Multi-instrumentalist singer songwriter Luke Yates beguiles audiences with stories of love, lust, life, freedom and adventure. He draws on experiences from travelling the world with a guitar, vocal coaching for the world’s leading contemporary choir, managing a successful music venue and performing in over 80 countries. Last year Luke began working with mentor Judy Stakee and helps her with the production of her workshops and retreats.
Where to find Luke Yates
Website – http://www.lukeyatesmusic.co.uk/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/LukeYatesMusic
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/lukeyatesmusic/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/lukeyatesofficial
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZiebnkgxSEgYYu9rRlGrcQ
SoundCloud – https://soundcloud.com/lukeyatesofficial
Judy Stakee Retreat – https://judystakee.com/retreats
Transcript – Download PDF version
SWR: Alright, today on Songwriting Routines we have Luke Yates from the UK. You’ve been very nice and you’re coming after a hard day’s work staying up and talking to us, so, thank you.
Luke Yates: Thank you for having me, it’s a pleasure.
SWR: Cool. How about we start with introductions. Tell us a little bit about yourself, and your music.
Luke Yates: Sure thing. So, I’m primarily a musician. I started when I was about two and a half years old with a baby keyboard about this big … I was playing the notes one day and apparently played something that sounded like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and it took me about half an hour, but I worked out the notes and I guess that was the first time in my life of playing by ear, and then developed it. Now a few years later I play a couple of different instruments and play almost solely by ear. So, I did three or four years totally in cover gigs playing dueling piano bars, which was a lot of fun … that was my first experience with America as well … playing a lot of cover gigs, weddings, and so on and so on … and then, for a few years, I’ve been kind of trapped in the closet as a songwriter so to speak. I didn’t want to come out to the world and to my friends as a songwriter because almost saying it made it real, and I guess an insecurity within me was scared to hold myself accountable to saying, “I’m a songwriter, this is what I want to do.” And eventually I did that a few years ago and met some amazing people along the way, and now I’m just about to release my first few singles and my first EP actually. And my sound is something of a cross of Damien Rice, Glen Hansard, Amos Lee, a little Ed Sheeran, James Bay … it’s typical singer-songwriter, with a twist, I like to think.
SWR: Fantastic. So, you just hit upon something. You said being in the closet as far as being a songwriter … what caused that and what made you decide, “okay, I’m actually going to do this”?
Luke Yates: Yeah, that’s interesting … I think initially when you sing cover gigs, especially in a place like a dueling piano bar, it’s far more important how you make everybody feel rather than the quality of the music. And actually, arguably, it’s always most important how you make somebody feel. But it’s far more about creating an entertaining atmosphere, creating a vibe for people to let go, let their hair down and have some fun. So, the quality of my music wasn’t scrutinized, it wasn’t that important. I think you can do a really great job in a piano bar without sounding great … if you know the repertoire and you can have fun with the audience, you’re doing a great job. And I think I found that I was good at that and it was easy to hide behind the entertainer within me. Whereas, being a singer songwriter … I think the fact that it’s my words that I’m putting out there, these are my thoughts, these are my experiences, and my life that I’m putting out to the world makes it a lot more personal, and it’s not just about, “Am I a good enough musician? Am I good enough singer?” … this is me. And I used to teach instruments and voice and I compare it … the difference between cover gigs and original music, is kind of the difference I think between playing an instrument and singing, in that people would come in for guitar lessons and you might get people who are a bit nervous the first few times they’re like, “Oh, I’m not very good, I don’t know if this is right for me.” And very quickly it means there’s nerves. But when it comes to voice it’s so much more of a personal thing. So often you get people who’ve had a traumatic experience with a choir teacher at a young age, or one of their school teachers telling them to be quiet in the music class. And that stays with people because it’s part of who we are, and I think that songwriting is similar and can be compared to that. And then … finish that question, I came out of the closet musically, so to speak, because I decided if I don’t do this now, music is going to become more of a job, more of a chore than it was at the beginning. The thing that excited me was missing, and that was the real, honest connection with an audience. I was finding that I was going through the motions as a cover singer. And I mean, frankly, if we just wanted to work for money, none of us would pick being a musician or a songwriter. So, if there’s no passion in it anymore, you might as well do something for money or find the passion again in what you love. And for me that was writing, sharing my real self with an audience.
