An Interview all about singing with the amazing Luna Li. I am including some timestamp chapters so you can skip to the questions you want to hear about. Hope you enjoy and subscribe! 0:00 Welcome! 1:48 Interview Start 2:39 When did you start? 6:23 Finding your “sound”? 12:33 Recording vs. Live 14:09 Warming up 15:40 Vocal Problems 17:42 Vocal Recovery on Tour 20:30 Big Shows vs. Small Shows 21:57 Thoughts on Studying The Voice 24:45 Vocal Game Changer? 26:04 The Zone 27:31 Addicted to Singing! 28:29 Luna’s Personal Vocal Tip 29:19 Thanks!
Hi! I’m Mitch Seekins – The Vocal Coach.
Ever wanted to know what it takes to be a pro vocalist? I know what it takes….but why not listen to the people who are already there? Welcome to my “Sing Like a Pro Interview Series’, where you hear from the professionals themselves… what it takes to do what they do! Oh, and if you like this and perhaps learned something hit that subscribe button!
This episode features the amazing Luna Li!
Luna Li is an incredible singer / songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who is making a huge splash in the North American scene selling out shows in LA, San Francisco, New York, to name the few that I know about…as well as beginning the festival circuit.
We have been working together for a few years now in prep for her touring career to open up after the lockdown stuff and the release of her 1st solo album, Duality, in the beginning of March this year
Her artistic sensibility is off the charts, not only showing through her music but in her visually stunning videos as well. Hope you enjoy…
Hi! how are you doing?
I’m good how are you?
I’m great thanks for thanks for doing this….i really appreciate it, uh the purpose of this video is to, you know, get information out to young and upcoming singers just like yourself into actually understanding what it is and the effort that it takes to do , what you are doing. Because a lot of people have misconceptions out there and it’s just it’s so nice to get so many different perspectives on, people like yourself, who are professionals and are actually out there making all this stuff happen and uh so getting some info in behind the scenes and what it takes I think would be really really helpful for people so thanks!
yeah sounds great thanks for having me.
So how old were you when you started singing?
um i mean i was singing just for fun in the house since i was like two years old yeah so there’s lots of music in my house growing up my mom taught music classes for toddlers when i was little kid so she was very well versed in like the kind of circle games and that kind of thing that kids do and we would do that with my siblings at home um and then she joined her partner in running a music school when i was a little older around eight or nine um so i was always surrounded by music always surrounded by music yeah no that that that’s great and and so when did you turn pro
i don’t think there was like a specific moment where i say or i would say like turned pro but i guess after high school i went to McGill for violin i felt like there was some more structure in the classical world there was a bit more familiarity there for me um and then after doing one semester i realized it was not what i wanted to be doing i wanted to go back and start making my own music so i moved back to Toronto and that’s when i kind of started playing in bands for the first time um i did a course at Seneca college and like basically how to be an independent artist and i guess that was kind of the turning point for me where i realized that i wanted to pursue being an artist um but i don’t know if i would call that pro right away because i was really just like playing at house shows playing in people’s basements playing to five people um and slowly grew from there yeah my my definition is probably old school but my definition of pro is when you actually get paid for it right so I’m presuming you’d get something even if it’s you know 25 bucks 20 bucks or something so splitting the door yeah yeah exactly that that’s great so you played in in other projects before you uh started your own your own thing yeah my first thing was a band called veins which was sort of like pre-luna li project i was like kind of afraid to call it a solo project because i was a bit shy and i kind of wanted to like hide behind the façade of a band even though i was the one who was writing all the music and everything ah so it was still a project though wasn’t it i hired a gun so to speak yeah um so i was yeah it was my project i had my boyfriend and his friend playing it with me was a three-piece at the beginning so that was sort of like my first thing and then i played in a few other bands i played in this band called mother tongues which is a really cool psych project i played keys and then i still play in this man called tange once in a while it’s kind of like a punky girl band where i play drums which is really fun for me i would not call myself a drummer but like um it was just something fun for the three of us it’s like a side project yeah yeah because i know that you’re i didn’t know you played drums i know that you’re a multi-instrumentalist i mean you do guitar i’ve seen you do bass i’ve seen you do harp um yeah so drums uh keyboards i would imagine yeah so i mean growing up in the in the music school environment you got to be able to play with everything yeah it was great i started