Luke Abbott is cut from some pretty darn good electronic cloth. Releasing on James Holdens Border Community label, his productions have seen him gain quite an eclectic following (Elijah Wood is a fan!). His most recent EP 'Brazil" (on Border Community) is quite wonderful. We had a little chat with Luke about music and Mayans!
CGNY: What’s a typical day like for Luke Abbott? Are you a tea or coffee person? Maybe a nice bowl of porridge to start the day and then some tinkering on your instruments?!
LA: Coffee! Usually it's my first vice of the day. My studio is in my house, so I drift in and out of it during the day. I don't really work with any structure, I just try and let stuff happen, so being at home and working on music gets all mixed together, it's just part of everyday life for me.
CGNY: What initially drew you to electronic music?
LA: Squarepusher, without a doubt. Before I discovered his music I just wasn't interested in anything electronic. I was playing drums in various bands before I started doing electronic music, and it kind of blew my mind when I heard Squarepusher because it suddenly clicked with me that you can have so much more freedom if you work alone, you can follow your ideas further. And you don't have to wait for other people to make music like when you're in a band, which means you can spend more time making noise!
CGNY: When you start to work on a track…how does it come about? Do you hear a melody in your head? Sit at a piano, pick a guitar?
LA: I have no fixed way of writing; I try and reinvent how I work all the time. I do play a bit of piano and guitar, my track 'brazil' for instance I wrote on guitar first. Often I just find myself doing something and think 'oh, that sounds ok' and then I'll record it… then I'll usually forget about it for a few months, and every so often I'll go through a bunch of things I've started and hear something I like and flesh it out into a track. It means I've got about 50 - 100 folders of ideas at any one time, but that could only amount to a few finished tracks.
CGNY: How cool is it to be aligned with Border Community! James Holden is a personal musical hero of mine! Did you send in tracks to him or how did that come about? It’s how I first heard your music by the way. James played a track of yours at a gig in Cielo here and I know from talking to him that he’s a huge supporter of your work.
LA: James is a personal musical hero of mine too! And yeah, I feel totally honoured to be involved with Border Community, it's a label I was really into before I started working with them, so it was very exciting for me when they asked me if I wanted to do a record with them. But it's our working relationship now that makes it really special, it's just a pleasure to work with them as we think in similar terms and share a lot of ideas and enthusiasms. I got in touch with them in the most traditional way possible, I just sent them a demo CD, I've only ever sent four demo CDs to record labels my life, so I'm pretty lucky that it worked, I don't think it's supposed to be that easy.
CGNY: Do you think it’s difficult to make a living as a musician…if one is not in mainstream pop music? Any particular challenges in getting your music heard by a wider audience?
LA: It's ok as long as the gigs keep coming, but I suppose it's not the most reliable source of income. I'm certainly not getting rich, but I'm getting by, and that's what's important to me, I just want to find a way to keep making music. I honestly don't really think about 'how to get my music heard', my philosophy has always been that if I concentrate on just making the best music I can, then everything else will gravitate towards me… it's kind of worked so far. I suppose it helps a lot when you get support from DJs like James, he's really given me a great platform for my music.
CGNY: Brazil is beautiful, congratulations.…Why did you name the EP Brazil!?
LA: Thanks. It's named after the 1985 Terry Gilliam movie 'Brazil', which is in turn named after another piece of music called 'Aquarela do Brazil'. I kind of like the chain of names it creates to keep naming things after other things, I also love the film, it's amazing, watch it.
CGNY: Who/what/where does your inspiration for music come from? What other things are you interested in besides music – any cute hobbies?
LA: Inspiration is weird thing. Usually when people ask you who you're inspired by what they really mean to ask is 'who do you sound like?' I don't think it's something that can be explained very easily, all I know is that if I stop making music then I get frustrated and unhappy and very bored, so I keep doing it. Other than music I like to do cooking. I also like art, which is what I studied before I started taking music seriously.
CGNY: Where are you playing next and any plans to come Stateside? What have been your favorite places to play so far?
LA: I don't know when I'll manage to get to the states, I'd love to see some more of America, so I hope I can get out there soon. But unfortunately I'm not in much of a position to dictate where I want to play, I just go where people ask me to. I've had a lot of really amazing gigs recently, it's hard to pick out any favourites… I really just enjoy playing live, if it's for a 1000 people in a big club or 10 people in a tiny room, I just love it.
CGNY: Well someone needs to bring you to NYC soon Luke! How many more famous fans do you plan to accumulate – I’m referencing of course Elijah Wood – your number one fan! (good taste that lad!)
LA: Yeah, it's really flattering when anyone tells you that they like your music, but when you hear it from someone who's hugely famous then it comes as a bit of a surprise! It's quite exciting, like when you hear your music on the radio for the first time, it makes your realize that your music is out there like some kind of ambassador for your way of thinking. But the best thing about someone famous liking your music is that it impresses your parents.
CGNY: The Mayans are telling us we’ll be done and dusted by Dec 22nd. So for the 20th – should that happen, where would you like to be and what would you like to be doing – if not too personal?
LA: I don't believe in that prediction, in fact I think it's ridiculous. People have a habit of misinterpreting and sensationalizing things like this, and before you know it there's a collective anxiety about some bullshit idea. People used to go on about Nostradamus, saying that he had predicted the end of the world would be in 1998 or something, but the 90's happened and we're still here. The Mayan end of the world is just the trendy new apocalypse. Never underestimate the stupidity of humans in large groups.
CGNY: Check out Luke here