7 Qs with Hana

By Steven Libowitz   |   August 15, 2019
Hana Aluna plays at SOhO on Monday, August 19, before heading to London to attend music school

Despite the fact that she is Kenny Loggins’ youngest daughter, and half-sister to Crosby Loggins, once a stalwart on the Santa Barbara music scene who was the winner of MTV’s Rock the Cradle back in 2008, it wasn’t pre-ordained that Hana Aluna would become a professional musician. Sure, Kenny wrote and recorded the lullaby with her name on his More Songs from Pooh Corner album when she was still a toddler. But Aluna, who turns 22 next month, has only recently embraced music as a pathway, writing hundreds of songs over the last few years, joining friends onstage, and overcoming stage fright to perform a few solo gigs in Santa Barbara in recent months.

The last one for a while happens this Monday night, when Aluna – who has a resonant, evocative singing voice that sounds much older than she is – will headline at SOhO the day after her dad celebrates the 35th anniversary of his biggest hit, “Footloose,” by shepherding several of her friends and colleagues through a musical revue of the songs from the film. (See above.) That’s because Aluna, who originally studied English and film at SBCC, is heading over to London to attend a music school and work as a writer with a small record label in the land of the Beatles. Expect a few special guests for the show, including one number with the longtime Santa Barbara pianist Brian Mann, who gave Aluna piano lessons for years. 

Q. You started getting serious about music at nine. That could be both early and late, I suppose.

A. That’s true. I always kind of refused it up until then, not because I didn’t like music. I just wanted to try different things. But of course my dad was always trying to push music my way, encouraging me to play. And I was always singing around the house. When I was nine, he taught me a song by Sheryl Crow, and right after that I told him I wanted to learn “The Pretenders” by the Foo Fighters because I wanted to do that growl. After that, I had three songs I would constantly sing, one each by James Taylor, Christina Aguilera, and Lauryn Hill. So my dad wasn’t sure whether I’d be a folk artist, pop artist or do R&B – all of which I’m doing now. So it hasn’t changed much since then. 

Has it always been music after that?

No, I didn’t want to pursue it as a career until I was 18 or 19, which is when I started to write music that I actually wanted to share with people. That was new… [Because] besides the general fear a teenager might have, I felt a lot of pressure about where I come from and the career my dad had. I didn’t want people to put me in his shadow, which I would resent. It was hard to just go with that creative part of me when I might be put into that box. That’s why I go by Hana Aluna – to have my own sound, my own voice.

Right when I was at that point, my dad took me aside and said, “I don’t need you to pursue music. You don’t have to do it for me.” That opened my eyes that I didn’t have to follow in the legacy and that he would support me in anything I wanted to do. It changed everything. 

What is it that motivates your songwriting?

I joke that I only write sad songs. But it’s just that I’m not very good at writing sunny, rainbow-y, everything is awesome music. I think there are a lot of crazy things that happen in life that make us laugh and sob and everything in between, and that’s what I like to write about – anything I’m feeling a lot of in that moment. The biggest thing is letting everyone know that whatever they’re going through, whatever they’re feeling, they’re not the only one. That was always big for me as a listener, when I’d hear a song that described what I was experiencing and I didn’t feel so alone. 

I understand you write a lot, something like a song a day, and record a lot of stuff at home.

Once I dove into it. I spent a lot of time writing, and I still mostly record in my bedroom. Having recently learned Logic [software], it’s great to be my own producer. I just broke 200 songs, but only 30 of them seem good to me… There aren’t any albums yet, although I do have some singles on Soundcloud… I’m waiting to write something that’s way more of a big yes for me, something that feels right as a good first release. 

Still, that seems pretty prolific. Can you talk about your process?

First, it never, ever happens when I want it to! It always comes in mundane moments, and then I feel like I need to go record it right away. I’ll be talking to someone, and I’ll say something and – I know it’s a cliché – I’ll think, “Ooh, I have to write that down for later.” The melodies usually come randomly, when I sit down with the guitar or at the piano and noodle around until something catches my ear. Usually the whole thing takes about two hours. 

What is it about music that lights you up?

(Long pause.) It’s the only thing that has kept me sane my entire life. Whenever there’s stress or worry or fear, I can always turn to music. When I decided it was something I really wanted to pursue, all these doors started to open. I thought, this must be the path I’m supposed to be on. So even when I feel pressure, or insecure, or like I don’t belong, it’s still the one thing that makes me feel most like myself. 

Do you still have stage fright? 

It’s been getting better the more I perform. But an hour before any gig no matter how big or small, I still start thinking, ‘What if I just left town, went missing for a little while?” But I force myself to get on stage and once I’m there I’m entirely fine.

Notes for Nicola 

Nicola Gordon, the revered veteran Santa Barbara singer-songwriter with several albums to her name and a songwriting teacher whose local students perform in monthly showcases at MichaelKate, is facing mounting medical bills from a health challenge. But the focus on Saturday, August 17, will be on music, not medicine, as several local artists perform in a benefit concert from 4-7 pm in the courtyard of the Veterans Memorial Building, 112 West Cabrillo Boulevard. The Honeysuckle Possums, the all-female ensemble Gordon co-founded and played with until she moved on a few years ago to focus on solo music and her workshops, will perform, along with Tall Men, Kate Wallace, Michael Frey, and others, plus some songs from Gordon herself. Both folk tunes and lots of dance music are on the playlist. Finger foods will be provided, and guests are welcome to bring additional food and drinks (no hard liquor) to share. The suggested donation at the door is $20; funds after expenses will benefit Gordon. RSVP at (805) 680-0798 requested. 

Teenage Musicians Take to Westmont’s Halls

MAW summer festival is no more, but there’s a final chance for catching young classical musicians performing in Montecito this summer via the fifth annual Westmont Academy for Young Artists, directed by Han Soo Kim, associate professor of music and head of strings at the college. WAYA’s intensive two-week program for local musicians ages 12-18 winds up this weekend with two final concerts on the Westmont campus: The Chamber Music Playoffs, a performance oriented workshop, set for 3 pm Friday, August 16, in Deane Chapel, and The Chamber Music and WAYA Symphony Orchestra Concert at 12 noon on Saturday, August 17, in Porter Theatre.

West Side Story Develops Downtown 

DANCEworks welcomes back award-winning choreographer and director Doug Varone and his New York City-based company for the organization’s 11th annual residency. Varone – whose commissions include the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Limón Company, Martha Graham Dance, Batsheva, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago – will create an ode to West Side Story set to Leonard Bernstein’s iconic musical score during their month-long stay. The new work will premiere alongside a repeat performance of “Lux,” created during Varone’s residency for DANCEworks precursor SUMMERDANCE, on September 6 & 7 at the Lobero. Precursor events include DANCEworks’ Friday Club, in which visitors get to see the choreographer and company create the ambitious new work during a rehearsal, followed by a discussion about the work and a reception with Varone and the dancers. A contribution of $150 or more provides weekly access to all three events held on August 16, 23 and 30 from 5-6:30 PM at the Lobero. Visit www.lobero.org for details.


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