27 April 2012
DIY pop for a new season
There’s more to Christian singer-songwriter Luke Leighfield than meets the eye...
He looks like a guitar player. But he plays the piano. He looks like he might be living the rock and roll lifestyle. But he lives at home with his parents in a sleepy town where phone reception is pretty ropy. He looks like any other musician trying to hit the big time. But he is refreshingly grounded and recognises that he might have to give it all up one day.
Luke has been dubbed the “hardestworking man in indie music”. And it would be difficult to argue with that. The 24-yearold’s DIY approach to his orchestral pop music means he is not as removed from his fans as many other artists are. In fact, he has been quite happy to perform in people’s living rooms, at BBQs and has even organised a trip to the zoo with some fans. He does much of his own PR, organises his own tours and handles his own CD orders.
He releases his music – and that of his friends – through his own record label Got Got Need Records.
When idea speaks to him, he is busy preparing pre-orders for his new album New Season, is immersed in “lots of packages” and is getting ready for his tour. “I don’t have a real job so I can do it myself. It’s hard work, but I choose to do it like this because you get out of it what you put in. I try to make it personal. I don’t see music as just making good music. It’s about the whole package as opposed to just songs.”
When we ask Luke what his hopes for the future are, he does not say a Brit Award and sell-out tours, but in his typically down-toearth manner explains: “At a very basic level, success will be me being able to make a vague living from music; to get to perform
a few times a year and play to a few people. I just want to make this a viable operation.
I know I can’t do this all my life because it’s just not practical. I’m lucky enough to have supportive parents who are letting me do this and live at home without paying rent. All I’m hoping is that I can do this for a living and have people like the songs; reach some people and be able to do some good.”
He may be self-deprecating, but he has received great reviews, including from Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens, who describes his music as “a breath of fresh air in this world of gloomy winters and moody blues”.
His music has also been used on Football First on Sky Sports and Channel 4’s Made in Chelsea.
Despite the difficulty in earning a proper wage from making his music, Luke is donating £1 from every album to Christian Aid.
For him, this is about far more than just music. His lyrics and his approach to life show that it all serves a greater purpose.
“I’m inspired by the words of Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa. I don’t make music just to be big or to make songs that are fun and make people feel good. I just want to sing about bigger issues,” he says.
“I feel we have it really easy here in Europe, but in some ways it’s really hard. It’s very hard to care. Because we have the best of everything. It’s hard to get people to think about going deeper, rather than just being materialistic and egocentric.
“I just want to put some of these themes of justice and going deeper across in my music. But I also don’t want to force it on people. I try to put these themes across in a way that’s obvious if you are listening out for them, but if you don’t want to hear those things then they’re not there.”