Serene Images of a Misty Road Trip Through the Rocky Mountains, Vancouver and Montreal
Producer Lunakai takes us through the icy depths of the Rocky Mountains, Vancouver and Montreal, photographing the “awe-inspiring” details of his road trip.
South London native Lunakai – real name Kyle Ross – works as both a producer and photographer. As a producer, he’s been in the studio with the likes of Yussef Dayes and Ashnikko, and he’s worked on records for Diplo. In his own sound, he crafts emotionally-charged atmospherics, stitching together spoken word and chopped vocal samples with funk guitar and synth melodies. His latest single, Closer, is the kind of cut you’d play to soundtrack a road trip.
Ahead of the release of his self-titled EP, he embarked on a journey to the Rocky Mountains, Vancouver and Montreal to shoot the video for Closer. The results from his lens is a series of images that fluctuate from neon-lit restaurants to misty forests. Fog-drenched panoramic views shift to the floral, quilted sheets and rose-lined wallpaper of motels.
We invite you to view Vancouver and Montreal through Ross’ lens. Below, we ask the producer for his recommended hikes and tips for venturing into the forests.
Your creative output lies at the intersection of travel, music and photography. Can you share a little about the inspiration behind this trip and what you set out to achieve?
I was out in Canada for two months at the time. My friend Troy was living in Vancouver, which was the catalyst for the trip. I spent seven weeks in Vancouver and the last two in Montreal. We had planned on doing a road trip and both wanted to film something to make the most of it, but we weren't quite sure what. One of the main things with the video was that we wanted it to be fun and enhance the trip, not take over it and that's how this simple but striking video came to fruition.
Was this your first time in the Rockies?
This was my first time! I was genuinely blown away and still am when I think back to it. The visual scale of the landscape is absolutely insane. The only other place I had to compare it to was Snowdonia in Wales, and that's tiny by comparison. The Rockies stretch all the way (almost) from Alaska to Mexico! I only saw a fraction of it, but it's proper jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring madness.
You've travelled through multiple different landscapes. What was your favourite?
The huge frozen lakes were my favourite. They made these crazy noises when the ice would move and crack that sounded like electric laser beams from another planet! You could really feel the scale of it all from the sound. We recorded some of the sounds, and I’m yet to use them in a song!
How long was the road trip? Where did you start and where did you finish?
It was around 12 days. We started and ended in Vancouver and got as far up as Jasper, travelling through Canmore, Banff, Cache Creek and a few other spots.
What was your favourite stop off on the road trip and why?
There were so many that it's hard to pick! From the beauty of the national parks to the bygone era, time-stands-still sleepy towns that felt like you were on a retro desolate location set for a film, but it was real! One night that really stood out, we drove out to one of the huge lakes and had a campfire. It was a surreal moment sitting by the light of the campfire listening to those crazy massive ice cracking sounds and sipping a glass of red wine.
What time of year would you go and were there any particular trails or hikes you would recommend stopping off at?
I’ve only been in winter so I can’t speak for summer. I’d pick winter if I only had one choice as it’s so otherworldly and beautiful. It’s also a unique experience being in such a cold climate. There’s a great hike at a place called Brandywine Meadows – I’d recommend that, but make sure you have bear spray just in case as there are both black bears and grizzly bears.
If you were advising someone who's thinking of doing this trip, what would your three tips be?
Dress warm, carry bear spray and ease into the slow life.
What’s in your camera collection?
A Contax G2 that I’ve had since I was 18-ish (back then I was shooting for Vice) and currently a Fuji X100V. I have to shoot digital now with music being my main focus and film prices being so crazy!
It’s easy to draw comparisons between the solitary motel on the highway and the many horror films and crime documentaries we find ourselves watching at night. Would you recommend staying in one or should we avoid them?
The motels were a highlight for me! Like many, I’ve been obsessed with that Americana (or Canadiana in this case haha) time warp aesthetic. I can safely say that the motels were great, it’s a yes from me if you’re into that kind of thing.
Can you give more context to the photograph of the ladies wearing saris by the misty lake?
This was at Lake Louise up near Banff, we were going to try and rent a boat but we’d just missed the season by a day or two and they’d packed everything up ready for winter. Wondering around the lake we came across these girls taking pictures, I believe they were part of a wedding. Being keen street photographers we couldn’t resist getting some shots. It was magical.