Luciana Maria – Hello Lulu
Words + Interview By Lucky Smith
Luciana Maria aka Lulu Beatz is a singer/songwriter from Portland who also produces and engineers her own music.
How did you grow up?
I grew up in a household that always had music playing. It’d be a little of everything like Andrea Bocelli, Abba, Spice Girls, James Brown, Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra and Madonna. My parents’ music tastes are broad so I didn’t know anything different than to love all types of music. One of my fondest memories was when my grandpa and I would get in his chili red Durango and he would put in a cassette he had of his favorite songs. Our theme song on that cassette was “I Feel Good” by James Brown. I’m sure people thought we were crazy since we would be dancing and singing at the top of our lungs. I always just knew that I was going to create music.
Portland isn’t a big music city. What can you tell us about that market?
Portland is a little city but also has a lot of music and tons of creatives. Portland has a long Jazz history and over time also has developed other strong genres such as Blue Grass, Punk Rock, Alternative Music and Hip Hop. In my experience, it was very hard showing up with bubble gum pop music at 14 years old. It was impossible to book venues. My dad would pick up the phone trying to get me booked to open up for other artists. The two things that would come out of their mouths were “She is too young” or “We will get back to you” and of course, they never called back. It wasn’t until I started to create my own shows that I got my first chance/booking at a gay bar called “ScandalsPDX” for their PRIDE festival. I found the crowd and the fans that understood my music.
More often that not, aspiring entertainers wear multiple hats out of necessity because they don’t have help early on. Does this ring true for you or is there another reason you picked up so many skills?
Yes, out of necessity and good advice I received early on in my career. I quickly picked up the skills I need such as producing music and editing my music videos.
In what ways has producing your own music and editing your music videos been beneficial to your career thus far?
It has propelled me in so many ways. I’ve gained respect in the recording studio since I’m not another female signer with brown hair walking in. I have found along the way that there is a change of tone in the room once people learn I do everything concerning my music from the production of the beat to the songwriting and vocals. It has given me confidence knowing what is going on in the studio, plus I’m able to translate my ideas since I know the engineering and producing language.
How important has your parents been in your life and career?
None of this would be possible if I didn’t have my parents by my side. I am very blessed to have them be so supportive of my career and have been here every step of the way. The key for us is that we have struck a balance of being in the business together, while also being family. I wouldn’t ask it for any other way!
Explain the difference between producing and making beats.
This is sort of a grey area since there are so many titles that are thrown around. I personally think producing can mean you create the project, over look the project or direct the project. Making beats is the actual roll of sitting in a studio and composing the music. Both titles I feel as if are one in the same.
You create Pop, R&B and Hip Hop. Which of the genres do you enjoy making the most, if any?
It really depends on my mood and the moment that I create but if I had to choose, R&B has a special place in my heart.
How do you approach each genre when creating?
I start out by thinking of artists that I look up to and aspire to create like in that genre. For example, If Im creating like a pop/reggae song, I will go and take time to listen to artist such as Rihanna or Bri Steves. Then, I approach the song with those seeds planted in my creativity so that I have that mindset dialed in.
Why do you think a song like “Natural” resonates with your fans and why is the record important to you?
I truly believe Natural is the song that I exposes me most and my fans love seeing that vulnerable side of me. When I wrote it at age 15, I wasn’t writing from experience, but rather putting myself in the shoes of someone that might experience a similar situation. I think a lot of us women look for acceptance in our significant others and when you are completely raw or natural with them there sometimes is a need of reassurance that they still love and accept you no matter what. The song is important to me because it was my first song that helped me and my fans relate on a whole new level.
What was your most memorable moment on your “HELLO LULU” tour? Are you going on any tours in the near future?
I have a few really great memories on the tour. One in particular was at Edison High School my second time around and I just had released “You Do You.” The song started to play and as soon as I opened my mouth to sing they immediately started to sing along with me and knew every word. It was unreal!
What are some of the biggest obstacles you face trying to build an online presence on social media?
Social Media is a beast. I will admit, I easily get caught up in it and find myself having to reel it in and needing to strike a balance with it. At the same time, I love social media’s purpose and its power that I can stay connected with my fans all over the world.
How are your some of your professional peers navigating social media? Have you learned any tips from them?
Honestly, fan engagements is the most important tip I have learned. I have been seeing and also feeling myself that people want real connections and they are over feeling like a just a number.
Elaborate on the following Tweet:
A. I am at a point where I want to have the people around me help me and push me to a better me, rather than me pushing others to just get the job done…
Growth hurts. I have a certain caliber I want my career to be at and for that to happen I need the professionals and talents around me to achieve this. You can’t expect a lamb to be a lion.
Speaking of Twitter, artist Mark Battles is from our city (Indianapolis) and we’ve watched his career blossom over the years. We happened to see him in your Twitter feed a few times. Have you had the opportunity to work with him yet?
No, I haven’t been able to work with him yet! I was introduced to his music back in high school by one of my really good family friends that is a rapper and was one of his opening acts for the Numb tour. I attended his concert back in Portland, Oregon and I was able to go back stage and meet some other artists but I never got the chance to meet Battles himself. Maybe sometime he and I will cross paths!
Our editor’s birthday is also November 18th. Is everything they say about Scorpios true?
I don’t know if everything they say is true about us Scorpios. Although I will say we are emotional, passionate, powerhouses.
I’m going to throw a few names out there. Say whatever comes to mind.
Heart Breaking, shocking and honestly frustrating. I am glad that, even though he had passed, he won the AMA for favorite Album Soul/R&B. I just wish he could have been there to accept the award. His music videos were so moving to me, even if they were scary or sad, they move us to think differently.
Whenever I hear Selena, Selena Quintanilla is who comes to mind. Whenever I hear her name, the classic poster picture of her smiling pop’s up in my head. I was obsessed with her song “I Could Fall In Love” when I was younger and I would annoy the hell out of my parents singing it and playing it all the time.
When you’re not making music, what do you like to do?
I love to spending time with my family and cooking with my family but…if they are busy, I LOVE to shop!
Tell us something about yourself most don’t know.
I hate potatoes but I love french fries.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“No one judges your self worth, more than your self.”
Follow Luciana Maria on social media @LuluBeatz or check out her website, www.LuluBeatz.com!