Hiding in plain sight, electronic music producer LŪN is like a sniper.
And, like a true markswoman patiently zeroing in on a target, she has finally pulled the trigger to capitalize on a pivotal moment.
In an exclusive interview with EDM.com, the enigmatic LŪN has now revealed herself to be Lights, one of the most renowned electropop artists in the contemporary music scene. To tie a bow on the reveal, she's released a brand new EP called haha i like it.
The genesis of LŪN can be traced back to July 2017, when Lights launched her Skin&Earth comic book series before releasing her acclaimed fourth studio album of the same name. Despite the ensuing conclusion of the series, which followed the journey of a headstrong woman navigating the intricacies of self-discovery in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world, the spirit of its heroine lives on.
The metaphysical through line of Enaia Jin will now be channeled through LŪN, who was never overtly mentioned in Skin&Earth but made cloak-and-dagger cameos via creative activations, like concert flyers. After years of hiding in plain sight, Lights' alias is the result of a boiling chrysalis of potential which, like a volcano science project gone wrong, was bound to erupt.
With her patented "gothbounce" sound, LŪN's new haha i like it EP is a song-cycle of spine-chilling bass music akin to a dystopian REZZ. Each of the record's six tracks grind with hypnotic grit, underpinning the arrival of a formidable new music producer who is unafraid of genre boundaries. Standout tracks include "us at the boat," a quirky pop-trap banger, and the snarling midtempo anthem "um sir."
To celebrate the release of her debut EP, LŪN chatted with EDM.com about the origins of the project, the inspiration behind its unique branding, and her foray into electronic music production.
EDM.com: It seems LŪN has been quietly percolating in the dance music scene since as early as 2017. Can you offer some insights into the origins of the project?
LŪN originated as a very peripheral piece of the Skin&Earth world, my graphic novel. Part of creating that story was building out a fully functional world complete with things like politics, socioeconomics, mega corps, and pop culture (it's an old Alan Moore trick to creating an immersive storyline).
LŪN was an underground artist within that world. Though she is never mentioned in the story, her posters and merch can be seen here and there throughout the book. Very quickly she became a vessel for me to output some of my remixes and experiment with heavier production, and then eventually an entire project emerged.
EDM.com: Why did you decide to release music under an alias?
I’ve let Lights spread her wings out pretty wide in terms of genre-dabbling and multiple creative outlets and projects and I’m proud of that. But for the most part, Lights is perceived as upbeat, posi-vibes and pop-centred which represents a part of me for sure but not all of me.
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After a while I felt my creative sensibilities being groomed to fit into the Lights world and I have a lot to offer that may not necessarily match that vibe. I’m not sure there’s a world where Lights producing a heavy midtempo bass album wouldn’t be confusing in some way. So LŪN became the vessel for me to free a facet of my creativity that has been percolating all these years. Lights fans could absolutely be fans of both projects, but if heavy is not their speed I will not subject them to the hammering.
EDM.com: What musical elements are present in LŪN that you feel may not have been right for the Lights project?
I’ve been a fan of heavy music since my teen years. Rage Against the Machine riffs were what got me into guitar, half-time metal breakdowns were what I craved in the music I listened to, and darker lyrics were what I identified with. My favourite song for many years a Cradle of Filth song.
However, I entered the music world with a completely opposite angle to what I listened to, almost ironically. I felt weird citing those things as influences because no trace of it could be found in my music.
Summer 2012, which I refer to as “dubstep summer,” I discovered dubstep and bass music. So much of it reminded me of metal, the half-time breakdowns and drops gave me the same energy and feeling. It was nostalgic and yet new, like two worlds colliding, and I realized there was a way to bring that energy into electronic music.
EDM.com: The dark and heavy-hitting style of LŪN is something to marvel at. What does the production here say about Lights the music producer, as opposed to Lights the singer-songwriter?
When I track in a bass line on a LŪN song I use a lot of minor notes, hovering semi-tones around the originating key which is not very common in pop music, very minor and dark. When I build a beat I just find the heaviest sounds possible, or if scratch in lyrics I don’t have to think about how the general public will perceive and understand it, I basically just think of trying everything I wouldn’t with Lights. It’s freeing in a way.
EDM.com: Can you tell us a bit more about that menacing vibe? What inspired LŪN's branding?
LŪN’s aesthetic was meant to be exactly opposite of Lights, so I went from side part to middle part, swapped hair colours, and wore a mask to obscure my face (long before the pandemic, sigh).
The idea was that there was a sleek mystery to her. I like when music sounds different from what the artist looks like, so she is very small and stealthy while the music is big and nasty. She is like a little fox, a creature which throughout history and across cultures represents shapeshifting, cleverness, magic, and immense wisdom growing with age. So her logo is a fox face because I believe LŪN to be all of these things for me.
EDM.com: What advice would you give to a songwriter or vocalist trying to expand their arsenal to include music production?
Try lots of different genres, you never know what you’ll be good at. Don’t pigeonhole your style right away because you’ll never learn the tricks or to finesse details that other genres have to offer. One way I learned was to drag a pre-existing song I really liked into the session and try to replicate the production. You’ll be amazed what you can learn. Most of all though, just make what you like.