production style and I have a writing style but Devan just has this undeniable ability to make something cool. When we think we have something but feel it’s not quite cool, Devan will put a fucking guitar line with the coolest tone you ever heard and he just has this control over organic elements to make these very retro sounding instruments, when you think of it, sound so modern and so cool.” Berger adds, “There is an undeniable sauce that Devan puts on tracks.” When it comes to defining their music, like many other artists of this time, the band struggles to identify with a precise genre. A bit of future rock 32
but with some R&B beats and a heavy influence from French house, Moontower almost creates a genre of “alternative music meeting industrial electronic”. “I think the diversity is a byproduct of us just trying to find things that make us interested in understanding how they did these things. When we listen to Yeezus by Kanye West or Cross by Justice, it’s like how do they make these sounds?” Berger shares, “I think what’s cool is we take these weird sounds and try to make them into pop-sensible songs because we do at the end of the day wanna have songs that people sing along too.” Given their assorted musical backgrounds, it’s no surprise to find the group finds inspiration from a variety of artists, from the quintessential Daft Punk and Justice to Austrian rock band Bilderbuch. “Weirdly if we had to pick who are heroes were, it’s like this random German band,” Berger laughs, “They’re just doing the music that feels so ahead from a production standpoint, from a songwriting standpoint, from a rhythm standpoint that’s so ahead and exactly where we all think music is going to be.”
The band even went to the extent of tracking down the person who mixes songs for Bilderbuch, Alex “Fire” Tomann, to mix one of their tracks. “We’ve never met this guy, only communicated with him over Facebook messaging, we were just scared he was gonna just take our money. So we sent out our session, and 600 euro to Austria just to get it mixed” Berger tells. The visual aesthetic of Moontower is equally as vital as the music when it comes to defining who Moontower really is. “The name Moontower comes from the movie Dazed and Confused and it’s collectively just a huge inspiration on what we do.” Carpenter notes, “The idea of finding that place where it kinda belongs to everyone and it’s where you go when the party gets shut down. It’s the kids making out on top of the city and the beer keg, the fights and everything; it’s such this hub of everything, that’s kinda the aesthetic. Pulling from this idea where we wanna be in that collective feeling.” The band finds general aesthetic inspiration from the 1970s era, but not especially in a retro feeling way, but more so as if “We’re living in the 50s and we’re trying to imagine what the 70s would look like if we were living in the 50s. If we
made Tomorrowland about the 70s.” Berger furthers. The band’s manager, Carina Glastris, also has played a huge role in refining the band’s aesthetic as well as executing their visual imaginations. As for their creative process, the group all work together in every aspect to craft their music. Carpenter shares, “Dev will start a project at like 3 am, I’m the first one in bed so I’m not around to watch that. Dev will be jamming and Jake will sing something over it and then I’ll probably open it up at like 9 am. I’ll put my twing on it and it just keeps going back and forth until it gets to a point until we all get into a room.” This workflow allows the artists to each get their ideas out there and collectively see what works and what doesn’t for the ideal sound. This enables the group takes more of a subtractive approach when it comes to their refinement process. “Good music is about space. It’s about having the bare minimum, you can create so much more energy with space than you can just trying to jam pack so many elements and so many rhythms into a song.” Berger goes on to say, “That I think to me more than anything separates an up and coming band from a
professional band; is knowing when not to play, knowing when to shut up. We’re trying to figure that out still, but I think we’re always challenging each other asking ‘Does that need to be there?’” When it comes to releasing music, Moontower has tried to put that off as long as possible. Moontower is supposed to be something that someone steps into, rather a multidimensional experience that is so much more than a listening experience. The band has worked hard on their live aspect and started Moontower with the intent to be a live band. Carpenter elaborates, “It’s about being able to build this world and take you inside of it and we want to find the people that are willing to come with us down the rabbit hole a little bit.” Upon understanding the music industry is filled with music via streaming services, the band realized that live experiences are truly the way to gain a fan. Before the band even started working on full songs they were creating stages and visuals to bring the live experience up to another level. Whether it be setting up lights up on the stage or totems in the crowd, the band aims to
make the experience truly immersive regardless of how close you are to the stage.”We have this mantra of its one person at a time. We have to convert one person into a fan one at a time and by coming to them and playing these shows.” Berger explains, “The best way to engage with somebody is through live music and to go to them. If you can get somebody to come to your show, they are more likely to be a fan for longer. If we come to you and we have this big ass show, with these big ass lights, you have to pay attention to us.” The band has focused on playing house parties as they feel the best way to immerse people in the world of Moontower is to bring the experience to them. Moontower is intended to not only be a live experience but more so the soundtrack to a killer night filled with dancing, music and most of all, fun. “We wanna make people dance and we wanna make them feel comfortable and let them have the night they deserve to have.“ Carpenter says. “We do this thing where we don’t have any music released but we also don’t cover songs”, Berger adds, “So when you see us play it’s a bunch of original music you’ve never heard before and I think it’s a very bold thing 35
to do; to ask people to dance to music they don’t know, but for some weird reason it works.” Moontower plans to continue to play shows more often as well as play shows at more unique venues to truly bring showcase what Moontower is all about. Whether it be abandoned churches or aqueducts under freeways, Moontower deserves to be heard in a setting that exhilarates the audience. Whether it be abandoned churches or aqueducts under freeways, Moontower deserves to be heard in a setting that exhilarates the audience. The group wants to continue to push their own boundaries as well as “just push the boundaries of what you can do with live music.” The band wants to tour more and simply meet more people to continue to grow their relationship with fans.
