The 22-year-old singer-songwriter talks synesthesia and writing songs that recapture old memories
Music was all around the house when Pearl De Luna was growing up. Maybe that shouldn’t be surprising: the 22-year-old singer-songwriter’s father, Dennis Morris, is one of rock’s most important photographers, having captured iconic images of artists like Bob Marley and the Sex Pistols.
De Luna’s musical education ran the gamut of genres, but she always found herself gravitating to the more expressive, psychedelic side of the 1960s and 70s, citing artists like Herbie Hancock, Bobbi Humphrey, and Sun Ra as favourites. Given the vivid sound worlds that these artists created, it’s maybe not a surprise that her new EP is called Synesthesia, named after the phenomenon where senses become tangled – music becomes colour, touch becomes taste.
This hypersensitivity bleeds into tracks like “Summertime Blues”, a reflection on the the ephemeral moments captured in in old photos, and “London Lullaby”, a paean to the bustling, busy city she spent a large portion of her childhood in. “London, to a lot of people is probably too loud and overbearing,” De Luna says, “It’s easy to feel like your falling behind... ‘London Lullaby’ is me trying to find the peace within all the chaos.”
Currently working on an Alice in Wonderland-inspired music video with her friend, filmmaker Bolade Banjo, we caught up with Pearl De Luna to understand what makes her tick.
One of your new songs is called ‘London Lullaby’. Did you grow up in London?
Pearl de Luna: I actually didn’t spend that much time in London, growing up. My parents would always take me out of school to go travelling, sometimes for up to a year at a time. But London always acted as a sort of base. We’ve lived in the same spot since I was three, so it’s just always been home, that one place we’d always go back to.
What sort of music was on around the house?
Pearl de Luna: Literally everything. My dad has the craziest record collection and he would play anything and everything, from punk to soul to electronic music and music from around the world. I’ve always wanted to make music, (and) I think as it was just always around me it just seemed natural.
“Any song that is able to transport me to another world or make me relive a moment or a feeling – that’s what I’ve always wanted to be able to recreate” – Pearl De Luna
Was there a first song you heard where you remember thinking, ‘I could do this?’
Pearl de Luna: There was never really one specific moment where it all clicked and I realised that this is what I wanted to do. For as long as I can remember, music has always been that one thing. But any song that is able to transport me to another world or make me relive a moment or a feeling – that’s what I’ve always wanted to be able to recreate. Any song that has been able to do that for me is special.
Did you ever find it tough trying to be creative on your own terms when you have artistic parents?
Pearl de Luna: My parents have always been very supportive. They’re very realistic about everything. They know how the industry is, and they know that it’s not an easy path. They’re definitely not the type to sugarcoat things or tell me something is good to make me feel good. But it pushes me to work harder, and it’s pretty amazing to have family I can always turn to for advice.
Who are you most inspired by?
Pearl de Luna: I’m inspired by a lot of people. It’s important to absorb as much as we can from as many places as we can. The people who I find the most inspiring are the ones who’ve created their own lane and no one has or ever will be able to do what they did.
Tell us about ‘London Lullaby’.
Pearl de Luna: With ‘London Lullaby’ I wanted to recreate the feel and intimacy of a lullaby – but instead of it being a children’s tale of a fantasy land far away, it’s about trying to find comfort within a big city, and me trying to lull you to sleep with the familiar sounds of what I call home.
“It’s important to absorb as much as we can from as many places as we can. The people who I find the most inspiring are the ones who’ve created their own lane” – Pearl De Luna
Your project is called Synesthesia. Do you have synesthesia?
Pearl de Luna: I don’t think I have it as vividly as some people! I’ve just always made the connection between sound and imagery, and have always found how the brain connects the different senses so interesting.
Who are you listening to right now?
Pearl de Luna: I’ve been listening to a lot of Bobbi Humphrey lately. A lot of the stuff I listen to is from that era – the 60s/70s is my favourite time to look at for pretty much anything creative.
What else are you working on?
Pearl de Luna: I’m always working on new music and I’ve been painting a lot recently, so I’ve just really been trying to merge the two mediums together.