with piano when i was five that was my first system and i did classical piano and violin growing up yeah and then yeah yeah of course yeah yeah and then i started learning guitar when i was 12 and that’s kind of when i started like breaking off from the classical world and like starting to do covers and writing my own songs and stuff like that great and um so the one thing that that that you know i’ve always been really impressed with you is there is there’s such you have such a distinct definitive sound and it’s you know combining that with the video stuff like i posted it the the artistic level is you know i i i love it i think it’s great is is that was that kind of a uh an organic growth for you or is it something that you started and then you you know you you thought okay i want to tailor my sound and and i need to discover me as an artist and and my own vocal sound you know because we’re talking about singing you know all that sort of thing what what was that what was that like i guess like it was a little bit of organic and it was a little bit of concentration and figuring out and taking time but i mean i guess after i left mcgill i sort of abandoned my classical background i came back to toronto got really involved with the toronto music scene specifically the rock scene and so that first band veins that i was talking about we did kind of more like a garage rock sound and that because that was like really the sound that was happening in the scene at the time um and that’s what i thought was cool like i was like you know violin’s not cool i’m not gonna i’m gonna put down my violin and play guitar instead like um so that was kind of where i started out but then as i went along i kind of realized i wanted to incorporate the violin but i just didn’t really know how to add it in without it being kind of more like folksy or country sounding because that’s kind of like you know more of the types of bands where you hear violin and i knew that wasn’t really my style but then one for one of my birthdays i my grandma asked what i wanted for my birthday and i asked her to buy me a loot pedal and i was kind of intending to just use it with my guitar but then i decided to try plugging my violin and to see what that would sound like and i realized i could build these like lush orchestral sounding layers um and have it feel like really big and beautiful with just like one one instrument so from there that was kind of the turning point where i was like oh okay like this is how i want to incorporate the violin i wanted to sound like big and dreamy and orchestral and cinematic um and so that’s when i started really like incorporating my classical background into the sort of like rock sound and then i also started learning how to play the harp which was more recent for me maybe like five years ago um and that is just like a really beautiful dreamy classical sounding instrument um and i’m still working on it but i really love using it as a production tool like just adding a little bit of harp on the song really elevates everything yeah so but then from a vocal standpoint so the music came first and then you got then then you know you had to figure out okay how how am i going to approach this from a vocal standpoint definitely the vocals kind of came later like i wasn’t really focused on the vocals at first because like coming from an instrumental background that was sort of like always um what came first for me um and like the songwriting and the lyrics and that kind of thing and yeah i mean i guess i just like kind of saying how i thought felt natural and then eventually i realized that like i wanted to kind of stylize it a little bit more and have it feel a bit more like intentional and um yeah i mean that was probably like around the time i started taking lessons with you as well we’ve been working two and a half three years something like that yeah i can’t believe it’s been that long you know it’s been a lot of time yeah um and i kind of yeah the vocals was something that i definitely like brushed off at first and um yeah it was like kind of underrated in my world the importance of vocals um and then yeah since we started working together and like as i started to hone my sound a little bit more um i guess i just started diving in more into really thinking about how i could use vocals layering them using harmonies and choral sounds and different textures and stuff like that see that that’s great because you know trying to convey to people how much effort is involved in doing something like what you do uh i mean that’s just validation it’s it’s lots of time lots of experimentation not being afraid to fail you know try different things some things will work some things don’t you know but it’s it’s and like did you enjoy that journey though like that experimentation did you did you did you enjoyed it yeah i always loved making music and like i think at the beginning it took me a while to make music that i felt like i would listen to if it wasn’t my own music like when i got to that point i was like okay now i really feel like uh really proud of this and i mean like it’s sometimes tough at first when you’re like i’m making this music i think it’s fine but like it’s not like exactly what i want to do but you kind of just have to go through that process and write those kind of first songs before you can get to that place yeah and then with the experimentation