Interview – Luke Leighfield
(Photo by: Tom Price)
Amy Rebair got a chance to chat to our featured artist this month (April), Luke Leighfield. Discussed in the interview is the launch of Got No Need Records, lessons he learned when producing new album, ‘New Season’, the direction Luke’s music has taken since his first release and you can find out which three guests Luke would invite to a dinner party!
Amy Rebair: Hey! How’s everything going?
Luke Leighfield: Everything is great thanks. I’m just enjoying a mellow Sunday afternoon answering emails!
AR: Why don’t we start with a little introduction to Venture readers about yourself and your music?
LL: I’m Luke, I’m 24, and I’ve spent the past six years writing songs and playing them in as many places as I can.
AR: If you had to describe the music you produce in only 3 words, which words would you use and why?
LL: Positive, hopeful, orchestral. I don’t know if those are the three best descriptors possible, but a really important aspect of my music is that I want it to bring positivity and hope to people. And on top of that, it sounds quite orchestral. That’s probably not a great description. Sorry!
AR: Your fourth album, ‘New Season’, is to be released this month, which is very exciting! Is there any particular message you wanted to get across to your listeners?
LL: New Season is about new beginnings, starting over, hope – things like that. I want people to feel good when they hear it, and I want it to be a positive listen.
AR: I can imagine producing albums are a huge learning curve each time around, especially as you were able to record with Peter Miles this time. What would you say the biggest lesson you’ve learnt whilst producing this album?
LL: I think the biggest thing I learned was to take risks, try new things and trust my instincts. There are lots of people giving opinions when you’re making a record, and it’s good to have lots of input, but the most important thing is that you personally like it and that it’s honest. If the album pleases me and it’s something that I would really want to listen to, then there’s a chance that it’ll connect with other people too. If it doesn’t connect with me, then it’s probably not going to connect with other people either. I hope that makes sense!
AR: Would you say your music has matured in comparison your third album?
LL: It would be a lie to say that ‘New Season’ is wildly different, but I think it’s a lot rawer in terms of the lyrics and production. ‘Have You Got Heart?’ was quite polished, arguably too polished, and I was keen to make ‘New Season’ a bit rougher. It’s still very much a poppy record, but we kept things more organic and human by trying not to edit takes too much or use loads of autotune. The songs themselves are a bit more adventurous in my opinion, and I think I stretched myself more than I did on ‘HYGH?’ I hope it sounds like a more organic, honest, soulful record.
AR: The past five years sound like they’ve been pretty hectic, as I believe you’ve played around 650 shows worldwide and that’s crazy! Especially as you’ve shared stages with many other talented artists like yourself. For anyone who hasn’t seen you live, how would you describe your performances?
LL: When I play solo I try to keep things intimate and fun by breaking up the songs with some storytelling – I find going to watch someone play solo for 45 minutes a bit dreary if they don’t say much! As for when I play with the band, we just try to rock.
AR: You’ve actually created your own record company, Got Got Need Records, where you not only release your music but also that of your friends. What was your reasoning behind it? Would you say it has it given you more freedom to break the boundaries and step outside the box? If so, how?
LL: I started Got Got Need Records because no one else offered to release my music! It’s been nice though because it’s meant that I’ve been able to help out some friends along the way by releasing their records, and it also means that I don’t have to answer to anyone when I want to release something. So if I want to give away an album for free, or release a single as a mug (both of which I’ve done) then I can just decide to do it and then act on it. It keeps things simple.
AR: As you produced ‘New Season’, I hear you also produced a feature-length film to go alongside the album, called ‘Seasons’ with film-makers Duncan Howsley and Tom Price. What was it that made you want to do this?
LL: Lots of people film the process of making an album and put little clips on YouTube, but I thought it’d be fun to try something a bit bigger. We set a rough goal of making a feature-length piece (over 45 minutes) but said that we’d cut it down to something smaller if there wasn’t enough interesting footage. When we started putting it together we thought there was enough good stuff to make a feature-length documentary, so that’s what we did! Hopefully it gives an insight into what goes into making an album, and offers another layer to the songs. I always warm to bands more when I’ve seen a documentary about them, and it’s just another way to help people understand the record and give them a look behind the scenes. It’s nice that people have enjoyed it!
AR: The list of artists and bands you’ve already worked with is very impressive, but is there any you’re wanting to work with sometime in the near future?
LL: I never really set out to be a session musician and although I’ve had the privilege of playing with some great artists over the past few years, it’s not really something that I’m super passionate about. For now I just want to concentrate on my own music, but we’ll see what the future brings. I’d quite like to try the production side of things if the opportunity comes up!
AR: As well as being an ‘underground pop star’ you’ve managed to graduate from University and hold down a number jobs in the meantime. What would be your main piece of advice you’d give to any new musicians wanting to break into the industry?
LL: I’d say that the most important thing is making sure that your work is honest, and that you love the music that you’re making. There are so many people making great music and you just have to make your songs as good as they can possibly be, then hope that they resonate with people. I’ve definitely put too much pressure on ‘making it’ in the past, and it can start to suck the fun out of everything. It has to stay fun, otherwise the pressure can be a bit overwhelming. And regarding honesty, I see so many bands who clearly write songs or market themselves just to fit the mould of what’s big or successful at any given time, and if you do that then you’ll always be one step behind. Just make music that you enjoy!
AR: Why don’t we end with a fun question! If you were able to host your dinner party and could pick any 3 guests you’d like, dead or alive, who would you pick and why?
LL: Freddie Mercury, Jesus, Gandhi. That’s a party I’d love to be at.
AR: Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?
LL: Thanks for being lovely.
AR: Thank you very much for your time!