Hello Luna takes a sobering look at internal demons on ‘Into Static’

Singer Kenzie Coyne continues to open up in advance of the band’s album release show at A&R Bar on Saturday

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Hello Luna

On 2019 EP Dear Demons, Hello Luna singer Kenzie Coyne addressed the physical and mental abuse she said she experienced as a child at the hands of her estranged father, whose arrest on unrelated charges in the months before the band entered into recording triggered a rush of painful memories.

“I stood in these really scary, dark places, and there was a point where it just switched in my head and it was like, 'No, stop trying to run. Stop trying to hide,'" Coyne told Alive in 2019.

For the musician, this acknowledgment marked the start of an ongoing recovery, aspects of which are documented on Hello Luna’s debut full-length, Into Static, which surfaced last week and will take center stage when the band headlines a release show at A&R Bar on Saturday, Feb. 5.

“When I put out Dear Demons, I was basically confronting the fact that I had problems, like, OK, this is square one,” Coyne said in a phone interview earlier this week. “And then I had to learn what to do after that, and that’s kind of what Into Static is. … My dad has been in prison for three years, and we haven’t spoken, which I’ve talked openly about. I’ve talked openly about the severe mental and physical abuse, and about experiencing that as a kid. But once I did that, it was like, now what?”

In the months following the EP's release, Coyne engaged in interviews and appeared on podcasts, sharing her story as a means of advancing a larger conversation, which started to exact a toll on the singer. She said she stopped centering self-care and started using drugs and drinking more heavily as a means of coping with the strain. “I was so alone, so confused. It was like all of the lights went out,” said Coyne, who documents this spiral on “Never Enough,” a tightly constructed pop-rock song about barely hanging on by a thread, which is a concept that repeats itself throughout the album. “Without being too dramatic, I wanted to die. I was ready. I became obsessed with darkness because I was facing so much of it.”

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During this time, Coyne performed a concert with Hello Luna while “extremely high,” she said, which created the sensation of floating above the audience, disengaging her from the moment — an experience the musician relays on “Never Enough,” singing, “I am weightless and unhappy.” A similar disconnect began to creep into the interactions Coyne would have at bars and venues, where she would spill her guts in an altered state but experience little sense of connection. “Because I wasn’t being myself,” she said.

“I was completely out of touch with myself and everyone around me. I couldn’t find comfort in the drugs anymore. It felt like everyone around me knew something about happiness that I didn’t,” Coyne continued. “After I prayed to God to help me, the drugs didn’t feel the same, the relationships weren’t as comforting. Things almost felt more bleak, so I kept searching, but this time with God.”

Coyne retraces this process on the album’s title track — “If things are getting harder, then push harder through the pain,” she sings — sharing in conversation that she initially anticipated this reckoning would be “a cage match with myself.”

“And I was humbled when I realized how gentle and loving God was, because I wasn’t ready for gentle and loving,” she said. “I was trying to fight, and I thought I had to carry it all. … It turns out all I had to do was let go, and the whole record is talking about that change of mindset, where I just had to release control and not be the superhero.”

In the early months of this larger religious awakening, Coyne wasn’t sure if she could coexist in Hello Luna, and there were days she wondered if she would need to walk away from the band she founded six years ago. Gradually, though, Coyne said she came to the realization that it wasn’t the spaces she frequented that needed to change, but rather how she existed in them.

“I was the one who needed to be transformed, not everything around me,” Coyne said. “And once I got that, and once I started to see the actual progress — which took a long, long time and is still a struggle — it gave me so much more purpose. I’m in a much healthier mindset now than I was in the beginning. Finally stepping into the person I was trying to become, and still being able to do what I love and what I feel like I’m here to do, what else do you need, you know?”