Welsh explains, “We don’t want there to be separation. If you take the time go and see us and pay the 5 bucks, you can talk to us after the show and you can ask us anything.” Berger furthers “I would love to be known as the band who plays a concert to 5,000 people and after shakes every single person’s hand.” Though the band realized the idea of not releasing music was a bit of a romanticized idea, so they are releasing their music and content on their own terms and in an organic way that best fits the purpose of Moontower. The band recently released a pilot featuring new music and to serve as an introduction into the world of Moontower and is available to view on their website. New Moontower music and content will be coming out soon for all to experience.
ISABELLA MENTE Story By Sophie Gragg Photos By Sarah Hesky
WISE BEYOND HER YEARS, author and poet Isabella Mente has made her imprint amongst the ample world of creatives. Mente was only 19 years old when she self-published her book of poetry 7,300, only to be met with an immense amount of praise. The Los Angeles native manages to eloquently string words together that thousands of people not only find relatable but find comfort in. Some people are simply born to create, and Mente is surely one of them. Writing poetry has always been a part of Mente’s life. “I started writing poetry as soon as I could write and I could use language as images. I remember I had this notepad I got for Easter and it had a bunch of little bunnies on it. I would write down little random quotes and things that I loved.” After a friend’s mom found her notepad containing her writing, she displayed Mente’s work around the house, sharing her words with others. Though embarrassed at first, Mente soon realized how cool it was that someone liked her writing. Mente’s family background has shaped her writing. “My family is so supportive of my art. I like to be controversial as an artist and spark conversations. My mom’s favorite artist is Madonna. I grew up on the albums Ray of Light and American Life. In high school, we would have open conversations about Madonna’s provocative performances after watching them together. But - she does believe there are boundaries that female creatives shouldn’t cross. Like the free the nipple movement. I’ve done some shoots with sheer tops, with visible nipple, and that’s the only time she’s ever 39
aid ‘That’s where I draw my line.’ At the end of the day, though, she knows I’m a woman and if that’s how I feel like expressing myself- then that’s what I’m going to do. She has never kept me from exploring myself.” Mente laughs. Mente’s dad rarely objects to her expression and her art as well. “He’s European and not patriarchal. He’s not like the typical American dad, he’s never said ‘Oh you need to cover up, Isabella.’” Mente’s dad is Danish and Norwegian, while her mother comes from a family of Italian immigrants who came through Ellis Island. Mente seemed to get her storytelling gene from her father, who told her vivid stories about growing up on a farm in Copenhagen. “I just think I’m a natural born storyteller, there is something so beautiful about sharing our experiences with one another.” Mente says, “It’s all we have as human beings; it’s almost like we were put here to share our words with one another.” Though she always had an interest in poetry, it was not until Mente dropped out of her freshman year at the University of California at Santa Barbara and fled to Bali when she seriously started 40
pursuing poetry. “I had nothing but time and freedom there, that’s when it started to just pour out of me.” Mente tells. Previously the poet did not believe she could succeed in a purely creative career and intended to pursue something Public Relations or Marketing related. Her mindset changed during her trip to Bali as she was able to clear her mind of the capitalist nature of America. “When I was in Bali, I saw infinite possibilities. When you can go somewhere you’ve never been before you see so many different avenues of life. I saw that I had the power to be anything I sat my mind to. So I said ‘Fuck it, I don’t care if I’m a millionaire, I have to chase this feeling. I have to live my purpose.” Mente exclaims, “I just realized that the world was in my palm of my hand. At the time, I was sharing my experiences with my instagram community and people started engaging with my writing. It was the first time I saw my writing as something more than a secretive outlet. I saw the potential to use my words to change and inspire.” After self-publishing her first book of poetry 7,300 days in September of 2016, Mente was met with
