KEXP Q&A with La Luz

photo by Greg Stonebraker

La Luz is one of Seattle’s hottest groups. Comprised of Shana Cleveland, Marian Li Pino, Abbey Blackwell and Alice Sandahl, the four-piece, known for its alluring combination of doo-wop and surf rock, is putting out work left and right and even inventing a new way to watch a show: with audience members soul-training down the middle of it, the crowd separated into two sides, parted like the Red Sea! KEXP had a chance to catch up with La Luz and ask them a few questions about being on tour, where they like to hang out and what’s next!

How did all of you meet? What was the first time you played together as a foursome?

Marian:  I met Shana when I joined the Curious Mystery, and I had known Alice through playing with the Pica Beats.  Shana saw Abbey playing at the Racer Sessions and brought her in with us.  We originally had a different keyboardist when we started last summer, and we invited Alice to join in around spring of this year.  So technically this line-up first played together earlier this year.

What drew you to surf rock? Do you like that moniker, if so why?

Shana: Mm, I’m a fan of early rock and roll. I just wanna be Bo Diddley. Surf rock as a moniker seems kinda vague and unpretentious, more like a feeling than a description of sound, and I like that.

Marian:  Shana approached me with the idea of a surf band and I was totally down.  Surf rock is fun to play, plus it’s cool to switch it up with our doo-wop / girl group songs.

Abbey: It’s been really fun playing surf and rock because despite listening to it for years I’ve never been in a band and played it.

If the four of you were to go out somewhere in Seattle for a drink or to hang out, where might that be?

Marian:  Three of us are going to Teddy’s tomorrow -- I specifically enjoy the ping-pong table in the patio.  In general, we meet up somewhere in the U-district because it’s pretty centralized to where we live.

Shana: We usually meet at Cafe Racer. It’s my home away from home and also where I conduct all of my official business meetings.

Alice: If I were picking, it’d be The Moon Temple.

Abbey: I love Cafe Racer. It is approximately 10 feet from my house so it’s within stumbling distance.

Do you play any games on tour? Highway Bingo? Cards?

Marian:  Shana and Alice always come up with the best games.  Shana invented a game where each one of us is assigned an accent, and whoever is the last to keep doing the accent wins. We also like to cat call guys on the street, mainly because we’re really bad at it. I personally enjoy playing a little gem called “Bird or Dog”.

Shana: When we see a dude walking alone (preferably the kind of dude that looks like he would ask to us to smile in a bar or whatever) we roll the window down and go “HEY PAPI” “YOOOWWWW” “AWWW”. And then roll the window back up and hide and laugh at what idiots we are. I also came up with a La Luz Middle America Highway Bingo card after a friend gave us a travel bingo game that wasn’t really jiving with our real-life experience on the road. I’ve attached it here!

Alice: Wow. Trying to sexually harass dudes on the street is our top game. Yes, we had a lot of fun with the accent game. I lost because I had to answer the phone. When we’re bored, we’ll play different word association games that I’ve learned from my years of youth work.

Abbey: I like all of those ones. And am partial to slug bug and berating because I feel like I’m 12.

Best town to eat you’ve been to?

Marian:  Austin has some great BBQ.  But I might always love California for its tacos.  You just can’t go wrong with that.

Shana: This Mexican place we went to in San Diego was the best. Giant aguas frescas with cucumber and melon and hunks of fresh cheese in the burritos.

Alice: Austin or New York. Maybe it’s because we had the most down time in New York or just because that place rules, but I had some of the best meals of my life in New York. But the Austin BBQ truck definitely took the cake.

Abbey: NEW YORK. Everything. All the time.

You have a (free) City Hall show coming up - this Thursday, August 29 - what else might be on the horizon? I believe you just put out a new single? Tapes? Records? Videos? Tour? You are such an active band!

Shana: We have a new single on Suicide Squeeze Records. The first run sold out quick, but there’s a new pressing that just came out last week. On September 6th, we’re opening for Ty Segall in Portland, which is a total dream. And we’re playing a couple shows on the Burger Caravan of Stars Tour with some Burger Records bands that we’re really into. That’ll be in Seattle on Sept 20th at Neumos. Super stoked about our first full-length record which’ll be out October 15th on Hardly Art. We’ll have a record release party in Seattle around that time and then head out on tour with of Montreal this fall. We’ve got a bunch of other stuff planned too including a video shoot which has a really ambitious concept and involves a freight train slumber party, a hot tub boat, and of course Pee Wee Herman.

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