Liz Small, known by her stage name Lupa, is a bombastic rising artist in techno and EDM. The Arizona State-based producer/DJ/artist is taking Twitter’s EDM scene by storm with her rolling basslines, trippy acid techno, and insane visuals that she herself creates. Her song “werehouse” just surpassed fifty thousand plays on Spotify and continues to grow.
Lupa has a unique way of putting her own industrial spin on heavy electronic tracks. We had the opportunity to catch up with her and chat about her creative process with both music and visuals.
Lupa Exclusive Interview
*This interview was edited for clarity*
How has this lockdown influenced your creative process?
There’s been a lot that’s happening and I was making music for the first month or so and I was really enjoying it. I finished about 30 songs and I had all this stuff and I listened to it and liked it, but I got really sick of tweaking them and worrying about them so I said to myself, I’m going to take a month and do something completely different than music. So my creative process has been a little different because I’ve been using other forms of art to express myself.
Instead of making a song, I’ll make a shirt or a poster with graphic design. I’ve been using this time to think about my art and what it means to me and that’s very important. I have all this good music that needs to be polished but if I polish it right now, it’s going to turn into something I don’t want it to be so I’m taking a break right now and it’s actually been really helpful.
What live set have you attended that you really connected with?
I feel like the best live sets, and I might sound pretty pretentious here, are with my friends. And I know that sounds really weird. I love going to see people perform, but there’s nothing more fun than hanging out with my friends and we’re all just on the decks together.
That for me is the best live set, but if we’re talking about a specific artist, visually, I’d have to say Excision. I saw him at Decadence a few years ago and I was blown away by the visuals and how everything lined up perfectly. The visuals were insane but there’s a lot of aspects that go into a good set. That’s a very complex question.
But there’s nothing like throwing down a b2b set with your friends, right?
It’s such a cheesy thing to say but it’s so true. I love it. That’s what DJing is to me. That’s how I learned to DJ, not by watching other people do it but by being a part of it and doing it as a group.
It seems like your art is more than just music and you’re telling a story. Can you talk about your method of mixing visuals, graphic design, and music? Not many up and coming artists do it as well as you.
I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve never been an artist. All my life I’ve been very academic but being able to express this artistic side is very weird for me. It’s taking a lot of getting used to. I just like to combine everything together. Like I’ll create on one program and then another and being able to mix that together and combine all your skills is something I’ve naturally been able to do because I can never focus on just one thing.
I have to have ten things I’m interested in at once. I can’t fixate. The biggest tip I have for people is to get lost in other things. Do something completely different. Look up how to do other things because it can be really helpful for your creativity. Then link it back to your project and think about what your brand represents and most importantly what you represent.
I was just scrolling through your Twitter and it seems like everything you post is on-brand for you.
It’s taken me a long time to find that skill but I love black and white tones. I love experimenting with things and taking this industrial look and putting my own twist on it. I think I have a unique view of art and design. This is because I’m not necessarily a trained artist. I just do what looks right and works. I’m really surprised when it does work and if it doesn’t work, I just try again. I recommend people just focus on what they like. And also watch a lot of movies that have sentimental value.
And your dog plays a huge role in your brand too right?
He does! His name is Kiba. I got the whole wolf idea because my dog is 10% wolf and it fits. It was good branding and I feel like wolves are misunderstood creatures.
Do the visual elements inspire the songs or do the songs inspire the visual elements and how important do you think visuals are when presenting a musical piece of work?
I like having a combination of things. Some music can stand by itself perfectly and it doesn’t need visuals, but I like to be completely absorbed in an artist’s mind. If your art is genuine and it comes from you, you’re going to see a similar style and pattern that comes out. I don’t try to copy or emulate styles but I think visuals and music are both equally important.
What inspires you to sit down and say, “I’m going to create right now”?
Nothing really. It’s more a need to create. I feel like I’m sitting here with all this information on my computer to do any kind of art imaginable. If I’m not creating, then I’m learning how to create. If I don’t really feel inspired to create, then I won’t because I know I won’t do anything productive.
Who is your dream collab?
I have a few. Vini Vici would be an insane collab and I would cry. I love them so much and I love psytrance. Besides that, Armin Van Buuren would be my dream. I’m going to get a collab with Armin one day. I’ve been listening to him a lot recently and he’s been putting me in a really good mood.
What is the end goal with your art?
You sound like my parents. Right now, I really want to create a way to make a living with my art, whether it be through music or through design. I’d love to travel and share my art, whether that means DJing or anything, but right now, just making a living.
What’s next for you?
I just released a song, “pain killer,” I’m really proud of but didn’t do any promo for it. It’s acid techno and it’s really weird. Besides that, I have a remix compilation coming out soon. I put together a remix competition for “werehouse.” There are six amazing artists on there. I’m going to be releasing it May 21 at midnight, so I’m really excited about that.
Thank you to Lupa for allowing me to pick her brain a bit. I’ll be waiting to see her at music festivals in the future. Make sure to check her out on Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, and Soundcloud and watch out for the “werehouse” remix album! Lupa is on track to take the EDM world by storm. Listen to her hit “werehouse” below.