Lupa is on the rise in the techno scene. With an incredible brand, image, and developing sound, Lupa is one to keep your eye on. We got to sit down with her and ask her anything and everything about her life, music, and the world of Lupa.
EH: Let’s start from the beginning. Where did you grow up? What was it like in the environment?
Lupa: Originally, I’m from a small town called Los Altos in Northern California. It’s about 15 minutes from Stanford and 45 minutes from San Francisco. It’s a great town to grow up in, but it’s a little bubble. I went to school with a bunch of really, really wealthy kids and I always knew that there was more to the world than just engineering and coding. I never felt like I belonged there, but it provided me with amazing opportunities. Now, I live in Tempe, Arizona now and it’s a completely different culture. The arts are highly respected here and the underground electronic scene is thriving.
Do you currently have a day job or hobby on the side while you pursue art?
I’m a Junior at Arizona State, Barrett the Honors College. It’s a full-time job since I’m studying music, business, and design. Growing up in the Bay Area, it was kinda enforced that you get good grades. When I’m not studying or producing, I also do freelance work as a graphic designer and creative director. In my free time, I blog for a local event promotions company and have recently started working at the events. My articles are mostly album and song reviews, but I also write editorials on the history of electronic music.
What blog do you write for?
I blog for Relentless Beats.
Throughout life and in particular this past year, what have you learned that’s been crucial to your growth as a person and artist?
As cliche as it sounds, just learning to be myself. I’ve spent the past ten years of my life trying to fit in and art has helped me realize I don’t need to. I know myself really well and this project has helped me become my true self.
When did you realize music/art was exactly what you wanted to do with your life? Who influenced you? What encouraged you to make those first steps? Who have all been your greatest influences that got you to this point?
I was studying music already and was scared to really try and make my own (fun fact, I took a music production class during my freshman year of college and got my lowest grade ever: a C+). After a month of messing around on Garage Band, I finally bought Ableton. It was like learning a different language, but I loved the challenge. The first day I downloaded it, I was hooked. I got into this “creative flow” as I call it and from that moment on, my every thought was music production. I would spend over 10 hours on Ableton a day and would watch Youtube tutorials in class and as I was falling asleep. One day I just sorta decided “I’m gonna do this and no one can stop me”.
The reason why I keep pushing myself is because I want a life of meaning. We only live once and I want to make this life count. I was studying psychology before this and wanted to be a psychiatrist. We need doctors, especially for mental health, but I came to the conclusion that music has cured me more than any other medicine or therapist. I want to make music that lets people forget about their current issues and that alone was enough motivation to get me to start producing.
My biggest inspiration is Rezz. I love her music, but it’s her story that truly inspired me. She created a sound of her own and her determination has influenced me greatly. Her song “Edge” was one of the reasons I started producing because I was just so curious as to how she made it.
Rezz has definitely paved a strong path for herself and a unique sound, I respect that a lot. It’s definitely something difficult to build. What are some of the biggest struggles you’ve had through all of this so far? What do you think is going to be your biggest one?
Balancing my life has been really hard. I always find time to work on music and usually wake up at around 5 AM every day just to have extra time to work on my songs. It’s tiring, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
My biggest struggle will be believing in myself. Like most 20-year-olds, I have low self-confidence and I need to realize that I am my own worst enemy. It’s a struggle that I’m not going to resolve in a day, but I’m slowly becoming more and more confident in my abilities.
Aside from the downs you may have being an artist, there must be some great times that give you more life. What’s been your favorite moment so far in your still young career? What about a project you’ve enjoyed the most? Even one that you are still currently planning?
Before I really started using Twitter, I’d post song clips and pair them with visuals. I posted a bunch before any got traction. Last spring I spent a weekend making a psytrance song and putting together some visuals to go with it. I posted it on Twitter and fell asleep, thinking nothing much of it. The next morning I woke up to 10k views of the video and hundreds of kind comments. It was the first time my music really reached people and I remember just sitting there in bed, with tears in my eyes, responding to each and every person.
Despite my hard work, I never really thought I would get very far in music so it was the first time I thought, “maybe I actually can do this”. Everything changed for me from that moment on and I’ll never forget it.
I have a new favorite project every day. They’re improving so much daily, but if I had to pick it would be this new WIP I made. It’s the most professional sounding track I’ve come up with this far. It sounds like “me”. You can expect to hear it in the next few months.
Following you on Twitter for a while now, you’re clearly a creative that puts in an extreme amount of effort in all aspects of your brand when it comes to the visual appearance by graphic design and video production. What was the turning point when you decided “I’m going to be the jack of all trades”, as it’s not normal to see people going to these lengths to learn all of these skills?
I’m a perfectionist. I want the vision of Lupa in my head to come to life and I can’t really trust other people to make that happen because my ideas are usually really weird. I also can’t afford an animator or graphic designer myself and so I just started learning one day.
From day one I made my own cover art and videos and I never thought much of it, to be honest. I can’t just sit around and wait for a label to provide me with the visual aspect of my brand when I’m so full of ideas now. I thoroughly enjoy art as a whole and I don’t think I’ll ever hire anyone to run my brand for me since it’s less of a brand and more of an extension of myself – I want my cover art, visuals, logo, etc all to be 100% me.
All of that creative output must have an equal amount of input. What do you do for a recharge?
