Everything about of LUNA is subtly mesmeric. From the elemental depictions of her form in her photographs, to her very own productions, the combination is striking. So when Kate Hazeldine steps into the Baltic Roastery to talk about her upcoming EP, Hello Earth, I’m half expecting the glittery, spectral aura of LUNA to follow closely behind and pull up a seat.
The dream-like production of her pop-tinged tracks paint an image of someone in constant motion. While Kate’s feet hit the floor, LUNA walks on air. They are individuals with the same origin story; one Kate credits to her “being a bit of a lone wolf” in her home of Cheshire. Surrounded by abundant nature and an almost ever-present Kate Bush soundtrack “blaring out of the speakers in [her] house”, LUNA was born.
Critical of relationships and reality, LUNA incorporates indie dream-pop with electronic sampling and an impeccable voice. Combining heartache and healing, Kate becomes LUNA. Kate describes her musical counterpart as one laced with “confidence and sass. Way more so than I am in real life.” The girl who sits in front of me, cradling her cup and talking so eloquently about her upcoming vision and goals, doesn’t seem like someone who’d need to lean on an alter-ego. Yet, LUNA is what has brought us to this room and has allowed Kate to have the voice she does. A nod of understanding is shared between us. Kate explains: “LUNA helps me to see things in a different way. A stronger way,” she quickly corrects. “It’s cathartic to get emotions out through writing,” she continues. “If people like the eventual product of the way I’m feeling, then that’s even better.” As we continue, it seems as though LUNA is like a lifeline for Kate; a healthy coping mechanism for the chaos of the world. Kate laughs, “I’ve got this thing to turn to, essentially. I don’t just go out and get smashed all the time.”
On 5am, a piano ballad released in 2018, Kate opens the song with the assertion “I don’t recognise myself anymore”. Hearing this, the earlier chat about LUNA offering a lifeline swings towards a broad assumption. However, in person, Kate reaffirms her control of her artistic counterpart. As we talk, it’s revealed that Kate is far from lost. She clarifies the lyrics for me, explaining that “5am was written in the middle of a very destructive relationship, which I didn’t see at the time. The song observes the feeling of losing yourself in a relationship, because you’ve become so all consumed by a feeling – one you know isn’t good, but you’re no longer in control of.” Despite the track having been a part of LUNA’s catalogue for a while, it is one of her favourites and deserves its place on her upcoming EP.
Alongside more established songs, the EP features new tracks such as Wind. As Kate informs, it observes the same turbulent relationship recalled in 5am. The elemental song is a masterpiece of a metaphor. “The still verses reflect the good parts of a relationship and the raucous chorus are where everything whips up around you,” she explains. The carefully curated wall of sound is testament also to LUNA’s ability as a producer, something she attributes to participation in the ReBalance production programme.
At the annual stage where festival line-ups are released and ridiculed, and the PRS Foundation’s ambition for 50:50 representation of women feels uncomfortably unattainable, Kate’s experience of being elevated by a women’s only production programme is refreshing to hear. Co-run by PRS and Festival Republic, ReBalance is a scheme that has allowed Kate to gain a greater understanding of production and offered the chance to record and mix with a mixing engineer. But her production journey didn’t start there, as she goes on to explain. “Since I left university I’ve taught myself production on Logic. For the past three years I’ve been honing in my production skills.” While her own command of production is as strong as it has ever been, Kate opens up about her keen appetite to collaborate. “It’s just been me in my bedroom for so long and I feel ready now to actually socialise with other people doing the same thing – not be such a hermit.” It’s understandable for someone as self-sufficient as Kate to protect their creation, but collaboration may just be the next step for LUNA to project herself in a way previously unimaginable.
While Kate has been limited in her collaborative efforts with other producers, her creative vision has been executed beautifully alongside photographer Robin Clewley. “I love working with Robin,” she spurts out, once we begin to touch on the visual strand of LUNA. He’s the man behind the camera of her upcoming videos for 5am and Night Drive, with the former only being filmed two days before we speak. It’s clear the creative energy is still flowing, and the excitement of the upcoming releases is palpable.
It’s not just the music videos that inspire this level of excitement; the same energy is emitted from the press shots intertwined with the upcoming EP release. “[Me and Robin], we were just on the same page,” explains Kate. “We went to a disused slate quarry in North Wales. There we composed a different scene for each track on the EP.” These scenes are all inspired by the songs they represent. “For Lay Like Stars, we wanted to create an image laying down, exactly what it says on the tin, really simple. But we put fairy lights in front of the lens to make it look like little stars.” Robin’s work highlights the ethereal, Stevie Nicks-esque aura of LUNA. My favourite image from the collection sees Kate surrounded by an alien light and captures the movement of the wind through fabric draped over her arms. Landscape and artist complement one another beautifully.
Taking cues from an obsession with Kate Bush and Björk, the otherworldly backdrop is a homely space for LUNA. Her EP title, Hello Earth, is similarly wired into this aesthetic. Though, Kate explains, she was “struggling on a title for so long”, but the artistic compass of Kate Bush once again showed the path. “I was listening to Kate Bush and she’s got a track called Hello Earth which is one of my favourites. I was cautious it would be a little bit cheesy, but it just makes sense.” And it does. The EP is Kate’s first love letter to LUNA, introducing the character to the real world surrounding.
Through the EP, we are being welcomed into LUNA’s universe, but it is not solely the recordings that we can gain access to this world. Her upcoming performance at St Bride’s Church on 13th March is one that Kate cannot hide her excitement for. “I’m planning the lights, the décor, the acts. I’ve got some really exciting support acts that I’m not announcing just yet. There’s a lot of thought and time that has gone into it and I want it to feel like when you’re stepping into St Bride’s, you’re stepping into LUNA’s world.” The location, a beautiful neoclassical building in Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter, already projects a complimentary atmosphere without LUNA having to step over the threshold. It’s not your typical venue, nor is it going to be your typical gig. The support artists on the night will all be female, with Kate making her decision very clear. “I’ve not got anything against men, but there’s still such an imbalance despite it being 2020. I just want to try and collaborate with as many women as I can.”
The EP and performances are followed by a coveted slot at The Great Escape. From there, Kate is ready to “crack on and keep making music”. We end our conversation in a place of positivity, as Kate closes with the mantra “self-belief, self-love. I feel ready now, I’ve overcome a lot of personal anxiety and setbacks; I’m in a good place now to tackle this head on.”