Avalon Lurks: mysticism and the divine feminine
NATE RYNASKI: Today, we’re discussing mysticism, and we’re also going to get into the divine feminine. How do you think your Chicana background influences how mysticism plays into your life and your work?
AVALON LURKS: I think that when you grow up in a Chicano household surrounded by, not only hardcore Catholicism, but also themes of death and mortality, you begin to have a connection with mysticism because it is something that helps people cope but it also helps you connect to your ancestors. I think that finding my roots in certain types of mysticism is partially due to me being Chicana. In terms of being a woman and having to do with mysticism, in Mexican culture, La Virgen is the most revered symbol in Chicano culture. That figure being around definitely influences how you view yourself, and how you view other women.
So how do you think that informs your songwriting?
When I was younger I was obsessed with the idea of dying, and I really couldn't fathom it. That’s when I started to get interested in brujeria, philosophy, Buddhism, Hinduism, different religions. I wanted to figure out what each culture’s answer to the problem of death was. When I started making music, it was this thing that I was doing, not only to express myself, but also to make my ideas and my consciousness immortal. Sometimes it’s hard to talk about because it’s part of my being. The thing is being spiritual isn’t something I just started doing. It’s not a costume. It’s who I am, It’s part of my life; It’s not like it’s a trendy thing for me. I’ve been doing this for a long time. It’s part of my culture. It’s impossible for me to separate my art from my spirituality, because spirituality is such a huge part of me.
One thing we were kind of talking about is the genuineness of art. I feel like your spirituality being so rooted in your being and how it comes out in your music is very genuine. People see that.
Thank you. I think that when I make music I think about how the universe is rooted in frequencies, and those frequencies are around us at all times. Thought is a frequency. Music is a frequency, and it’s comprised of many different frequencies. When I make music, I put a certain part of myself and my energy into its frequency so that it has a certain vibe to it. Mantras is a traditional way of manipulating frequencies into sound in order to heal.
You’re very into your visual style. Your covers have a certain vibe to them. You try to present yourself in a certain way. How does that background of mysticism and also being a woman in music influence the way that you present yourself?
I present myself in the way that I would want to see someone with the same background as me represented in media. It’s important to talk about what makes me who I am, like my spirituality and being Chicana. I think it’s necessary to put that into my work visually. I want to be what other people have been for me.
Are there any visual influences for your work?
I’m influenced by vintage photos. I’m really into vintage home photos of families. I actually have a collection of those. I grew up a block away from this place called The Circle. It’s a collection of antique malls in Orange County. I used to go there every day to look at stuff and get inspired. I started a collection of vintage photo albums of real families, and I think about those when I try to make my work. It’s really weird. I don’t cite artists, but I’m really into actual people's memories. I’m influenced by 60s and 70s glamor. I’m obsessed with glamor. I think there is a certain glamor and a creepiness with those pictures.
With a lot of glamor there is kind of this...
Yeah, because it is very much a front sometimes. It is interesting to think about the background of the people in those photos.
It’s weird. I’m sure a lot of the people in those photos would never have thought that some girl would be collecting photos of their life. Like, that’s kind of weird.
If we want to talk about artists I’m influenced by, in terms of visuals, I love photographers like Eggleston. He captured this ideal but sad and melancholic suburban life of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. I’m really into Nobuyoshi Araki. Because the women in his photos are in bondage, he captures them in very empowered moments. No musical artists come to mind, honestly.
You’re just doing your own thing. And that comes through. You can always see a trend in music, but your music isn’t trying to follow one of those trends or what’s hot right now. You’re just going and doing what you want to do.
That’s just the person I have always been. I place a high value on originality. That’s where innovation comes from. I don’t want to be an artists that follows trends and I’m not in this life to be famous. What I really want to do is see the things that I thought up come to fruition. That’s why I make music. I make music so I can make videos so that I’m making a whole world. Most of the music that I make stems from little videos or movies I have in my head, or situations and vibes. It’s not like I go into it with a sonic idea. When I make music I want to make it sound like driving down such-and-such street in Santa Ana at this hour when it’s foggy, and I’m poking my head out of the sunroof and my homie’s driving. Like, when I’m making music and making visuals, I’m trying to recreate things that happen in my life and the moments that are just so fucking cool. I want to have those moments when I get old. At the end of the day, I do it for myself.
So, you’ve got some other work coming in the future. What is the moment that you think that work is capturing?
This tape sounds like sitting in your room for so long that you forget time exists. There’s incense burning. You have a VHS repeating the same movie over and over again. You read a couple books. This is kinda what my room is like. That’s how I make music – in my room. There’s no other way I would feel comfortable making music. When I make music, sometimes the writing comes first, because I’m really passionate about writing and that’s something I can never not do. I’m always writing. It’s almost primal. Production is one thing and it’s awesome, but my writing is where everything comes from. Every song I have on this record is cohesive but every song is very different. It’s definitely about my experiences living between LA and Orange country and traveling a lot and becoming an adult but still having the nostalgia of being young.