Luna 13 has aptly crossed over into the metal world without guitars and other traditional instrumentation. Mixing metal, industrial, and electronica elements, the musical duo, featuring founder Doc Luna (keyboards) and Lilith Bathory (vocals), combine black metal and bass music, two genres that you don’t typically see melded together. Sound weird? Listen to their cover of Katy Perry’s hit single “Dark Horse,” or hit up one of their videos on YouTube. Refreshingly bizarre.
Pumping a percussive bass sound through massive amounts of amplification, a sound that exceeds normal decibels, Luna 13 has garnered fans with extraordinary live performances, opening for notables such as Possessed, Insane Clown Posse, Doyle, Mushroomhead, and Skold. They have been called the darkest act to ever perform at Hollywood’s Whisky a Go Go.
“The original motive of Luna 13 was to enter the EDM world and just destroy it with darkness,” says Doc Luna. “It was hysterical because the EDM world just shut us down immediately. They didn’t want us near it. And strangely enough, we got affection from metalheads for being so dark.”
Bathory joined Luna 13 in 2015; up until that time, Doc Luna was (except for a few guest musicians in his projects) mainly a solo artist establishing a sound. “She kind of brought this new element to it,” he explains. “When I heard her sing for the first time, I’m like, ‘She has a black metal voice. And what I can do with that, with the world that we’re in… let’s just go out and try to just create havoc and create some of the darkest shit out there.’ We weren’t even trying to be successful or anything like that. We just wanted to express art in the darkest way possible. And then, sure enough, it was the metal scene that actually absorbed us the quickest.”
“I had already started moving over to electronica due to things that I had seen; I also got sick of being in bands. I had been in a couple of metal bands, got really close to being signed, and imploded right when we started talking about record deals. So, when I saw this, like, you can do this on your own and I was already… creating this black metal with electronica. I saw a hole in that scene. So I’m going to get in there and create the most brutal thing they have ever heard.
Lilith’s demonic aesthetic and death metal vocals branded Luna 13. Her mettle as a formidable frontwoman was shown on the 2018 and 2019 released G.O.A.T. Witch and Wicked Gods albums. “Ever since Lilith joined and she’s been singing, I’m at the sound I’ve always wanted to be,” Doc says. “I’m coming from the ‘80s and, you know, she comes from the ‘90s. So, we’re in two different decades musically, which I think goes really well. I don’t think I could create without being alive to see the death metal scene explode in the ‘80s. I was in elementary school when I started playing bass guitar, and by the time I was in junior high, I was already in well-known punk bands and shit like that. So, I’ve been around for a long time. Yet, at the same time, we got youth on our side with her (laughs).
“We create every single bit of what we do, which makes me comfortable doing it partially pre-recorded because it’s mine. And I could choose not to be partly live; I choose to do it because it adds so much more ferociousness to the live show. We actually do have a lot of equipment… every sound that comes out of Luna 13 I created on my own, though. That’s one thing I can’t stand about the EDM world is its downloading loops and stuff like that.”
According to Doc and Lilith, the new album, God.Dis, was inspired by the goings-on of this last year. In regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lilith recalls, “We were just back at home, not touring and absorbing everything that was going on around us. The protests were going on, you know, just down our street over in West Hollywood and we went out there. You can see that, like, everybody was just, you know, peacefully marching and protesting.”
Doc states, “A lot of bands just kind of packed up and shut down during it. We’re like, let’s use this opportunity to just keep moving forward. All we want to do is create art and we’re like, let’s just keep plugging away, even though this shit’s going on.”
In the midst of the chaos and volatility in the political climate, Doc and Lilith left Los Angeles and took up residence in Joshua Tree, California. The desert haven is where God.Dis really began to take form. It was there that the video for the track “Cursing the Sky” was shot, another audio/visual overview of how dark Luna 13 is.
“Sacrificial Lamb” takes a stab at our heavily-flawed governmental system, Conservative leaders, and religious zealots.
“Illuminati Lucifer Party” is a big “fuck you” to QAnon and its conspiracy theories, according to Doc.
Doc and Lilith’s spirituality plays a major role in the music. The fact that they are practicing witches might raise contempt with people who think their ideology is associated with evil. “We’re really serious from the occultist point of view,” says Doc, “yet we wish happiness for everybody. You know, it’s like, we’re not harmful. So we can be this dark and brutal and still be good people, and that’s a point we’re trying to make, too. To us, it’s a spiritual thing. It’s not even about evil.”
Luna 13’s lush and powerful sound is solely Doc and Lilith.
“I’ve learned to do everything on my own, and I realized it was the best way to actually do things in this era. I’ve learned to produce, master… I’ll start with the writing part. You know, I never stopped writing music, I’m one of those people that my mind is constantly creating bass riffs like heavy chugging bass. It doesn’t stop. I’m the type to be up for days working on one song that I might not even use. I’m constantly creating music. I even have a mind that will create a song from start to finish even before I sit down to start recording it. That’s just the way my brain works. And then, generally, I give Lilith free rein. I’ll show her a song and say, this is what I’m working on. Go do your thing with it.”
“The music that he creates, it makes it so easy for me to write, says Lilith. “The way we both make art has flowed and meshed so well that it’s very fun to do.”
Doc reflects on the times he played bass in various bands, collaborating and compromising with bandmates. “With electronica,” he says, making a comparison, “you create exactly what you want to hear. I don’t have any interference. You’re also very vulnerable because the music you’re putting out is 100 percent yours. There’s no one saying, ‘Hey, do this or do that.’ I make the joke, Luna13 is one of my favourite bands and it may sound slightly egocentric that I listen to it so much, but you’re creating music that you really want to hear. And so I end up listening to a lot of my own stuff often because I really like the sound that kind of comes out of this band.”
Interestingly, their contrasting musical tastes are apparent: “I like so many different types of music,” says Lilith. “Some of my biggest inspirations, especially since I grew up in kind of a closeted environment, was really whatever I could get my hands on. So I wasn’t necessarily up-to-date of what was coming out or what was popular at the time or anything. I mean, I was into Black Sabbath, Queen, David Bowie, Otep, Mudvayne. And, of course, I love all kinds of other types of music, like Earth Wind & Fire, Nina Simone, it goes on and on. It’s all over the place.”
For Doc, it’s pretty simple. “I mean, I like black metal at night, but I listen to a lot of dark ambient in the day. Lustmord is probably one of my favourite artists. Lustmord and Possessed are right now my two favourites artists by far, and that really sets the tone for the music of Luna 13.”
“My dad is still a guitar player, in bands to this day,” he adds. So I grew up with ‘60s music and with ‘70s music. There’ll be nights where I’ll just say, ‘You know, let’s listen to some ‘70s music, get stoned, and listen to Bob Seger.’”