SWR: I love it. You touched upon another thing, which I’ve talked to other musicians about, and maybe it’s a little traumatic, right, maybe you’re young, and you’re starting out and someone tells you you’re not good enough or maybe you compare yourself to what you see on TV or hear on the radio. How was it for you when you were young? You said you started at two and a half playing on a little keyboard. Were you in a very encouraging environment? Were your folks like, “Hey this is fantastic! Let’s put more time into this”?
Luke Yates: I guess arguably, yes I was encouraged, but maybe not in the normal way. Like my mum was very, very encouraging and very proud of me, but not musical per se. I don’t really have a very musical family. My brother plays some piano. He’s very intellectual with his playing. For me, I barely read music, I know how you would read music in theory, but it’s all by ear. Whereas Craig, my brother is very, “Here’s the dots, this is what you do.” At a young age I think the big fundamental catalyst for me to really help me decide that my life is intended to be in music, this is my purpose and being, were at school. I had a tough upbringing in school in that I was short and ginger and I grew up with OCD and panic attacks, and lots of things that made it really hard for me to socialize and be confident in a group of people, so music was an escape for me. I would go and play piano all day, and my friends were bunking off lessons smoking weed behind the shed or whatever. I was in a piano room just playing. And although that might appear sad objectively, it was incredible for me, and it was the reason that it become such a close connection for me, and me go-to, and I feel so privileged and blessed that I’ve got that outlet for expression whenever I’m sad or whenever I want to get something out of me I can go and play or write.
SWR: I talked to someone else, and she said, that’s right, music helps move trauma, and I agree. It’s such a nice place to go to, right? Okay, so now that you’re saying, “okay, I am a songwriter,” what does your day look like? How much time do you spend writing songs? What does that process look like for you?
Luke Yates: That’s a particularly relevant question right now because I’ve just moved in to a new place and I’ve really set a strong, quite strict routine into motion because there’s a heck of a lot that I want to achieve in a short amount of time. So, part of my work to pay the bills is I work alongside Judy Stakee, who’s the ex-Vice-President at Warner Chappell and had the most illustrious, amazing career and still does and the last seven years started her own company. Together we run songwriting retreats around the world, so I mainly freelance from England and do the project management of that, and run the business side, and Judy mentors and shares this methodology that she’s developed over her career. So, three hours a day minimum I spend really keeping things running with the business growing, we’ve got 40 retreats happening this year all around America and maybe one in Europe as well, in Canada actually. And then three hours a day I focus on music. So that will be writing, it’ll be practicing singing, it’ll be just jamming, but music, unadulterated music for three hours a day. And at the moment I’m going to Prague in just under three weeks, we had the three week deadline yesterday … so all systems go for the EP, I’m practicing all the songs, I’m in the studio a lot almost doing a dry run of all my recordings, ’cause I’ve got a really good friend who’s an amazing vocal producer … I figure, getting everything set and ready into motion before I go to Prague, for the people because it’s a lot of money and pressure’s on to get the good takes on that day. I want to be ready and rehearsed and ready to go with it so that I can kind of let go of the technique and just be present for the songs on the actual recording. So my day goes, 8:30 wake-up, two hours with Mind, Body, Soul, which is something I’ve learned from Ted Talks, a bit of what Judy’s taught actually as well, in that … showing up for life and being present aside, I do meditation every day, I journal every morning. I was into a really great routine of yoga and I’ve let that slip a little bit recently, so maybe get back into that. 10:30 I start my work-work, like the work to keep the bills being paid and the work that I’m passionate about as well. Then my lunch, then three hours of music every day. And then the key for me has been stopping, like when I get to 5:30, sometimes 6:30, actually stopping and no more work. I can jam, I can still play music, and go and see friends or play an open-mic but the work element of the day is over. ‘Cause I think a lot of people around my age, especially when we’re ambitious, it’s so pressured to try and achieve everything all at once and it can often lead to overworking and for me I’ve had to decide “now’s the time to nip that in the bud”, because it means that the work I do do, I can do far more effectively and really show up for it.
