Luke Sital-Singh is a British singer-songwriter who delights listeners with heartfelt feelgood songs about love, forgiveness, and bravery. The quintessence of his creation subsist in the ease to connect with his music as it instantly feels familiar, yet the sound and lyrics have layers which evolve with each listening session. The combination of these factors contribute to the rare uniqueness of utterly tender but powerful music.
Recently he released his new album titled “A Golden State“, which reflects on the experience of deciding whether to settle down or endure one more one-eighty turn in life and relocate from Bristols to Los Angeles. We got an opportunity to ask about his thought-process behind his creation and the meaning of the new LP prior to his first ever gig in Estonia at Võnge festival. It is time to get acquainted with Luke Sital-Singh!
Luke, describe us your relationship with music in your childhood.
I was brought up in a religious family so we listened to a lot of church music, other than that my parents would just enjoy the popular music of the times. Things like Simply Red, Eric Clapton, Chris De Burgh. I wouldn’t say it was the deepest of musical educations. My oldest brother started bringing slightly cooler stuff into the house. Radiohead, Travis, Stereophonics, Moby. This would peak my interest a little more. But I wouldn’t say music was that important to me until I turned 15 and discovered my own world of music.
How did you grow into the ballad-driven music you now create?
I discovered Damien Rice at the age of 15 or so and that just changed me. Something about the singer-songwriter acoustic thing just spoke to me and I’ve been on the same path more or less ever since. I like ballads because they are beautiful. I think it’s easier for a sad slow song to be beautiful than it is for a happy song.
In the second Slow Makers episode, you referred that “It just feels important to me to keep looking back as the world spins madly forward.” From where such urge to look back comes from?
It just comes from a desire to learn from the past, to keep what is important about the past, to learn from mistakes as we all venture forth into the future. Just seems to be the wisest way forward is to keep an eye on where you’ve come from.
Is there something that reminiscing on the past experiences teaches you personally and as an artist?
As I say I think it just helps to not make the same mistakes again. I don’t think it’s healthy to only look back. It’s great to imagine the future and of course to enjoy the present moment too. It’s all one thing. It’s all a balance.
Tell us about your songwriting process. How your musical creation comes together?
Very very slowly and then very very fast. I ruminate on tiny ideas for a long time. Sometimes unconsciously. A lyric idea. A theme. A feeling. And then one day the song rushes out of me as fast as it can. It’s very strange. I wish I could control it better and write more methodically but it doesn’t work for me that way.
Regardless of writing and singing about deeper topics in a poetic way, the emotion of your music often provides silver lining or even revelation. Does your songwriting process affect yourself in a similar way?
It probably does. But I think only momentarily. I get a bit too focused on the idea of writing a good song now. In a career and business way. There’s a pure moment when I realise the song is good and it’s got a moving quality to it, but that moment disappears quickly when I start to craft or record the song into a commercial product. I think the aspect of my own fulfillment in my songs got a bit lost when it became my career. I now get a lot of fulfillment from releasing my songs and hearing how they have helped other people.
You have released three studio albums, several EPs and singles. How have you found yourself growing as a songwriter?
I’m not sure about that one. Hmm. I think I’m more confident in my own voice. My own way of writing.
I don’t feel like I’m trying to prove myself to anyone anymore. And that feels good.
The artwork of your albums is super inspiring by itself and beautifully compliments your music. Most of the artwork is made by your wife Hannah. How do you nurture each-others creation?
We mostly just stick to our own worlds. We are both perfectionists and can easily tell when our work is not up to quality. So we don’t often show each other work until we know it’s great.
What do you appreciate the most about the creative cooperation with Hannah?
It’s been a really nice way to document our separate and evolving work and interlink them over the years. Her work was simple back when we did my first EP and now it’s completely different. I love working with the same artist on everything. Plus she doesn’t charge me too much money!
You have stated that your most recent album “A Golden State” was a result of a long painful struggle, a backstory of you moving to from Bristol to L.A. What is the story and philosophy behind the name of the album?
I wanted a name that said California. But also said something more. I settled on “A Golden State” because it seemed to capture the sense that there’s a feeling, a state of mind that I feel when I’m in LA. A optimistic golden haze, a hopefulness about a new stage of life. And of course California is the golden state.
Which song on “A Golden State” was the starting point for the rest of it? What is the significance of this song to you?
“Lover” was the song that broke the whole album open for me. When I’m writing a new album I just need that first good song to set the tone. It didn’t come easy. But eventually it did and it had a fresh sound for me that allowed me to imagine what the album would be like, what songs I’d need to write etc.
The warmth of the vintage ribbon mics certainly comes through from the sound of the “A Golden State”. Did you enter the recording sessions with a specific sound in mind or did it turn out organically?
Yes, we knew we wanted a bit warm record and had specifically chosen some ribbon mics to use on my vocal. They have a big, timeless quality to them. My music is nothing without a big beautiful vocal sound. Once you have that set the songs start to dictate what else you need to record around it.
Several of your songs reflect on death, the end of life. What is it about death that makes you curious to write songs about it?
I’ve wondered this myself. Sometimes I think it’s because death has yet to really affect me personally. I’ve not lost anyone I was incredibly close to and yet I know it’s inevitable. I see friends go through it and it seems so horrible. We all go through so it’s a universalising thing. I think that’s powerful.
There is a lot of rumble around sadness when your creation is in the center of a discussion. Tell us, what makes you truly happy?
Coffee, pizza, basketball.
Where are you with your artistry today? What are your current musical goals?
I’m exploring. I want the next thing to be a change of pace. Something collaborative maybe. I want to work in film. To write songs for a soundtrack. All sorts. I’m just looking for that next spark to set me rolling again.
Luke astub üles juba täna, 14. juunil kell 20.45 Võnge festivalil.
Fotod: Hattie Ellis