RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW AMERICAN ARTIST LUKE FREES
Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat. What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
I always had music in my life growing up. My parents always had something playing, from the moment we woke up to right before bed—and seeing my grandpa play piano while my dad played guitar probably had a big impact too. And then since I wasn’t really interested in anything else growing up, it didn’t make much sense to try and pursue a career in anything else.
Introduce us to yourself and your musical history?
My name is Luke and I’ve been playing piano and writing songs since I was 4 years old. I picked up guitar when I was 10 and started playing in rock bands around then, and then eventually started releasing music under my own name around 2017.
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?
It’s hard to measure yourself because you’re always growing, so I can’t really say. I’m happy with where I am now though, and I’m excited about the direction things are going in. It’s been hard ever since COVID but this summer everyone thawed out and I’m starting to feel like I’m moving again.
How have your songwriting skills developed over time?
I started with a lot of piano instrumental pieces because I was listening to a lot of Elton John as a kid and studying classical piano—the b-side to this new single, To Pete, is actually pretty indicative of the sort of thing I wrote when I was just starting out. But now there’s a stronger emphasis on lyrics and the narratives I’m telling.
I’m seeing a lot of debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?
Well first off, I’m not sure that’s a debate, is it? Like if someone doesn’t feel safe at a gig, who’s really on the other side of things trying to convince them that they do? But to answer your question, I don’t know. I had a friend who was running merch at one of my shows, and this creepy old guy started talking to her and would not leave her alone!! and eventually it got to the point where the bartender and a couple other people at the bar threw this guy out and it was okay, so that’s something at the very least that we can do—just collectively being aware of the space we’re in and if we notice someone’s making someone else uncomfortable, do the right thing and intervene.
As you develop as an artist and develop using socials what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?
Just lots of trial and error! No tips unfortunately I’m keeping my change.
Tell us Two truths and a lie about you?
Ooh okay. I was born in an airport, I’ve met the band The National, and I only wear one contact in one eye.
What’re your thought on Spotify’s monopoly on the music industry?
It’s bad news, but the idea of companies fucking over artists isn’t new—before Spotify there were more major labels and payola radio stations—I think if anything it’s nice to finally have an opportunity to release your music as an independent artist. We’ve just gotta look for other ways to make money now. Whether we’re happy about Spotify or not doesn’t change the reality of things.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?
The royal family killed Diana.
Did you buy anything you don’t need in the pandemic?I bought a Daphne blue Fender Jaguar and it’s my baby. It’s what I used on pretty much all of Point Of You.
What was the worst experience on stage?
I’d say probably the time my band in college played the Hard Rock café for five people and a few Disney employees who were promoting the live action Aladdin movie. It was a huge hall and it was so embarrassingly poorly attended that I shouted my voice hoarse in frustration and couldn’t get through the rest of the set.
Tell us something about you / each member that you think people would be surprised about?
I used to drink 12 cans of La Croix a day.
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
I have red hair and a hat now.
I hear you have a new single, what can you tell us about it.
It’s very much inspired by old Hollywood soundtracks and Tom Waits’ ballads. It’s a love song, and my friend Corwin added all the strings to it. We tried to make it sound like an orchestra with just their one violin, and it ended up having probably close to twenty layers stacked on top of each other.
Talk me through the thought process of the new tune/s.
I’m known for being a bummer artist—I write a lot of sad songs—so I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could write something that was just a genuine love song, with no strings attached, no darkness, no doubts. Just love. Because that was how I was feeling at the time I wrote it.
What was the recording process like?
It started out as a demo on my electric piano, but that obviously wasn’t going to get the grand old Hollywood vibe I wanted, so I redid the piano on my parents’ upright, but that still wasn’t working. It wasn’t until I recorded on my neighbor’s Steinway grand piano and layered the strings on with Corwin that it actually came together.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
These two pieces actually just kinda fell into my lap. Some songs you have to work at and chisel away and revise, and I’m notorious for reworking lyrics especially, but this hardly has a word changed from the first draft.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Not at all. It turned out exactly how I wanted it to.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Not really, just that I’m continuing my one-single-a-month plan, so stay tuned for January’s single! It’s going to be loud.