SWR: I agree. I think I have that problem where I take on too much, right I’m doing like five different projects and making very little progress in each one, and then you realize “Okay, I gotta shed four of these things and focus on one or two”. So for you to already know that, that’s fantastic. How did you end up working with Judy Stakee? I just read her book, The Survival Guide, a couple months ago.
Luke Yates: Yeah, it was life-changing really. It was two and a half years ago, I approached her for a consultation, ’cause since she left Warner Chappell she offers private consultations and she wrote the book and she’s speaking, she’s a guest speaker at Berklee, an adjunct professor at the Belmont and I’d heard about her online, and it was around the time that I was coming out of the closet as a songwriter. And I decided I wanted to hear from somebody who really knew what they were talking about, two things: Am I good enough to do this? No bullshit, can I do this? Because I need to know and I really want … And, to be honest, even if she’d said no, the fire within me probably would still went on but it was definitely great to hear a yes. And the second one was: If I am good enough, how do I get to where I want to be? So we had an amazing consultation together and we stayed in touch by email, and then about six months to a year later I was headlining the Troubadour in London. So excited for the gig, I got a bunch of friends down there and really worked hard on the songs, and the gig was being streamed live online and I didn’t know this but at the time Judy and her team were watching from LA, and she got back in touch and we started emailing again, and she was like “Let’s work together” and “I’d really love to work with you”, but she’s expensive, she’s worth the money but $300 an hour … so I was like “Maybe there’s something I can offer you, maybe there’s some kind of quid pro quo” ’cause I’ve been really blessed with somebody … I’ve just turned 27, I’ve been really fortunate with the jobs I’ve done in my life, I used to manage a music venue and then I was a vocal coach for the world’s biggest choir and I’ve had all this experience in running operations in that way, and Judy said “Okay, well look, with the CV you’ve got maybe we can help each other out”. She was doing a keynote speech in London and said “I’d like to do a little writers workshop and if you can organize that I’ll mentor you for a few sessions and we’ll keep doing jobs like that”. And I left that call and immediately danced around the room, and like punching the air like “Yes, I’m working with Judy Stakee”. And then the first thing I did was downloaded her book, and almost like a stalker, like a serial killer, I studied her intensely for like two days. I wrote down every little clip of the book that stood out to me on post-it notes and put them around my wall and just absorbed everything because I wanted to be able to speak her language the next time we spoke. And I did that, and over that two days as well I realized, Judy’s really offering something here that nobody else in the world as far as I’m aware is offering. I’d been on a songwriting boot-camp before, and it was a very masculine energy, seven steps to hit songwriting, do this, this, this … there wasn’t much heart and soul to it, and it was really informative, I learned a lot, but it was missing that ingredient and to me, after reading Judy’s book, I realized that’s the missing piece of the puzzle. And as such two days later I said “Hey Judy, instead of the workshop how about we try a retreat?” She was like “That’s incredible, I’ve done writers retreats for professional signed writers”, when she was at Warner she took her writers away on camps, but maybe this could work … I wrote the business plan and we did the very first one in France and it was an amazing success and we did I think three more that year and then that leads us to last year, we did 13 retreats around America, Canada and it’s just blown up … the whole thing has been incredible, life-changing for both of us now and we’re currently in talks about becoming business partners and creating something magnificent together to grow on what we’ve already done. So that was a total life change. In the process, I wrote some of the best songs I’ve ever written just from the travels and the excitement. And yeah, I’m excited to see what the future holds with that side of my life.
