Conversations with LunaDira

by Natasha Pea

You may know her as Lunadira, cover artist turned indie it-girl who makes sad girls feel #seen. However, when I think about Nadira there are a few things that come to mind. She reminds me of sunsets and earthy colours, of 2017, of beautifully structured sentences and sincere heart-to-hearts. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing her on a personal level for a few years now and every conversation we have seems to get more and more heartfelt, regardless of the length of the gap in between them. 

HOW DO YOU STAY GROUNDED LUNADIRA? Accept that as uncomfortable and painful change can be, it’s the only thing that’s constant. Cheesy, I know. But there’s so much in this world that I can learn from so I’d rather not limit myself. 

We walked around during golden hour taking pictures, then we went back to hers. When it was time for me to interview her , we sat on opposite ends of the couch in her living room facing each other, both seated with a straight back for some reason and just, well, talked. I mean, for me it was an opportunity to check in with an old friend. For her it was a very personal, raw series of questions that she was ready and willing to speak about and let us in on. We talked about the ins and outs of relationships- with ourselves and with others. We also talked about the birth of her new single and sound in 2020. Did we end up teary-eyed midway through? Perhaps.

WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO BE LUNADIRA IN 2020? Haha, going in hard already? I would say, and trying my best not to cringe about the fact that I’m talking about myself in a 3rd person’s perspective, Lunadira has been learning a lot through her personal experiences and in her work. I’ve been reflecting on myself since 2020 started. Knowing that I know close to nothing the more I embark on uncharted territories has been a humbling and exciting experience. HOW IS LUNADIRA DIFFERENT FROM NADIRA? It’s funny that you ask, I’ve been told to identify both Lunadira and Nadira as one entity recently. Hearing that made me realise that I’m constantly trying to segregate those two, and it could be because of my adamant effort to keep my life as private as possible for the sake of my wellbeing. Lunadira is a screenshot of the emotions I feel, turned into performance pieces I enjoy performing. Nadira is the accumulation of experiences that evokes those emotions. I’m slowly accepting those two as one, though. 

WOULD YOU SAY SHE’S YOUR MUSE?  Well, yes and no. She’s an enemy as much as she is my friend. A lover, even.. IF YOU COULD SEND A MESSAGE OF REMINDER TO YOUR PAST SELF FROM ANY POINT IN TIME, WHAT COULD IT BE? I wasn’t in the best state between the ages of 14-19, and as much as I don’t regret what happened, it would’ve been appreciated to be told that I don’t owe myself to anyone that doesn’t want to see me grow. 16 year old me shouldn’t have had to water herself down for anyone but instead shared all the love she had to give for herself, first. Also FUCK that guy. 

CAN YOU TELL ME THE THREE THINGS  YOU DO WHEN YOU FEEL HOPELESS OR ON THE VERGE OF GIVING UP? I tend to isolate myself when I feel that way and the way I cope with it is to listen to music that elevates it even more, which is questionably unhealthy.. but it is a very human experience. I write a lot when I feel that way. That’s the second thing. I have a lot of internal conversations with myself and the only way I feel release is when I write, or attempt to, about it. And when I’m done isolating myself, I reach out to my friends. THE MUSIC INDUSTRY CAN BE QUITE CRAPPY. WHAT DRIVES YOU TO SIEVE THROUGH THE CRAP AND KEEP GOING? Block. The. Noise. It’s been said many times and for a good reason. There’s only one of you and no bullshit is worth not working on that. 

HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR FANS HAVE RECEIVED CRAZY  DIZZY?  I hope they like it! I did things differently this time in not just how my sound is slowly evolving, but the way it was created as well. It’s a style I’ve always wanted to experiment with and I’m hoping that the people who listen to it can appreciate a sense of “growth” in my work. It’s my little baby and it kind of kickstarted a slew of songs I’ve enjoyed writing. THERE IS A DARKER MORE NIHILISTIC UNDERTONE TO CRAZY DIZZY THAT TELLS IT APART FROM YOUR PREVIOUS SINGLES. WAS IT A CONSCIOUS SHIFT OF SOUND OR DID IT  JUST SIMPLY COME TO BE?  A bit of both, actually. I’ve always had an idea of how I wanted to sound like since the start of my journey, but it took a while to be able to communicate that to the people I’ve been working with. This song came to be in the midst of jamming with my friends Jimmy (Reddi Rocket) and Farid ($miley). We were experimenting sounds off of each other and I had a bassline that I couldn’t get out of my head, which I eventually did, and it became Crazy Dizzy. The hook came first and the rest flowed out. It’s the first song that I’ve put out that wasn’t made to cater to anyone else but me. 

HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE IN SUCH A FAST-PACED WORLD WHERE EVERYONE IS CONSTANTLY DOING A MILLION OTHER THINGS AT ONCE? This is a hard one. The chances of burning out quicker are heightened when you try to focus on so many things at once. I try to remind myself that the art I’m working on comes from within, and anything that can spark that fire is worth paying attention to. Trying to see things from a different perspective helps as well. That’s how I try to treat my process when I’m writing. And take healthy breaks. 

HAVE YOU EVER FELT LIKE YOU NEEDED TO PROVE YOURSELF AS AN ARTIST BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT YOU’RE A “PRETTY GIRL” WHO IS ALSO A SINGER SONGWRITER? ahh at first, yes. And it spiraled me into something that was not beneficial for anyone that struggles with self-esteem issues. So the more I worked on my craft, the more I realised that I have no one else to prove but myself. Fuck the stereotype, and utilize this tool I have (my voice) to the best extent, and let it snowball from there. There are so many amazing beautiful women doing what I really want to do so I really don’t need to prove it to anyone that is not appreciating art for the “right” reasons.

WHAT DOES SUCCESS MEAN TO YOU? It’s subjective! I feel like I’ve succeeded when I learn from trial and error. The constant growth as a human being is something I prioritise. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s worth going through especially when you see how it enriches not just your life, but the people close to you as well. DO YOU THINK ARTISTS IN MALAYSIA HAVE EXPRESSIVE FREEDOM?  I think that people are appreciating the voice of the people more. There’s still a lot of friction in translating that to the masses but it’s getting easier to understand now that we have so many ways of breaking that barrier between art and the people that need to consume it.