Introducing Interview: Luke Howard

Trained as a traditional pianist, Australian musician Luke Howard has worked as a session musician and television composer before releasing his own solo material.

Creating cinematic fusions of classical piano and electronic music, Howard is set to release his new album next month. So, we caught up with him to find out more…

Hi Luke, how are you today and where are you?
I am fine thank you! Right now I’m sitting in my favourite cafe, Cibi (I even named a song after this place). I’m a bit embarrassed to say it’s actually the third time I’ve been there today, but it’s a very peaceful place and is perfect for answering these interview questions.

When did you start composing music, and has it always been a passion of yours?
I did make up some tunes when I was a kid, the first one being when I was about four or five, but I didn’t really take composing seriously until I studied music at uni (and even then, it wasn’t the focus it is now). My background was always more as a pianist rather than a composer, and even now most of my compositions, even the ones without piano, start from improvisations.

I can hear elements of The Cinematic Orchestra in your music, what would you say your biggest influences are to date? And how have they affected you as a young growing musician?
I have seen The Cinematic Orchestra once live but I don’t know their music particularly well, beyond ’To Build A Home’. Growing up I mostly listened to pianists – Brad Mehldau, Keith Jarrett, Lyle Mays were my favourites. In the past five or six years, I’ve discovered a more modern classical scene (Max Richter, Nico Muhly, etc) and that’s certainly been an influence. Apart from that I listen to (and have played) a lot of classical music of all eras.

‘Two Places’ is your new single, can you tell us more about it?
The name has something to do with dividing time between Europe and Australia, not really knowing where home is, those sorts of things; the front cover of the record (which is also named Two Places) is based on a photo of my parents holding hands, so there’s some kind of duality there too. As for the music, it’s based on a really simple melody I came up with before a gig once and just started playing. Hopefully it is actually my idea. The piece has evolved a little bit since then, but it’s still pretty much just a simple idea translated in a few different keys. The track itself features some really dear friends of mine with whom I’ve been recording with since 2009 or so – Daniel Farrugia on drums, Ben Edgar and Leonard Grigoryan on guitar, and Ryan Monro on bass. They are the best.

Where do you think your music takes the listener when absorbing such emotive melodies? And does the music reflect your mood at the time?
It does reflect my mood but a lot of time elapses between the initial idea, and then the recording of it, that I’m not always in the same mood when it’s actually being recorded. Sometimes I need to take a little time to put myself back there.

Any more releases planned after the single?
Well, the album is released on the 22nd April, and I also have a couple of other tracks coming out in a digital only release for Piano Day on Swedish label 1631 Recordings.

When can we see you live?
In Melbourne, April 28 at Shebeen. In Europe, hopefully in September.

In terms of ambient music, how do you think your music fits in to today’s scene?
It’s probably more composed and dense than a lot of pure ambient music, but I think aesthetically it’s quite complementary. I definitely have plans to do some more “traditional” ambient releases; stay tuned.

Huge thanks to Luke for answering our questions!

Two Places, the new album from Luke Howard, is out 22 April.

Mari Lane

Mari Lane

Editor, London. Likes: Kathleen Hanna, 6Music, live music in the sunshine. Dislikes: Sexism, pineapples, the misuse of apostrophes.