Becoming more open about the love she feels for the people in her life, Scarborough-based R&B singer Kira Huszar, aka LOONY, has matured — both as an artist and as a person. Many of the elements that have earned her praise from people in the past, including Elton John, remain but her shift toward a lighter perspective in her songwriting opens up a world of new possibilities.
On her previous outing, JOYRiDE (2020), Huszar reflects on the ups and downs of her adolescence, processing past trauma with maturity and moving on. Her new album, soft thing, never gets that weighty; it’s an unapologetically gentle and joyous collection of songs about crushes and blossoming relationships. The instrumentation is subtle yet groovy, filled with relaxing guitar riffs, shimmering piano runs, and smooth basslines. Once again, LOONY’s vocals impress; she seamlessly shifts from moody ballads to high energy singles.
After a year of waiting, LOONY will return to performing in September for one of her biggest gigs yet at The Governor’s Ball in New York. Using every day to work on and create new material, Huszar remains grateful for the downtime that the pandemic afforded her and the EP that came from it. She talked with RANGE about the creative process for her new project and the brilliance of Erykah Badu.
Is there a meaning behind the title of your new album, soft thing?
I didn’t really expect to write something as light and romantic as I did. I found when I was writing I couldn’t for the life of me force out anything dark, painful, or heavy. I couldn’t go that way, my body was rejecting it. I created this thing that was very vulnerable and soft. It’s sort of about an intangible love which is this very soft thing.
What was your creative process like for the album?
Even though the process wasn’t new to us, there were obviously a lot of restrictions that we needed to follow due to Covid. We had to make sure we were all safe (LOONY and her producers Akeel Henry and Adam Pondang). We sort of lived together for a month, it was really intensive, and we would just create a lot of stuff for a while. I sort of decided what story I wanted to tell, and then we kept cutting away at it until it was right.
This album is about a love deeper than physical. What is something thoughtful that someone has done for you lately?
I get really touched when people do little acts of service. I get anxious about things easily so if someone does something to take a little bit of pressure off me knowing that will help me, I’m like ‘wow’.
What kind of music did you grow up listening to?
I grew up listening to a lot of R&B in some shape or form. I remember my dad sitting me down and showing me The Supremes when I was pretty young and I was like ‘woah, I love this.’ I ended up falling in love with people like Erykah Badu, Maxwell, and D’Angelo; also The Roots, any sort of hip-hop that has a bit of neo-soul. I also got big into Nas cause I love the production.
What record has inspired you the most as an artist?
Mama’s Gun by Erykah Badu, the whole project feels so good. It feels very analog and so soulful. And the sounds feel so full it doesn’t feel empty. It’s one of those albums growing up that I really rinsed.
You were hands-on with the “Be Cool” music video. What was it like shooting it?
It was fun. I wrote the treatment. The director and his crew made this really cool set, both bedrooms were constructed the night before and the day of. I’ve never been to a production house that big. Eventually, I’d like to do something in film. I was very entertained watching everything come together. I just wanted the video to feel fun and I think we achieved just that.
Do you find it more stressful opening up to someone you care about or to a larger audience through your work?
I actually think it’s harder to say those kinds of things to the one person that you are the most intimate with. I feel like when I’m expressing these things [in my songs] I feel like they are relatable enough that I don’t feel too put on the spot. I like to tap into feelings that I think most people feel and I just try to express my own version of that. I think that’s somehow less nerve-wracking.
What are some things that you’re particularly proud of listening back to the album?
I was really proud of my ability to let go and start something new. I really went with the flow of where this project took me: to the point where I generated the main concept and then I started building around that. That was a very different process for me. On past releases it’s been about my past, and trying to make a little story out of that but with this I was very open and let it lead me to where it needed to land. I’m also proud of how vulnerable it is, and not in a bitter way. I feel like JOYRiDE is a little bitter and angry and vulnerable in that way, but this one is vulnerable in like ‘oh I love you,’ and that’s way harder.
LOONY’s soft thing EP is available now via AWAL.