Jae Luna Reckons With Self-Esteem on His 'Projected Self' EP
Jae Luna is a bit of a moody boy, and his music makes it apparent. He’s quiet, he’s emotional, he’s poetic—and in a pop music landscape so fixated on the red-blooded and hyper-masculine, he’s an undeniable breath of fresh air. Luna has begun to develop a signature sound with his juxtaposition of smooth and soft vocals against lo-fi tinged EDM beats, creating an auditory fusion of sensitivity and strength. Fresh off the release of his newest project, an EP titled Projected Self, the singer/songwriter/producer took the time to chat with us about what makes his musical mind tick, his struggles with self-esteem, and where he sees himself and his music down the road.
The NYC-based, alternative artist began creating music when he was in the 8th grade, although it wasn’t until college that he really began to hone his craft. Luna comes from a unique musical background—his sound was shaped both by his training as a classical musician along with pop culture influences as well.
“I grew up a classical musician so I’ve always had a soft spot for romantic artists like Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Tchaikovsky,” Luna says. “They were all about uninhibited expression and nature and their music was meticulously written but incredibly emotional. Then in like third grade, I got an iPod Mini as a gift and my brother loaded a bunch of songs in it for me from his library. It was all 90’s hip-hop and alternative/emo music. I’ve always sort of stuck it out with hip-hop and alternative music, now mostly in the form of trap and lo-fi. I try to learn something from everything I hear because everyone has a different perspective to offer, but I always come back to the artists that made me reevaluate my music. Artists like Bjork, Young Thug, Radiohead, and Frank Ocean always got me scratching my head like, ‘How’d they do that? — why’d they do that?'”
Projected Self, Luna’s latest project, serves an exploration of his self-confidence—an aspect of his mental health which he has spent many tumultuous years grappling with.
“I’ve had pretty low self-esteem since I was a kid,” said Luna. “I’d have it in my head like, ‘I’m not good enough yet, how am I going to make myself better.’ I’d just wake up hating myself—I mean everything from my appearance and personality to my music. I essentially projected this version of myself that was perfect and unattainable, and because I wasn’t able to be that person, I was always disappointed and frustrated.”
Using this struggle as a creative baseboard, the EP aims to capture a sense of organic sentiment and feeling, as opposed to a singular message or overarching theme. Luna’s work is created with the conscious intention of having no particular intention at all.
“This project is essentially a reflection of my experience trying to reconcile these feelings with my music. Music that has always moved me has always been music that reflects the human experience. Not experiences like love, that seems a little too obvious and overdone. I’m more fascinated with experiences and moments that are relatable but can’t be said in one word. Moments like waking up on Saturday at 2 PM or feeling restless at night until you hear the birds sing. Even if its disinterest or hate, I don’t really care as long as I made someone feel something.”
The five track EP has been in the works for a considerable amount of time, Luna notes. His creative process is one he chooses not to rush.
“Some songs were difficult to finish while others I just kind of vomited out. ‘Two Cents’, for example, I wrote in one night, while ‘Human’ took me almost two years to finish. Creating the EP was sort of cathartic because I kind of forced myself to talk about problems and frustrations that I had ignored for a long time.”
As Luna looks towards future releases, he’s decided to take a radical approach to his music: a freewheeling and liberating choice to simply create whatever he wants.
“I have a string of singles I’ve been working on to come out this year, and have been debating whether to restructure them to release another EP,” he says. “I’ve been experimenting with different sounds and have recently decided to kind of make whatever I want, no-holds-barred.”
Curious? Take a listen to the full Project Self EP below.
Featured image courtesy of Nicholas Shaya; hero image courtesy of Michelle Kim
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