1883 Magazine

After finding out our original pub we had planned to shoot in was closed, (and who knows why at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon), we head to another near Brick Lane where the landlady immediately falls for the New Jersey born and now Norway based singer-songwriter Luke Elliot.

While she asks “If he’s got Italian in him?” I try to get to know Luke over a round. Taking me only one drink to get used to his dry humour, I start asking about his new single Trouble, attacking audience with mis and what he thinks about Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign.

Is there a story behind your new single Trouble?

Of course, everyone writes from personal experiences, but I was reading a lot of Frank O’Hara at the time, I’m a huge Frank O’Hara fan.

There’s a pretty blatant O’Hara reference in the song but have you got any influences that maybe aren’t so obvious?

Lots of authors actually, like Dostoyevsky. I’m a big fan of Graham Greene who’s my hero. Actually I wrote another song based on one of his books. It was based on The Power and The Glory. Do you know the book?

No, despite being three years deep into a literature degree. You’re an American signed to a Norwegian label, do you find that Norway’s music scene is more suited to your classic style than the U.S.?

No, it’s just where we ended up first. Nobody had planned on it happening that way but I don’t think I’m any more suited or not suited than anyone else.

I’m sorry to keep pigeonholing you as an American but…I really want to ask how you feel about the fact that Donald Trump might be the next American president?

I love him, I think he’s great.

[I have to gulp down some of my pint]…Really?

No, he’s a psychopath! Everything about him is bad, he’s a total fucking maniac. I’m not really political, and if I am I don’t really want my fans to know my thoughts, no-one really cares because I’m an entertainer not a politician. But I did go on a long rant on Facebook today and reposted Louis C.K.’s long scathing email about Donald Trump. But yeah, I think he’s a dangerous person, and it goes beyond the political sphere, it’s a basic civil rights issue or even a human rights issue. He’s a dangerous human being and he’s got dictatorial qualities, I don’t want to say he’s Hitler because that’s really extreme but he shares some of those qualities. The Germans didn’t see the Holocaust coming, they saw a funny guy with a comb-over like Donald Trump. He says weird shit, he’s funny and then all of a sudden here’s this fucking monster. It’s disgusting and he’s a disgusting representation of America.

Phew, Good answer. I’d love to talk about the Trump situation all day because if it happens it’ll probably lead to WW3. But lets deter from political issues for that reason. I watched some of your performances in Norway [on YouTube not irl] and you look like you really get into it, how do you gear up for that?

Lots of cocaine. TONS of cocaine.

[I still don‘t know whether he‘s joking or not]…Really?

No, I don’t even drink before I go on stage actually. [Luke’s already on the second of many pints at this point. “What about after?”] Yeahh, I mean I LOVE to drink but I don’t like the idea of getting drunk and then performing. I feel like people are paying to come and see me and it’s rude to show up trashed so I want to be on my game.

Saying that, have you ever done anything really embarrassing on stage?

Yes, I got so excited one time that I swung a microphone into an audience of like 350 people and as I pulled it back I hit somebody on the head and she started screaming.

[Before I have a chance to ask how the accidental GBH was resolved, the landlady interrupts and it’s too good to leave out of the interview]

Landlady: Darlin’, have you been to Rough Trade?

Luke: What’s that?

Landlady: What do you mean what’s that? You’ve got to go. They have all the most amazing singers there. I’ll write it down. It’s a-mazing.

Luke: And you’ve got to give me your email address. She’s so fabulous, [shouts to landlady] can I have your email? Or a phone number, I want to call her and ask her out.

[This courtship lasts for another five minutes and I stop understanding what’s even going on]

…Don’t you just love London?

I love London; this is great, this is fabulous.

Isn’t it just. You’ve been labelled stuff like ‘classic but current’ which sounds a bit generic, how would you actually describe your music if you were to put it into three words?

Listen. To. It.

Ah, good answer. Do you think it’s quite important to be passionate during performances considering that it’s so easy to listen to music at random and never go back to it ever again?

Yeah, you have to show people you want to be there. I mean why the fuck else are people going to pay money to be there. We live in a society that’s oversaturated with bad music and people sometimes have trouble distinguishing between what good and bad music is. If a performer doesn’t show that he or she wants to be there there’s no point in even trying.

Nice to know the people are getting their money’s worth in something then. If you could’ve written any song, what would it have been?

Maybe it would be If You See Her Say Hello by Bob Dylan. But, I should be more interesting than that. [After 2 minutes of what looks like deep thought] Oh, actually I know exactly what it would be…maybe…[another 2 minutes pass]. Return of The Grievous Angel by Gram Parsons? Do you know Gram Parsons?

Nope. [I’ve learnt from Goldsmiths that if you say yes to questions like that you’ll get asked what your favourite album is].

See, I’m giving you all this stuff to check out.

Has your style always been like this, i.e. did you always walk around wearing suits and sounding a bit like Nick Cave or has it evolved from something else?

This is the style I’ve always had, although things change and I tried something different a couple of years ago. But this is my first actual full-length album, we did two EP’s before but this has been the first major thing that I’ve done. I’m sure the style will change over time.

That’s fair enough, what are your plans for the rest of the year?

We’re releasing here and the rest of Europe in May, so there’s going to be a lot of touring. Right now we’re doing some festivals in Norway and will probably do some in England, France, Germany in summer.


Luke Elliot’s album ’Dressed for the Occasion’ will be out 3rd June via Name Music.
For more info on Luke visit www.lukeelliot.com

Words by Amy Walker @amyrwalker

Photography Genevieve Stevenson

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