An evening with Luke Nicholson: Genie Nominated Canadian singer-songwriter lends insight

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Performing live for the very first time in the Maritimes was Luke Nicholson, Genie Award Nominated singer-songwriter. Touring with his debut “LP Mad Love,” he demonstrates a different sound from his past album, “Satellites.” With this album, Nicholson hoped to distance himself from only being able to perform in the studio, or with a significantly more costly live set up.

I recently had a chance to speak with Nicholson over a live phone-in interview on-air on my radio show “The Noise Tank,” with my co-host Patrick Harrington on 107.3, Local FM.

Alex Ross: Thank you for joining us Luke.

Luke Nicholson: Thanks for having me.

AR: All right so let’s cut right to the chase. You incorporate a lot of different and unique sounds and effects into your music, can you give us some insight on your process a

LN: Sure, with my last record [Satellites], but with my new album Mad Love, there’s a bit of a new sound for me going back to more pop and rock. With the last album there was a lot more effects, like sparkly tunes. There was a lot more involved with the last album.

AR: It’s cool that you mention that, how you mentioned how you grew into the pop and rock genre, what bought that switch on?

LN: The biggest factor was live performance. It’s much easier to do a live show and have people like it and want to take the CD home and have the performance reflect it. Through the past I’ve had a lot of great producers and was exposed to many great sounds and you get caught up in all the technology. The comments I was getting, despite good comments, they wanted to hear me live and have it compare to the studio more. I want to bring back to what I am. I’m a singer songwriter, but I’m a performer first. If you hear Mad Love in the studio, it’s exactly what you get live.

Patrick Harrington: You’re coming out here to Saint John for the first time, and I guess I was wondering what your experiences with the Maritimes are.

LN: Actually this is my first time further than Quebec; we’re hitting up Moncton, Halifax, and Saint John as well.

AR: New Brunswick has a lot of roots in folk songs, were you hoping to incorporate it more in the future?

LN: Well I come from a folk background, but really with this record I was hoping to bring it more into the classic days of pop, from the 60’s and 70’s and getting a little bit more experimental. Before the cookie cutter days of pop, like the way they do it now. All the songs sound the same, churning out one after another.

PH: You mentioned influences, what were the main ones that you drew from that you’ve incorporated into your music?

LN: Well to know where you’re going you have to know how you get there. I’m a lover of all music, but I love it when songwriters are storytellers and there’s a feel to it. The reason I have an affinity for the 60’s and 80’s was when my uncle died, he left behind 200 some records from those times. So when my friends were listening to pop, I was stuck in a time warp listening to old Elton Jon and that era. I can tell you whom I listen to, I love Radiohead, I love Arcade Fire, but I also love Neil Diamond. However, I don’t have Mary Rae Thomas on my iPod, not that I’d label it bad music, it’s just not for me.

PH: That leads me to my next question, on a daily basis do you expand past your usual genre, despite how far off from what you perform?

LN: Oh I am by no means stuck in a time warp now. I listen to whatever I feel like. Just the other day I listened to Kane’s new album. The week before I listened to the [Arcade Fire] Funeral album. I also love all the old pop music, before it got so over saturated. I like music the more I listen to it, you learn more from each lesson. Like watching a movie, you notice something new every time.

AR: This has been a question that I’ve been dying to ask. With iTunes, how’s the process? Like releasing your new album through it. Is most of the work done from iTunes?

LN: Yeah, now it’s pretty easy. Before the only way to get your music out there was by signing to a label, whether it be indie or major, but now you can do so much more yourself. You can sign on to Tunecore or Scenebaby and they’ll hook you up with iTunes. And you can literally get worldwide distribution in 72 hours. If you go through a label with physical distribution, by the time you’ve got it released there’s not much for profit once everyone has been paid to make it happen. Thanks to the Internet you can get your name out much easier.

AR: Inspiring words for aspiring artists I guess.

LN: Yeah, I’m definitely my own boss. Yeah I have people that take care of bookings and what not, but I’m still in control. I’m not saying I won’t sign with a label, I just don’t need them.

AR: What you’re making is great music, both Pat and I enjoyed your last album, and we’re both looking forward to your album.

LN: Thanks so much for having me, cheers!

Emily is in her fourth year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's a stern black coffee drinker and is a proud Acadienne. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find Emily listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation. If you ask her about parliamentary institutions, she won't stop talking.