Leanne Ortiz chats with emerging indie folk artist Luna Keller
By Leanne Ortiz – Freelance Writer and Blogger
In a world where glamorised social media influencers are the norm, it’s refreshing to find an artist whose appeal is as much about the cuteness underneath her top hat, as it is about clever lyrics and stylish musicianship.
There’s something irresistible about Luna Keller.
Cheeky green eyes peek through a caramel blonde bob, and her smile draws you in, as if to say: ‘Hey, I’m Luna. Lovely to meet you!’ But when she opens her mouth to sing, there’s no denying this archetypal girl next door is anything but ordinary.
At just 18 years of age, Keller has already enjoyed critical acclaim. Her two singles ‘Packing my Bags’ and ‘Young Love’ gained worldwide recognition. In 2018, ‘Packing My Bags’ was on the IMA nominated album ‘That Summer, Volume 1’ by BWH Music Group and it was also used in a Starbucks ad campaign.
Keller lives in Spain, on the sunny isle of Tenerife, where she says she enjoyed singing with her musical family from a young age. “I imagine it was pretty cute to see this little blonde four-year-old singing along to classics by the Beatles, in very poor English,” she laughs.
Luna’s father Roger writes music and plays the guitar and her mother plays the piano and is also a singer. As a young girl, she joined the choir with her mum and started playing the guitar at 14. Her true passion though is for songwriting.
Performing her originals is another art Luna has mastered with apparent ease. “Growing up, I discovered my love for being on stage and my parents supported me all the way,” she said. “I found drama and acting (there are lovely amateur drama groups here in Tenerife), then I brought a guitar on stage and my parents and I began playing my songs together. Eventually we recorded my first song ‘Sunset’ in our home studio.”
Musical heritage is just one aspect inherent in Keller’s appeal. She has an emotional maturity admirable in one so young, and a wisdom well beyond her years. These traits shine through not only in Keller’s persona, but also in her lyrics.
When Luna was only six years old the Keller family were evacuated from their home, as wildfires brought devastation to the island. “Living close to the forest was an important part of my childhood,” she said. “I loved playing in the forest, giving names to the trees and fighting imaginary enemies.”
She says the fire in 2007 started on the other side of the island and they had witnessed the smoke during the day, but in the early hours of the morning it came close. “They told us it wouldn’t cross over,” she said, “we weren’t prepared to leave.”
As has been experienced in Australia in recent months, bush fires have their own agenda. The Keller’s were forced to flee. “I remember getting into the car with my favourite teddy bear. As we were driving away, I could see the flames coming over the mountains, close to our home,” said Keller. “Leaving your home behind and not knowing if you’ll ever see it again is awful. You feel caged, helpless. I will never forget that feeling, it is what inspired me to write ‘Burning House’ years later.
Indie Artist of the Month (March 2020)
The simplicity of Keller’s lyrics are enabled by the raw emotion with which she delivers them.
“I lost hope as I felt the smoke, In my burning house.
I’m living in a burning house Feeling like I won’t get out.”
– Luna Keller
The family still lives on that same property. Nature restored their paradise, but a powerful sandstorm only weeks ago brought further destruction. “It blew away our solar panels,” said Keller. “The climate is changing, and it’s our fault. It makes me sad, even a little bit angry sometimes to see all this destruction and pain caused by the greed and ignorance of many human beings.”
She admits though that people’s resilience during those times is amazing. “There’s many people fighting for a good future for our planet,” she says. “We’re trying, and there’s hope. That’s why I wrote ‘I Try’ as the B-side to ‘Burning House,’ I didn’t want a song about feeling hopeless to stand on its own – there’s always hope, after all.”
A role model for young women all over the planet, Keller’s latest EP ‘Alice is in love with the Mad Hatter,’ released in 2019, combines the magic of fairy-tale with the whimsy of folk. “Alice in Wonderland was one of my favourite books as a child. The madness and the beauty of being different spoke to me. I’ve always been a bit different, I even got bullied at school for it, so Alice’s story showed me that fitting in isn’t always a good thing,” she said. “I decided to write a concept album. I wanted to apply the beautiful madness of Lewis’ Carroll’s world and use it to speak about things that matter to me.”
“Musically, I wrote a folk album, but my wonderful team, my Dad and our mixer (sometimes producer) Uli Pfannmuller and other amazing people like Ralf Erkel brought the whimsy feeling into it with some really great arrangement ideas. We built a very fun and colourful EP together, with what I hope are some very important messages.”
Important messages indeed. ‘I don’t know where I’m going’ is also a track on the EP. It encourages people to value their authenticity, be themselves and they will find their way home, to their truth. Keller explains she was just 15 when she wrote that song and felt pressured to know what she wanted to do with her life. “I thought about the scene where Alice asks the Cheshire Cat for directions, the cat tells her it doesn’t matter that she doesn’t know which way to go or which path she takes, that made me realise it’s ok to feel lost. We’re all on our own way to self-discovery and we don’t have to have it all figured out.”
Another track from the same EP titled ‘We are all mad here’ speaks of a joyful place where differences are celebrated, not feared. I suggest this may be a Utopia, but it sounds awesome. “We are all mad here might be a Utopia on a global scale,” Keller responds, “but it’s a reality in my song. Every time I sing it to a room full of open-minded people, we share in that reality, and that’s great!” she said. “I firmly believe that no race, religion, gender, style or choice should stand above another. Everyone is free to be themselves, if they don’t harm anyone else. Sadly, this world does not quite agree with me on that yet…”
Indie Artist of the Month (March 2020)
Back in the 1960s and 70s there were many artists who were admired for spreading that same hope for a united world (John Lennon, Cat Stevens, Joan Baez, Simon & Garfunkel and Bob Dylan, to name a few), I ask Luna where she sees the folk scene evolving from here, since its huge revival in the 2010s. “It’s growing in so many directions!” she says. “We have technology to thank for that. So many independent artists have access to recording music and the opportunity to share it with the world.”
Keller hosts her own indie radio show called ‘Why doesn’t everyone know these songs?’ she says she is blown away by emerging artists with different approaches. “One thing will never change though, and that’s the authenticity and emotion behind the music in the indie/folk genre, it will always be at the core of every great song.”
Keller’s latest release, ‘Midnight Queen’ a collaboration with U.K. songwriter Eric Bay, premiered here on Never Enough Music on March 20, 2020. The stylish and atmospheric pop ballad is something quite different from this versatile artist.
The song evolved when Bay reached out to Keller on Twitter to suggest a collaboration. Keller had already written the chorus and hook for ‘Midnight Queen’ and they each contributed to the verses and the bridge, as well as working together on the melodies.
The result is a heartbreakingly cohesive masterpiece, as soulful lyrics float through an eery melody.
In June, Keller is embarking on a tour in Germany with her father where they are offering to play at house concerts. “They are pretty much my favourite way to play,” says Keller.
“I love being close to my audience, a house concert is the perfect opportunity to create that kind of emotional connection with the audience that I love.” If you are in Germany or Switzerland, there are still a few June dates available. You can contact Luna and Roger on Facebook or via email to book.
Finally, let’s go down that rabbit hole, I suggest – If 18-year-old Luna were invited to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party today, what would she be curious about?
“Oh 18-year-old Luna would definitely be starstruck!” says the irresistible young artist. “I don’t think I would ask any meaningful questions or get answers. I’d just have a great time with them. I am curious about the taste of their imaginary tea though!”
by Leanne Ortiz
Freelance Writer and Blogger over at
leanneortiz.com. She is from Australia and has a cool feature on her blog called Busker Whats Your Story. Check it out! We want to thank Leanne for helping us out with this great feature!