I have a place I go to in the middle of the desert that’s only an hour drive away. There’s never anyone out there and it’s always so quiet. Sometimes I’ll bring my notebook out there and write stories and other times I’ll just sit and think. On the way, I grab some food, turn on some classic rock or pop-punk, and just enjoy the moment. Listening to other genres helps me find my motivation again and there’s really nothing that’s quite as fun as singing lyrics to your favorite songs.
What are some current artists you’re playing nowadays that keep giving you inspiration and you think will be pretty big?
I listen to a lot of music. I don’t have a favorite genre and get inspiration everywhere. For example, I was listening to Rooster by Alice in Chain and I loved the bassline. “werehouse” was inspired by that repetitive, grunge sound. If we’re talking electronic, I listen to everything but I’m a huge fan of German minimal techno. Mark dekoda, groundbass, droplex are all artists I highly recommend and I usually have to stop myself from taking the aux at a friends place and playing them. There are so many upcoming artists. I think Avolo is one of the most talented and musically gifted people I know and he’s definitely going to be getting only bigger. I’m also a huge fan of SHVDOW and when I first started making midtempo he was one of my biggest inspirations. I can’t forget Voliik and Slooze too. They’re definitely the next generation of bass music.
What’s some advice you could give out currently to anyone trying to take a leap into what you do?
Don’t try, just start doing it. Download a DAW, buy a mixer, get Photoshop, whatever it is, just start doing it. You are your own greatest resource and don’t wait around for someone to help you. Starting the journey is the hardest part.
What are some of your dream collabs right now? As in just who in general do you want to make some magic with?
There are so many artists who I would love to work with. On the techno side of things, I’m obsessed with Mark Dekoda and Droplex’s work and would love to make some dark, minimal beats with them eventually. If we’re talking midtempo, a SWARM collab would be insane. He’s such a talented artist and I feel like I could learn a lot from him. However, the one artist who I am dying to work with eventually is Rezz. I think we could make some creepy techno and I know for a fact there are a bunch of people dying to hear what a Rezz techno track would sound like. One day I’ll get a collab with her and I cannot wait to hear what it will sound like.
Are there any ideal labels you have your sights on in 2020? What’s the route you feel like you want to take this Lupa brand?
Maybe not this year, but my dream label is Mau5trap. I’ve never submitted anything to them and am waiting for the perfect track, but that would be a dream come true. From Excision to Skrillex to Rezz to i_o, they’re home to some of the most influential artists. Most of my idols got their start on Mau5trap and I feel like it could really set me apart.
Deadmau5 is a great label to shoot for and to wait for that “perfect” track. For a lot of artists, sometimes that perfect track is one they least expect. With how driven and obsessive you are about your craft, do you think one day that song is just going to manifest one late night at 4 AM and you’ll feel like you’ve got the one? Pretty cool how that can happen.
The first 20 minutes of starting a track is when I know if I’m gonna release it. I get into a creative flow right away and 4 hours later I’ve finished my next release. I’ve learned that I write my favorite music when I’m traveling. It’s really weird but if I’m going back home for a weekend or visiting LA, I know when I’m there I’ll be making my next release. I feel like “the track” will be one that is completely random. Like I’m sitting on an airplane and all the sudden I’ve made it. I don’t want to pressure it though and for now am still learning. If it comes to me it comes to me.
Taking a dive into your debut single, ‘Werehouse’, it’s an impressive premiere for your artistry. One question I was really interested in was “why this one”? What was the “this is the one” moment like over any other unreleased projects you are sitting on? Can you tell me more about this one in particular?
In October, when I first started making full techno tracks, I made two EP’s. With each new song I made for them I started realizing that they weren’t my best work. People really liked them and I got great feedback, but it wasn’t Lupa. It didn’t feel like “me”.
Then, I made “werehouse”. I wrote the majority of it in two hours and it came together effortlessly. Then, I recorded the vocals on my iPhone and every new element I added to the track made it better and better. I loved it, but I got some negative feedback that really made me rethink releasing it. People told me it “wasn’t techno” and it was “too weird”. I was pretty heartbroken so I nearly deleted the entire project. I sent it to one of my favorite artists on Mau5trap when they asked to hear some of my music and I was shocked when they specifically asked for a download to play live. After that, I relistened to the song myself and thought, “I don’t care what anyone thinks. I like this song and I’m releasing it”. It was “the one” because I didn’t care if others liked it. I made it for myself.
Listen to “werehouse” by Lupa here:
In a world where Lupa can have any dream production and curated event she wants, even if it’s physically not possible, what do you envision an ideal show from you would be? Maybe even releasing wolves into the crowd halfway through the set.
I have a few main goals. I’m passionate about animal rights and mental health awareness and I want to one day open up a werehouse of my own. It would be a grungy venue where proceeds to the event go to certain animal rights and mental health organizations like wolf sanctuaries or To Write Love On Her Arms.
Production wise, I want to create a full visual experience. You’re partially correct about releasing wolves into the audience because I want the crowd to feel like they’re in a completely different world. Every song I make has a story I write with it and I want to fully immerse the listener into that story. Fog machines, 3d screens, holograms, fire, whatever it is it has to be perfect and the visuals need to match up to the song’s progression.
What are you up to right now? What should we expect these next few months?
I’ve planned out this entire year and you guys will be getting a release or a mix every month on the full moon. In February, you’re getting my first mix series, Olyma, based on the Roman goddesses and in March you’re getting a release. I won’t say anything about it, but it’s my favorite song I’ve made so far. Besides that, you can expect a bunch more collabs and a “werehouse” remix EP/ album. There’s more to announce, but I like to keep secrets.
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