By Sheila Uria | 15 August, 2022
If a resting smiling face is a thing, little luna is the poster child for it. In a linen white blouse, cream-colored plaid pants, and matching tortoiseshell sunglasses, she walks with a pep in her step and the ghost of a smile as she looks for me in the bustling café patio. little luna is pure, understated confidence and style. Her sunny disposition and genuine personality match the warm and breezy Los Angeles climate.
When she finds me in the crowd, she hugs me with the familiarity of meeting a friend for lunch. I had known about, and been communicating with little luna for over a year ever since I interviewed her remotely in February of 2021, but this was our first proper meeting, face to face.
“You’re my favorite person that I haven’t met in person,” she greeted me, immediately putting my nervousness about the interview at ease.
That is just who little luna is. She inspires confidence and heart in those who surround her. She noted that her strength is seeing people, encouraging them, and “paint[ing] the whole picture of a life that I feel like [they] could have, that is joyous and connected to [them]self and not living to please other people.”
Ultimately, she recognizes the superpowers of others and pulls them into her orbit.
“It’s better when I use genius brains,” she said about working with others in creating her music. “I think what I have to bring to the table is best articulated when someone else is helping me articulate it…you can only see yourself so far from your own reflection.”
It is through this collaboration with writers like Sierra Deaton and producer Matt Pauling that we have been bestowed with introspective gems like “last time” whose sonic landscape and lyricism inspire liberation and metamorphosis.
A soft rock arrangement of warm bass tones and soothing guitar riffs, the song paints a Tarantino-esque cinematic narrative. The chorus is meant to be danced freely in the middle of your bedroom and sung at the top of your lungs while you drive down the road with the windows rolled down, longing for a change.
Shedding my skin / Versions of me unraveling / Talking to the good girl I’ve been / For the last time.
The little luna universe has been in the making since before its inception. She had already been planting seeds in the entertainment industry as an actor for quite a long time before she started releasing music as “little luna” about a year and a half ago. “Part of it is genuine relationships I’ve built over the years, and the other part of it is the music speaking for itself.”
If she seems familiar, that’s because she is. If you ever pointed a hairbrush at a mirror and waved it while saying “...And you’re watching Disney Channel,” you probably saw her in her role as Addison in The Suite Life on Deck. Only, back then she used to go by her full name: Rachael Kathryn Bell.
When I asked her why she used an artistic name even though her music is a reflection of her truest self, she pondered before declaring that it was about not being a people pleaser anymore.
“I really had to separate myself from Rachael Kathryn Bell ‘the Disney actor’ to really step up into this space. I was in a meditation [session] when the name [little luna] came to me [years ago], and I was like ‘that’s my name, that’s who I am.’ Rachael feels like the good girl, like the people pleaser. I actually feel more like little luna than I do Rachael. Maybe one day that will change.”
Despite the distinction, little luna clarified that they are not separate entities. They’re both one, but the latter is an outgrown version of who she used to be, a piece of clothing that no longer fits how you see yourself and its fringes can no longer contain your multitudes.
“That is a version of me that I’m not anymore,” she admitted. “Who knows? Maybe I will change my artist name down the road. That would probably be bad for marketing [laughs]. We’re constantly in a state of change so at some point little luna will probably feel like it doesn’t feel like me anymore but not for the foreseeable future.”
Notably, Rachael is her inner child and informs who she is, but she has “learned from her instead of continuing to operate as her.”
The truth is that little luna is a storyteller, but now her vessel of narrative is her lyricism and music videos rather than someone else’s script and set. She doesn’t discard the possibility of one day returning to acting, but she has no interest in doing so now. She asserts that if she is to make it as a musician, she has to commit to little luna 100 percent.
And make it her top priority, she has. While juggling three jobs to make ends meet and fund her independent music career, little luna still finds a way to regularly engage with her fans in ways that incorporate essential parts of who she is, like her spirituality.
As a certified yoga instructor and avid meditator, she has released a “yoga flow” for each of her singles, moving to each respective tune through a variety of positions labeled in Sanskrit and English. With the latest release of her debut EP through the self, little luna also uploaded a yoga flow of 15 minutes that incorporates all the songs from the EP with the exception of its closing 25-minute guided meditation.
“Not to sound like a hippie, but we are spiritual beings,” she smiled knowingly. “That’s got to come into play in some way, shape, or form. It’s all connected. I can’t wait to play at a music festival where there’s also yoga and meditation in the morning first. It’s all doable.”
little luna is nothing if not a woman of her word. During her set opening up for pop rock band 5 Seconds of Summer in Los Angeles, little luna held a small meditation session with the audience. She confidently spoke into the crowd—the soft edges of her voice settling our bracing hearts—and instructed us to take a deep breath; she reminded us to return to ourselves and to that instant, one in which we were sharing with strangers the same joy in live music.
This was her second time performing ever, mind you.
She danced aglow on stage and pointed her microphone to the crowd of over 4,000 people while we sang the words to the bridge of her song “roads” back to her: I’ll be alright.
“You will be [alright] eventually because that’s just the course of life. We go through the most traumatic devastating things as humans but we carry on somehow–”
“We shift and go,” I said coyly, referencing her debut single of the same name.
She smiled. “Yes. We shift and go.”
Still, little luna recognizes how tricky manifestation can be. “Life happens and shitty things happen to great people. And those things are often not your fault. Sometimes with manifestation, it can [feel like] ‘things aren’t coming for me, am I not worthy of them, or am I not doing it right?’ I never want that to be my message because that’s just not true. Life is just moving as it moves, and we’re moving through it like the best that we can.”
That is why little luna doesn’t wait for the universe to make things happen for her. She goes after them and forges them into existence. It is through the power of visualization that little luna believes that what you want for your life will be yours because, on a daily basis, you make small changes in your life that lead you to your goal.
“I fully believe, even right now sitting here with you, that I will go on tour,” she proclaimed. “I will be opening for someone soon…I have no facts to back that up, but I know that I will. So in the meantime, I’m going to keep writing the best songs that I can and moving my body and drinking this”–she raised her cup of herbal tea–“instead of caffeine, just all of these little micro-adjustments.”
little luna is not rushing things though. While there is no EP or album on the horizon just yet, she continues to write. For the time being, she wants to let through the self live and breathe. “This EP took a lot to get out, and I want to let it have its time.”
As her soul-baring songs find their way int
o the hearts of listeners, little luna continues to prioritize strengthening human relations with her fans and bringing new people her way.
“I like people,” she said genuinely. “It really doesn’t matter if you’re famous or not…I couldn’t care less about that. I just hope I get to make music as a career and not have to have other jobs [laughs]... We’re just human beings. We’re here together and then we’re dead.”
It is more than lyricism and production that encapsulates the allure of little luna’s music but also the charm and authenticity that emanates from her and welcomes you into a warm embrace. One thing is for sure, just like little luna, the theme of introspection in her songwriting is here to stay.