Interview: Martin Luke Brown

Martin Luke Brown is a Leicester-turned-London based musician, mixing elements of soul and older genres with experimental electronica. With nearly half a million monthly listeners on Spotify and his songs sampled in T.V. shows like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, he’s the underground musician Bristol hasn’t heard of yet. After his sold-out London show, I asked some questions about his individual style of music and rapidly expanding image.

For people who have never heard of you, how would you describe your music?

Oh God, that’s always a tricky one. I feel like I’m the least mono-genre artist! It varies song to song. I guess where I am at the moment is being described as ‘alt-pop’ or ‘alt-soul’ - the electronic/experimental elements making it less traditional I suppose.                                               

Your style seems to have a bit of a soul/bluesy influence. Why do you think there’s been a resurgence in popularity for this sort of music among younger people?

Maybe because it’s a genre that thrives with a prominence of imperfection. I think people have grown tired of the overly preened, perfect pop thing.

Your new single ‘J.O.Y’ has just been released, what is it about and what does the butterfly artwork represent?

It’s about letting yourself be happy and not getting lost in moments passed or the fear of what’s to come - being present I guess, and the liberation that mind-set gives you. I guess the butterfly ties in with the last part. And the whole blue and yellow thing is just my VIBE at the moment. Duotone loving!

Why yellow and blue as your new aesthetic?

Happy and sad. It’s sort of a visual representation of an emotional spectrum really. There’s a couple of lyrics in ‘Into Yellow’ that echo that. Also, ‘Opalite’ [title of another single] as a stone is made up predominantly of those colours.

Two of your slower songs, ‘Into Yellow’, and ‘Shadow and Light’ both have over 2 million streams on Spotify. Do you find it more difficult or therapeutic to write such personal, introspective songs, and do you think this honesty is what resonates with people?

I find slower songs much easier. I think because I tend to write when I’m in a pensive, thinking sort of mood - and they reflect that most authentically. 

Who would be your dream collaboration, dead or alive?

Stevie Wonder man. What a don.

What was the best album you bought last year?

It’s not new, but I bought a vinyl of Don McLean American Pie and it’s like a sonic hug.

Whose new music are you most looking forward to hearing in 2018?

Weirdly, Kanye. If he releases anything. He’s always so fucking bonkers I just love getting lost in his world. The soundscapes he creates are always so unpredictable and I love that.

You’ve just headlined a gig at The Borderline in London. What was it like playing new songs live for the first time?

Yeah! It was beautiful! Just so warm. Family vibes. Singing along and general joy was everywhere. All positive. People are so nice when they put their minds to it right?

What are your plans for the future? Is there an album on the horizon or any more live dates planned?

No. Haha. I’m actually spending this next chunk of my life focusing on writing for other artists and projects - bits for TV and film and that. I think the artist thing will always exist to some extent but it’s definitely becoming less and less a priority as time goes on!

Finally... any plans to come to Bristol?
I love Bristol to bits - so in some capacity yeah, but probably not for anything musical. At least for a while! But definitely for some beers!

Listen to new single ‘J.O.Y.’ here

Article & Photography: Ella Faye Howcroft

Cover Photography: Fraser West