New York based singer-songwriter Luke Buck is someone who writes about his life experiences, relationships, and misfortunes and turns them into art. With a new single out titled “Winter,” Buck has taken the time to talk about his music, himself, and his upcoming shows. Continue reading to learn all about Luke Buck.
Before we start talking about your music, can you share a bit about yourself? Who is Luke Buck?
Sure, I can try! 🙂 My name’s Luke and I live in Park Slop, Brooklyn. Been living in NYC for about 13 years now, and it took me a while to fall into the neighborhood of Park Slope, but I’m so happy I did. I grew up in the middle of the woods in Eastern PA, so being next to the giant park here has made me remember so much of what I loved about where I grew up.
My day job is in film/TV, behind the camera, working in lighting and camera departments on a variety of different shows and films. Rent is super expensive in this city and the “hustle is real,” so I’m always bouncing around working in a different set week after week, day after day, all the while making time for my own projects, and time to hang out with my dogs and play music as often as possible.
And I guess I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic?
I’m curious to know about your history in the music industry. When did you get your start, and what has your journey through the world of music been like so far?
My first music memory (which rears its head every so often thanks to home videos) was a choral solo I had for “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” back in the second grade. From there I started playing saxophone in my elementary school band. Then in high school I decided I’d try to impress this girl by learning guitar over the summer. By the end of that summer I was more into playing guitar than I was into impressing said girl… so that was a happy accident!
Fast forward to 5 years ago, I went through an awful breakup and took a good hard look at myself. I had considered myself a “failed” musician at that point because I was only playing occasionally while alone in my room, but the truth is I had never even tried anything beyond that. You can’t succeed at anything without trying, right? So I decided to go for it, and met an amazing community of singer-songwriters at an open mic in the West Village of NYC, at a spot called Caffe Vivaldi. Every Monday I’d show up so I could pick a number out of a hat and get a chance to sing two songs. We’d all be there from 5:30-11:30pm every Monday, just to get some stage time. I ended up meeting some of my closest friends there, and started booking gigs with them backing me up, and me backing them up. Honestly, it was such an invaluable experience and really helped me get comfortable in my own skin as a performer. I learned so much just playing with other artists.
There is such a big learning curve in this business. I’m still confused about so many aspects of it, but I think it’s super important to approach everything with a desire to expand your knowledge base. The hardest part is knowing what you don’t know, and allowing others to guide you through those areas and learn from the example of those who have gone before you while still trying to do something original.
You’ve got the ability to play so many instruments. Is there one in particular that you favor?
It varies depending on the day or song or situation, but I love playing lead guitar. I hadn’t had the opportunity to really explore playing solos on stage until recently, but I love it! It just feels so rock and roll!
I’ve been trying to incorporate more effects and sounds into my guitar work. I had always been a solo acoustic guy so electric is a really new frontier for me. There’s so much info out there it’s overwhelming but it’s just so much fun to experiment and learn new ways to play! I’m really excited about some of the new stuff I’m doing and trying to figure out where that all fits in in my songwriting.
You’re latest single “Winter” is about feeling lost and alone at the end of a relationship. Is writing your coping mechanism?
I think that’s true. I’d never really thought about it like that, it just feels right. In life, we’re taught to hide our feelings and keep them locked up inside. But in songwriting, you can say anything you’re feeling. It’s kind of amazing, because there are a lot of people out there feeling the same exact way you are and connect with what your saying, even though it’s so very personal to yourself.
I’ve always loved sad songs. I grew up on Counting Crows and Radiohead, and learned music from learning their songs, so it feels natural for me to play sad music. I remember one day when I was a kid, I brought my boombox to my mom in our kitchen and made her listen to “Raining in Baltimore” by Counting Crows, telling her I wanted to learn piano so I could play this song. I was maybe 8 years old. Her answer, while shaking her head, was “I wish you liked happy music…”
“Winter” is actually a direct follow-up to your fall EP release of All These Things. That different mindset and overall vibe is prominent between the two especially for such a small amount of time between releases. Did it feel like a weight was off your shoulders after finishing All These Things that gave you the freedom to sit down to create “Winter,” or was it more the opposite?
