[INTERVIEW] LUPA Discusses Her Persona, Inspiration Behind "werehouse", + Performance at Imagine Festival 2022
Whether you are listening to her original tracks or seeing her perform live, LUPA exerts her contribution to the future of (female) techno. Residing in downtown LA, this upcoming producer has shocked listeners with her hypnotic basslines and riveting edits especially seen when LUPA exploded onto the techno scene in 2020 with her debut single "werehouse", continuing her hot streak ever since.
Gaining attention from music industry veterans through her unique style, LUPA has released songs on a variety of revered labels, such as Space Yacht Records and Mau5trap. Climbing to the top of underground techno scene and community, her infectious energy and skills as a DJ has led to performances at EDC Las Vegas, Day Trip LA, and most recently Imagine Festival 2022. iEDM had the chance to talk to the she-wolf techno queen about upcoming projects, her roots in Arizona, and more.
Check out iEDM's exclusive interview with LUPA below.
iEDM: What does the wolf symbolize in regard to your persona? What does the name LUPA represent or mean to you? What is the story behind the creation of your name/persona and the wolf?
LUPA: Wolves are a super important part of my life. When I was younger, I read White Fang by Jack London and I absolutely loved the idea of being in nature as well as the community that wolves had. A lot of people think there is an always an alpha wolf but in reality wolf packs are very communal and treated equal. I wanted to bring this concept into my brand and music.
Another factor is the bravery and strength that wolves represent; when you see a wolf, you think "wow, they are so badass!" I am actually pretty shy and introverted so this project really pushes me, allowing me to embrace my inner wolf.
In regards to the name LUPA, I studied Latin and ancient Greece when I was in high school. LUPA is the she-wolf who saved Romulus and Remus, who together went on to create the civilization of Rome. She is kind of a forgotten character throughout history so I wanted to pay some respect to her. I like the symbolism of how LUPA was seen as aggressive but also nurturing. In my life I try to balance those two qualities.
iEDM: Centered around your persona as an artist is a black-and-white color scheme/aesthetic, as seen throughout your Instagram. How does this theme reflect your identity and your music?
LUPA: For me, black-and-white can be a symbol for minimalism and simplicity. I do a lot of design work and can sometimes get overwhelmed with all of the different color options to choose from. To avoid distraction, I decided to go with black-and-white because it is very gritty, straightforward, and unfiltered. Black-and-white is art at its purest form.
iEDM: One of your Instagram posts features the quote “Time is not a factor. We are eternal.” What does this quote mean to you and how does it apply to you as an artist?
LUPA: Many of my tweets and Instagram posts are a reminder to myself. I think it is really hard for artists in music or through any other medium because there's this rush to be successful and make perfect art. We have to know that the art we make is eternal. This quote is a reminder to me to takes thing slow and not to rush the process. It's important to enjoy art for the sake of art and not just the end product. Art lasts forever but the process does not so cherish each project while you are in the middle of it.
iEDM: What was your process for creating the bassline in “werehouse”? What inspired the track’s name?
LUPA: "werehouse" is one of the first songs that I ever released and I was experimenting with different musical scales. I had been using the minor scale a lot but was getting sick of overusing it and the constant repetition. Fortunately, I stumbled across a lower scale and was fascinated by its dark simplicity. This bass pattern I found took center stage and the song pretty much wrote itself after that. At one point, I took out my phone and recorded the vocal "welcome to the werehouse". The project was super fun to work on, taking me a day to create the majority of it.
Once I had finished the song, I began brainstorming ideas for track names. When breaking down all the combination of 'wolf' I could use, werewolf stuck out in mind. I suddenly had this brilliant idea to merge that with 'warehouse' for a unique play on words. Techno and warehouse go really well together so "werehouse" was the perfect name for the track.
As a whole, "werehouse" is a very important song to me. Not only was it my first release but it did great and introduced me to a ton of people within music. I was not expecting that amazing of a result so I am incredibly thankful for "werehouse."
iEDM: What is your favorite track from your 2022 EP “Salivation” and which track pushed you the farthest out of your comfort zone as a producer?
LUPA: So my answer for both questions is the same track: "Wasting Time". It is probably my favorite song that I've made from my last two EPs. One of the tracks from "Salivation" was more vocal oriented while another on the EP leaned towards mainstream techno. For "Wasting Time" I wanted to create something that was very authentic to me as a person and my individual style as an artist. Around this time, I was playing a lot of racing games so I also wanted to include a nostalgic 90s racing game aesthetic.
