by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: Lunavela

by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: Lunavela

There’s some irony in introducing a ‘new’ act by telling you that while you may know Steve Mathieson‘s other band, Collapsing Cities, his solo project Lunavela dates back much further than the guitar pop quartet he’s internationally known for. Following the release of Lunavela’s self-titled debut EP in late 2017 the shoegazey indie house single Chequered Past featured on NZ On Air Music‘s NewTracks compilation in March this year.

Who is Lunavela made up of, Steve?

Lunavela is my solo project. However, I did co-write two songs with Timon Martin. I am working on the next EP and gathering friends to eventually play live. I’ve been writing with Timon (Kimbra) and Sam Harvey (Computers Want Me Dead) for the next EP.

Does the name Lunavela have a meaning? How did you come up with it?

Though, ‘vela’ means ‘sail’ in Italian, it wasn’t intended to mean moon sail or anything. It just sounds cool and looks good written down. Basically, Collapsing Cities is a pretty hard band name to top. I was too lazy to try and come up with a new name so I used my old band name before ‘Cities.

What makes Chequered Past stand out for you as a single? 

It sounds fresh, it’s romantic and the lyrics are good. I like good lyrics, I’m not sure if people care anymore about lyrics…

What is the story behind Chequered Past?

It’s a love song. I guess the sentiment is ‘I’ve done heaps of stupid stuff in my past, but, essentially my intentions are good and I’m a semi-decent person’. It’s weird typing this out, it sounds less sincere than saying it.

What’s your favourite moment in the single?

I quite dig the lyric ‘Never perfectly in line, your lack of attention span is the same as mine’. Timon’s drum fills are pretty cool too. I love the vocodered backing vocals too, but you can probably only hear them on good speakers, or with headphones on.

Who did you write and record the single with and where? 

Basically, it was a song I wrote on guitar, and Timon and I re-wrote it into a kind of shoegaze indie house song. Jol Mulholland recorded the vocals in The Oven and we mixed it with Jeremy Toy.

Describe in one sentence what you want listeners to take away from the song.

I want them to feel good, want to dance and feel warm.

In general, how do you work out what song would make a good single?

I’m mostly a hater. I either love music or hate it. There is no in-between. I’m always a bit self-critical on songs I’ve written. But I’ve always liked this song. You’ve got to trust your instincts I guess.

What else are you working on that we should keep an eye out for?

I’m working on another EP, which I plan to release in July/August. I basically just want to write with more people. I don’t enjoy writing by myself, co-writes are way more fun.

I co-wrote two songs on the North Shore Pony Club album. Hopefully, that comes out soon.

Can you name three other local tunes that should be on a playlist alongside your single?

Madeira Let Me Down
The Mint Chicks  Crush (Tall Dwarfs cover)

Was there any NZOA criterion you struggled with in the application? 

Live shows. It’s been five years since I’ve stepped foot on stage. It will happen soon though…