tremendous acclaim. She began to gain a following and currently has over 40 thousand followers on Instagram. 7,300 days has enabled Mente to do poetry readings and find her place in the vast world of artists in Los Angeles. “It honestly doesn’t feel real. I still think about it and have to pinch myself. Sometime I look in the mirror and question if this is my life. It just feels so damn right’’ Mente explains, “I think the reason it doesn’t feel real is because writing poetry isn’t a job. I look at it as my purpose. I do it because I have to. I don’t have a choice.” For Mente, poetry is an escape. “I don’t think you have a choice with art. If you are supposed to be creating, you don’t have a choice. That piece of art will come at you. It will crawl up your throat and sit there like a lump until you listen to it. And I always do.” Mente says. “So it’s not even ‘When did you realize you were supposed to be doing this’ but really ‘When did you finally stop resisting yourself and start doing all the things you never thought you could?’” By the virtue that Mente does not see writing poetry as a mundane task, she has found a way to incorporate it into her everyday life. “I try to read or write every single day. Even if it’s for 10 minutes. Or I watch an inspiring avant garde film or go watch an inspiring performance - like poetry slam or live music. I make art part of my day every day. Almost like I’m dating someone. But instead of going home to spooning and cuddles, I’m going home to my poetry.” Mente chuckles. The poet sets up a creative studio of sorts in her room to truly indulge her mind in creativity. “The second I get home from a long day, I put my oil diffuser on with either Eucalyptus,
Rosemary, or Peppermint (if I want that spa vibe). I light my candles and just settle. I also have poetry and art hanging on the walls near my bed. My room is my brain. I have to see art and poems that inspire me, daily” Mente says. “Then I sit down and pick up one of my journals. In that moment, I check in with how I’m feeling. And honestly, I try my best to never judge myself. Whatever it is in that moment that wants to comes out, I just go for it. I never hold back because if I’m keeping secrets from my journal, I’m keeping secrets from my poetry. And in poetry, you cannot hide from yourself. Poetry demands honesty.” 43
Mente often looks to surrealism art, in particular, Salvador Dali, and intends to incorporate surrealism in her poetry. The way one can dissociate from everything but a piece of art is a huge source of inspiration for the young artist. She also finds inspiration in experimental art that can be off-putting. “I really like feeling uncomfortable. I think that’s when we’re most inspired.” Mente also intends to incorporate various mediums into her art more often. “I love bringing all types of mediums into my art. Whether that be music, short films or French movies” Mente adds, “I think truly revolutionary art is relatable, relevant and all encompassing. And to be all-encompassing, the creator must be consistently dipping into the worlds of different mediums. Art needs voice and multiple perspectives.” Once realizing her intent to pursue poetry was no longer a dream but a reality, Mente heavily contemplated going back to school. Mente only applied to two universities in her home state of California, University of San Francisco and the University of Southern California, and found herself getting in several east coast schools like Boston University. “I go into every school I applied to after leaving UCSB. It was the most surreal feeling.” Mente confesses, “When I got into USC, which was one of my top schools in high school, my parents went absolutely crazy. At first, I resisted it. But after realizing my urge to go to the East Coast was really an overwhelming urge for change and not necessarily about the degree, I picked USC. And I’m so grateful I did.” Mente chose USC because of the creative writing department. She has found her experience to be truly fulfilling and inspiring. “My college education is teaching me to transcend and step into different perspectives. I’ve also learned my own opinions and feel confident as a poet.”
