luna spark is an indietronic synth/folk rock solo/collaborative project/band based in Auckland, and sometimes Hamilton, New Zealand. Confusing enough? luna spark is based on the songs and efforts of tracey exenola, which is me. Your narrator. That voice speaking in your head as you read this.
What does luna spark sound like? Depends what album you listen to! How about I just list some similar bands and artists? Okay. Ummm New Order, Depeche Mode, Weezer, Ultravox, Johnny Cash, Headless Chickens, Bis, Ryan Adams, Weezer Of course, all done at home, in spare time, on a budget lower than that allocated to my instant noodle addiction.
ALL luna spark music is *free* to download from , so go nuts. Thats everything - two EPs and six albums worth of music. Why is it free? I dont expect to make money from it, so why put up barriers to people hearing it? On the music page here on Soundclick are some samples of luna spark music. If you like them, there's plenty more to grab.
All comments, criticism and correspondence can go to firstname.lastname@example.org. Peace, love, and all that shite!
luna spark was formed in late 2000 by me, your narrator, going under the pseudonym tracey exenola. It grew out of a previous group I had formed called Planet Claire with rop movie and Scott Howard (you may have noticed by now almost everyone in the luna spark world performs under pseudonyms and in lower case. Its a rule). Planet Claire played only one gig, at the UFM Battle of The Bands in 2000, at The Pavillion Bar (at Waikato University). Differing from other bands Id played in, we utilised a pre-programmed drum track instead of a live drummer and no bass player. People said we sounded like a cross between Radiohead and My Bloody Valentine; odd, cause at that stage Id never heard them before. Later that year, still without a band, the recordings that would become the first luna spark EP began to take form. Frustrated without a group to play with, I soon decided Id record and release it myself.
Recorded over the summer in the front room at my mums place, and finished off in an apartment I had in town, luna sparks first recording came out in early 2001, and was an EP called Sarah. Some basic mastering had been provided by Fran from the group Tweeter, who was living in the same building at the time (Tweeter also then featured Datsuns guitarist Christian Livingstone). Consisting of six short, sharp lo-fi synth songs, the internet and limited CD release scored luna spark a few fans from around the world, in as far flung places as Scotland and what do you know, Hamilton. It almost got a song onto UFM, but was turned down for sounding like the band takes way too many drugs, and the singer needs lessons.
The second EP came out in May 2002, and was called Media. This time, access to a digital recording studio thingee had been procured, and the recording process was much quicker The guitars were done in an afternoon; the vocals in not much more. Two other contributors appeared on this release, rop movie and Dawn, under the pseudonym Catatonic Spacette. Better produced and boasting more guitars and a smoother drum machine, the six track EP spawned a minor student radio hit in Over the Rainbow, a quirky and offbeat rendition of the Wizard of Oz classic from decades back. The song also eventually found its way onto the Zeropointone compilation CD, that also featured the Datsuns and the Shrugs. The EP took luna spark to the top of the official Australian Digital Music Indie charts a second time, and eventually easily outdid Sarah for downloads.
Next I decided to tackle a complete album, what would eventually become the 13-track Panic; the plan was to really push it and see where it could go, but stuff got in the way. It came out in July 2003, and people who heard it seemed to like it; local student radio picked up on a couple of the songs also, particularly I Singled Out Your Heart, but it didnt seem to push the luna spark cause much further than Media unfortunately. rop movie returned to do some guitar work on the album, though I tackled all the vocal work myself this time around. Panic was a step up production-wise from the previous releases, IMHO
So the big launch never quite happened. Personally, I wasnt in the mindset to promote it the lack of response from b-net radio wasnt exactly encouraging either. I filled in the gap with a quickly bashed together version of the Clashs Guns Of Brixton, that oddly enough got mentioned on an Aussie website or two.
I settled into a flat in Hamilton East in late 2003, and something changed. I began piecing together a few new bits and pieces that were sounding remarkably different to Panic - and I lost interest in promoting that record altogether. A primary school teacher friend in the Hawkes Bay kept talking about maybe getting her class to learn I Singled Out Your Heart as a part of their music class, Im not so sure that actually happened though. I should ask. So in late 2003, the genesis of what would become Simcerity was formed; initially slated to be an EP, but after one week of recording and managing to finish 4 complete backing tracks, I thought, what the hell. Why not another album? It wasnt meant to take as long as it did, as getting a job kinda got in the way Anyway, I decided somewhere along the way a females voice was needed; someone who could actually do the tunes justice and along came lulu. I didnt even know she could sing until recently (at the time). It was hard to rendezvous to practise and record the songs, and when we did there was more time spent talking about the Datsuns and listening to our creations than actually laying them down, but what the hell. So here there it was. Simcerity. And it was easily the best one yet. Even if hardly anyone turned up to the release party at Bigtones more beer and chips for meeeee and Logan and rop movie and random guy who bought a copy.
So from that record, things got a little more interesting. Sleepless took off like nothing luna spark had done before, featuring not only on Retroforward Radio and podcasts around the world, but also a tsunami charity CD. Local Hamilton band the Clerics also covered the song at the 2005 Circle Jerk. Unbeknownst to them, it turned out it was my last as a Hamilton resident luna spark became a Grafton band Grafton being a central suburb of Auckland, for those who dont know. I didnt actually arrive in time to see the Clerics performance, but by all accounts it was good. Maybe someone got a recording of it, I dont know.
