If there were only one word to describe little luna’s music, it would be ethereal.
The type that makes you feel like you’re dancing on a deserted road in the middle of the night as street lights illuminate your face. You know, that indie-coming-of-age-let’s-leave-this-town feeling. That’s the type of emotion that little luna emits from you. She merges the elements of sound and visuals, transforming them into a cinematic experience. So when I listen to her music, I not only hear things, but I see them just as clearly.
At least that’s how I described her song’ shift & go’ to my friends when I sent it to them after listening to it for the first time. I told them how the song made me feel nostalgic for a moment I hadn’t lived yet.
The song speaks of a transitionary period from the old to the new, the shift and go of growing up and healing your inner child, the push and pull motion of the moon’s influence on the tides.
“Shift and go, I had to leave it,” sings little luna in the chorus. “Shift and go, so I could keep me / freed little child on the inside / crying ‘where have you been?'”
Maybe it’s just my daddy issues, but that gets me every time!
It is this shift and go throughout time and space that characterizes little luna.
Who is little luna exactly? Meet 28-year-old Rachael Kathryn Bell, based in Los Angeles but bound from the outskirts of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Also, meet little luna. They are the same person. She notes that both names are extensions of herself.
When I asked little luna about the meaning and story behind her artistic name, she spoke of it as allowing her to break free of the limitations she imposed on herself and embrace her role as a creator and human being.
“i’ve been calling myself little luna long before i started creating the music that now goes with that name. the moon is your feminine side, your subconscious, and your emotional processing. me not allowing myself to make music was the barrier to it actually happening for so many years. in short, i gave myself permission and an identity that felt separate from all the other “roles” i play as a human (as we all do!). this helped me get out of my own way and step into who i felt i had changed into. we all have the power to create the world we want to see for ourselves, we just have to actually believe it.”
Not only does little luna embrace the fluidity of change through her artistic process, but even in the way she writes. You might have noticed by now that little luna’s name and words are written in lowercase. There is a reason for that.
“i just love the way letters look when they’re all flowing together. capital letters, to my knowledge, are in part to help the mind know when something starts and ends. my brain prefers the journey of a sentence to be up for interpretation.”
While a poet and a singer (her songs are based on poems she’s written), little luna also has a background in cinematography. From the age of twelve up until two years ago, little luna considered herself exclusively an actress, but music had been in her life as long as acting, and she couldn’t ignore that part of her anymore.
“for most of my life, i had it stuck in my head that i could be only an actress, as that is what all of my training is in. that said, i am the biggest music fan… like… i always have music on or am making a playlist for a mood, or trip, or friend. my parents constantly had cd’s or records playing when i was growing up, which i think contributes to my love for many genres, styles, and eras of music. within the last six years, two specific friends of mine that i really admire (both in the music industry) reminded me separately, and at different times, that yes, i have been an actress, but i am also a singer. that sentence probably doesn’t read with much significance to you, but those were some of the first seeds planted on the journey of me rediscovering my truest self. who am i without the labels of who i have been? the more i asked myself that question, the more i found myself knowing it was time to step into the next chapter of my “self;” to bring the words that i write and the melodies that i hear into a song released for the masses. many sessions and demos later, “shift & go” was born.”
This sense of liberation and self-exploration is what drew me to little luna’s music in the first place. I listened to “shift & go” for the first time, and I had an “aha!” moment. It was like she had read through my diary and made the entries into a song (I do not have a diary, though. I’m a grown-ass woman. They’re called journals now).
Just as “shift & go” talks of change and healing one’s inner child, her second single “therapy” calls for fighting one’s monsters and seeking counseling.
The song starts with an introduction of the reverbing chorus as she sings, “When the monsters come out to play / I kick them away” and “I think that’s what I need / I’m lighting matches in the breeze / Done losing sight of what is me / I just need therapy.”
If I weren’t already in therapy, this song would have definitely changed my perspective on it. It speaks to most of us and the internal hardships we battle with on a daily basis. Yet, although the song contains dark undertones, talking of monsters and losing sight of who we are, “therapy” is a hopeful song; it speaks of a healing process, a journey of recovery.
It’s so bare and vulnerable, isn’t it? That moment when we admit to ourselves that in order to heal and let go of our demons, we need to seek help. We need therapy.
Well, damn, you don’t have to tell me twice!
As much as I’d like to believe that little luna is secretly reading my mind and making my thoughts into songs, her music is a reflection of her own struggles and hopes. Yet, she creates music that connects with those who listen to her. After all, creation is what she values as an artist.
“[i want] to connect with humans and hopefully be an encouraging, helpful addition to the planet. every single human is a creator made from some greater creator. whether your “job” is on a stage, at a desk in a cubicle, on the operating floor, or in something that only your eyes get to see you do, we are all creators with the ability to create the reality we want to see for ourselves, and for the world! whether you were born with a lot or not much of anything, you are a deeply powerful creator. as little luna, i value the opportunity to co-create that world with my fans through the music and the visuals!”
Remember when I said earlier that the little luna experience conveys a feeling of freedom as if you were a character in a teenage indie movie like The Perks of Being a Flower (okay, maybe little luna’s repertoire fits that movie’s plotline a little too well)?
That imagery is in part due to the influence of her background in cinematography. Not only did little luna produce and direct the music video for “therapy” (Jade Ehlers directed the one for ‘shift & go’), she also released cinematic versions of the songs. It’s safe to say that visuals are a driving force in her musical process.
“whenever i am writing, alone or in a session, i often see the “scenes” that could go with them. my love for cinema, plus being in that side of the entertainment world in my formative years, really bridges the sonics with the visuals in my mind. when i am watching a movie or a show, there is nothing i love more than the right song in the right moment of a scene. pure magic. ever since i was little, i thrive in, get inspired by, and re-charge by spending time alone, and by spending time in my imagination.”
I do not know about you, but I would love to hear little luna’s music in a movie or TV series. I can already see it: the main character running through a field under the moonlight, spreading their arms and dancing in circles, relishing in the feeling of the crisp breeze nipping at their skin as “shift & go” plays in the background.
You know what, maybe I should go to film school…
little luna has a different vision than me though. I asked her if she were to compose the soundtrack for a movie, what kind of movie it would be, and her answer was inspiring to say the least.
“what a dream! it would be an animated movie, like Soul. so many children’s films connect to kids but also speak to adults (and their inner-child), which i love. the plotline would be the journey of knowing yourself through the mirror. the mirror shows you who you have been, who you are currently, and if you really look, who you can be. it would be an empowering film about how the more you know yourself, the more you know the universe. probably told through an animated mix of talking trees, animals, spirits without form, and spirits with form (humans!). my music would help the movie tell that human journey, encompassing all of its absolutely beautiful parts and equally hard parts. sonically i envision it representing the duality of life… “good” and “evil,” the sun and the moon, yang and yin, masculine and feminine, the list goes on!”
If little luna’s movie is anything like Coco, I might cry. One thing is for sure, though, whether she intended it to or not, little luna’s music is the soundtrack to many of our journeys into healing and recovery. Her music allows us to free our inner child, crying, asking where we have been.
Header photo by Jade Ehlers. Feature originally posted to Moosic Discovery.