with the vocals um uh you know finding what works and what doesn’t work you didn’t like when something didn’t work it didn’t you know drag you down and go oh god that just sucked i just you know yeah exactly exactly for me it was always really interesting because okay if that didn’t work okay well no to sell okay that kind of sucks okay what what can i do it because it’s that it’s that inventive it’s that it’s that artistic thing of trying different things and and not being disillusioned uh when things don’t work um it’s just it is a process so um you just released your very first record so congratulations on that that’s awesome that’s awesome and it’s been a long time coming and the first records always are you know um and is this so you have gigged um somewhat you haven’t really done a solid massive u.s or national tour as of yet have you my kind of first longer tour was last fall we did six weeks with japanese breakfast so that was my first kind of real tour prior to that it was definitely just like around the toronto music scene and you know going to montreal for the weekend that kind of thing right right um because my my question is you know um have have you ever thought about the vocals while you’re recording in terms of okay this is what i’m going to do for the record how am i going to do that live did have you have you got to that point i when i’m recording or writing vocals or any of the music i never think about how it’s going to be live like i just you know do what i feel in the moment because a lot of my stuff is so heavily layered and there’s just so much of the arrangement is like really dense um which is tricky to pull off live and like i don’t like to burden myself with thinking about how i’m gonna do that down the road um but then we just end up having to like rearrange stuff and rework stuff for live which can be cool too because then you have two separate versions exactly that’s fun yeah warming up so tell us what do you do before a show or a recording session do you have a routine well i do the file you do that i always do that yeah and that’s pretty much it i mean it’s a great warm-up um it like preps me and makes me feel like i’m ready um you know being sort of starting out sometimes that warm-up ends up being done in the van in the bathroom like all over the place always back alleyway like yeah always have a proper green room so you kind of just have to improvise i’ve literally done it in like the public bathroom in the venue before and i’m like i can hear people coming in i’m just doing this right now weird sounds and yeah but it is it is important to get those muscles working and stuff like that so you know the message you know for the people that might see it is is it trying to just overcome the shyness of prepping for the show because what’s important is the show not necessarily your feelings before the show you know if you can pull off an excellent show because you’ve done a proper warm-up i mean there’s worth it yeah not much of a better feeling than that the feeling of accomplishment and and yeah absolutely joy this is a joy to it you know usually now i ask about have you had any vocal problems while you’re touring and how have you overcome that but you’re you’re new to this i am new to this and i did not have any problems on the six weeks we did like it was very intense the schedule was for the most part six days of shows one day off and that was the whole thing um i didn’t yeah i didn’t realize that yeah it was very fast paced um several of them were like you know three shows in seattle or two nights in l.a so we kind of got to settle down and be in one place a little bit so that’s why there was you know just so much going on at once um but still there’s gonna be press there’s gonna be meet and greets is going to be like because you know i always always tell my people it’s it’s not just the show yeah that’s so hard on the voice it’s everything else the rehearsals the sound checks the meet and greets the interviews you’re using your voice the whole time and if you fatigue your voice out during the day doing that stuff which is important to do it kind of leaves the show difficult yeah um where are you going on this tour well i know there’s there’s issues uh visa wise um but once you get going so uh east coast and then hopefully back to the west coast are you doing stuff in the middle um we’re planning some stuff um we’re kind of rescheduling some of the dates that got postponed for the west coast we had a bunch of shows there and then we’re doing new york philly and washington um and then i have a small run opening for biba dubi which is in april we’re doing several dates in california which will be fun um and then i’m also planning some canadian dates for later this year and then probably another us tour in the fall so beautiful yeah have you thought about stuff to take on the road uh to help with vocal recovery that kind of thing like the humidifiers that i’m constantly talking about watch the humidifier video it’s very good um uh you know zinc and vitamin c and hydration levels you do you do you just drink lots of water and all that sort of you do all that stuff that we talk about yeah absolutely i’m also just like a big water drinker i drink so much water in the day so i just make sure i always have that with me um the vitamin c the zinc just in case just in case exactly yeah all my vitamins trying to stay healthy