La Luz: Definitely not the Beach Boys

Monday 16th, May 2016 / 11:45
By Sarah Mac
La Luz make brief Western Canadian stops before finishing their next album. Photo: Andrew Imanaka

La Luz make brief Western Canadian stops before finishing their next album.
Photo: Andrew Imanaka

CALGARY — When most people think of surf music, they think of good vibrations and California dreams. La Luz would like to take this opportunity to change that.

Originally from Seattle and currently calling Los Angeles home, La Luz is a four-piece surf-rock band or surf noir if you prefer — which you should.

Banding together in 2012, La Luz have released numerous singles as well as two full-length albums: It’s Alive (2013) and Weirdo Shrine (2015). Since their latest release, Weirdo Shrine, La Luz has attracted a lot of attention, including rave reviews from SPIN and Pitchfork. This has landed them an extensive touring schedule, including a recent rip through SXSW.

After a lineup change or two, the band is as follows: Shana Cleveland, guitar; Marian Li Pino, drums; Alice Sandahl, keyboard and Lena Simon, bass. Each of them partake in the vocals, resulting in sweet, sweet harmonies.

Recently we had the opportunity to chat with frontwoman Shana Cleveland to get better acquainted with La Luz and their surf noir sound.

“When most people think of surf, they think of the Beach Boys.” Cleveland admits.

La Luz is not that type of surf. They’re more like something out of a Tarantino movie. “The Beach Boys are a big inspiration, but I feel like we’re quite a bit darker.” She laughs.

Their slightly reverberated and angelic, harmonized vocals are accompanied by laid-back guitars and simplistic yet pristine beats, all tied together with a very dark, lingering ‘60s vibe throughout. Summed up in a sexy title: surf noir.

“When I hear the word surf, I tend to think of darker music right off the bat. But the term [surf noir] or idea is more to complement what most people think of when they hear the term surf. “

Although La Luz’s sound may be more in a relaxed state, their shows are anything but. Taking their stage presence back to the days of ‘60s garage rock and mixing it with their own doo-wop style, live shows tend to be lighthearted and tons of fun.

“We always just try to have a good time; we don’t take ourselves very seriously. We work hard, but we’re all pretty goofy onstage. Our tour van is just a ridiculous place of never ending jokes and I feel like that kind of seeps on to the stage,” Cleveland continues.

“A lot of people dance at the shows and we like when people dance. But we try to encourage crowdsurfing, just for entertainment value. Mostly our own entertainment, because we’re stuck in a van all day,” she laughs. “But you can do whatever you want.” This time around La Luz only has two stops in Western Canada, but don’t worry, there’s good reason.

“We’re working on new music and we should have it recorded by this fall. So, if all goes well, we should have a new record out within the next year. And then we’ll be back.”

The promise of a new album is fabulous news for any La Luz fan. And although Cleveland couldn’t give us any of dirty details, the anticipation alone will keep us anxiously waiting for more sweet surf noir.

Catch La Luz when they hit the Palomino in Calgary on May 25th and on May 27th at the Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver.  

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