Behind the Music: Interview with Luke Burr

‘The past few weeks have been wild, but the ultimate goal as a songwriter is to connect with people and stir emotions within them.’

Describe your music style in no more than 5 words: Go listen to find out!

Who or what influences your music? When I was a kid, listening to my dad’s soul records resonated with me and have continued to influence me since becoming a songwriter. Artists such as Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway and Luther Vandross inspired me to sing. Then later John Legend, Kanye West and Justin Timberlake etc influenced me in becoming an artist.

I’m always looking to further my musical taste and knowledge and listening to more Gospel and RnB music has also influenced my music. I like to draw my influences when writing from experiences I’ve had or that other people around me have had. Writing songs about moments and feelings true to me rather than trying to write about what I think people might want to hear has led to much better songs! The ups and downs of the industry have inspired lots of songs, but you have to ‘live’ to be able to create something people can connect with. 

Other than yourself, who else is involved in creating your tracks? It depends! Some songs I’ll do on my own. I’m not a ‘producer’ as such but I can produce (and I’m teaching myself to get better!) I love collaborating with other people though. Bouncing ideas around and bouncing off peoples energies often leads to the best songs so I’ll often work with other producers and songwriters.

What does a Luke Burr recording session look like? I like creating something from nothing. I find it difficult to write to a finished beat. I like being a part of creating the chords and building a song from a feeling. I prefer to start with the chords then find a concept and a melody. Then grow it from there! I love working with musicians better than me and help direct them where I want them to go.

‘The high of performing live is an addiction I just can’t get enough of.’

There are many incredible re-worked versions of tracks on your channels. How is the process of producing a cover track different to writing your own? Producing a cover track is easier in the sense that the songs I’m reworking are already proven bangers. So there’s no second guessing over melodies or lyrics. But I am very particular that I don’t want any of my versions to sound like ‘another cover’. I want them to feel like ‘Luke Burr’s version’. So often I won’t listen to the track for a while and just have the lyrics in front me. Almost as if I was making a song but already having written the lyrics. I’ll then try different chord progressions and once I fall on the right one, it just takes me with it!

Do you prefer performing live or recording in a studio? I love working with other people in the studio and spending days enjoying other people’s talents. I’m so grateful to spend my time learning and creating an energy and a vibe. However, performing is my first and main love. Since performing for the first time at 13 down the local pub, I have been addicted to that high. And it’s an addiction I can’t get enough of. That feeling of connecting with other people in a room through my voice. That feeling of dictating the energy in a space through my performance. And that buzz of truly entertaining and impressing people. 

How has being supported by BBC Introducing impacted your career so far and why should others get involved with it? It’s been amazing. My local county (BBC Music Introducing in Essex) have really got behind me which I’m so grateful for. That support has led to a Radio 1 play on the introducing show with Huw Stephens and allowed me to be heard. Consistently releasing music and continuing to build will help BBC introducing to facilitate your growth! Everyone should get involved in their local BBC Introducing. 

What is more important about being a songwriter: creating a hit song or having a chance to express yourself? The most important thing about being a songwriter is writing songs that connect with people. Songs that resonate with someone. That change someone’s outlook on their day. That makes them feel slightly more confident for a moment. That makes them dance. Or smile. Or get goosebumps. If those emotions come to other people from a song I wrote expressing my feelings, then that’s the ultimate goal.

There is a huge difference between the sound of your 2016 release ‘Anyone Out There’ and your more recent tracks. What has led to this? To be honest, in 2016 I was finding my feet and that song was a feature. It has my vocals but it’s not ‘my song’. I think that’s what is great about features on dance records or any other genre. You can dabble your feet, meet new people and have your voice connect in a world that maybe you never saw yourself in. 

What live shows/new releases do you have coming up in the next few months? I’m about to announce a headline show in London this September. And I’m hoping to release an EP before the year is out!

What has been your favourite performance to date? I did a sold out show earlier this year at St Pancras Old Church and it was such a special experience. Everything seemed to click, the band killed it, and I was in an amazing headspace. I came off buzzing. Touring with Rudimental in Australia was also a huge high!

‘No one will work as hard as you on you! And you can’t expect them to.’

How did you initially react to hearing your version of ‘What You Won’t Do For Love’ on Love Island and what has happened since? I was backstage getting ready for a gig! Then all of a sudden my phone just hit up. I watched one video from a friend that was about 15 seconds long and I thought ‘how cool’. Then I got sent through another song showing that they’d played almost 2 minutes with hardly any dialogue over it!

Then the next few weeks were a whirlwind. We hit Number 1 in the Shazam charts, Top 20 in the iTunes Charts. National newspapers and magazines were calling for interviews and then I was performing on Good Morning Britain! It was wild. Now it’s about using that platform and capitalising on this moment to take my career to the next level and connect with more people. 

What do you listen to when you’re not writing, recording or performing? Artists I’ve been listening to recently are: Amber Mark, Samm Henshaw, Coldplay, Dermot Kennedy, John Legend, Chance The Rapper and Mahalia

What is your first musical based memory? Probably entering a local talent competition at 13, not really knowing too much and thinking everyone was better than me. Then I won! From that moment I’ve believed I could be successful as an artist and connect with people through my voice!

And finally… What has been the biggest learning curve in your music career so far? That you can’t rely on anyone to ‘make you a star’ – it’s not like the movies! No one will work as hard as you on you! And you can’t expect them to. You have to find yourself (as cliche as that sounds). Find what you feel important about. How you would like to sound and be portrayed. And you can’t wait for anyone to tell you how to do this. And if they do, they can get it wrong!

I’m also learning to be more patient. As long as I’m working my hardest and moving forward, I must believe my time will come when it comes. Like the sync for example. You go months without a big win like that and then a huge one comes and sets so many things off in motion. Things that I’m ready for now which maybe I wasn’t a year ago!

Follow Luke Burr on: Facebook & Twitter
Listen to and watch Luke Burr on: Spotify and YouTube
Find out more about Luke Burr’s music on: Track Review: Luke Burr: Keep on Loving

Luke Burr is part of Listen to Discover’s #FridayFindsFeaturedArtist series which you can keep up to date with on Twitter and Facebook.

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