Luna River talks new album ‘Forest City Songs’

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Kimberly Dovi Photography
       

My name is Luna River, and I am a singer-songwriter from Omaha, Nebraska! I released my new album, Forest City Songs, on June 10, 2022. I’ve been writing songs and singing in bands since I was 14 years old, from ska punk to chamber pop, and now I’m finally branching out on my own with my new record. I self-recorded Forest City Songs in my (very modest) home studio last summer, and I am stoked to now share it with you! You can find my music on Bandcamp and all other major streaming platforms, such as Spotify and Apple Music.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your new album, Forest City Songs.
These songs were largely composed in a tiny blue cottage on a quiet, brick-lined street in Gretna, Nebraska. It was a dark time in my life, and all I knew how to do was to put pen to paper, pick up my guitar, and sing about it. The songs are arranged in a way that reads as kind of a diary of my feelings at the time; it runs the gamut of emotions, but by the end, the clouds have parted, and the road ahead is clear and open.

What was the songwriting and recording process?
My songwriting process usually involves lots of drafts, voice memos, and demos. Some of these songs came together rather quickly, as if they just fell out of my brain and into immediate consciousness. It’s fun when that happens — I used to overthink my songwriting process to a fault, and as I’ve established myself as a songwriter, I find myself doing that less often.

The recording process began in spring of 2021 — something snapped in me, and I decided that now was the time to start my home studio; to jump right into this thing head first. I ordered a recording interface – PreSonus Audiobox 96 – and that’s what started it all. I bought a new computer, condenser mic, and headphones, and we were off to the races. The learning curve was steep, but I got through it with a ton of help from YouTube (and bugging people that I know about their process and how to do this thing called “engineering”). I recorded all of my parts on my own, while enlisting the help of a handful of my friends to weigh in on their respective instruments, and we used the power of the internet to share our tracks with one another. I mixed everything in my DAW, Studio One, which was a crazy process to navigate on its own. It was all a learning process, from start to finish, which was really cool and fun.

My initial intent was to do the entire record on my own, start to finish, but I got about 85% through the mixing process when I decided I needed to bring someone else in to get the record across the finish line. I was able to partner with local Omaha legend, Ian Aiello, and I will be forever grateful for the hard work he put into helping me finish this record. I’m so proud of the final product and I hope people love it!

What do you hope your fans/listeners take away with them when they listen to your music?
As an artist, there is nothing more fulfilling and validating than when a piece of your art resonates with someone outside of yourself. I wear my heart on my sleeve with my songwriting, so when a song speaks to someone on a personal level, it always means so much to me — it’s like being seen, and loved, in your most vulnerable state. That’s where the real magic happens. I hope the songs resonate with folks, however that looks to them.

When did you first pick up the guitar, and what drew you to that instrument?
I first started playing guitar when I was 12 years old. I grew up listening to girl groups and boy bands, but around that time there were a few outliers like Avril Lavigne and Michelle Branch who were these bad ass girls playing their own instruments and writing their own songs. I was so inspired and begged my parents to buy me a guitar. I started with an acoustic, started taking lessons, and then finally “upgraded” to a black Fender Squier electric, which I was SO stoked on (and still have to this day).

Speaking of instruments, what brand(s) do you play and why?
My primary instrument is an acoustic Alvarez guitar, which I used to write every single song I’ve ever written as a solo artist. I got it when I was 18 and have been covering it in stickers ever since then — colorful chaos is kind of my aesthetic. 🙂 It is very much an extension of myself, and I love it so much.

I also play an Ibanez 5-string resonator banjo and a cute li’l turquoise Ukadelic ukulele!

Who are some of your musical influences?
Johnny Cash, Jenny Lewis, Paul Simon, Eisley, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kacey Musgraves, Phoebe Bridgers… So many! I don’t know that my music fits into one particular genre, but I’ve started referring to it as “Farm Emo.” I like to write personal, vulnerable songs, but I also love joyful, lively country, bluegrass and Americana music. I like to think that my writing and my music lives somewhere in the middle. I also grew up as a big pop-punk fan in my adolescence, so I definitely think that I tend to lean towards hooks and catchy vibes when I write songs — I try not to, but I can’t help it!

Will you be touring in support of your new music?
I would love to, honestly. I am thinking of putting together a quick Midwest jaunt – Omaha, KC, Chicago, etc. I did a lot of touring in my younger days with my ska band (The Heat Machine), and it was so much fun — we got to see and experience a lot of cool things that ended up becoming core memories for me. If the record takes off and folks want to see me play in their town, I would be honored to do it!

Connect with Luna River
Bandcamp: https://lunarivermusic.bandcamp.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lunarivermusic/
Album streaming: https://ditto.fm/forest-city-songs