Following numerous festival appearances and tour dates across the country supporting Jess Glynne and Jack Garratt, we caught up with self-described “soulful” multi-instrumentalist Martin Luke Brown whilst he was on tour supporting Seafret at Leeds Brudenell Social Club.
With his mix of gritty vocals, catchy rhythms, meaningful lyrics and excitable personality, it’s easy to see why Martin Luke Brown has already garnered the attention of BBC Introducing and the likes of Zane Lowe and Huw Stephens with his 2014 single, Nostalgia. Although it’s clearly been a long time coming as Brown was only 14 when he ‘started loving music properly and getting into gigs and writing’.
Over the past two years, the Leicester-born, London-based singer-songwriter has released 3 singles and an EP named after the title track, ‘Take Out Of Me’, all with his soulful, vintage sound and all receiving praise from fans and critics alike. However, he says he doesn’t really notice the increasing hype around him: “I was in the studio recently and the guy I was working with said I’ve got loads of people listening but I just don’t think about it much”. Brown does admit that with a growing amount of people listening to his music there is “definitely a bit more pressure to make sure the next thing you’re releasing is always better than the last” although sees this as “a good challenge to constantly be aiming higher” which can only be the statement of a focused musician reaching for success.
It’s no surprise that Brown’s fanbase is rapidly increasing after a string of festivals over the summer, playing to crowds at some of the UK’s biggest festivals such as Reading & Leeds and Boardmasters and many smaller, independent festivals. However, Brown admits that he still “feels more at home” in the studio making music as he says thrives in a creative environment where he can just “run around and sit at a piano or jump on a drum kit, doing lots of different thing” stating that the ‘creating part is the fun part’ as opposed to the more repetitive routine of gigging where “you practice and you have your set and that’s how it goes”.
Martin also elaborated on a moment that made him realise how much his music genuinely touches other people, recounting one experience during his headline October tour when a solider, recently back from Afghanistan, ran on stage to tell Brown that his music meant so much to him: “He was shouting in my face, quite emotional and it was really intense but it was actually quite nice because you don’t think about stuff like that”, which just goes to show the extensive reach and resonance of Brown’s music already.
When asked about how he writes songs, such as ‘Knife Edge’ and ‘Scars On Scars’, that are known for their catchy rhythms that contrast with gritty lyrics, Brown says that the melody always comes before lyrics by building up “vibe that just feels good” using one of the many instruments he taught himself to play such as keys and guitar, or using a drum loop then lyrically exploring the emotion behind the melody.
Now Martin’s incredibly busy year is drawing to a close he talks about his future plans, explaining that the end of this year is all about getting songs properly recorded in the studio. This means we can hopefully expect an album at some point in 2016 as he says that “it’s getting there, it’s nearly ready” but won’t be released until “the moment is right” to ensure it does the best that it can.
We may also be able to expect future collaborations with artists such as Foy Vance as Brown reveals that he’s previously written with Vance, who’s recently been signed to Ed Sheeran’s record label, Gingerbread Man Records, and would love to do more with him as “he’s one of the best in his field in terms of being a rootsy singer songwriter”.
All in all, 2016 is set to be a very exciting year for Martin Luke Brown, from the likelihood of an album release to a headline tour: “I’m going to be doing a lot more on my own next year which will be a lot of fun” with a promise of a return to Leeds, we can expect to see a lot more from this passionate, charismatic musician.