So I sold a fair few copies of the CD, and since April 05 its been a fixture in the mp3.com.au indie albums top ten, dragging the previous releases up with it; at one point in May, all four luna spark releases occupied the top ten. And the response on (the now sadly defunct) 15 Megs Of Fame were great too - All Your Rights Are Belong To Us garnered responses such as, hahaha, somebody set this song up the bomb. Beautiful, haunting and funny. Thats a hard one to pull off. Wonderful piece. This song is awesome, I simply cannot find fault with it. The choice of timbres and production is excellent.I love this song. Music & voice are beautifull. Merci et bravo. Repair - beautifulreally soft, but definately left an impression. This version of Repair was actually a remix I did using some live drum samples recorded by rop movie and DT. Had to re-record some of the keyboards too, so its a bit looser and spacier than the original. Move On - You should have been born in the UK, I think. Youd be a millionaire over there by now. Get Off Of My Case - I love all of your music. Very good stuff. I particularly like this song too. Rock on!
Nexus, the local Htown music mag did an interview. The author obviously didnt read this page, as I asked her to, before she did the interview, so its rather amusing in a way.
I sent a copy of Sleepless to NZ On Air, who responded it wasnt commercial enough for funding; but there is commercial potential, and that I should apply for the new recording artist grant instead. Funny, cause I did apply for that. Bah. So, in June 05, I bought a new digital mixer of my own cause I couldnt borrow rop movies no more, and was about a third of the way through a new record. It was getting close to done, and I discarded a lot of it at that stage, it was gonna be called The Siren or A Stab in the Dark. Both were in consideration, depending on which way the story went
Instead, nothing happened. In September or so, I dropped the album, and briefly began recording a synth-electro-rock album, that quickly stalled. The next idea was to do something that seemed like a sequel to Simcerity, an acoustic-influenced record with synth flourishes, but this time with wall-to-wall solid songwriting, no filler, no extravangences, etc etc. That was the plan, yep. Two months later, all I had was one lame version of Dirt And Morning Grass Dew and a mediocre backing track to Effortlessly. Kind of an ironic title, huh? My girlfriend contributed by suggesting I take part in FAWM - the February Album Writing Month - and a light bulb exploded above my head. So, not only was she responsible for such luna spark classics as Patterns and Closure (as inspiration), but also for getting me back on track when it came to recording. Two months were spent on Effortlessly, somewhat ironically, so the idea of spending half that time on an entire album appealed.
The aim of FAWM was to write fourteen songs in one month. I went one up and attempted to record the fourteen songs I wrote that month also and it led to Countdown To Meltdown. Done in just over, or about three weeks in between work and everything else, its certainly not the ultimate luna spark record, but definitely the most schizo. It switches from Simcerity derived singalongs Yellow Kevin to instrumentals like the opening track and Koshs Theme It goes from ruminations on religion like and to tributes and complete, utter, its the end of the month and Im out of ideas, nonsense like Here Be Dragons.
The day after finishing the album, I found out I had to move house, again, so the record has become a sort of document of the short time we spent at that address. Countdown To Meltdown was released in the first week of March its kept luna spark in the top ten of the mp3 chart at mp3.com.au. rop and I got together one afternoon in May 2006 for the first luna spark practise since 2002, and performed at the 2006 Htown Circle Jerk, playing C2M standout Burning Bush and covers of songs by Rose Petals and Confetti and Stadium. That same month, I resurrected the tracks from the abandoned concept album, and slowly, work once again began on the damn thing
Come the end of 2006, The Siren was almost complete, and pretty much all the backing tracks were done. Frustration setting in at the length of time it was taking, I decided to record a simpler album concurrently, as a way of getting rid of some old songs Id had lying around for years that I couldnt envision ever going to get played by any band, regardless of how things went in the future. As all things I do these days though, it got more complex as the recordings began, and newer songs wormed their evil way in to the set. lulu (of Simcerity fame) returned to sing on most of it, and the album, entitled Trigger Happy Little Finger was completed in January around the same time as The Siren, and both were released via txttunes in February, 2007. The first track available was Kill Everyone, streamed on myspace in December 2006. The first tracks from each, Change and Decay and Small Town, were offered free as initial samplers, and the albums were only available through amplifier.co.nz and txttunes.co.nz for a few months, before being made freely available in July when another new album, Scud Of Freedom came out.
Yeah, a third album? WTF? Was the winter break betwee semesters, and I figured this is my last extended break from commitments probably ever so got to work on a heavy, rocking, guitar album, not caring about the drums and their lack of realism and out came the most natural and real rock luna spark album yet. Released it in the third week of July, which is pretty much now, and already Sonic Newth of Datsuns-producing fame has offered to do a remix of a track or two, which is cool.
More to come!
Hardly ever, it's virtually impossible to duplicate live.
depeche mode, ryan adams, ultravox, new order, joy division, weezer, smashing pumpkins, the clash, beatles, johnny cash, oasis, blur, devo
Guitars, software synthesizers, a yamaha keyboard, a casio keyboard, second-hand bass guitar, an acoustic guitar, a bongo drum, a tambourine, and various things lying around.
All luna spark stuff as of now (2007) is free to download. Comments, compliments and criticism welcome!