The London artist lets us into his world of atmospheric electro-pop…
Martin Luke Brown is good at grabbing your attention; take one listen to his most recent singe ‘Opalite’ to see what we mean. Between pulsing, bassy rhythms and stomping beats there is an arresting concoction being mixed in its fluctuating electronics. It’s all a bit emotive, a sense only heightened by Brown’s vocal, which alternates between a mighty soar and murmured falsetto. We pinned him down to discover what he has been up to as of late…
We really enjoyed your most recent track ‘Opalite’ and it even made our #DiscoverTheUndiscovered Spotify playlist – in fact, it’s still on there! How did the track come to life?
Thanks! It started off with this hypnotic drum loop and me and producer man (Joe Kearns) built up the majority of the track before actually writing any melodies or lyrics. So it was all just VIBES really.
What was inspiring you lyrically at the time?
Nothing particularly. I just did the usual placeholder lyrics that came to mind, except with this, a lot of them ended up staying! It just felt right.
Over the past few months you’ve also released the single ‘Into Yellow’, which has a far more intimate vibe, almost like Bon Iver. Sonically, the tracks are quite different. Out of the two tracks, which do you favour and why?
I guess it’s a lot more restrained, yeah. I think they both have their merits. I enjoyed writing ‘Into Yellow’ a lot, it was a bit of a sound experiment. And it’s more personal I suppose, so maybe I’d lean towards that, but ‘Opalite’ is super fun to play live with loops and stuff.
You also shared a piano interpretation of ‘Into Yellow’. Do you feel that stripping the track back has given it a new lease of life?
I guess so, yeah. It begins to sound more Randy Newman-esque when you hear it on a clunky piano and I love that.
We can only presume you have an album or EP due to land relatively soon! Is there anything you can tell us in the meantime to whet our appetite?
It’s just one song at a time for now. I’ve got a few lined up, it’s just picking what to go with and when really. I’m ready for anything!
You recently played a show at London’s Servant Jazz Quarters. What was that experience like for you?
Yeah, really lovely. It’s been a while since I’ve done a headline show and it’s just so nice having a room of people that are there for you and really appreciate what you’re doing. It’s a beautiful thing!
What type of atmosphere do you try to create when you perform?
Intimate. Even with bigger shows I try and put as much of myself as I can into a performance. I think I’m probably more vulnerable on stage than at any other time in my life.
Do you have any life shows in the pipeline currently?
I’ve got some bits and bobs. I can’t wait for my biggest headline show yet in February at The Borderline but until then I’m doing a few shows over in Ireland, maybe some support shows in mainland Europe soon, and a couple of ‘stripped’ shows I’m co-ordinating with Air BnB, which is essentially me asking my favourite artists to come and jam while people watch, so that’ll be fun. I’m trying to think outside the box when it comes to live stuff. I want people to enjoy more than just the music.
Is there a moment that you can pinpoint where your love of music began?
My sister sang ‘Vincent’ by Don McLean when I was really young and it made me cry. I didn’t even have anything to be sad about. I remember being so amazed that music had such power to move people.
Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder. It’s such a big nostalgia record for me, but as I’ve grown up and become a more competent musician I can appreciate it on a whole new level. It’s just so great – it’s musically intelligent, lyrically important, melodically catchy as shit. Everything I love rolled into one.
What artists or bands are you loving at the moment?
Tingsek, Emily King, Glass Animals, Greta Isaac, Tom Misch. They’ve all got their own distinctive thing going on. Authenticity seems to be rarer than ever and it’s amazing when you discover it.
What do you have in store in the imminent future?
I’m writing lots. For all sorts of things – for me, songs for other artists, things for TV and film. I don’t want to be limited to just an artist career, I want to be a million different things. So lots of creating. And hopefully lots of putting out those creations into the world!
Martin Luke Brown’s ‘Opalite’ is available now.