There is a certain point in the song when it is transitioning from the buildup into the drop. During this moment, I added a very distorted, washed out, break using a plugin called Portal, which I will represent until I die. The sound is a super trippy granular effect that adds an intriguing aesthetic to the song that I am really proud of. I wanted to show off with what I had learned from experimenting and using Portal so that is why the track really pushed me out of my comfort zone.
iEDM: Many of the visuals in your set featured psychedelic-looking skyscrapers. What do these have in common with techno and your style?
LUPA: After living in Arizona, which is almost completely flat and cacti are the highest structures, I now live in downtown LA. The giant structures are super inspiring to me from a visual perspective. The skyscraper visuals are not that relative to the techno itself. or the music but I really just enjoy them. I almost tear up when I drive into downtown LA at night and see the city slowly inching towards me. I am definitely excited to see how video is going to change and grow. It will take some time and more advanced technology but to be able to create visuals in real-time while DJing live would be unbelievable.
iEDM: How did you choose which song to open and close your Imagine set with? Which tracks do you think had the best crowd reaction from your set?
LUPA: For my opening song, I knew I was going to play one of my upcoming releases because it really sets the mood for the audience and is a vocal-driven track. I usually do not prep what song I am going to close with and will not even have a track-list prepped before each set. This is due to the fact that I love to be spontaneous and switch things up in the moment, often jumping between multiple playlists on my drive. During the first three months of mixing, I would always try to plan my transitions out but for some reason they came out awful. I then realized that they needed to be natural and authentic to sound the way I wanted them to, plus it is crucial to always be reading the crowd. Sometimes, I will be mixing and discover hidden gem transitions that sound really great together. The crowd seemed to get the most hyped for my edits towards the end of my set.
iEDM: What are some of your go-to mixing effects to build up energy in a song before the drop and why do you feel like they are effective?
LUPA: I mainly use the basic effects, like filtering stuff out and using sweep. One of my favorite mixing techniques is the double drop. I love matching two buildups to create a bunch of momentum. Sometimes I will silence one of the tracks and slowly bring it back in so you can really hear that first track. Within techno, it is very stereotypical but I will turn down the low ends and quickly bring them back for when the drop hits. Even though this is super simple, it is a solid way to gain momentum. Every once in a while, I will throw in a little phaser and loop segments of tracks. However, I am not a huge fan of the crazy effects and like to keep things relatively smooth and simple. The music needs to speak for itself.
iEDM: The lyrics in “Acid Soul” by Maddix, “Believe” by Eli Brown, and other tracks during your Imagine set were very infectious among the crowd. How do you balance techno and vocals to stimulate your audience?
LUPA: Vocals are so crucial, specifically in techno, because they complement the pounding kick and bass. Techno itself is very robotic sounding; it usually has the same kick ('four on the floor') proceeded by bringing in the [hi] hat, then closed hats, and so on. When you add vocals, it creates a human aspect and organic sound that is very familiar. The two, vocals and techno, definitely contrast each other which is why vocals can be so compelling, like the ones in "Believe". That song in particular is a great example of how the contrast is captivating towards a crowd and is why a lot of DJs use it in their sets. Just make sure to avoid the vocals overlapping when mixing two tracks together.
iEDM: There were a lot of amazing edits at the end of your set that the crowd loved, such as “WAP”, Shouse’s “Love Tonight”, and Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse”. Where does the creativity stem from in regard to producing these edits? Why did you decide to save them until the second half of your set?
LUPA: My friends in Arizona were house heads and constantly said that they disliked techno. I wanted to create techno music that could ease them into the genre and was more relatable. This led to one of my first edits of "Low" by Flo Rida, which goes really hard. As soon as I played it, I noticed that more people were dancing because they were more familiar with the genre. I knew I was going to play my edit of "Dark Horse" because it was a project I had recently made and wanted to hear it live. After seeing the Imagine crowd's reaction to an edit I played, I decided to go from edit to edit for most of the remainder of my set. I really like DJing that way because people can hear hints of the next song coming in and that excites them.
iEDM: What future projects or upcoming collabs can you hint at for fans to get excited about?
LUPA: I have an Imagine release that came out on Friday. It is a sneak preview for many of my future tracks that are coming out soon. I don't want to give too much away but if you listen to my Imagine set then you will have an idea of what's to come.
Photos courtesy of LUPA
Read more iEDM Exclusive Interviews HERE!