Q & A With La Luz, The Surf-Rock Girl Group Taking Over Your Summer

by Tess Duncan

The Seattle-based doo-wop band La Luz write dreamy, beachy tunes that’ll make you want to go on a road trip with your BFFs and never come back. The foursome’s vocals together create gorgeous harmonies reminiscent of ’60s girl groups or, more recently, the talented, lo-fi gals of Grass Widow. Their sad love songs fit perfectly with Shana Cleveland’s surfy riffs, which bring The Ventures’ instrumental skills to mind. After forming just last summer, the ladies recorded their EP Damp Face. La Luz‘s guitarist Shana and keyboardist Alice answered a few questions we had about their love for beach party movies, the best hiking spots in Washington, and what it’s like to record an EP in a trailer park on a hot day.

I know that at least some parts of “Call Me In The Day” were filmed in the tiny town of Index, WA. Are any of you from there originally?

Shana: The director of that video, Bobby McHugh, had a family house in Index so he suggested filming there. It was so beautiful and so very Northwest. I’ve lived in big cities all my adult life, but growing up I actually spent most of my time wandering around small towns alone like I am in the video.

It seems like you guys are pretty outdoorsy. Are there cool spots to hang in Washington that you’d recommend?

S: So many. Oh man, it’s hard to know where to start. This part of the country is so gorgeous. One of my favorite spots is Fort Stevens in the wintertime. It’s an old army fort and in the summer it’s really crowded, but in the winter it’s totally isolated. You can stay in a yurt for 30 bucks a night and wander around all the creepy empty army batteries. I like to sing in them because they’re all metal and cavernous and have amazing reverb. You can walk along miles of ocean beach, and there’s this awesome forest full of dwarf pine trees. There are a lot of really stellar resorts that are run by hippies out here too, where everything’s [run by] honor system and super laid-back.

Alice: One of the best backpacking adventures is in The Enchantments right outside of Leavenworth, WA. It’s a hefty hike, but once you’re there it’s an entirely different world. Everything is granite and bright blue water and goats chase you around. It’s like being in a sci-fi novel.

How long did it take to record Damp Face? I got the impression that it was all in one, super hot day. And did you meet any other trailer park residents when recording?

S: Your impression is right on. We didn’t meet any other park residents but when we were back there recently to record our full-length there were some cute teenaged girls whipping around the parking lot on a scooter and screaming like crazy. I wished I knew them, they knew how to have a good time.

I’ve heard you guys cite a few doo-wop groups and early rock ‘n’ roll musicians as influences. Do you find yourselves influenced by classic country artists as well? If so, who?

S: Totally! There’s this Charlie Feathers album Tip Top Daddy that is acoustic demos and it’s one of my favorite things. You feel like you’re just in the kitchen with him as he’s working out songs. Wanda Jackson, Buddy Holly, and Patsy Cline are faves. Lately I’ve been listening to this album by Charlie Tweddle called Midnight Plowboy, it’s amazing and hilarious. Oh! And Hasil Adkins!

Favorite beach party movie?

A: Back to the Beach. “Jamaica Ska“! Annette Funicello! And Becky from Full House! What more could you ask for?

S: Any movie where there’s a bunch of teens hanging out that involves a ridiculous monster and a beach dance party is my favorite. I love that shit. I want to be the band that plays on the beach for the kids during the good times, before the monster shows up.

Favorite Elvis album?

S: I don’t know about albums, but “Little Sister” is my favorite Elvis song to dance around my house to.

Are there any new bands you’re listening to right now?

S: I’m digging lots of West Coast stuff. Shannon and the Clams, Ty Segall, the Shivas, Guantanamo Baywatch. A few Seattle faves: Rose Windows, Thee Satisfaction, Diminished Men, Lonesome Shack, Heatwarmer, Wimps.

A: I can’t say I’ve been listening to much current music. Almost overdosing on The Drifters. But I can’t get enough of that Father John Misty record. And I always love me my Beyonce.

Listen to Damp Face on BandCamp and check out La Luz’s upcoming summer tour all over the country over here! Keep an eye out for a full-length from the band later this year!

Photos via AnotherRainySaturday.com, TheStranger.com, La Luz’s Facebook, and La Luz’s BandCamp

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