Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Interview with Lora G

Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honor to interview Lora G, a Hollywood, California - based composer, guitarist, and keyboardist, co-founder of Lunden Reign. Hello Lora G!
Lora G: Hi Monika, thank you for reaching out to me.
Monika: When did you decide that music would be your way of life?
Lora G: I started performing at the age of 13 in Orange County, California. By 16 I started performing on the Sunset Strip scene in Hollywood. The amazing Matt Sorum (Velvet Revolver, Guns N’ Roses, The Cult) was my drummer in high school. By 18, I had the luck to be involved in finding guitar sounds for Stevie Wonder’s album “Secret Life of Plants.”
However, at 19 I left music to go to college. I didn’t return to music until after an amazing Emmy-winning career in television and radio including working for Disney for over 14 years. I returned to music about 7 years ago after realizing how much I missed it.
Monika: You are a very prolific artist. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Lora G: Thank you. From what many get inspiration from… abusive childhood and coming from a broken family, taunted for being Mexican-American and later LGBT. Writing music is therapy for me as it is for many who had similar upbringings!

"Writing music is therapy for me as it is
for many who had similar upbringings!"

Monika: How would you define your music?
Lora G: We define our sound as: “Big Beat Progressive Rock.” We want to keep an upbeat sound big and forward on our songs and then lay memorable guitar riffs and melodies throughout. However, I am most proud of the lyrics, I spend 5 times the energy on lyrics compared to the music. Every song has to have a life, meaning, message, and purpose.
Monika: First you founded your band The Lora G Band …
Lora G: When I first came back to the music I formed the band “Blind Dog Wanders.” Later it became “The Lora G Band.”
Monika: Then you joined forces with Nikki Lunden and formed Lunden Reign…
Lora G: Nikki opened for our band in 2013 at a club in LA. We were blown away by her vocals, her original songs and her guitar playing. We joined together shortly after that show. While recording at Abbey Road in London, we made the decision to rename the band: Lunden Reign.
Monika: You toured extensively in the United Kingdom. Do you plan to visit other European countries?
Lora G: Oh yes. We are developing a fan base in France, Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Our hope is to get invites for summer festivals in those countries and the UK.
However, it will depend on people from these countries contacting festival organizers and requesting us. We loved performing at The Fringe Festival in Scotland and it’s a major goal of ours to play there again in 2015. I hope the wonderful Edinburgh folks who heard and saw us reach out to bring us back, we miss you!
Monika: Your group consists of strong rock and roll ladies. I may be wrong but it seems it is difficult for female artists to become rock and roll stars …
Lora G: I think it’s difficult for anyone who writes non-sampled, non-synth-created music and without a cute teenage inserted singer or singers. It reminds me of the music business before The Beatles broke through or The Knack did over disco, then NIRVANA did later. I was hoping Muse, Manic Street Preachers, or Imagine Dragons could break the “factory produced-music spell” this time around, but it just isn’t happening.

"Several of my songs are directly related to
being transgender"

All the radio stations are run by a handful of corporations who don’t like risk and since they are beholden to the quarterly financial reports it’s unlikely that mentality will change anytime soon. It will take a major effort by fans of performers who write, record and perform their own music to create such a change. Until then at least we have the internet even if it’s incredibly fragmented.
Monika: What does it mean to be a transgender artist? Is your music influenced by your transgender experience?
Lora G: We don’t promote ourselves exclusively as an LGBT band (3 of the 5 members are straight, Nikki and I are the LGBT members of the band). Of course, I’m a member of both the L and the T in that acronym. However, I am and have been an activist in the LGBT community for over 7 years and Lunden Reign performs for events to help the community in any way it can including 6 Pride festivals this year.
Several of my songs are directly related to being transgender, particularly “Hear Me” and a new song “Hush & Whispers.” I hope you get time to read the lyrics. FYI, we just found out we are headlining “The Palm Springs Pride Festival” Saturday, Nov. 8th at 9PM on the outdoor stage. This is a great festival.
Monika: At that time of your transition, did you have any transgender role models that you could follow?
Lora G: No, but wish I did.
Monika: What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Lora G: Three of my sisters decided to use it against me on my mother’s deathbed. Although my mom knew, she just sort of ignored it because she loved me so much, so that is how she dealt with it. We were extremely close and I think these 3 sisters were jealous of that. While my mother lay dying, they made me out to her to be something evil and freakish. It was extremely hard on her, my daughter, and me because she was already dealing with knowing she was about to die. I never knew until after she passed if she overcame their hateful talk.

