Luke’s striking honesty and defiant passion rouses the flows and rushes of emotion that we all feel at one time or another. His innate ability to capture a sentiment in its purest melodic and lyrical form makes his music so powerfully potent that you cannot help but be swept away by the tidal wave of sincerity that hits you head on.
The release date of Luke’s début record “The Fire Inside” is in reaching distance (out 18th August) so as we sit in nervous anticipation waiting for the day to finally come, we thought why not hear from the man himself? We sat down with Luke to discuss how he’s feeling about the fact that his record will be out there for everyone to hear next month, the songs that he’s most proud of, his fans, his summer of festivals and much more.
I was just having a listen to the album sampler and I have to say, it made me even more excited for “The Fire Inside”. It gives us a taste into the heart of the album, a record consumed with a passionate fury of melodic goodness, lyrical intensity and deeper moments focussing on a spine-tingling vocal performance from yourself. Listening back to the album you must be very proud of the body of work you’ve produced, what are your thoughts on the record?
I’m still too close to it to have any great perspective. When I work on something so closely for so long, the only thing I hear is all the tiny details, like the tiny brush strokes of a painting, It’s gonna take me a little bit longer to step back a few metres and look at the whole canvas. I can only hope that when that day comes I’ll be proud of what I see.
The feeling must be setting in now that the album is about to drop soon and all the hard work you’ve put into this over the years is finally about to pay off. I guess you must be feeling a mixture of emotions, excited and nervous at the same time?
I think this feels both like a season finale and a pilot episode, to use a TV metaphor. It’s been a long process to get to this point and I’m very happy to have made a record and that there are people out there who want my record, that in itself is nuts to me. But the reality is this is just the beginning, I’m still building a fan base, still building a career, there’s no standing still in this industry if I want to sustainably support my life with my music. There’s all to play for.
I’m always fascinated by song lyrics and phrases, you are particularly good at writing the perfect lyric. So I wanted to ask, what’s your favourite lyric that you’ve written?
Thank you. Lyrics are everything to me. The holy grail for me is finding that phrase that sings of pure humanity, that lyric that seems so obvious to everyone yet still hits you in the gut. And also working hard not to put ‘filler’ words in that mean nothing.
Nearly Morning is a song I’m proud of lyrically. It’s very important to me. I think I got that one right. There’s no filler in there. Also Nothing Stays The Same and 21st Century Heartbeat. Proud of those.
Knowing that “The Fire Inside” is your début album and it’s filled with tracks from the early days of your career up to now. Did you always have certain songs in mind that you knew you wanted to one day release on the album, before you went into the recording and demoing process?
I’d already released 3 EPs of songs I was proud of. I took the EPs really seriously and looked at them like mini albums, I knew there were songs on those EPs that I didn’t think I could beat and that needed to be on the record. But I was also excited to get stuck into new songs and give the fans songs they haven’t heard yet.
How was the recording process when working on “The Fire Inside”? Did anything surprise you when recording the record?
The process happened in fits and starts. We didn’t hide away for 3 weeks and make the whole thing, in some ways that was the way I had always dreamed about it – to escape from the world in a barn somewhere and make something great, and come back and show everyone – I’d romanticised that process, but the reality of today’s industry is different.
The world doesn’t tend to wait around very long anymore so I found myself chipping away at the record between touring and other commitments. I think in hindsight I’m grateful for the way it happened because it meant after each session I could go away and get perspective on it and then come back and do a bit more a month later and so on. The danger of doing it all in a 3 week stint is you lose that perspective and disappear down rabbit holes of awful ideas.
When did you first start getting into music, and which records/artists were the important ones for you?
I went through loads of different phases growing up but they didn’t mean much to me, they didn’t last. It was Damien Rice who opened the gate to the singer/songwriter world for me back in 2003. I loved that record to bits, I was very obsessed, learnt it all on guitar and played gigs doing his covers. Along the way there have been other artists that have sustained and deepened my love of this music- Ryan Adams, Josh Ritter, Bon Iver & Neil Young are key figures for me.
Which song from “The Fire Inside” are you most looking forward to people hearing and can you tell us a little bit about the track, the background and how it all came together?
It’s hard to pick a favourite. 21st Century Heartbeat is a highlight for me. It very nearly didn’t make the record. It’s a song my producer, Iain Archer and I had written a while back, we both loved it, loved the lyric, thought it had something but couldn’t find the right clothing for it.
We recorded a few times in different studios across the year and eventually it came together in Iain’s studio at the eleventh hour. It’s a good example of the advantage of chipping away at a record over time. We got time to iterate, iterate, iterate until we found it’s perfect fitting. Really proud of that song now. So glad we took our time with it.
Lyrically, your music I guess stems from universal truths and general life experiences that we all go through, taking some inspiration also from your own life. What’s the journey we will take throughout “The Fire Inside”?
Life, Love, Confusion, Despair, Fear, Hope, Anger, Rebirth, Regret, Belonging, Acceptance, Death.
There has been a plethora of standout records to grace our ears this year and it’s been a great year for music in general. Personally, what records have stood out to you this year?
Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
War on Drugs – Lost In A Dream
Sun Kil Moon – Benji
You have a very busy summer carved out for yourself travelling from festival to festival, so I wanted to ask, what’s your favourite part of playing at festivals? Are there any festivals you’re particularly looking forward to playing?
I love being outside, getting to go out to random parts of the country and not just dingy clubs in city centres. I like comparing the very different atmospheres across different festivals. In principle a lot of them are doing the same thing but the variety in mood, tone and creativity etc is huge.
You’re very close to your fans and always take the time out to chat to them whenever you can, which personally means a lot to me that you do that. How important is it to you having that close relationship with your fans and is there anything you would like to say to them right now?
Yea I think it’s important to take time for the people who are into my music. I wouldn’t get to do what I do if fans didn’t invest themselves into what I do. I am so grateful to anyone who’s ever gone out of their way to buy my music, or come to a show, or shared something online etc. It’s amazing to me.
I am not a fan of celebrity, however, and I don’t like the trend for people to be more interested in the person on the stage rather than the music. But it’s hard to separate the two, especially for music like mine that can be very emotional and personal. I try to keep a healthy distance as well.
We’re big supporters of new music here at Bitter Sweet Symphonies. Having said that, are there any new artists that have caught your attention recently that you would like to share with us?
I don’t listen to enough new music. I’m awful at keeping up. Apart from the ones I mentioned above. Although I’ve been hearing good things about some Canadian songwriter called Neil Young, apparently he could be one to watch.
A special thanks to Luke Sital-Singh for this interview and for more info on Luke and his music, check out the following links below: