Friday, December 12, 2008

Band of the Week

Luke Jackson

"Come tomorrow in the depths of my despair/I am frightened, I'm enlightened, I'll survive/Beg or borrow, I could lose it I don't care/I can taste it, I won't waste, I'm alive"

There are moments in life that are filled with a strange and confusing mixture of emotions. It doesn't seem possible, but you feel lost and found, free and trapped, frightened and alive all in the same breath. In the first single from the latest album by Luke Jackson, "Come Tomorrow", he talks about the morning after he reaches the "depths of his despair". Several years ago Poet Hosho McCreesh describe the feeling like this, "Nights where you're sure you've walked your last cold mile, nights where you're convinced that this world ain't exactly the place for you." McCreesh talked about coming through the other side and all that you can learn from the journey and the struggle. "You ain't never seen a sunrise like the ones you see the day after one of those nights." I am sure that through out the song writing process, just as in any journey, there are moments of glory and pain, triumph and sleep deprivation. Through it all, Luke Jackson has crafted an album that is honest in style and lyric, and will help, if only briefly, pull you into the morning.

Recently, Luke Jackson was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): And Then Some... is filled with a lot of personal thoughts and expressions, when you write do you ever picture the listener or think of who might be hearing your thoughts? Luke Jackson (LJ): God no. I’d never write a thing if I thought like that. I write for my own expression first and foremost. The only concession I make to any future audience is to be sure to bury most of my meanings in at least two inches of fertile metaphor. This serves two protects me from exposing myself too much, and it leaves the songs open to the interpretation of the listener. Hopefully, whatever I originally wrote the song about becomes completely irrelevant, and in time, I myself forget.

OA: The album also spans several years of your life, and several communications with Magnus Börjeson. Overall, what does it feel like to finally have this finished product?
LJ: Well, I should correct you here. My correspondence with Magnus never concerned these songs. Indeed, he and Christoffer (Lundquist, my producer) asked NOT to hear the demos I had recorded of the songs in advance of the sessions. I showed up on the first day of recording and sat in front of them and Jens (Jansson, drummer) in the studio’s big live room and played them the entire album on my acoustic guitar. That was the first they heard of any of the songs. Within an hour of that we were recording the first bed tracks, live off the floor. It was very spontaneous.
To answer the second part of your question, the album was finished almost a year ago, and it feels as good to have released it now as it felt to have finished it then. I’ve been nursing this project for some time now, and it’s quite fulfilling to be getting the great feedback I’ve had from folks like yourself. But in truth, there’s nothing more rewarding that the creative process. I’ve been in “business mode” with this album for the last year and I would much rather just be free to write and record songs. Unfortunately, an independent artist today must be a jack-of-all-trades and I doubt I’ll be doing much creative work until the promotional aspect of this album is over.

OA: What has your experience been like with Popsicle Records?
LJ: Following on from the last question, Popsicle is my own label. I set it up last year, first to release the long lost 1995 album by Magnus’s old band Favorita, and now this new album of mine is on the label, co-released with Urban Myth, the label of my dear friend Dan Bryk, a brilliant singer/songwriter himself. I spent a fair bit of the last year hawking the album around some of the more discerning indie labels and they all said the same thing: “we love the album but we’re not looking for anything new...the music business is imploding on itself and there isn’t any money”. Being on my own label is a lot of fun in many ways, and very frustrating in others. I’m an idealist and a perfectionist, and that can get expensive. There’s not a label in the world that would have let me put out a gatefold LP, half-speed mastered and pressed on 180 gram virgin vinyl, or a custom 45/DVD package, or the elaborate packaging I did for the CD for that matter. That was all stuff I wanted to do because I believed in the record, and there was no-one to tell me “no”. The flip-side is that it’s a huge responsibility to try to make sure I’m giving the album the best chance it has to get out there and reach people. In the end, I’m better off doing this myself. I’m a bit of a control freak, and if I was on a small a label I’d just sit around wondering if they were actually DOING anything. This way, I know exactly what the label is doing!

OA: I really enjoyed the video for "Come Tomorrow". I know this song was written a while ago, but it seems fitting for all that is going on in the world these days. Do you feel that song has taken on a new meaning these days?
LJ: Hmm, I don’t really know what I can tell you about this song. I wrote it a couple of days before gong into the studio with Christoffer, Magnus and Jens in January 2007, and it was mostly inspired by how excited I felt to be recording with my friends in Sweden, with a little bit about my most recent tribulations thrown in for good measure. Like I mentioned earlier, the meaning I associate with any song is quite irrelevant. If the song has meaning to you, it’s served its purpose. I’m glad you like the video. We froze our butts off making that!

OA: Do you find it easier to make an album then to tour and promote an album? As a smaller act, is it getting more difficult to tour?
LJ: I haven’t done a huge load of touring. I love to get out and play, and rarely turn down a gig, but I was never one to get into a van and drive to Vancouver and back, playing every toilet along the trans-Canada highway. I never did it in my 20’s and I’m not about to start in my 30’s. It’s a Catch-22. You have to tour to build an audience, but touring doesn’t pay unless you have a lot of people coming out to see you. I’m trying to use the net to build my audience, then I’ll tour wherever I’m wanted. I have friends whose live show is their “product” and album sales are a by-product. I feel quite strongly that this album IS my “product”. It’s just that no-one pays for music anymore. Oops.

OA: What's next for Luke Jackson?
LJ: All thing being equal I’m be becoming a Father for the first time at the end of January. It’s hard to really even consider any of the other aspects of my life in light of that. Hopefully we’ll be coming up for air by the Springtime and I can think about picking up promotional activities then. It would be great if I got into SXSW...I would play a bunch of shows on the way down there, maybe with my band if I could afford it. Oh, and there’s a brilliant animated video for Goodbye London in production. A genius London-based animator friend is working on it. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen!

Come Tomorrow (mp3)

Luke Jackson - Come Tomorrow from Fanatic Promotion, Inc. on Vimeo.

Bonus Questions:

OA: Coffee? If yes, where can you find the best cup in your area?
LJ: There’s a new place called Lit which just opened up on Roncy and it blows everyone else on the strip out of the water. Their mocha is beyond. And they do a chocolate brownie that defies description. Really, I need never try heroin now.

OA: What was the last great book you have read?
LJ: I recently read Dan Savage’s book “The Commitment”. He writes the nationally-syndicated sex column “Savage Love” and this book is about his family life with his boyfriend and their adopted son, and the ultimate decision of whether or not they should get married. It’s hysterical and touching and everything in between. I feel quite strongly that Dan Savage’s voice is one of the most important in America today.

For more information on Luke Jackson please visit his website.

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