During her time at USC, Mente has truly realized the importance of her education and is grateful for her parents supporting that. “f you have the option and privilege to go to school for something you are truly passionate about, fucking go. I wouldn’t be who I am right now. My art would not be what it is without the classes and experience I’ve had here. I want my art to shake shit up. And being here, I am starting to see how I can make that dream a reality.” Mente has been fortunate to make her transition from any old poet on the internet to a truly respected and loved artist. “I think the only way to be truly respected as an artist is if you respect yourself. You have to take what you do seriously. No one is going to take you seriously unless you humbly stand up for yourself and know your worth. Never ever should an artist say ‘This isn’t really good, but here it is’. Never play yourself down. Your story is everything, regardless of how it comes out of you, it is important. Share your story with people regardless of ‘how good it is’ because, at the end of the day, what is good?.” Mente shares, “The only way you can revolutionize yourself, change yourself, is if you have the ability to stand up and share your art - that’s how you get feedback. The difference between a writer and an author is just that an author has a book. I published my book myself, so it’s not even like I cared that a publisher thought it was good, it was like ‘No, I’m going to just do it’. I don’t even know if people perceive me as an author, to me it doesn’t really matter, I’m a storyteller one day and a painter the next. I am whatever comes out of me.” When it comes to advice for creatives and young artists, Mente emphasizes the importance of taking everyday step by step.”Yes, it’s good to see the big picture but the way you go about creating anything is the little things. A bunch of small
actions together create a finished product. A tangible piece of matter. So, don’t be overwhelmed by where you want to be and what you want to create, instead map it out. Create a ladder of tasks to get yourself to the big picture. It’s so easy to jump ahead of yourself, but it’s so much harder to say: ‘Okay, I know where I want to be, but how do I work to get myself there, daily?’” 2018 will be a progressive year for Mente as she has many creative projects coming out. The artist has recently launched a website “allebasi” which is her name backwards. “I feel like I am backwards right now as a college student. I’m flipping myself, inverting myself, exploring myself and finding out what being Isabella means. I want this website to be a different side of my art, and my personality that I haven’t shown through any other platform.” Mente explains.
The website will feature film, poetry, writing, rants, photo journals, playlists and more, as it will be a place where Mente can “put my artistry out without feeling limited and judged.” The innovative artist is also creating a film series on Youtube of small clips that inspire her throughout the day and hopes others can find inspiration in. Before Mente takes to Europe this summer, she will focusing on creating a platform where she can bring fellow artists and poets together. Mente will be spending a month in Paris for a poetry program and will then travel around Europe before settling in her father’s origin of Copenhagen for a month - where she hinted she might be beginning her next book. If the past two years of Mente’s artistry and success is only the first chapter of her career, then both fans and Mente can expect a promising read ahead of them.
â€œAs I am an all or nothing person.
When Iâ€™m not giving everything to my art I feel as though I am giving it nothing.â€?
BOY WILLOWS Story By Sophie Gragg Photos By Nikoli Partiyeli
IN A TIME when musical genres are questioned, Boy Willows manages to still break down all of the barriers. 23-year-old Landon Fleichman often describes his music as “experimental folk”, yet his genreblending tunes are far from that simple. If there’s one thing Boy Willows is, it’s unique. Infectious melodies mingle with Fleischman’s charming vocals making it impossible to not get lured into the music of Boy Willows. Graduating from the University of Southern California in May of 2017 with a degree in Music Industry, Fleischman has gone through it all to become Boy Willows. All it took was eight-year-old Fleischman’s parents taking him to see School of Rock for him to know that he wanted to pursue music. “I saw it in theaters with my parents and the next day I went to a Guitar Center to get a Yamaha acoustic. Looking back, I’m pretty proud of my eight-yearold self.” laughs Fleischman.
eyes and think about where it would take me, and normally that’d be a natural landscape and that would form the direction. Now instead of thinking about landscapes, I’ll think about people. There are lots of people in LA so I guess there’s a lot of content to draw from.” Besides drawing from the people of Los Angeles for inspiration, Fleischman often turns to older artists like Simon & Garfunkel for when he’s “really trying to get into the feels”. Beyond that, Fleischman listens to a mass of diverse music like José González, Khruangbin, A$AP Ferg and Sandra de Sá, whom Fleischman looks to in particular from a production standpoint for her unique and funky approach.
Although music has always been an essential part of Fleischman’s life, Boy Willows was born only recently. Fleischman explains, “Boy Willows is only about a year old now. Right before my senior year of college and right when my manager Tanner Williams approached me for management, I realized ‘Ok maybe, let’s give this a shot’. I’ve wanted to do this my whole life but I jumped more into it then.”