and like eat well which is sometimes tough also just like on the road i’m vegetarian so sometimes it’s like we’re in the middle of nowhere at all there is mcdonald’s and then i just have to eat fries for lunch or whatever but for for the most part we try and like stock up we’ll go to um like try and go to like some healthier grocery stores and get some healthy snacks and that kind of thing just to make sure that we’re like still getting all our nutrients while we’re on the road yeah greens uh green string uh greens like powdered greens drinks like greens plus uh there’s so many of them those are great to take on the road as well because you can just throw that into a glass of orange juice or something and that will give you energy plus nutrition and help the orange juice on the rider you’ll have one every night exactly exactly do you have anything on the rider yeah we have like usually we just try and do like fruit and veggie trays um like some chips granola bars that kind of thing yeah um it was tough last time because i felt like we had to learn what we could do without wasting food yeah a lot of the time like you asked for the veggie tray or whatever and then like there’s so much left and then we would try and bring it in the van but then like it got buried under some bags and we were like what’s that smell coming from the van so sometimes you just have to like be smart about what you ask for like reduce the weight yeah yeah um the only thing i ever had on my rider was a fruit tray because pineapple is fabulous and with fruit you can utilize the energy right away there’s really very little digestion in it so it was it was oranges pineapple uh cantaloupe honeydew melon uh and apple slices and because you can you can when i was you know doing the opera stuff and and uh the shows yeah uh you know the shows there there would always be an intermission so you could kind of load up on some sugar to get through the rest of the show you know at the end um so how what what’s the biggest show you’ve done today like so far like in terms of people like an audience yeah i would say probably we when we played at the head in the clouds festival which was last November um yeah we got to play the main stage um there was a whole runway which was really fun yeah and i think it was the biggest crowd that we’ve ever played too yeah um so in terms of preparation for a show that size did you pay more attention to it because it was new or like in in terms of big shows little shows or is it all the same do you just do everything the same so far um i would say mostly the same like you know regardless of whether it’s a big show or a little show like i want to do my best and sound the best that i can and have the set be tied and impressive like you know a smaller audience deserves as good of a shower as a bigger audience so um and sometimes it’s more fun yeah because it’s more intimate you can connect with people on a higher level yeah that’s nice obviously there’s some differences in terms of like the way i’m performing yeah there’ll be more stage movement big yeah if there’s a huge crowd but um but yeah i think both both are really special and i really enjoy the human aspects of each so we’ve been working together for a long time like we said two and a half years like it’s been a long time i’d have to look back uh yeah um so any thoughts on studying and how it’s enhanced what you do yeah i mean it’s definitely helped so much um and like just being more aware of my voice and like my body and how i’m feeling and how that affects my performance um is a really big help too because it was not always something that i was aware of before something that i like as i said before kind of like overlooked the vocal parts of the project yeah for a lot of the time yeah um most people do because there’s this unconscious thought that well we can talk so we must be able to sing you know when it’s actually a lot more complicated than that yeah yeah i mean i think taking lessons like really helped me i guess like express what i wanted to express in a better way just because i was like able to do it at a higher level um and also just like being on tour and playing shows like i definitely feel like stronger i have more control and even like with the sound too like singing more forward and singing more clearly really helps like um for the most part when you’re starting out like the sound can be really really bad at some shows especially when you’re playing in a basement i think like i didn’t realize like the way i would was singing like could actually affect like how my voice cuts through the mix um absolutely so yeah yeah just all of those things yeah and the other the other thing too is that when you are dealing with a really bad stage sound um unless you’ve committed a lot of the stuff to muscle memory what ends up happening is that you start to manipulate the muscles in the throat to try and compensate for what you’re not hearing it just wears the voice out like crazy you know um so in in those instances you know the the the work that we’ve done and all that will really save your butt yeah you know i definitely feel like my voice has been healthier too i mean i remember like several years ago before we started taking lessons um i would like sometimes lose my voice before a big show because of like all the stress from prepping you know for weeks and weeks and like just not taking care of