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Norfolk-born Luke Abbott first made his mark on the music world back in 2006, releasing the brilliantly named b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b,b b/w Buckinghamshire’s Rubbish, Let’s Go Home 12” through the legendary Output Recordings. It should’ve been the start of something beautiful, but instead it was the end: Output closed its doors soon afterwards, meaning Abbot’s debut was also the last thing they ever pressed to wax.
It wasn’t too long before he found a new home at Border Community, though, and following a handful of EPs for the label he released his debut album ‘Holkham Drones’ in 2010. Electronic music that doesn’t feel like electronic music, music that isn’t strictly for the club but definitely wouldn’t feel out of place in a club, ‘Holkam Drones’ was a natural fit for the label, sitting comfortably alongside records by the likes of James Holden and Nathan Fake.
Since then Luke Abbott has been playing live shows, expanding his studio and working on his follow up album. Last year saw him release two EPs through Gold Panda’s label Notown, take up a sound installation residency at Wysing Arts Centre and produce for other artists and bands, including Brolin.
We caught up with the man himself to see what was going on with his world right now and what the future holds.
So, it’s been about 7 years since your first 12” for Output (RIP). Looking back with a slightly older perspective, what are your thoughts on those earliest releases?
That’s a weird record, I wouldn’t make anything like that at the moment, but I’m really glad it got to put something out on Output. It feels good to have started there.
How has your approach to making music evolved over the years?
It’s changed so much and in too many ways that I can’t really give a sensible or concise answer to that question.
How’s the difficult second album coming along?
I think it’s almost ready, hopefully I’ll be able to get it out towards the end of this year. I’ve tried really hard not to make ‘Holkham Drones’ part 2, so hopefully this record will end up feeling quite different. I made a few very broad decisions when I started writing it that have ended up leading to some quite drawn-out and involved working methods. I’ve tried really hard to develop some of my studio skills, I’ve been working a bit onto tape and I’ve been paying a lot of attention to how things are mixed so that I can get the record to feel a certain way. I listened to my work-in-progress mixes on a long-ish car journey yesterday and got a sudden fear that it’s going to be a very bleak sounding record, it kind of has a dystopian vibe about it. But then I played it to a friend the other day who told me that he thought the production sounded like a Prince record. I don’t know why he said that.
Luke Abbott – Modern Driveway
You strike me as someone that can get quite stuck into the nitty gritty when it comes to the studio. What do you do when you need to take some downtime and get out of that headspace?
Me and my girlfriend had a baby just over a year ago, so most of my downtime is taken up with changing nappies and singing nursery rhymes. Making music can feel like quite a self indulgent activity, so it’s really nice to have a constant reminder that there are more important things in life.
I’ve noticed that you don’t do remixes as often as a lot of other people might. How do you approach your remixes as opposed to solo tracks?
I get offered a lot of remixes but I only say yes to them if I actually want to work on it and if have time to do it. Sometimes I have to say no to something I’d like to do because I can’t meet the deadline they’re asking for, that’s happened a bit more recently because I’ve been pretty busy with my album. With remixes I feel like I have to approach them differently every time, but the same is true of my solo work, so they’re similar in the way that they are different to one another.
You’ve been producing for other artists recently. How has the shift from musician-producer to outright producer been?
It’s been pretty fun, I’ve really been enjoying it. I like being able to use my skill set without having the emotional burdens that come with making your own music, it’s a much more relaxed way of working. But it’s also a new learning curve for me, which is a bit of a motivating factor.
What attracts you to the bands that you work with?
They have to be able to do something that I can’t do, and I have to be able to add something to what they do. It wouldn’t work if it wasn’t a mutually beneficial collaboration.
Luke Abbott – Holkham Drones
Why do you think journalists hear the Norfolk landscape in your music?
I’m not sure if I understand why people perceive metaphorical concepts within music at all, so I wouldn’t even be able to hazard a guess at why people arrive at a specific one. Anyway, if they were listening closely enough they would have heard a very different landscape.
What else have you been working on recently?
I have plans to try and release some of the music from my recent residency at Wysing Arts Centre. I was there for a few weeks at the end of 2012 for an arts council funded project. I worked a lot on the ideas of performance systems and improvisation within electronic music, and ended up with about 35 minutes of recordings based upon experiments and performances from the residency. I might put it out soon, but I haven’t worked out how exactly… I’m quite tempted to release it as a tape cassette, but I’m really not sure how many people even own tape players now.
Outside of music, where does your heart lie right now?
I’d just like to drink a sazerac in the sunshine and hang out with my friends.
Finally: you’ve been booted out of the UK for an unspeakable crime. Where do you relocate to?
Mexico, definitely Mexico.