A Chat with Luan Mei (08.08.2020)

Bringing a new sound to the stage, Luan Mei is giving a voice to the LGBTQ+ collective. Using her pop sensibilities, she tells captivating stories that are easy to relate to and utterly enchanting. Her latest single ‘Yellow’ continues her journey to increase visibility. We sat down with Luan Mei (LM) to talk about the single, her creative process, music and much more!

OSR: Was there a moment or experience that made you realise that music was the right path for you?

LM: The only thing I know certainly is that there was not a specific moment in which I saw the ‘’light’’ of the music path. It’s always been there, almost innate: even though I don’t have any musician relatives, music has been the soundtrack of my life thanks to my family. Always in the background or as the main thing when singing all-together during long trips on the car: flamenco, rumba, rock, pop, funk, reggae, everything is welcome.

Dancing at home and singing with a cassette player with a microphone that my mum gave it to me when I was 6, going to sevillanas lessons at 8, guitar lessons at 12 and playing until now, 22 years old and never stopped learning. Started playing the piano and the saxophone on my own, it comes naturally, I don’t even know how or from where, but it drives me through this life like this.

OSR: What drew you to your preferred genre of music?

LM: When I’m writing a song, I don’t think about which genre is it going to be. I just write melodies that I like after choosing a chord progression that I think sounds nice and go with it! It’s a very interesting thing, as the majority of my songs are quite different between one another.

I could say that ‘Elements’ and ‘Yellow’ are definitely the poppy ones, even though the second one is way more mellow and sweeter. ‘Northern Lights’ is super funky and crazy, full of colours. ‘Would Be Better’ is a mix of jazzy, indie and soul vibes. ‘Nonsense’ is clearly R&B and soul. I welcome whatever I like when I’m composing, no matter the genre.

OSR: Is there a backstory to your single ‘Yellow’?

LM: ‘Yellow’ narrates a real summer love story between two queer female artists, a poet and a musician, who meet for the first time at Madrid’s Pride and connect instantly, not only sentimentally but artistically. Even though it is an ephemeral story, it is full of colours and intensity. Discovering each other and their sexual freedom helps them to feel liberated and appreciate themselves and the world more intensely.

‘Yellow’ is the point of view of the musician. September is back and each of them have two different paths to follow, having to distance from each other and continue with life. She misses the poet and cannot stop thinking about what they had and how magical it was. ‘Yellow’ was written as thanks to her, inspired by a poem she wrote about their story that summer, called ‘Del Verano’ which means ‘From Summer’.

OSR: What was the creative process like for ‘Yellow’?

LM: The lyrics and melodies of ‘Yellow’ appeared suddenly, almost magically. It was September 2018 and I received this poem ‘Del Verano’, which touched me immensely as no other poem did, so, between my fast-racing heart and (I’m not gonna lie) some tears I took my acoustic guitar and started improvising. It was easy, it all came directly from my heart, raw. Starting from a chord progression that I liked and followed by melodies that I found attractive.

Lyrics came quick to my mind, honest, clear and transparent. I almost finished it the same night, it took me two months to find out how to build the bridge of the song, which, for me, it’s usually the most complicated part when composing. In December 2018, ‘Yellow’ was completely finished, and I played it for the first time in Alevosia, a venue in Madrid, alongside the poet and her poem, together.

OSR: If you could have people take away one thing from your music, what would it be?

LM: Energy! I’m full of it, and you can tell especially when you see me performing live with the band, it’s crazy and people love it. I cannot stop smiling, moving with the groove, talking to the audience and playing with passion and infinite energy.

OSR: What instruments do you play and are there any you still want to learn?

LM: Chronologically talking, the guitar is my main instrument (acoustic, electric and classic), I’ve been playing it for approximately 12 years. The ukulele came afterwards, easy peasy if you know how to play the six-string, and then I started playing the saxophone and the piano around 2 years ago, self-taught, and here I am still learning! I always wanted to play the cello, double bass and electric bass, I think I’m quite obsessed with string instruments, not gonna lie.

Shall I add castanets? I went to sevillanas lessons when I was around 7 and I learnt how to play them while dancing, still have them and I’m considering playing them more often, why not?

Luan Mei

OSR: After the pandemic, are you planning a tour or gigs?

LM: I miss gigging, so so much! Absolutely, the plan is to gig as much as I can, as a solo and with the band in Brighton and do our debut in London too, I cannot wait, being honest.

In the meantime, while all the venues and pubs get ready little by little, I will be busking in Brighton, making the best out of the sunny days and the lovely people around.

OSR: If you were a new colour in the crayon box, what would you be?

LM: Ahhhhh, I love this question. I would be the orange crayon most probably. Bright, energetic, acid, strong but a bit weird colour, jazzy!

OSR: Do you have a message for your fans?

LM: Always give a try to listen to new artists and if you like it, support them as much as you can. You don’t have money? It’s completely okay, share what they post, encourage others to listen to them, comment, recommend. If you would like to support with money, go to shows, trust me, emerging artists’ gigs are the best, it’s so magical, buy merchandising and physical formats of their music.

It’s very complicated to be independent and manage everything on your own without any support in the background and most of the time you put more energy in comparison with what you get back. Independent artists (including myself) appreciate immensely our fans’ everyday support, messages, comments, shares, recommendation and other contributions. It gives us the energy to continue doing what we do, sharing our creations to the world.

Thanks to Luan Mei for chatting with us! You can find more about her on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify.

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