Sunday, January 03, 2010

If You Haven't Got Anything To Say

For a few weeks now Adam Hockley, an occasional contributor to Our Iron Lung, has been putting on a selection of acoustic acts at Kind, Lincoln. To kick-start the new year he's booked the fantastic Luke Leighfield, an indie-pop darling with an addiction to touring. I caught up with Luke over the weekend to ask him about everything from graduation to the ups and downs of being an independent artist.

Liam Haynes interviewed Luke Leighfield. He plays Kind, Lincoln on 5/1/10.

First things first, graduation! Well done. What's it like trying to tour as much as you have over the past few years, while also putting in some time getting educated?
Thanks! Touring as much as I did was amazing and great fun, but I think it's probably too grand a claim to say that I came out of university 'educated'! I managed to pass my degree but I don't really feel much more intelligent than when I started university. That's worrying, isn't it? Twelve grand down the drain. Oops. But anyway, basically, I did the bare minimum of work in order to get a 2:1 and spent the rest of my time jetting around, meeting ace people and playing fun places, and I don't regret a minute of it.

You appear to me to be a fiercely independent artist, putting out releases on your own label, touring off your own back, etc. How do you feel the place of the "artist" in relation to things like a "label" or "pr" will change over the coming few years?
For the record, it's not that I'm fiercely independent, it's just that I've never had an offer through that's really been worth taking with regards to labels etc. I'm not ruling it out in the future whatsoever! I do feel that nowadays it's perfectly plausible for bands to get a long way without the help of a label, manager or PR company thanks to various tools on the internet. However, because those tools are out there for everyone (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) then competition is extremely fierce and you really have to stay on top of everything all the time. I spend all day answering emails and messages, and I feel that if you want to get anywhere at the moment as an independent artist then these are things that have to be done.

Following on from that, do you regret not having these people by your side, or are you pleased with the way things have worked out for you so far?
I'm really proud of what I've achieved by myself, but ideally I'd like to get a team around me in the future. As I said before, it can be quite stressful doing businessy things on the internet all day. Also, your work is never done so you can never truly relax! Sometimes it would be nice to just watch 24 and not feel guilty about it, or, God forbid, have time to write some music!

I've got a funny feeling you've played Lincoln before, but assuming you haven't... What are the first things that pop into your head when you think of Lincoln?
I've only played a house gig in Lincoln before, so I'm a Lincoln gig virgin. When I think of Lincoln, I think it's near Nottingham and then I think of guns. But Lincoln itself sounds quite boring. Not in a mean way, some places are just a bit nothingy aren't they! Don't worry, I'm from Worcester. Worcester is painfully dull.

Tell me about your latest release, Have You Got Heart? Pretty happy with it?
HYGH is my third album, but it's the first one that I've done with a real producer so I'm very proud of it. It's the best thing I've ever made in my whole life. There are guitar solos, there are violins, there are trumpets, there are gang vocals, there are more guitar solos. You can download it for free here.

What's next for Luke? A cup of tea, a big think, but then what?
Right now, as in tonight, I'm going to carry on reading a C.S. Lewis book that I'm halfway through. And maybe watch a film. But music-wise, I'm writing new songs in January and February, then going to play in China and Russia in February and March. At the end of March I'm touring with Jose Vanders and Eat.Sleep.Attack in the UK, and then there's talk of some gigs in the US later on this year. Watch this space!

Who excites you musically at the moment? We're talking new artists here...
I played with a girl called Rosie Jones in Liverpool on tour last month and she was the best thing I've seen all year. Incredible. Her MySpace songs are old, but trust me, you'll hear good things from her this year. I'm also totally addicted to a Japanese band called Perfume who I first heard last month. They're not new, but I don't think anyone knows about them in the UK, especially not Lincoln, so I hope you enjoy them. Apart from that I'm not really sure.

How much value do you think can be placed in polls like BBC Sound Of 2010 and the like?
Maybe I'm cynical and bitter, but I think it's mostly just hype from big labels with big budgets. Or maybe I'm wrong.

[DOWNLOAD] You can download Luke's latest album for free here.
[MYSPACE] Visit Luke Leighfield on myspace here.
[FACEBOOK] More info on Luke's Lincoln show can be found here.