BY LUNA SHADOWS
Editor’s note: Luna Shadows recently released her new music video for “Lowercase.” The DIY artist has cobbled together 35 million streams without a label, plus another 1 million on YouTube. Here she shares a playlist of the DIY music that inspired her career.
Being a DIY musician has meant acting like a sponge: That is, being open to absorbing information at all times. When you’ve got to wear all the hats, paying attention to other art is extremely helpful. More specifically, I am a songwriter, producer, engineer, instrumentalist, singer, visual artist, and creative director. At the moment, I am also my own business manager (CEO is my literal title, thank you, state of California). I manage everything from my social media to my songwriting negotiations to my photo shoot logistics. For me, there’s been a lot of learning on the job. Along the way, I’ve picked up some tricks from peers and idols. A lot of what I’ve learned, I’ve learned by imitation.
Here are some of the DIY artists/songs (some old, some new) that taught me everything I know:
Gregory & The Hawk – “For The Best”
The first DIY act I ever encountered. Found her on Myspace, bought her (actual) CD, which she had sent out by hand and illustrated herself. I taught myself her songs on the guitar and wrote my first songs shortly after.
ROKKY – “Deux”
My new labelmate. She’s a producer/songwriter/singer/instrumentalist in Berlin. I double dare you to stop dancing to this song.
Maddie Ross – “Liv Tyler”
An LGBTQ-inclusive spin on ’90s romance by my schoolmate Maddie. We meet up for lunch every now & then to discuss our DIY strategies. She’s so DIY that she’s probably reading this & preparing her retweet. Maddie, we’re waiting!
Jxst J – “Phonebook”
James is the definition of DIY. He can sing, write, produce, play every instrument, plus he’s a videographer, editor, photographer, and visual artist. This song/video was produced entirely by him. Annoying, right?
Miya Folick – “Deadbody”
Miya and I were theater classmates in a production of Dracula together. She was Dracula, and I was one of her brides. For years, I didn’t even know she sang. Then she had the nerve to write one of my favorite songs of the past year. It’s like DIY Fiona Apple heaven.
Jonny Goth – “Feels Like We’re Dying”
The definition of a bedroom jam. A friend sent me Jonny Goth’s music last year, and it’s been on repeat ever since. It sounds homemade, in the best way.
So Below – “Visions”
I know So Below is a DIY artist because she used to ask me to produce her vocals, and now she never calls because she records & edits them all herself! Chopped liver. Good thing I’m a huge fan though—her voice follows me in my car & on my runs.
Now Now – “Enda”
My co-producer & co-designer Bradley’s band. Graphic designer and music producer alike, he is a DIY ninja. I’m trying to think of something Bradley CAN’T do himself but drawing a blank.
Elohim – “TV”
One of my favorite DIY ladies on the scene. Elohim is an independent singer, songwriter, and producer with beautiful intention to raise mental health awareness. Anyone who follows her knows she runs her ship.
Verité – “John My Beloved”
When I said I was a sponge earlier, this is the kind of thing I’m absorbing. Take notes, DIY artists! A DIY queen. Written up in Forbes for her mastermind businesswoman strategies, she’s got it all. Loving her Sufjan cover.
Chelsea Jade – “Laugh it Off”
Songwriter, singer, visual artist, and director. CJ is a force with a sense of humor. I had the privilege of contributing some production to her album, all of which we recorded true DIY style in our Echo Park home studios. Pretty sure there are some garbage trucks in the background of her vocal tracks, but it’s part of the charm, right?
Kitten – “Strange Embrace”
After seeing Chloe onstage in 2013, I ran up to her with starry eyes and gave her my horrible demo. Many years later, I befriended her. I hope she never finds that CD. KIitten is a totally DIY operation, always in control of their vision. They DGAF. This song sounds like DIY Fleetwood Mac.
Birthday – “Cathedrals”
A fan tagged me & birthday in a tweet on Twitter. I was cleaning my room when I listened to this song for the first time and I burst into tears. As DIY artists, we became internet friends & got to do a songwriting session months later. He came with tons of homemade beats, enough to share with the whole class.
The Japanese House – “Still”
I had the privilege of seeing Amber perform and chatting with her at a small Silver Lake venue. She was talking about making beats between shows on her tour bus. I have so much admiration for her vision. She’s like a whole DIY solar system. Everything she does revolves around an undeniable center.
Grimes – “REALiTi (Demo)”
Grimes is like a mythological DIY creature. Like a unicorn of DIYs. I love that she dropped a demo version of this song. It’s my favorite song by her actually. This one speaks for itself. She’s the mothership of DIY artists, and we are all getting abducted.
Luna Shadows – “Lowercase”
As a music producer (who is also female-identifying), I felt a responsibility to take extra outreach initiative and hire more female-identifying creatives for this video series. Through a secret womxn’s group on Facebook, I received over 100 submissions. A series of interviews & a lot of coffees later, I assembled a female-identifying dream team: director, producer, editor/FX, stylist/creative director, choreographer, and make-up artist (several of the main players part of a collective go by Kitty Disco). I am so thoroughly impressed by their talent, vision, communication, organization, and artistic empathy. Inclusion, in general, is an ongoing priority of mine which I hope will become more and more evident as I am given the opportunity to grow my platform.
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