Nylon Nineteen

Toronto Musician Luna Li Can't Get Enough Of Niche Music Memes

The viral multi-instrumentalist takes on the NYLON 19.

If you were on Twitter over the past year, you might've encountered videos of Luna Li's magical, at-home jam sessions. They start off as simple affairs — the pink-haired musician in her bedroom, tinkering with a beat on the keyboard, as in one viral clip from September, until the shot shifts and she's suddenly sitting behind a harp plucking out a melody, and then playing the bass, and then a violin, until the song has slowly morphed into a lush, dreamy, multifaceted soundscape.

Over the course of 2020, the Toronto multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter has uploaded dozens of these seemingly impromptu and very impressive videos, each no longer than a minute, depicting her absolute mastery over a slew of different instruments. Most have gone viral, accruing millions of views.

Now, her studio experimentations have formed the foundation for her latest EP, jams, out now, borne from fans requesting streamable versions of her videos. It also builds out more of the Luna Li universe, her music alter-ego whom she describes in her bio as a "music-making moon fairy."

"Drawing from the power of the moon and being really confident to have that energy," she says was the idea behind the persona. And the music matches: all shuffling beats, dewy harp, and swoon-worthy strings, not far from what Sailor Moon might've listened too if she was into lo-fi hip-hop beats to chill and study to.

Below, learn a bit more about Li as she talks about her astrological sign, her dream music festival lineup, and the niche music memes that she can't get enough of.

1. What’s your astrological sign?

I'm a Libra, but my moon sign and my rising sign are both Cancer.

2. Do you believe in it?

I would say that I believe in it for fun. I think that's it's a fun thing to be able to relate to, and I definitely relate to my signs. But I also wouldn't bet my life on it or anything.

3. Do you believe in ghosts and have you ever seen one?

I think I do believe in ghosts, but not in the traditional haunting, scary ghosts way. I've never had a ghost experience myself, but I do have a lot of friends and family who have some crazy ghost stories. My boyfriend, when he was a kid, was at his friend's cottage. He and his friend were staying up really late and in the middle of the night they heard a lot of smashing and clanging coming from the kitchen as if someone was smashing plates and pots and pans on the floor.

They both went out and looked around the corner, and then as soon as they looked into the kitchen, all of the noise stopped and nothing was broken or smashed. Everything was clean and intact. The next day they found out that apparently there was a barn down the road that was haunted.

4. What is your go-to drink order?

I've been getting into Radlers because I like beer but I also love fruits and I love that combination. I don't know exactly how it works, but it's, like, raspberry beer, I had recently a lime beer. So I've been enjoying those lately.

5. What is your go-to hangover cure?

My go-to hangover cure is just watching TV in bed with my boyfriend all day and drinking a lot of water and eating lots of snacks.

6. Who would be the three headliners of the music festival of your dreams?

In terms of music, I think my favorites would be Moses Sumney, because he has this insane vocal talent and a lot of his show is improvisational I think, so it feels very in the moment. Solange because obviously, she's just so amazing. Her performances are so incredible. And third one I think would be Hope Tala, who's an artist that I discovered over this past year and her music has gotten me through quarantine, so those would be my musical favorites.

In terms of show, I would love to see Tame Impala, they would have a pretty crazy light show and psychedelic performance. St. Vincent, I saw her a couple years ago, and she had such a crazy set and everything. And also Lizzo. She has amazing dancers. I went to her show and it was like a religious experience.

7. What is the weirdest snack that you make?

I don't know if I have a weird snack, but my bad snack habit is that I am obsessed with chips. I just eat way too many chips. I can easily eat an entire bag in one sitting. I like flavored chips, sour cream and onion. I like barbecue, I like this one salt and pepper kettle chip that I'm really into, but for the most part I just eat them by themselves.

8. What's a bad habit of yours that you've been meaning to fix?

Recently, not going outside is one of my bad habits. I'm a very summer person and I live in Toronto and it's really cold right now. I still love aspects of the winter because I grew up with it and there are winter activities that I love doing, but lately I haven't been going outside very much. I've probably been outside twice in the past week.

9. What was the last internet rabbit hole you went down?

I used to do ballet, so recently I got into a bit of a ballet hole, watching ballerina vloggers and dance videos. Recently I saw one that was like a day in the life of a teenage ballerina, and her schedule was insane. She would get up at 5 a.m. every day and then go to high school and then afterwards she would take an hour-long train to her dance studio and then dance for five hours and get home at midnight and finish her homework and sleep. It was just so insane to have a peek into that lifestyle.

10. What was the last DM you received?

Probably my boyfriend and I responding to each other's story while sitting in the same room [Laughs.] But I also get a lot of lovely DMs of people just messaging me being like, "I love your music" and I always try to make an effort to reply. It's so sweet to get those messages.

11. If you could be in any music video, what would it be?

If I could dance really well I'd love to be in any of those Parris Goebel choreographed music videos where they do the insane choreography. I would love to be in the huge group of dancers just doing that crazy amazing, confident dancing.

12. What was your first concert and what are your memories of it?

My first concert was going to see Rihanna in middle school with my friend and our moms and we had lawn tickets, so we were way in the back. I remember straightening my hair for it, making sure my outfit matched the elastics on my braces and taking like a hundred photos on my digital camera.

13. What was your favorite movie as a kid?

My favorite movie was The Sound of Music, which was my favorite movie since I was two years old. My dad has recordings that he saved of my two-year-old self calling him and leaving voicemails at his work, singing "doe-a-deer" ["Do-Re-Mi"] and "I Have Confidence" and "raindrops on roses" ["My Favorite Things"]. So those are really fun and cute to listen back on. I haven't watched it in a few years but I was thinking soon I really want to host a Zoom sing-a-long with my friends because I think that would be so fun.

14. What is your favorite meme/internet joke and why?

I really love specific memes, ones that are really geared toward a small group of people. Ones that are really Toronto-specific or music theory memes or like Toronto music scene memes. It's just so funny how relatable things can be but also so specific. I follow a bunch of pages like that. I also always laugh until I cry at that video of the old couple trying to say "Buttery Flaky Crust". It's so good.

15. What is your go-to break-up song?

I guess I don't really have a go-to break-up song because I've been in a relationship for six years now, but if I was in a breakup, probably "Truth Hurts" by Lizzo because I would want something that's more empowering and fun to listen to.

16. What is your go-to sad song?

I think a lot of my sad songs that I used to listen to were very, like, high school — that's not necessarily indicative of my music taste now. I guess I could mention Radiohead. Sometimes it's fun to wallow when you're sad and be like, I'm not going to try and listen to something that's going to make me feel better. I think for Radiohead, the melodies are very sad sounding, just like the beautiful melodies and harmonies.

17. What is one thing everyone should buy that is under $10?

I would say a box of yellow mangoes because that's my favorite food ever and that just makes me super happy every time I have mangoes.

18. What reality show would you most like to appear on?

Recently my boyfriend and I were watching Terrace House. I don't think I could deal with the drama of a regular reality TV show, but I feel like Terrace House is a lot more chill and it would just be fun to meet a bunch of new people and live with them ... watching them interact and stuff sounds really nice, after like not being able to see anyone for so long.

19. What is your best beauty tip or trick?

Dancing in your underwear in your bedroom to your favorite album because you get a nice flush and you feel really good about yourself.