La Luz Talk Early Days, ‘Brainwash’ Video, the Influence of ’60s Music + More
Seattle may be the home of grunge, but La Luz prove there’s more to the city than flannel and angsty hard rock. Guitarist Shana Cleveland, drummer Marian Li Pino, bassist Abbey Blackwell and keyboardist Alice Sandahl come with a surf-influenced retro-rock sound that’ll make you think they’re from the Sunshine State as opposed to a city known for getting rained on a good portion of the year.
After releasing their ‘Damp Face’ EP in the fall of 2012, the band returned earlier this year with ‘It’s Alive,’ their full-length debut. They had a bit of a scare in November, when their van was involved in an accident, but luckily, none of the members were seriously injured, and next month, they’ll preface their first-ever European trek by returning to the road and supporting Pure Bathing Culture on a run of North American dates.
Prior to the van crash, Diffuser.fm spoke to the ladies about how they got their start, their feeling on becoming a buzz band and the story behind their ‘Brainwash‘ video.
How did La Luz start?
SC: Marian and I were in a band before this one, and we got back from a long tour. And we wanted to make this new band. So then we asked Alice, who played in a band with Marian before this. Then we met Abbey through some jam sessions. Then we started practicing together in June  and then did our first show together in October.
Any big significance behind the band name?
La Luz have been playing together since the summer of 2012. So how has the past year been for the band?
I would it’s been really great. We have done a lot and managed to do so in a short amount of time. We recorded our EP when we first started playing together, and that released through Burger Records. We released a 7-inch and also recorded an album in the spring that we [put out] in October. And now we’ve just been working really hard, and the response has been great.
Everything you’ve put out since the EP has garnered positive feedback. You’ve also been called a “band to watch.” How do feel about all the immediate positive reviews coming your way?
ML: We’re pleasantly surprised by it all.
AB: But no pressure. We can handle it.
Your video for ‘Brainwash’ has a retro feel to it. Where did the premise for the video come from?
SC: Me and Marian went on a tour with another band, and Marian was hanging out across the street [from the venue] in North Carolina. This guy came up to her asked her if she was a hypnotist because she was wearing a key on a necklace around her neck. And he thought it was a tool to use to hypnotize people. So he was really into brainwashing and hypnosis, and he sent us all these movie scripts he had written. And we just kept in touch with him. But the idea of brainwashing came from meeting this wacky guy, and the idea for video was kind of a collaboration between [the band] and the director, Carlos Lopez. He kind of likes the same video and movie kind of stuff as I do, with ’60s new wave kind of stuff, like the ridiculousness of the Monkees’ TV show, carefree and funny. But we also wanted to incorporate the weird paranoia within ’60s junk.
Your music does have a ’60s feel to it. Was that direction you sought to pursue with La Luz’s music?
SC: So much of the best music came out of that time period. So it’s a big influence for me. Soul music, girl group stuff, rock ‘n’ roll from the ’50s and ’60s — that’s what I really gravitate to and where I find my inspiration.
Even though it’s the 21st century, rock ‘n’ roll is still pretty male dominated. Being an all-girl rock band, do you feel like you have work harder to prove yourself onstage?
Band in unison: No.
SC: I think we’re all just focusing on our music and what’s exciting to us and not spending so much time thinking about how it’s going to be perceived.