“I’m not ashamed at all to be a student artist,” said Posey Feuer, lead vocalist of student band Deluna. Where many student musicians feel that label is a restraint, the members of Deluna flourish in it.
As a self-proclaimed neo-alternative soul band, consisting of Feueu, Henry Michaelson on guitar, Blake Knutson on keys and guitar, Nic Eisenhauer on bass and Sam Zuckerman on drums, Deluna wants soul to emanate from the layered melodies and nuanced narrative of each work. Each member’s unique past has been integral to their creative process, with varied musical backgrounds that include Michaelson performing with 60-year-old blues musicians in high school.
But they’ve all come to find their time at UC Berkeley as an impactful one, influencing their band’s identity. Feuer has found a particular vibrancy in Berkeley’s street community. “I meet people every fucking day that are brilliant and are street people. Sweet and caring and good people,” said Feuer when talking about the influences when writing Deluna’s first studio release, “Waiting for You.” Michaelson has even seen Berkeley bring back something he thought was lost from his musical life.
After the horrors of a “Whiplash”-esque jazz teacher, he developed a hatred of jazz. But when talking about his experiences in UC Jazz, Michaelson not only had a newfound inclination toward jazzy guitar playing, but it also helped teach him something bigger about Deluna’s place as a Berkeley band. “UC Jazz has taught me that all music is an intersection and blend of everything you know how to do,” he said. “And I think that really encapsulates our sound because we don’t really sound like any sound that you could put it into.”
This intersection of sounds can be seen in the formation of Deluna. Each member has served as the primary songwriter for their past individual projects. All these songwriting sensibilities converging under the same roof has produced a new dynamic, one that defines Deluna’s singular sound. Oftentimes, it’s now the moments when riffing where Deluna finds substance, substance that it hopes will lead to quality group songwriting. And while it wishes for its songwriting to be its defining aspect, this rides on, as suggested by Feuer, “conscious listening.” When talking about certain gigs where they’ve been relegated to “background music,” Feuer said, “(That’s) nice, but I feel like our music is the kind of music that you have to be very attentive for.”
When that attentiveness is there, Deluna has created sparks — most notably within Berkeley’s jazz community. During a performance at Jazz in the Basement, a monthly concert hosted by UC Jazz now held at Eshleman Hall, Deluna brought in a massive crowd — a consistent occurrence for the program after three years of hard work by the organization and by acts like Deluna packing the program’s original location at the Cesar Chavez Student Center.
Certainly, Deluna has not been without hurdles during the band’s time at Berkeley. The scheduling logistics that come with being students have held them back when finding more large-scale opportunities like Jazz in the Basement.
And, with their claim that Berkeley lacks a noticeable student music scene, they’ve had to search for the musical heart of the city. To continue to search and define their own heart, Deluna recorded its first EP in studio last winter. But the band had trouble bringing it together, ultimately pushing its release to this fall. “It’s a whole other separate thing that’s different and you kind of have to learn how to do it,” said Knutson in regard to the recording process. “So we had to go and learn some things about recording, but we learned a lot.”
They feel no setbacks, however, when it comes to developing their sound. The lack of a distinct scene in Berkeley has actually allowed them not to feel any pressure to conform to a certain genre. They have no wishes to define themselves based on what others are doing. They care more about what they can bring to the table, rather than how fancy the table already is. And even though their scheduling has caused more of an absence from that table than they would like, the members of Deluna have found a sweet spot: a comfortable discomfort within the hectic movement that is the life of student artists.