SWR: That’s great, and you’re right, I do see that growth. I’ve talked to a few people who have gone to her retreats and … absolutely phenomenal, for some people I think it’s almost a therapy session.
Luke Yates: Oh man, yeah … it’s five days, you arrive on the Monday evening. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday full intense days, like 8am to like 9, 10pm at night. And then on Friday at lunchtime we all say goodbye. And every single night, they’re like “this is amazing but I don’t know if I’m gonna … I’m scared, there’s so many people, I’ve got to co-write with all these people, I don’t know what I’m in for”. By the end of it, every single time without fail … “Oh my god, how can I have bonded so closely with these people over a short period of time? This has been life-changing”, we hear that over and over and over again ’cause I think that, just actually taking that time and investing in yourself, investing in your future, that alone is an amazing incentive, it’s giving yourself something that you need. It’s almost like me coming out as a songwriter and holding myself accountable. I’m worth taking this time out of my schedule, going to this place and really immersing myself in what I love. And a huge part of what’s on offer is the fact that all of these other songwriters from totally different backgrounds bringing their own things to the table, you mix them all together … the first day we co-write in groups of three, the next day we change up the groups and there’s different artist briefs and writing assignments every day. And that along with the masterclasses and then performances at night … the curve of where they start, their songs on the first day, to the last performance every time blows me away. It’s incredible.
SWR: That’s great. You know, you just said something that had a light go off in my head, “people taking time to invest in themselves”. Right, there’s always that hesitation. So many times people would rather … you know, I get that, sometimes I have to have friends who come up to me and say “hey, teach me how to play the guitar” and I’m like “Fantastic. First step, get a decent or relatively decent guitar. Something that makes it easier to play.” But it’s like no, and the next thing I know I see them in a really fancy car and I’m like “Oh man, you made the wrong choice”.
Luke Yates: I mean, especially with guitar. People are like “Yeah, I’m just learning so I’ll just get a beginner guitar”. I sound crap on a beginner guitar. Everyone sounds crap on a … you might as well get something that actually is easy to play that you enjoy if it’s what you want. But I think it’s so easy to neglect the things we really really want, because the things we really really want are scary. A lot of us are scared to go for them because what if we don’t, and that’s our first dream. It’s easier to go for things that we think we want, or the world tells us we should want. Because often they’re easier to achieve and everyone else is doing it.
SWR: The unconventional path is scary and a little hard, right, it takes a lot of work to get there. Let’s go back to your songwriting process. When do you feel you’re done with a song, that it’s ready?
Luke Yates: Well, the first test is always the grin. If you’re co-writing, the moment you get … that you just know, there’s that feeling of having achieved something, it almost feels like you didn’t create it. It’s like “whoa, where did that come from!” I always think that’s a great tell-tale sign. But I think there are also different levels … I think the refining process for songs happens at every stage of it, in the lyric, in the music … if you really want to craft something. And then even after that’s done, getting the vocal take right, making sure you’ve got the right vocalist … if it’s not myself, as a singer-songwriter, making sure I’ve picked the right person. And then in the production there’s different stages of refining but for the actual song, the music and lyrics, a lot of songwriters I know just call it “abandoning the song”, you chip away, you chip away and then it’s like “I’m done, I can’t touch it” and they just leave it, and they walk away from it. Because there’s always a change you could make, so it’s a really interesting question because it has to be from a confident part of you that says “okay, this is it”. I think that a really useful tool in refining and finishing the song is actually to go and play it live loads of times, ’cause you feed off the audience and gigging a song, it really matures and becomes itself, it steps into its own skin. So I’d recommend that.
SWR: So when you do that are you looking at the crowd and trying to get a feel of … you know, are they connecting with you? Or do you have someone else do that for you?
