Luke Burr

Thursday 14 June 2018
Words Matt Zara

Upon his return from a busy week in Amsterdam, we decided to give Luke Burr a call. Don’t worry, he hasn’t been up to the usual debauchery some might associate with the city. Instead, he’s been working on a ton of new music, gearing up for a debut EP. We were keen to find out a bit more…

How are you? Can you set the scene for us a bit?

I’m good! I just got back from Amsterdam this weekend, I was there last week filming at the Red Bull Studios with a guy called Full Crate, a Dutch producer who I’ve got a collaboration coming out with this summer. We just went out there to shoot a live video at the studios, which was amazing, and then I made a bit of a week of it and set up some sessions and have ended up coming back with my next single, so I’m feeling all good.

For those that may not be aware, can you tell us a bit about who you are, your upbringing, and the kind of music you make?

Of course. So, I’m Luke, I’m from Essex, I’m 22 and I’ve been at this since I was a little kid. I’ve always been into music, my dad was really into his old soul and he played me all that kind of stuff, so from an early age I was really inspired by Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, all that stuff. Then when I was 15, I started to make my own music and write. I was terrible, but I always knew I could sing. I was gigging in pubs and clubs, and that was sort of where I honed my craft. As I got older, I had more life experiences, and got into more fresh production from the likes of Timbaland, Kanye West and then nowadays Mura Masa and all that sort of stuff. I love great songs, and whether it’s me sitting there on the piano just doing a ballad in the same vein as John Legend, or if it’s something more group based, I want every song to feel like a great song.

It’s interesting that you mention John Legend, as we’ve seen you described as being somewhere between him and Amy Winehouse. Is that a comparison you’d agree with?

I don’t know if I can agree with that, I think that would be a little bit big headed. But, I would say that John Legend is probably the artist that’s had the biggest influence on me. [His] first album came out at a time when I was just discovering my love for music, and his voice – I’ve seen him live multiple times – is the one for me. With both of those guys, they’ve got a tone which makes you believe anything they say, it’s not forced at all, and I’d like to believe that when I’m singing people believe what I’m saying.

Do you think growing up in Essex has affected the music you make? Would you have ended up making different music if you’d grown up in London?

Maybe… I think growing up in Essex was great for the number of pubs and parties that I could sing at. There was always a gig on, and at one point in school I was doing like three gigs a week – pubs, parties, weddings. On the live side of things, it helped me enormously. London would have had more competition, and the experience from hundreds of gigs has been great. In terms of what I write, a lot of my dad’s friends were into their disco, Earth, Wind & Fire, the old soul stuff, and maybe that influenced me slightly as well. It’s Essex, but it’s not too far from London, so you get a lot of the same influences.

Skipping forward a bit, how was touring with Rudimental?

That was amazing! I’m actually hoping to go to Denmark with them on Thursday as well. The first time I did it was the back end of last year in Australia. I’d known the boys for a while, and they needed a singer for the tour so they called me up a few days before going and asked if I was up for going! I said I’d have to check my diary [chuckles] but a few days later we were on a business class flight. It was an absolute dream, probably the best few weeks of my life.

I played in front of 15,000 people, which was my first proper gig ever. I was so excited and so nervous – I’d never used in-ears before so I was stressing out about all that… But as soon as I got out, it was just electric. That whole tour was amazing. We did so many different types of gig – we did festivals, clubs, live stuff. I came back so inspired. Eventually, I want that to be my name up in lights behind me.

Having worked with Rudimental, who would be your dream artist to work with and why?

To collaborate with Timbaland would be an absolute dream, the stuff he did with Justin Timberlake was incredible. In terms of English artists, I’d love to work with Snakehips, I think they’d be sick. Mura Masa is another one. Obviously, John Legend would be the ultimate, but one can pray! Hopefully I’ll do more with Rudimental, and I’m also looking to find ‘the next Rudimental’ or ‘the next Disclosure’ and grow together with them. I’m working with some exciting people at the moment who I really believe could get to that stage.

Your tracks have already been on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist and Apple’s Best of the Week. How does it feel to get such recognition from big names within the industry?

It’s weird, because sometimes you feel like you’re writing for the ten people who curate these playlists and I don’t want to feel like that. Sometimes I become a bit bogged down in the numbers. I think what’s more important is whether I love the song, regardless of it having 1,000 plays or 100,000 plays, I have to stand behind that song.

I think I’m a culprit of achieving something and feeling great for that day, and then waking up the next day and wanting to know what’s next. I think that will get me far, but it does affect my happiness and my mental wellbeing sometimes, always wanting that next 50,000 plays. It is great that I’ve got recognition so far, I’m not taking that for granted, but I always want more.

How was the Great Escape gig down in Brighton?

It was amazing! I think the Great Escape it a bit potluck what venue you get, because obviously there are so many. Mine was a little pub that didn’t look tailored to music and was really noisy before we started, so I thought it might be one to forget. As soon as we started, the whole pub gathered round and were listening, singing along, and it was actually a really special moment. Hopefully I’ll go back next year, on a bigger stage. I love The Great Escape, seeing so many artists grow is great.

You’ve also started doing a monthly vlog. Could you tell us a bit about your motivations behind that?

I’m always looking at new ways to create, and I think it’s a great way to give people a better idea of who you are when most people just seen you through the filter of an Instagram post of just your music. I think it lets people connect with me on a personal level as well as a music level. I think when you’re growing up watching your idols, it always looks so great. They’re winning awards, selling out stadiums. I don’t care whether the vlog gets 50 views or 1,000 views. I just want to show the struggle as well. I was struggling with my vocals earlier this year, and there have been times where the songs haven’t been flowing. I want people to see that, and realise it’s not all rosey – there are ups and downs. I hope people connect with that realism. It’s also nice for me to look back on and realise what I’ve achieved.

One final question: What’s next?

We’ve been deciding on the next single for a while because I want to drop an EP. I’ve come back from Amsterdam with a song that I’m determined to release, which should come out in September. Before that, I’ve got a couple of collaborations coming out with different producers. Lots and lots of interesting stuff. We’re filming and creating all the time, gearing up for the EP.