my body enough and just like doing so many rehearsals and probably not singing the most healthy and like in the in the right way and not doing vocal warm-ups and that kind of thing i remember like losing my voice after a show and that kind of thing and then like doing six weeks with so many 30 shows is no problem um endurance is much better yeah is there is there anything in particular that that we’ve done that you know you’ve noticed as a as a big game changer or is it just kind of an overall thing yeah i think just the strength and the control that i’ve gained have been a really big game changer and like i notice it when i’m making new music that like i feel that i can go further with the melodies that i’m making and like it just opened up a little bit um just more options for me to try out so that’s been really cool yeah it’s a it’s a it ends up being a a larger instrument so instead of you know this much you have this much which people don’t necessarily think is you know okay that’s a little bit more but then you have full control you can do textually because i’ve always you know like i’ve always said singing isn’t just notes and words it’s notes words and textures most importantly because that’s how you communicate with the vocal well with the with a vocal it you know it’s it’s what you do with that sound so if you have that extra room plus all the control it’s it’s a it’s so much fun it’s it’s it’s a great instrument do you have you gotten to a point you know singing live where you just kind of sink into a vocal and just kind of everything disappears have you i call it the zone have you got there yet um yeah i think i think i’ve gotten there a lot of my set is like i’m playing instruments at the same time too so it’s kind of like a blend of everything i know but um this tour is actually the first time that i have a few songs that i’m not playing i’m just singing so i’m really looking forward to that and just kind of see how that plays out i think it’ll be really nice to be able to like just get really into it get into the zone um like just being able to like go up to the audience and connect with them more instead of being stuck at the mic sand i think that’ll be exciting yeah that that’ll be fun and uh have you practiced that have you have you been working with that because a lot of people it it makes them feel like naked and vulnerable because i don’t have like it’s weird yeah you don’t have anything to hold um i mean i on the last tour i had a song where i put my guitar down halfway through and did that for half the song oh okay so i like had some practice in that and and then yeah just like at rehearsals i’ve been practicing doing that and i don’t know i think also like because i have a dance background like i did ballet for years growing up and like like modern dance and stuff like that i think that really really helped with my stage presence too and just like being comfortable in my body on stage absolutely huge it’s a big learning curve like learning how to perform and it it took me a while to like really get comfortable on stage like i think my first show i was just standing there like with my guitar and not moving at all oh yeah i remember my my my legs shaking for the first five songs of the very first set i ever did it settled down after that and i had a lot of fun after that but man those first few songs are very very nerve-wracking and then you know if you because there’s so much tension if you crack and then you feel bad and it’s just it’s yeah it’s hard it’s very hard i i always thought i was not that great but i was so addicted to singing i i didn’t care that i didn’t think i was not great i needed to do it anyway definitely i mean i think like many artists are like that like the they’re their biggest critic right yeah yeah yeah i’m definitely very self-critical sometimes too but yeah yeah like it’s like you said it’s you love it so much that you just gotta keep going just gotta keep going do you have any extra personal tips that we haven’t talked about that you might send out there to other vocalists that are upcoming or or anything i mean i think like something that i’ve learned from like doing our lessons and just like thinking about my voice and singing more it’s just like singing every day is so important because like as we talk about the voice is really a muscle and it’s like really about keeping it in shape and i think when i first started out i kind of would only sing when i was like either playing a show or rehearsing or recording and like even just like singing around the house every day and like kind of keeping it light and fun is just really important um to just you know keep it going keep your muscles in shape and keep enjoying it too exactly well thank you so much for doing this of course that was awesome uh have a wonderful tour congratulations on the record and i’m going to include some links below to uh the videos which i think are fabulous fabulous videos and i look forward to seeing you hopefully you’ll come to my hometown and i can see you live that would be great all right thank you so much thank you bye
Thanks for watching! I’d like to give a shout out to some of the people who made this all possible … a huge thanks to Luna Li for doing the interview. And to her manager, Dexter Brown from Inside Pocket Music for sending me the media and permissions
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