Luke Yates: No, you can feel it, I think I can feel it when I’m doing it. It’s simply just having somebody there who’s a pair of ears that you respect. Because I think we’ve all done this as songwriters, been in our own demo that we’re creating, listening to it over and over again and … it’s called demoitis, right, you fall in love with that particular thing and it’s very very hard, basically impossible to stay completely objective. And, you think it’s great and then you get a friend to come in and listen to it and suddenly you’re hearing the song totally different ’cause you’re hearing it through their ears. And there are certain parts of the songs that you’re like “oh no, this bit’s coming up, I never felt like this” and you try and talk and distract them during that bit like “oh yeah, what do you think?” … try and hide that bit that’s not so good. If there’s that when you’re listening to a song with a friend, a respected friend, then the song isn’t ready. Whereas if you can relax and just let it wash over you, actually experience the song in the way that it’s intended for other people, then I think it’s done. Ready.
SWR: Okay, so you talked about bringing a friend in. Where do you get your critiques from after you’re done with a song… who do you trust with it?
Luke Yates: Well, co-writers. If I’ve co-written the song, definitely co-writers are the first port of call. We all have to feel good and I think the culmination … there’s something magic about three, three people I think is great for a co-write. And then after the co-write, or if I’ve just written it solo, Judy is an amazing port of call, a very valuable friend for me. And then I’ve got a number of people that I’ll ask for different things. A day when we’re in the studio, we’re comping vocals for a demo, so I had three vocal takes and we were just picking the best bits of each one for the demo, and the artist in me is like “no, I want to get it in one take, I want to get that perfect take” but for now, for the sake of the demo, we’re just getting the best we’ve got. And there were three of us in there. There was me, there was Lee, an amazing vocal engineer, and then Christina, an amazing singer-songwriter who loves story, she’s always focusing on story. And between the three of us we had kind of all the bases covered. I was hearing minute bits that were out of tune and these two were like “nah, you’re crazy” and then we’d look into it and they all agreed it was probably better for doing it. And then Lee would notice tiny little pops that I just wasn’t even aware of, and then at times I’d choose a take ’cause I thought by far it was the best sung take and then Christina’s like “No, but I don’t believe you here, listen to what you’re actually singing about” and bringing it back to the story. So I think when you’re searching for feedback from friends it’s really important to cover a wide variety because every person is gonna be focusing on a different thing, we’ve all got our own experiences that affect the way that we absorb music.
SWR: It would be nice to have a tribe of people we could rely on.
Luke Yates: Absolutely. Going back to the retreat thing, one of the huge advantages of the job that I’m doing is … and for anybody who’s part of this community, we really work on keeping it as a community, so somebody comes on the retreat and then they’re part of this gang. We’ve got a Facebook group, there’s now just under 300 people who’ve been through the retreat. And all the time we get people “Hey, I’ve just finished this song, what do you guys think?” … 300 people, you might get 30 comments on there like “I love this, maybe work on this” so I’m so fortunate to be part of this as well. It’s an immediate big tribe with a lot of connections.
SWR: Yeah there is … of reading other people’s … from it also.
Luke Yates: Reading what sorry?
SWR: Reading other people’s songs and looking at their feedback and learning from that also.
Luke Yates: Oh definitely. I think being on the office end of the chair is so good for learning. In the earlier days when I was teaching piano, or teaching guitar or vocals, I was learning so much more of what I knew, it was solidifying and cementing information that I already had within me. Because I was on the other side of it and objectively offering constructive feedback to another person, I was able to refine my own knowledge. And definitely … something that we do on the retreat is Judy critiques the songs but we all offer feedback, we’re all listening constructively, and actually focusing on the music. I think that’s totally crucial, it’s the best way to learn.
SWR: Going to collaborate … so you’re up in the UK … is that your main source or are you collaborating with other artists that you meet at the retreats? How do you go about finding collaborators?
