Almost every artist alive’s goal is to get a record deal; major or minor – it doesn’t matter to them. That used to be the case for Luke De-Sciscio. He was part of a band that had a deal not too far away, but he decided to walk away from that and do his own thing and that’s where we start this journey with this singer-songwriter…
Kendra: You walked away from “the dream” when you were part of a band and a deal was within arms reach, why?
Luke De-Sciscio: Well, in the band I was just singing. I joined when they had all these songs already written because I just got this email in my inbox and they wanted me to sing, and seemed really cool and I thought, basically, “screw it,” what the worst that can happen.
And then, things snowballed really quickly, there was momentum when the labels got involved and I was sat in this office and it was kind of this bittersweet feeling, because in a sense there was this gratification but also, I just didn’t particularly believe in what we were doing. I just woke up one morning and realized I’d rather fail pursuing my plan A than succeed with this plan B that had started consuming life. I just got sucked in and, I learned from it, but it was a weird and dark experience that kind of spun me out in terms of how people might perceive me in terms of …this idea of success…and that’s not something I’d ever really grappled with before.
Kendra: After all that was said and done you moved back in with your parents, leaving your house boat behind. Do you miss living on the water?
Luke: We lived on the water for close to two years and yes, frequently, there are elements I miss. It’s easy to be like ‘things were better back then’ or whatever but the fact is, we went through life at the time and did what had to be done. It’s a hard way to live and when I left the band it was just kind of like ‘RIGHT. I have to prove myself now’ and I just didn’t have that extra capacity to dedicate to such an involved way of living. I’m gonna get a boat again one day and there’s so much that I learnt from the experience that I carry around with me everyday. Things that I notice in my actions or the way I handle people or look at things or even in the environments I crave and the people I gravitate towards. But, yeah –
Kendra; Is there a difference between penning a song on land VS on the constant movement of the water?
Luke: She (Rachel, the boat) was a canal boat. So, she could be a little wobbly if the wind was doing things, but no crazy ass waves or anything. Mostly it was perfect aside from the occasionally morning in the Winter where we’d wake up with our own breath frozen to our faces.
In a sense, I found myself when we lived on the boat. You take ten times longer to do everything so life takes on this whole other rhythm. You don’t just slam on the heating, you light a fire, you gather wood. We never managed to get a proper cooker so we were using a camping stove for cooking which would take ages and we were washing our clothes in local Laundromats and stuff, so because we were constantly moving the boat, there was this element of mapping out the area, like “where is everything?” And with constantly new surroundings and just this boat as a constant life becomes this amazing special adventure. The boat becomes another member of your team, not just a home.
And to answer your question, yes. I think there is a difference. But I think I found the difference and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. There’s a reality to an experience like that. There’s a truth to it which helped me learn who I am and what I uniquely have to bring to the table. I really think you have to find space from all the stuff you THINK you have to be, to get to a place where you can be what you’re meant to be.
Kendra: For now it must be better on land because that’s where you wrote Gossamer Rose. In the end, was this record a therapeutic release in some ways?
Luke: Absolutely it was therapeutic. I mean – following leaving the band – and the opportunity that I saw there I think I put a lot of pressure on myself. I’d kind of said ‘No, I’m gonna do this on my own’ to this opportunity and walked away and suddenly it was all up to me. So I had this vision of me in the future just like, kicking myself because maybe it all turned out be a mistake. So I basically became obsessional. And was recording and learning and just threw countless days into recording with nothing in mind than just proving to myself that I hadn’t made a mistake. And I came up with some good music. But, whenever it came to the point I was gonna put something out – I just felt like it wasn’t enough. It took a lot of counselling from my girlfriend, Robyn, to be honest. She was just saying it’s not up to you to judge it. You’ve just got to write it, let it come through you, put it out. Someones gonna get something from it or they won’t. But you just let it be.’ I mean we had the same crazy from me a hundred times and eventually I just started to understand.
So then this tipping point came, when I took some space and around that time I read this Angel Olsen interview, and she’s in this interview saying that whenever she finds a new artist she’ll just go straight for their most raw and candid record. And I wanted that – I wanted people to know who I really am. Not who I am with like a hundred layers of overdubs or meticulously reworked vocals and studio stuff going on. So, well…earlier on this record was gonna be called ‘Release.’ Just because, that’s what it became. Just being seen. Getting all this weird ego nonsense out the way. Being seen naked and just giving me a platform to grow from.
