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The Weekly interview: La Luz frontwoman Shana Cleveland

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La Luz

You moved from Seattle to LA in January. What inspired the move? I’m looking for a car now that we’re living in LA … I love it so far. I’ve only been here for two weeks. It’s just been beautiful weather every single day and people are really nice here. I don’t know. We were kinda talking about moving for a while. We’ve been touring for the last three years and just visiting different places all the time—you just kinda start thinking about living somewhere else. We’ve really always loved playing in LA. It’s one of our three or four favorite places to play in the world. It was always kind of an idea and the more we started coming down here, the more we made friends and it just seemed like the right place to be.

You have a solo project and also are a visual artist. What have you been working on lately? We’ve had a lot of downtime. We got back [from touring] around Thanksgiving. We haven’t done much since then. I’ve mostly been working on La Luz, actually writing songs for the next album. My goal is [for us to] get the next batch of songs ready to record as soon as summer. That’s the goal, to record in the summer. We’ll see what happens.

You’ve continued to tour pretty relentlessly, even since your near-fatal car accident. How have you viewed touring differently since that crash? Do you still have anxiety about it? I still have it. The girl who was playing bass with us [at that time] isn’t playing with us anymore, but the three of us who were there are still super freaked out by it. I don’t think there’s a single car ride where I don’t have a moment of terror. I don’t know why we still do it; it just kind of seems like the only thing to do. We’re all really dedicated musicians. For all four of us that are in the band, this is how we design ourselves; we’re musicians. I don’t know what else we would do if we didn’t get on the road. We can’t be like The Beatles and just put out records. And I really love playing live, too.

We’re about to enter the festival circuit, and you’re playing a lot of great ones like Tree Fort, Levitation and Sasquatch. Is there one fest you’re most excited to play? I’m really excited about Pickathon, actually, because that’s the one I’ve never been to and I’ve just heard good things about it. That’s in Oregon, and the lineup is always really good. Also, Tree Fort is really awesome. It’s a really surprisingly amazing fest in Boise and we’ve played that before. The last time we played that, we were opening for Built to Spill, and this time it’s the same thing.

You’re signed to Hardly Art, but I know you’re also big fans of Burger Records. They put out our first tape unofficially, like a handshake deal, the way that they deal with a lot bands—they just put out the tape ... It’s always just been an unofficial deal. When we recorded our first EP, our buddy Sasha sent it to them, it was the first label that heard it and then right away we signed to Hardly Art.

How was working with Ty Segall on the album? What did he bring to the table? A lot of energy. He’s kind of notorious for having a lot of energy. It was just great to work with him. I feel like a lot of people you meet in the industry can be kind of jaded, and Ty’s the opposite of that. That kind of energy is really inspiring and he just had a lot of great ideas, [like] how to make the record feel live, which is what we were after.

I saw you open for him a few years ago at Beauty Bar. What are your thoughts on Vegas? I think that we have been there twice but it might be three times. We played a show with our friends The Shivas maybe more recently; I can’t remember where that one was. We had a lot of fun the last time we played in Vegas. It’s been a while; it’s been at least a year. But yeah, I have fond memories of it. I think last time some friends from Orange County came and they were all dressed as clowns, so that made it fun.

I read that people tend to start a dance train at your shows. Any advice on how to get one going in Vegas? We just kind of play it by ear and if the feeling’s right we just encourage it. I’ll make a mental note that we need to start a dance train in Vegas.

Are you a vinyl collector? If so, what’s on your album bucket list? I never really set out to look for anything specific. I’m usually looking for a few Kinks albums that I never see like Face to Face or Something Else, anything from the golden age of the Kinks. I feel I usually just see stuff from the ‘80s. It’s weird that no one has reissued those albums. Other than that, I’m always looking for this album by my favorite guitar player, Takeshi Terauchi. He’s got this record with a band called The Bunnys and it’s just the sickest surf-style guitar playing record of all time. I’m always searching for this other one that’s really great. It’s got a Japanese title.

La Luz With Stonefield and No Tides. March 23, 8 p.m., $10. Bunkhouse, 702-982-1764.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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