Ava Luna won’t let you steal their van
Brooklyn five-piece nails multiple personalities with Infinite House
Brooklyn soul-pop outfit Ava Luna doesn't follow a logical path in life or in music. The group's sound is exciting but unpredictable, zipping across groove-heavy freak-outs and front porch folklore. Infinite House, Ava Luna's third album, is a complex and cohesive collection of songs made between Gravesend Recordings, the Bushwick studio that singer and guitarist Carlos Hernandez and drummer Julian Fader run, and an enormous old house tucked away deep in the Mississippi woods. "We didn't realize how in the middle of nowhere it was until we got there," Fader says. "It was a 28-hour drive. We were there for two and a half weeks and drove straight back. Didn't really make sense, but it was awesome."
The house has been in a band friend's family for generations, miles away from anyone that could be called a neighbor. Its remoteness afforded the artists space, time, and an eerie quietude to crack open their collective mind and see what spilled out. The group arrived with minimal recording gear and no real vision of what they wanted to accomplish. The space "set the mood," Fader says. "We tried not to think about it. It's not like, 'let's make a creepy album,' it just weaves its way in."
The creepiness bleeds through in brilliant hues with the album's third song, "Steve Polyester." Singer and guitarist Rebecca Kauffman shines throughout the searching number. Her voice rises and falls with expert storytelling.
Singer and keyboardist Felicia Douglass settles into a smooth delivery with "Coat of Shellac." The song began as an instrumental jam but Douglass recorded herself singing over the instrumental and emailed it to the band as a demo, which was later refined to appear on the album. One of the group's most accessible ditties to date, "Coat of Shellac" is a Band-Aid for a bad vibe, and a playful relationship analysis. Infinite House locks down the danceable spine Ava Luna has spent years honing, celebrating the freedom of the dream-riddled subconscious — time spent in the Mississippi mansion — and anchors it with cacophonous musical structures reminiscent of the group's hometown.
After releasing Electric Balloon last year, Ava Luna has been touring around the country — the group even played Atlanta recently, too, to almost no one. It was in March, as the group inched down the country toward SXSW. "We played this shack in the middle of nowhere," Fader says. "It was awesome."
Atlanta band Warehouse booked the show, which was originally supposed to go down at Adam Babar of Suffer Dragon's dry cleaner joint. But, of course, plans changed. The two bands met some years ago in Atlanta when Warehouse jumped on a bill last-minute. The mutual adoration was immediate. "Carlos was crying," Fader says.
Warehouse played Ava Luna's album release last month in Brooklyn. Not that Hernandez is soft past his emotive vocal delivery. When the band's van went missing recently, he took the helm at reclaiming it. "It was spotted in the city and Carlos just went and got it," Fader says. "He biked down to Crown Heights, hot-wired it and left. I have no idea how he knew how to hot-wire," Fader says. "I'd rather him be for me than against me, for sure."