Kendra: You wrote a lot of songs, but where in the bunch did “Vivid Love” come about; first batch, middle, last?
Luke: Well, ok. We moved back into my parents and it’s properly in the country, so there’s no distractions and I just suddenly got this feeling like “I NEED to get good at guitar.” I started swatting and playing for just hours and hours – and I was finding ways of expressing myself through the guitar that I hadn’t been able to do before. So at some point or another I stumbled upon alternate tunings – things like ragas – and it was like having this whole new power. And I’m really only at the very start of exploring it but, I was doing stuff like actively going out into an environment and being very quiet and listening in and tuning my guitar bit by bit into the feel of the surrounding. And, after a while you’re sat there and your guitar just locks into everything around you. And suddenly it makes so much sense that THAT would be the tuning of the field, or the flower, or the room or memory or whatever. And, basically, “Stanton Park” was the first track I wrote like that. We must have moved to the new place within a month of that song being written. Then “Vivid Love” came about because we had literally NO furniture. And all the walls in this flat are painted just completely white and I was just staring at them and, that can almost be like a mirror in a way, so Vivid Love is kind of the key to the record. It sort of explains everything and has some answers to questions in the other songs. I wrote “The Sky Exhaled” almost immediately after “Vivid Love”…but it comes just before it on the record.
Kendra: When we started our exchange you noted the poetry section here on ZO. Were you a wordsmith in the poetic sense before you ever thought to create music?
Luke: I like reading poetry. I like writing poetry, especially on a typewriter where the keys pick up a rhythm that kind of keeps you going even when you brain starts to drag behind your hands, but – I got into making music very young – so I don’t really think I would have been any kind of wordsmith before I started playing.
My grandad was a fantastic blues guitarist and he introduced me to alot of music that most 7-year-olds don’t know. We would play guitar together and I guess I must have written my first song at probably 12 or 13. Just because, the idea came to me for some reason. I don’t know really how the idea came about. But yeah, from then on I knew exactly what I was and everything since then has just been learning how its going to happen.
Kendra: Is there a line either from poetry or a song that perfectly sums up your career thus far?
Luke: Goood lord. Good question. Ummm – the one that immediately sprung to mind would be the Joni Mitchell lyrics in the first few lines of Amelia. I don’t know if I thought of those just because of the other questions you’ve asked but, these:
“I was driving across the burning desert
When I spotted six jet planes
Leaving six white vapor trails across the bleak terrain
It was the hexagram of the heavens
it was the strings of my guitar
Amelia, it was just a false alarm”
Sprung to mind. I guess it’s just about, looking for signs where you should really just be letting go. If you’re looking for them, you’re gonna find them but you just gotta keep driving across the burning desert. Aha. “Ain’t it Funny How It Happens” by Danny Brown could have more concisely answered your question.
Kendra: The new album is out in early November, what’s next for you? Touring?
Luke: Well – I said it a little early – I’m really just at the start of exploring this freedom which I’ve discovered on guitar. I’m still writing and I do feel this incredible sense of liberation now. The album – when it releases – almost has everything up to this point in my life. Even if it’s just a word, or a single sentence or a nod to a moment – I think it’s covered. I’m excited about looking forward – performing to people. Learning more. Writing, developing, tuning into lots of different environments – so that’ll mean more exploration and travel. Just – life – it’s all just life – but this album is definitely, to me, like my foot on the ladder – I’m climbing from here and this is the benchmark by which I’m gonna push myself to grow – musically and otherwise.
Kendra: If you could achieve one thing in the new year, what would you hope to accomplish?
Luke: There’s a lot of musicians I want to meet. It would be nice to start sharing some stages with them. It’s just a case of continuing to explore what I can do and what I can honestly say. You can’t do any of this if you’re trying to be someone you aren’t, no one is gonna believe you if you’re pretending. By the end of next year – I hope to have come this far again – I mean, I’m really not going anywhere that isn’t inwards but I just hope to be able to reach more people, connect with more people, make music with more people. Be real and be happy and be decent to those who love me. Keep it cool and, if i haven’t over answered your question, maybe get another little boat…somehow.