Boy Willows’ aesthetic finds a combination of comfort and low effort with aspects of nature. A balance between cool yet careless, Boy Willows’ captures the trendy though nonchalant attitude of a generation. “In a weird way, I think my mom was a big role model for me as far as fashion goes. She was always a big proponent of not faking anything,” Fleischman shares, “I think now when I go out or when I perform I’m always trying to tread the line between being eccentric, colorful and bringing out the things I would wear if I were to go camping, but also doing it in a way that’s still not too much of a caricature of myself. I still haven’t figured it out.”
Originally from Maryland, Fleischman’s transition to Los Angeles has affected his music in a multitude of ways. His writing style has shifted a focus from nature and landscapes to a focus on people. “Normally what I would do is I would start with a chord progression and then sing some random melody. I’ll just close my
Though Fleischman has been playing guitar since he was eight years old and has always wanted to pursue music, his journey to Boy Willows was not so simple. Originally intending on pursuing a higher education in Environmental Studies per his parent’s wishes, things changed when Fleischman was admitted to USC for the 51
Music Industry program. Though upon arrival at USC Fleischman experienced emotional shock and had trouble finding a love for his new environment. “I had pretty much grown up with the same friends from kindergarten to graduating from high school, which was awesome to grow up not being self critical. I learned to love myself growing up, which is still getting me by.” Fleischman admits, “Coming to USC kinda fucked me up a little bit because I was like ‘Holy shit, not every relationship is gonna be like that.’ My main goal in life is to emotionally connect with people and feel fulfilled through connection, so I didn’t have that at USC.” By Fleischman’s junior year he realized USC was not for him at the time so he left for South America. Traveling around Peru and Ecuador, Fleischman was able to finally able to get out of his head and get back into songwriting. While on the trip Fleischman was also able to experience some self realization and his worthiness of being loved. After spending some time in Maryland and eventually returning to USC, Fleischman finished up some previous music he had started and Boy Willows was born.
Fleischman’s background in songwriting, music production and even film scoring have all played a role in shaping Boy Willows. Fleischman has been writing songs his whole life, so his writing style often shifts. He tends to write about people and experiences yet rarely stays in the same perspective for the entirety of a song. As for film scoring, Fleischman views it as “another style of expression” as it enables different pathways in his mind to open up. Though Fleischman looks to people and experiences for inspiration, his number one go-to source of inspiration for emotion will always be film. “I always think about scenes in movies when I’m writing songs or I’ll imagine a song is a movie.” When writing music, Fleischman takes a somewhat introspective approach to craft his work. “I’ll sit down and start playing guitar, which is my primary instrument. I’m very picky about my chord progressions. I’ve been playing guitar since I was eight, so I know all the possible options.” Fleischman explains, “I’ll start detuning my guitar so that I can get out of my head. I know that after C there are this many options. When I detune my guitar it’s like relearning how to play guitar all over again. Once I start doing that
I’ll start singing gibberish, which I then start turning into words. It’s very meditative. Eventually, it’s like ‘Oh fuck! This is definitely going on in my head let me explore this.’ Then if I get lucky enough I’ll continue on the computer and produce it.” In his junior year of college, Fleischman learned Ableton, a popular hardware and software for music production. Though Fleischman produces all of his music, he sometimes samples his friend’s music for specific parts, like the drums. Though Boy Willows is Fleischman’s main project, he also fills his time with VJing for various
artists like DJ Mustard. In 2018 Fleischman hopes to expand his fan base and do a west coast tour and possibly some shows in New York. Boy Willows recently released their latest single “Flawlessa”, which will no doubt continue to pave a path for the success of Boy Willows. Amidst an industry filled to the brim with emerging artists and talent, it is true artists like Boy Willows that will make their mark given their creativity and sense of self.
Photos By Justin Dulay & Olivia Boryczewski
LIFE ON FILM
The Luna Collective is a cultural magazine featuring music, poetry, fashion and more. We want to shine a light on all of the cool people and places we come across. Creativity should always be rewarded.
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The Luna Collectiveâ„¢ 2018
Our first issue featuring Isabella Mente, Boy Willows, Ruby Haunt, Moontower, Kalyn Aolani & more!