Luke Yates: So London is a great hub in that it’s small and well-connected. So I lived in London for a little bit last year, but England’s pretty small, it’s all pretty connected so we’re in and out of London all the time as musicians. And just being a songwriter in the UK means that you’re automatically connected, especially in today’s day and age, so it’s very easy to find co-writes in that regard. Definitely working with Judy and having met people through that … I do a lot of Skype sessions … so I think you’ve already interviewed Dave, right, Dave Maurischat? He and I have written a couple of times over Skype. He’s amazing, we’ve got very different backgrounds, we’re different ages, we’ve both got different things to bring to the table, so we compliment each other. And Skype … I was initially quite against it, ’cause firstly when you’re jamming you’ve got a time delay so you can’t possibly sing together. But actually for crafting story, really about a year and a half ago I changed the way I started writing anyway in that I think I write stronger songs when I focus on the lyric first because lyrics are harder work for me, they take more crafting than music ’cause I’ve been playing music for so much longer than I’ve been writing lyrics. And definitely, crafting a story over Skype is just as good as in person, almost. You can’t share tea and biscuits as we do in England but everything else you’ve got covered, really. So yeah, I write with a bunch of people in person, a lot of Skype sessions.
SWR: Okay, so what … I know you’re very young but having done this for quite a while, what are some of the things that, if you had another go at it, to start again, you would avoid or not do?
Luke Yates: If I was starting my songwriting journey again?
Luke Yates: Ah, it’s a good question. I would co-write a lot sooner. Co-writing is a real game-changer, and I’ve learned so much as a writer through co-writing, just picked up amazing tips and tricks from my collaborators. But also the energy of how to work in a group like that. So I would have started co-writing a lot sooner. The bugger for me was having sang covers for so long I’d developed something of a really generic voice. I was good at singing everybody else’s songs quite generically, it did the job, but I’d almost lost my own identity, my own voice had been lost into this generic pool of averageness in the process. So a real struggle for me was finding my own voice and I’m still doing that, I’m still on that journey of finding what is characteristically me. A big thing for me … when I was 15 or so … that was when I first sang. And it was okay, it was in tune, but it wasn’t a nice tone, it didn’t sound great, and I became really insecure about that, as I said singing is such a personal thing for us. And I worked so hard on not having this amazing tone that I used to have when I was 15, that I kind of went the other way, and I developed a very low soft palate, I would “Josh Groban, you raise me up” … not quite that bad, but my voice went a bit like that. And it worked amazingly well for cover gigs, people … it was great, like it was adding a new take on all these songs, it was in tune, it sounded nice, but it wasn’t my voice. So I think having the confidence to make the mistakes earlier and experiment. Discipline would have been amazing. I focused too much time on some of the wrong things at the beginning. Ed Sheeran has a great quote which is “Writing for anybody, however much natural talent you have, is like a dirty tap” … it’s like a tap that’s in this abandoned house that hasn’t been turned on. It’s gonna have gunk in it initially, and you have to get out all the brown nasty liquid, and eventually it will run clear. But you have to get the crap out. Carole King used to go into the writing room 9-5 every single day Monday to Friday, it was like a full-time job and she would do that every single day for years and years and years and she’d get like four or five really successful songs a year. Out of 300. If Carole King has got that kind of success ratio, like 1 to 2% success rate, I need to write a hell of a load more than I’m writing right now. So that was terrifying to find that fact out, and also inspirational. I would have written a lot more and a lot more frequently. And meditated in general.
SWR: I’m glad you brought that up. Is there any other practices that you do to sustain your writing other than meditating and yoga?
