By ERICA McQUEEN.
We caught up with Kiwi folk singer/songwriter Luke Thompson while he was performing at last weekend’s Festival One.
Last year you released a four track EP, Strum Strum. Why did you decide on that rather than a full album?
I was working on a whole bunch of songs which I still have and haven’t released, and those were the ones that weren’t working as well. They were all the offcuts. The other songs were more folk, more like To the Common Dark. Those Strum Strum songs were just these songs I really liked that were ruining my flow, they were ruining my project. So I was like ‘I’ll just get those out, do something different’. A bigger band sound. Very simple songs, simple arrangements. That’s why I called it Strum Strum. It’s meant to be kind of funny. I did those in a studio with Nic Manders and I got Tim Hart over from Boy & Bear. Fairly big production compared to what I do a lot of the time. And so I’ve got all these other songs, an album’s worth of some of my favourite songs, these folk songs and I still haven’t got them ready to release. ‘Cause I’ve accidentally recorded this new electric album and that’ll come out next. That’s like seven or eight [tracks]. It is what it is. I think an eight-song album is so cool. I’ve got a name for it and everything, it’s ready to go. I just haven’t found a time to do it. Or a proper way to record.
What do you find are the challenges of being a full-time musician in New Zealand?
It’s pretty awesome. It’s a pretty cushy job. I mean, I think more people could do it than do it. I think people maybe are afraid, maybe they just like having lots of money around. The truth of it is that we just don’t have much money at all, but that’s fine with us. We don’t need much stuff, we don’t really consume many things. So there’s that part of it. I just love doing it. I don’t really find anything hard about it. The things that are hard about it are not linked with being in New Zealand. The things that are hard about it are the just the normal things that any songwriter would find hard with that particular work. It has its challenges.
You’re about to move to Australia. What do you think are the advantages of their music industry compared to here?
I’m a touring musician, I don’t really get radio play. I don’t get any kind of play, I just tour and sell my music that way and pick up fans as I go, if I’m lucky. The good thing about Aussie is you can tour for about three months straight, as opposed to two weeks. And then by the time you’ve done three months you can start again. So that’s the plan: to tour non-stop. Get up a bit of momentum over there. More places to play. There are a lot of cool people to connect with, a whole lot of music festivals. Even just the amount of just folk festivals is bizarre, there are so many. So there’s more of that to tap into. It’s just for a season [to] see how that goes. Bit of a family adventure.
Who do you think are the ones to watch in NZ music at the moment?
I just see my mates play live. Like, Holly Arrowsmith is phenomenal and the thing about Holly is she’s so pro-active as well. She gets out and does stuff. She’s off to America to tour. I’ve never even done that. And I just love seeing her play live. I’m excited about Lydia’s [Cole] new stuff, because it’s been a long time. And I’m excited about seeing Lydia get out there and tour around the world. I think that’s going to happen soon. My mate Hans Kraenzlin. I loved watching him and he just blew my mind. So much energy.
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