Interview: Luke Christopher
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 16:58:21
“We’re in exciting times right now,” smiles Luke Christopher.
That’s because he’s throwing hip-hop a much-needed life jacket. His major label single “Life Jackets” floats between impressive rhymes and wordplay, immersive production, and stunning vocals. Luke swims out of the gate as the most dynamic performer rap has seen since Drake first emerged. However, this is merely the start of a thrilling career...
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Luke Christopher talks “Life Jackets”, his upcoming album, movies, and so much more.
What's the story behind "Life Jackets"? How did it come together? What does it mean to you?
It's funny. Initially, I had the idea for the metaphor of a life jacket. You want somebody to give you that confirmation and faith in a relationship. The other person just wants to do the easy and fun things though. They don't want to commit. When I did the beat, I thought, "Yeah, this feels like that metaphor". I wanted to have that raw piano breakdown and do the rap verses. It's about that moment when you come to the point in a relationship where you take it to the next level or you let it go. Some dude is like, "I can't commit". Some girl wants that safety net so she doesn't end up jumping into something that's poisonous or too deep that she can drown in it. She's looking at love and the relationship as a like jacket.
Sonically, it stands out.
Thanks bro! That was the goal. I don't like following. I don't feel like I have to sound the same to sonically co-exist. I want to change the game. The dope thing is, I'm producing my own music so I get to have that creative license to say, "This is what I think the radio should sound like. Get with that whole vibe". It's cool to have that power.
You've got to be who you are.
Absolutely! No doubt...
Does "Life Jackets" open the doorway to the album for you?
Yeah! It's not often that somebody is singing and rapping. At the same time, I'm also producing and writing. It makes people say, "Oh snap, this is real! This is coming from dude. This isn't the label telling him what they want". I went in the studio, and it came from a raw and authentic place. That's what the album is going to sound like. It's going to have that authenticity. "Life Jackets" gets people used to what it's going to sound like coming from one artist. It's a one-man type of song. That's cool.
What's your vision for the album as a whole?
It's definitely going to be cohesive. It's going to have a sense of feeling and a common ground. At the same time, each of the songs will live in its own space. All of my favorite albums had songs that sounded different but they were all part of the same show. They're like different acts of one show. Each act has its moment, but in the end it all makes sense.
What themes do you feel like you're tackling?
It's a lot of self-reflection. It tackles love—all sides of it. It definitely has the storytelling aspect. I've always come from a conceptual storytelling place in terms of writing. A lot of it will be about stories. It will come through as if I'm the narrator. It'll have different thoughts. If there are two songs about love, they won't be coming from the exact same place. They'll be coming from different perspectives.
What else influences that storytelling for you?
I used to read a lot. I still read. I love movies. I'm a big film dude. I think stories are the basis of all creative exploits. Even paintings and pictures tell stories. They're all about what's going on. Stories are the easiest way to relate to people. One time or another, they went through something similar in some type of way. Stories have that common ground everyone shares.
If you were to compare your album to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Whoa! That's a dope question. I might have to go with Star Wars meets Rushmore, which is a Wes Anderson movie, meets Inception. Inception gets you thinking. I definitely want people to walk away from the album personally reflecting and thinking. You hear a song, you say the line back a thousand times, and you think of it differently the millionth time you've heard it. At that point, it means something different to you. It's definitely Inception in that sense. I say Rushmore because I wanted it to be crafted very smartly. I want sounds to come in at smart times. I want it to be unexpected but really thoughtful. I want to say intelligent things. I'm not saying a lot of hip-hop albums aren't, but many rap albums say things that are so typical. I want complicated moments. Then, there's Star Wars because I want it to be a big ass theatrical fucking blockbuster everybody-remembers-it type of joint [Laughs].
What artists shaped you?
Early Kanye West was one of the most important. I remember when The College Dropout came out. All the way through Graduation, I got a lot from those production-wise. Then, there's the fact that he was telling stories and talking about himself. That was big to me. The production quality of The Beatles was unique. The songs are like anthems just because of the melodies. I try to capture that sort of vibe too.
Any other rock bands?
Well, I love The Beatles. I love Coldplay. I like The Police. I like Phil Collins a lot too. I like Sting. I dig cats who did weird things but had dope songs.
As far as hip-hop goes, who were the most crucial to you?
Mos Def was definitely huge for me from a lyrical standpoint. I love early OutKast. Andre 3000 was big. As I got older and Drake and J. Cole were coming out, I gravitated towards them. They're dope. Common was huge for me.
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