Luke Yates: Yeah, meditating, journaling, yoga. They’re all really, really crucial for me. And I think I would recommend anybody, songwriter or not … it’s something about taking time … I’ve been doing the Headspace app. I don’t know if it’s made it in America, and it’s 10 minutes a day, to 20 minutes. This guy Andy who was a Buddhist monk for a long time, well he still is, but he had a lot of friends who were corporate bosses who were getting really stressed out and he gently introduced them to meditating. The basic concept of it for me is showing up and being present and actually not getting lost in thought, ’cause we all spend so much of our time, myself especially, lost in thought. Something like 70% of our waking hours are spent literally lost in this barrage of thought and before I knew it my days were just disappearing. I would get to night time and be like “whoa”. Simultaneously feeling like I hadn’t achieved enough that day and being really stressed ’cause I hadn’t let go all day. So general wellbeing and feeling present, feeling good, seeing the beauty in life … 10 minutes, it was magic to me when I first discovered that. Journaling especially as a writer. Getting out everything and actually free writing, like for five minutes of that journaling … I’m on a website called 750words.com and it’s an amazing website. It’s just a blank white page and you write your 750 words and then it’s like “well done” and it gives you a tick. Then it actually has this algorithm that analyses “you’re mostly positive today, you’re mostly an introvert, mainly talking about religion or love or sex or death or finance” whatever it might be, and then it shows you your most commonly used words. Then hopefully … it says that it’s completely private, I really hope to God it is, ’cause some of the shit that comes out of my subconscious mind … but five minutes a day of that I just free write, I have no filter and it’s just nonsense, it’s jibber-jabber but it’s getting out whatever’s in there. And once or twice there’s been really profound for me, profound parts of writing that I didn’t know were in me. Yoga … I think it’s really, really important. Judy’s methodology is that voice, melody and lyric makes up a song, and you enhance your voice by working on your body. And you enhance your lyric by working on your mind, you enhance your melody by working on your soul. And it’s a roundabout way of saying that fixing the lyrics and learning new rhyme patterns and things like that is really like putting a plaster on the wound, it’s not healing the wound, it’s not fixing the fundamental underlying thing which is a healthy mind equals great lyrics. So the body applies to the voice, it applies to everything, I feel energized, I feel ready to go for the day, I feel motivated if I’m eating well, if I’m looking after my body.
SWR: That makes so much sense. I know its late for you so one last question. For someone who’s starting on their songwriting journey, what would you recommend they do?
Luke Yates: Well, I don’t know if I’m qualified in that, although I’ve been going for two and a half years, I’m really starting. I am about to release my first few singles. I put something out, a video ‘Heart Over Head’ two and a half years ago, and really everything else has been odd little videos building up a fan base just from who I am and stories I’m telling in the process and being part of the adventure. So I would argue that I’m very much at the beginning of my journey. But for somebody who’s even earlier in their journey, like the pre-production of their journey, so to speak, I would say be courageous, be bold, be yourself. Trying to sound like whatever’s ‘in’ at the moment will never work because by the time you achieve that what’s ‘in’ will be different. Do your thing and do it really, really well. Know your strength and grow it, nurture it, look after it, because whatever your strength is it’s so valuable. Some being a co-write, for example. If you’re an amazing top-liner and you’re thinking “shit, all this people can play instruments, this person’s a great producer” … there’s a temptation a lot of my friends to try and be everything to everybody. I think a better system, and this is up for debate, there are a lot of other opinions. I think a better system is find a thing you love, find a thing you’re naturally really good at and really become exceptional at that thing. Because then you become so valuable. There’s a million people who were okay producers and a million okay singers, whatever it might be, find the thing you really are passionate about and become exceptional at that. And then the world will be calling you up, wanting to work with you for that skill that you have.
SWR: I love the advice. Thanks so much for taking the time today to talk to us.
Luke Yates: A real privilege, thank you.
SWR: I’m looking forward to listening to more of your stuff.
Luke Yates: Yeah, amazing, it’s coming out soon. Like I said, end of February going to Prague, SONO Studios, known as the Abbey Road of Europe, it’s very exciting. And then the first single of the album in March.