The Encompassing Darkness of Being | Interview with Moana

Moana Lutton, known for her wildly dark, atmospheric vocals and enchanting stage presence, speaks to Avenoir about the importance of venturing into the dark parts of ourselves and nature’s world of encompassing magic. 

Alejandro Jodorowsky quotes: “When you are determined, when you deeply enter that dimension that I call the Dance of Reality, the world dances around you and gives you what you seek.” What do you seek within that Dance of Reality? How has music guided you through it?
From the perspective of an artist, I seek to express myself and to make people feel something strong and powerful in what I have within me. I seek to be an artist with passion and meaning and to live my life as fully as possible. It comes across the music I create and through the live shows we have people commenting it being intense and being transported into another world, which is a beautiful thing to be told. That makes sense to me because that’s what I intend to do – to be able to take people into a world of magic.

I celebrate darkness, or the dark side of things, and I believe it’s important for us to celebrate every facet of our experience, not just the pretty things.

Mac1 Photography | Vader – Music Video

In your last music video, Vader, the visual elements explore a dream-like high and feminine dominance, how would you describe your upcoming release of the video for Scarab?
While Vader was quite dream-like, Scarab is a bit tougher and ‘cutting’ in its visual influence as it [Scarab‘s production] is based on a collection of various visual images or collages, rather than following a narrative form.

Why the Scarab?
I bought a guitar pedal that was called a Scarab. It was the first fuzz pedal I ever had and the one that made everything heavier. I did research about the Scarab beetle and found it incredibly interesting in what it represents in Egyptian mythology. The Scarab beetle itself rolls its own dung into this ball, lays its eggs in it then pushes it through the desert, and in mythology they relate it to the sun – like the Scarab beetle pushing the sun through day and night thus being a symbol of life into death; a cycle of birth, death and creation. 

I’ve noticed a similar reverb and goth-like approach as the Siouxsie and the Banshees in your musical compositions. Do you consider her one of your main influences?
To be honest I never really listened to them but I’ve been told by a few people that we remind them of Siouxsie and the Banshees. I watched a couple of her videos and I’m familiar with her because I really liked The Cure, and her and Robert Smith used to collaborate together. 

So who would you consider to be your influence?
Well, when you said goth-like it’s definitely a thing. My idea of goth artists I’ve been influenced by would be Nick Cave’s first band the Birthday Party. When we first started my influences were more from people like Jeff Buckley, and a little bit of The Doors. They both had dark tendencies in their music. I’m strongly influenced by obscure artists, more so than musicians; such as visual artists, theatre-makers, writers, traditional music, even the changes of seasons.

I read quite a lot and find writing a very influential art-form to what I do, but am not so much influenced by particular writers but more so on how imaginary worlds are conveyed through the written world. In the past, writers like Shakespeare, John Keats, Sarah Kane, Vladimir Nabokov, J.M Barrie, Leonard Cohen, Bukowski and Fernando Pessoa have influenced my style. At the moment I’m reading Edgar Allen Poe, the king of gothic literature. Visual artists – mainly surreal artists – [influences] would range from Dali, Ralf Steadman, James Gleeson and Frida Kahlo.

snapshot from Scarab video

Who influenced you into the occult? Or is the occult more of a visual inspiration?
One of the biggest questions I get asked by people is if I’m into Witchcraft. If anything I relate mostly to Paganism. When I grew up I went to a Steiner school, which is quite a Pagan way of thinking because you celebrate the summer and winter solstice, do rituals every morning, lighting candles and saying ceremonial things. For me, Paganism is about appreciating nature and using the power force from nature to charge the world.

I’m aware of how an occult influence might come across, but it’s not intentional. I’m fascinated by that stuff – like I am with many things – but I don’t want to be associated with any particular ideology or pre-existing visual dialogue.

What aspect of Mother Nature would you describe your music to emulate?
The part of me thinks it’s like the ocean, or like the deep sea because the ocean encapsulates everything – it’s wild, huge and violent – while at the top it’s sparkly. But then I can see it as being in a dark, enchanted forest at night and then see a part of it being in the mountains where there are snow leopards and lava eruptions. I’d like to think it transcends into many different elements but I do feel like some of the songs do go into different realms. For example, Cloud Mother is all about being in the clouds and in the sky, but then Vader is about being almost alien and being with the stars. With Golden Orb or Scarab it’s like being in the earth – all dirty and grimy. 

Describe to me what the genre of atmospheric rock can do to shape your audience’s perception.
If it’s just rock music then it’s to the point and that’s beautiful in itself, but when there’s atmosphere it’s about creating more of a story and suspense and drama and so I think with an audience it brings them to listen to what you’re saying and experience that whole story, rather than just through rock bangers one after another. It’s a whole journey.

Photo: Rachael Barrett Photography

Similar to how FKA Twigs vogues within her performance as a way to fuse body movement into a concept, what movements within your performance demonstrate an ideology or concept? Or what are you trying to convey within your performance?
On stage I just let myself be like a wild creature and I believe it’s me wanting to convey a different vibration, a different energy and that it’s ok to be feral and wild and to be passionate about what you’re doing. And to let out that animalistic, sexual urge that is within us. Movement and dance are something I’ve always done throughout my life. When I move in a certain way or when I’m on stage it makes me feel like I’m otherworldy. I feel like I’m bigger than this human body, and through movement, I’m able to convey that. Sometimes I feel like I can be stuck in the parameters of my physical human body and I feel so much bigger than that.

I studied theatre before I started the band and so it’s naturally what I do when I perform. And being a character on stage, an enhanced version of me, and the commitment to maintaining that throughout the show, helps support the whole theme and atmosphere I’m trying to create. Clothing is a huge part of me too. And I like to make the clothes as though together we’re all one gang of bandits and crazy mongrels.

So how would you compare this movement and experience to your Maori background?
Warriors, man. Magical people with a deep connection and respect to Papa Tu Nuku (Mother Earth). It’s the indigenous spirit, present in all forms in our world. There’s intense beauty in the darkness of the mythology and dialogue, and songs around death, the afterlife, ancestry and nature. I feel that spirit within me, stronger than ever and it gets stronger the more aware I become. 

Is the use of occult imagery within your videos and lyrical verse a way to project the darkness of the anima mundi, in other words, excavating our deepest and darkest human desires within the world’s soul? Or is it to excavate your own tribulations within reality?
Your question definitely hits the nail on the head. Creatively, I’ve always been more interested and fascinated by the dark side rather than the light, and I can’t explain why that is because I’m not particularly a dark or sad person. The unknown is an alluring concept and its a part of what excites me like desires, sex, and death – but terrifies me at the same time. I don’t want to just sit on the surface, I want to get deep into the heart of everything. And for me, it’s exploring every deep dark roots of that tree.



About Zaerën Safi-Momand

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Founder of Avenoir Magazine