The First Amendment Forum at the Walter Cronkite School in downtown Phoenix is buzzing.
Attendants of the event, Cronkite Coffee House, have pulled comfortable sitting chairs into intimate groups to play cards and other assorted games. While drinking coffee and eating cookies, people meander through the forum, browsing the art from local artists and listening to local vocal talent.
A woman takes the stage, guitar in hand. She grabs the attention of her audience and a hush sets over the room as she sings her first note.
She begins to sing her single, “Remedy.” Her voice glides with ease over the notes in the song creating a sense of effortlessness.
Not a pair of ears in the room would argue her unmistakable talent.
Luna Aura, 21, is a local singer and songwriter. She’s bringing her eccentricity, lovable quirk and creativity to the Valley by means of her soon-to-be-released EP.
Aura began singing at the age of three. On the back of a red Ford Escort, Aura belted Toni Braxton’s hit “Unbreak My Heart,” she says. It’s a story her parents told time and again of the first song she sang.
She nurtured her talent from then on. She kept singing, but mostly to herself in her room, she says, because she was too scared to show people.
“I sang a lot in my closet,” she laughs.
At age 12, Aura sang her first song in front of her parents, the Christmas hymn “Silent Night.” Aura says her parents were in awe of their daughter’s vocal talent.
The same year, Aura began writing and singing her own music. At 15, Aura taught herself how to play the guitar and a year later, she began going out and performing.
Aura says she has really become who she is today by writing music. A self-proclaimed “alien,” Aura doesn’t deny that she is a little out of this world, but it is what makes her who she is.
“I wasn’t being who I wanted to be,” Aura says. “The more I wrote and sang, the more I felt comfortable with who I am and letting the cosmic, alien girl I’ve always had inside me out.”
Aura explains what she means by “alien,” saying that she believes in spiritually. We are all from somewhere a lot bigger than what we have the ability to see, she says.
“I don’t want to be from here,” Aura says laughing.
She says this profound philosophy was born of one of her favorite sayings, “Be in the world, not of the world.” It means that people that inhabit this world don’t need to conform to societal norms and the pressures that are placed on everyday people, and most importantly, that the world we live in shouldn’t dictate who people are.
Aura is currently writing, singing and channeling all of her energy into her EP album, set to be released in the summer or fall of 2014.
This is Aura’s first EP, and she loves it.
“It’s just a good time making it,” Aura says of the EP.
Her style on the EP is nothing she has ever done before, she says. It is songs that one could dance to, Aura says, as it is a mixture of dance and electronic genres. It is fun, while not taking away from the lyrics.
“I feel like a baby in a sense, everything is so new to me,” Aura says. “I like that it is new and fresh and a transformation for me. It’s really cosmic and out of this world.”
Aura is working under new management and is going into the studio early in the mornings to perfect her songs for the EP.
“Working in the studio, everything is just lifted off of me and makes me happy,” Aura says. “I really believe that people should only do things that fulfill them completely and that they are passionate about.”
“Luna is by far the most talented artist I work with,” says Dylan Witzleb, an audio engineer who works closely with Aura. “She can truly sing every note you’re going to hear on the album, she writes all of her own lyrics, and last but not least, she collaboratively creates all of her own instrumentals.”
“It’s an honor for her to choose me as the tracking and mixing engineer for her EP,” Witzleb says. “I’m excited for her and its release.”
Aura has already released one single, “Remedy” and just filmed a music video for her next single “Too Young to Die.”
She says she wrote “Too Young to Die” from the perspective of a girl at a party.
“The chorus of the song has a line that says ‘too old to care/too young to die’,” Aura says. “From my perspective, I’m 21 and I’m too old to care about the gossip and parties, but at the same time I’m too young to let it go. It’s really about being in that in-between stage in life.”
The video for the song, she says, incorporates many themes and costumes, including masks, mannequins and teddy bears and was shot in different locations around north Phoenix. Much like Aura herself, it is sure to be unique and artistic.
“When we came up with the idea for her music video, it was tough to put it all into words, but when we shot the music video Sunday…it all came to life,” says Matty Steinkamp, president of Sundawg Media, of the “Too Young to Die” video. “She has a very beautiful sense of artistry and the world is going to fall in love with her very easily.”
Aura leaves an impression on those she meets. She instantly radiates her confidence and strength in who she is.
She says her parents really inspired her to be who she is and to love herself.
“My parents really love me and let me have the freedom to be who I wanted to be growing up,” Aura says. “That love that they gave me radiates from me. I couldn’t imagine a life without love.”
Along with her passion for music and love, Aura is also a firm believer in feminism, but not necessarily in the traditional “down with men” fashion, she says.
“I believe that women should strive to be real women, in a way that you build other women up instead of tearing them down,” Aura says.
She has firm roots in feminism as her mother taught her to be intelligent and not to rely on looks alone to get by in life, she says. She also quips that she was bound to be a feminist from her early childhood, as her favorite movie was “Mulan.”
At just 21, Aura has profound and thoughtful views on life. From her views of where humans come from in a spiritual sense to her belief in feminism and the idea of women helping women, Aura is wise beyond her years.
She looks at life through an artistic lens, which no doubt plays a role in who she is. Such views can be heard on her upcoming EP and seen in her upcoming music video.
After the release of her EP, she will be performing more, working on more music and creating more music videos.
She hopes to work on composing an album soon, she says.
“I really want to take over Phoenix,” Aura says. “I’m from here, so I really want this to be my home fan base.”
Reach the writer at Alexa.Dangelo@asu.edu