I remember specifically when I was recording the vocals for “California”, which we tracked close to the end, I started to think a little like “what if I never write another song I like again?” I mean, it could happen. So I tried to enjoy the rest of All These Things as much as I possibly could and soak it all in. There’s something surreal about the recording process. It’s stressful and fun all at the same time. You’re hoping you’re making the right choices for what the song is, meanwhile the idea of what the song could be is always looming overhead. “This could be my best song” or “This could be someone’s favorite song”, you know? And all that time you’re experimenting and playing around and just having a ball doing it, hoping that your choices live up to what the song deserves. As enjoyable as it all is, it was a long process and I was tired and broke after that. I was looking forward to a little break to proudly lounge in the task I had undertaken and completed.
Right after All These Things was released though, we played a couple of really fun shows at Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan. I realized then that I needed to keep the ball rolling. It was hard to get press around the release because I was (and am) learning as I’m going, but it was getting exponentially more press than the release before. My philosophy then needed to be to keep surfing forward and keep riding that wave, because that way eventually more and more people will start to notice and hear my music. At the same time I wanted to do something a little more freeform. I love playing live – maybe because all of those decisions that I mulled over being right or not are made in the heat of the moment during the song as it’s being played at that exact moment.
With that in mind, I called in a favor at my friend Ira’s studio M&I Recording in Hell’s Kitchen and I came in with the band and we tracked piano, bass, and drums all at the same time in his legendary live room. That room has such a great classic vibe to it and we just kept rolling along for trumpet and vocals. We actually knocked the whole song out in 8 hours which is crazy for me to even think about!
I loved those days in the studio where I could just play around and get everything perfect, but there is something to be said about that live imperfection-is-perfection vibe I believe we attained for “Winter”. It might not fit every song, but I think it was the perfect way to record this one.
I imagine hearing your music in a coffee shop. It’s just got that kind of John Mayer type of feeling. Do you get a lot of plays from those types of places, or is that something you even look into?
Ha! I’d play anywhere they’d let me! It’s funny you should mention coffee shops because I just got on my first big playlist curated by Spotify called Kaffeehausmusik and it seems like ”Winter” has been playing in coffee shops all over Germany, Austria, and Switzerland for the last week or so. I never really knew that was something that was possible but there it is. Maybe that will translate to some coffee shops closer to home, but I’d gladly go to Europe and play as many coffee shops as would have me!
What are your musical goals?
My main musical goal is just to keep playing and for people to want to keep listening! Recording and playing music out has been one of the most rewarding and fun experiences of my life. I don’t need to make it big or get rich off of this, that’s not the reason I’m doing it, but I’d love to have the music pay for itself at a certain point. That’s my lofty goal, but deep down I know that all I ultimately want is a small stage and at least one person who wants to listen.
Live shows – Do you have any coming up, or being planned? Where can fans see you play?
I’ve been thinking of doing some sort of acoustic tour this summer, but right now I’m focusing on getting the next set of songs ready to record and getting a couple more videos together. That being said, I have been known to do some last minute shows so follow me on Facebook and Twitter to stay posted on those!
April 5th – New York, NY – Event Page
What is next for you?
I’m currently getting ready to do a live band video for “Winter” to be released in the next month, and I’m currently in preproduction for a video for “All These Things” and “California”, so it’s a lot of supporting all the music I released last year. On top of that I’m planning my next set of recordings and going back and forth between releasing it a single at a time or as longer EP.
Is there anything I missed that you would like to talk about?
One thing that I was super proud about doing last year was releasing All These Things on vinyl. It’s so unreal hearing my voice and my songs come off of something so analogue and vintage. I worked with Brooklyn artist (and my friend) Adam Zoltowski (Instagram: @adamzoltowski.art) for the cover art and Brooklynphono in Sunset Park Brooklyn to put it all together and they really did an amazing job. The studio EP is on side A, and side B is the live EP called Live to Tape at Degraw Sound: the ALL THESE THINGS session. This features the full original line up of Luke Buck and the Stops Here playing live to camera. You can see the videos of this session on my YouTube page (https://youtu.be/yQxwn_cgc6g) and you can pick up a copy of the vinyl at any of my shows, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details!