Interview: Martin Luke Brown

Olivia Fletcher 6 December 2015

I get the impression Martin Luke Brown is at ease with his life as a musician. Walking backstage at The Portland Arms I find him reclining in a fraying leather sofa drinking a Stella with a couple of friends. His corduroy cap, draped loosely over bleach-blonde hair, is a familiar if not stereotypical look. But there seems little that is contrived about his image or laid-back persona. This is a guy that isn’t overthinking things or taking himself too seriously. 

I start the interview by asking him about his latest single ‘Knife Edge’, which was released last month. There is something endearing about his reluctance to promote his track, floundering “Well, it’s a tune” before warming to his subject. Reminiscent of James Bay and Tom Odell, the song is emblematic of Martin’s sound, marrying raspy vocals with retro keys. “I wrote it because I was getting fed up with life. It’s a bit of a frustration song”. It was recorded with the help of producer Utters, who has credits on Drake and Maverick Sabre records. He tells me the two have been working together for a while and are collaborating well. “He’s half Brazilian so his understanding of music is very jazzy and Latino whereas I’ve got a very standard British background, the normal pop sort of stuff.”

The conversation moves onto songwriting and whether he finds it difficult to write things he likes. “I think to write a song is really easy. But to write a really good one is hard. Isn’t that the same with everything?”. We steer clear of philosophy and end up chatting about his current tour supporting Seafret. “The label hasn’t spent a whole lot of money yet so it’s been very organic. […] We’re not trying to push it too hard.” Once again, Martin is underplaying things. He doesn’t volunteer the fact that he’s had some high-profile support tickets in the past, the likes of Jess Glynne, Katy B and Jack Garratt. He references Garratt and Låpsley as artists he’s enjoying at the moment. “I think it’s the authenticity of it. I think she’s good [musically] but she produces a lot of it herself. It’s clearly her vision. What lures me to an artist is the fact that it came from them.”

Martin and his music definitely have this authenticity. Having taught himself to play as a child, his music is very much part of his identity. He’s doing things his own way and at his own pace. For him, commercial success could never be prioritised over artistic freedom; “If people were coming to gigs and enjoying themselves – if I knew my music was being heard and I could live – then I’d be happy.” And he does seem happy. His debut album in the pipeline and intends to do some more touring in 2016. Life is going pretty well for Martin Luke Brown and if his album can recapture the form of his earlier output, things might be about to get a whole lot better.