"I started out in political activism at the age of 8."

However, my one accepting sister Nicole, told me later that, just before my mother passed, she told her to “back me and support me from them.” To be sure, she made me executor and administrator of her will. Guess that said it all, but it was still unbelievably hurtful and it crushes me still to this day; I really miss her.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in American society?
Lora G: It has amazingly become accepted in the major cities and the coastal states. I’m not sure about south and middle America, those areas are so influenced by intolerant right-wing despots. It’s sad because they are the neediest people right now in the U.S. and they are being exploited just for their political votes and certain religious financial contributions!
Monika: Could transgenderism be the new frontier for human rights?
Lora G: It’s the frontline now!
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
Lora G: I started out in political activism at the age of 8. My family was on the frontline of the civil rights movement for Mexican-Americans (then called the Chicano Movement) in the late 60s and early 70s. I was tear-gassed during one of the riots in LA and hit hard on the shoulder by an LAPD billy club.
Although a young kid, I actually took 8mm film of one of the riots and later used it in a documentary. Unfortunately, my brother (an aspiring law student at Loyola) was severely beaten by the LA Sheriff’s Department and received permanent brain damage. I continued fighting for Mexican-American rights and equality as a journalist and about 7 years ago also became an activist for the LGBT community including going to DC and lobbying congress to support ENDA and fighting against provisions in DSM-5!

Lunden Reign.

Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Lora G: We all need it, especially those that suffer from intolerance and rejection most of their life. I’m so blessed that Nikki Lunden proposed to me during our recording session in Studio 2, Abbey Road. They even got it on videotape!
Monika: Are you working on any new projects now?
Lora G: Mainly the release of Lunden Reign’s debut album: “American Stranger” (It’s done and already in shrink-wrap but we can’t release it until we partner with a distributor.) We are also working on adding live acting, synced video, lights, and other elements for a special live show we hope to debut in Hollywood. It will be sort of like a modern version of what The Who did with “Tommy.” We hope to perform it once a month and then hopefully once a week or more if ticket sales grow or if we get an investor. Let me know if you’d like to know more!
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Lora G: No, and probably won’t. There are so many better stories out there than mine! 
Monika: My pen-friend Gina Grahame wrote to me once that we should not limit our potential because of how we were born or by what we see other transsexuals and transgender people doing. Our dreams should not end on an operating table; that’s where they begin. Would you agree?
Lora G: I’ve never really thought about it that way, but that’s a good attitude to have. As for me, I started working on my creative dreams and career at the age of 9 and have been in the entertainment business ever since. It didn’t occur to me that my personal gender issue would stop me from it, however, I knew it would cause hardships and it did. But when you face intolerance, prejudice, and rejection most of your life, it almost seemed par for the course to me. I feel lucky that I even had the chance to transition.
I’ve never carried a chip on my shoulder and never ever compared myself to those who have much harder challenges in life… like veterans injured or disabled in combat, children born to parents on crack or heroin, or women brutalized and without any rights in some middle-east countries. If you think about it, just to be talking about this issue…. we are truly lucky and blessed. We all need to make the most of it and help those who don’t have such opportunities. Thank you, Monika!
Monika: Thank you for the interview!

All the photos: courtesy of Lora G.
© 2014 - Monika Kowalska

Search This Blog