Quiet Luke’s Week in Pop
OutKast, “Hey Ya!”
Last year I was in Prague for a few nights with some of my (now) best friends. One night we went to a nightclub that played only the purest of pop music. They were going from the Spice Girls “Wannabe”, to “Dancing Queen” to “I Wanna Be Your Lover” to “I Feel Love” to “Take on Me” to “Lose Control” by Missy Elliot—I mean just relentlessly playing hit after hit—songs that feel good in the club, or anywhere at all for that matter, songs you can dance with your friends to. They also played “Cool” towards the end of the night, word to my friend Zuri!
That night I heard “Hey Ya!” and it hit me really hard. Hearing it against all those great songs that night made me realize there hasn’t really been a song that has felt like it since. I think there’s a strong case for crowning it as the best pop song ever, behind “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” or “Billie Jean”. This song was a big influence in the feeling I was trying to achieve on track two of Your Happy Place, “I Wanna Go”:
That night this older woman kept offering to buy me a drink, and, after I politely declined, she said “I am a Witch”. I swear this is a true story [laughs]! Another weird thing about this night is there was some crazy found sound that I recorded on my iPhone that night on the way home that became a crucial texture in the last song on Your Happy Place, “Gas”. Come to think of it, none of this project would have came out the way it did if it weren’t for that night!
Santangelo Antonio Williams is a polymath who I met through mutual friends in 2015. He is basically my art director / creative partner for the world of YHP and beyond. He was also a part of a team that helped me actualize the visual aspect of my first project, Beholden, which came out last year. He has also become one of my closest friends. It’s really hard to collaborate with friends, but him and I have had seething beef over art and then seen each other the next day and been OK. That’s how it’s gotta be if you wanna make YHP!
In addition to directing, shooting, and planning music videos with me, he designs all the graphics for YHP based on intense study and conversations about the intention and goals of the project as well as references and backseat designing from me.
Our collaboration also extends into his own music. I engineered, mixed, and provided some additional production and vocals to his album, A Jaded Attempt at Something Iconic, or just Jaded. I still think the work is a bit ahead of its time and might be appreciated more in some years. This track “Saline” is probably my favorite. When we were working on it, he told me to imagine all the lost souls swimming around from Disney’s animated Hercules. The song has whales crying on it.
Cocteau Twins, “Cherry-Coloured Funk”
This song has become quite important to me over the past year or so. I had heard it before, but now something about it makes me feel this unexplainable sadness mixed with euphoria? An infinite longing almost… It really makes me consider the complexity of emotions and how with art we can manufacture “new” emotions, or at least new “states.” I love Beach House, so finding the Cocteau Twins after them opened up the floodgates to that whole lineage for me. I’m all about tracing sounds I like back to the source.
duendita, “One of One”
duendita, or Candace, a dear friend of mine wrote this song years ago, and I think it’s a classic. It should literally become a standard or something. I got to play the song, accompanying her on guitar for for a small performance at a bar a couple years ago, and I think that’s when I realized. There’s a feeling of tenderness, anticipation, and vulnerability that comes with being in Love, and I think she captures something so pure about that. I think she’s putting out some new new soon!
DAF, “Der Mussolini”
When I lived in Berlin last year, I found this track in a rabbit-hole that spanned early 70s German post-psychedelic rock/proto-electronic music called “krautrock” to late 70s early 80s German post-punk and industrial music. I had never realllly heard music like this before then, only their offspring like Radiohead, Stereolab, LCD Soundsystem, etc. This track by DAF, an acronym for what translates to “German-American Friendship” was a big influence on me.
Orrin, “Perfect Blue”
This is a banger by my friend Orrin that I mixed. It was produced by Warren Wolfe, one of my first friends in New York and an extremely talented musician. He also came through with some crazy ad libs, feathered and birdlike! Orrin also has a new slap called “Superstar” that came out recently.
Warren Wolfe, “Make Me”
Warren made this track with our friend Scott James, who is one of the best songwriters I’ve heard. Seriously, look him up. I helped them fine tune the track in its late stages. This track reminds me of the end of summer. Our friend Maya Balkaran is also playing viola and violin on this track, as she is on track three of Your Happy Place, “New Rochelle”, which, oddly enough also features some angelic washed out background vocals from Warren somewhere in the cacophony.
Junius Karr, “Scream”
This is a new release by the Late Great Junius Karr.
JIL, “All Your Words”
JIL is a New York supergroup. This song is a futuristic, spiritual banger off their first album, which should be out sometime soon. They’re amazing.
David Bowie, “Warszawa”
I didn’t grow up on David Bowie, but I found him eventually. When I was in Berlin, I got really into his album, Low, which might be my favorite record by him now. While there I was able to visit the studio where he recorded it with Eno and Tony Visconti. The studio sits on the borderline of what used to be the Berlin Wall. I can imagine him looking onto East Germany from West Germany while making this record. You can really hear Eno, another hero of mine, on this track. Low is my favorite David Bowie record now for what it’s worth. Rest in Peace, David! You could see the future!
This song also reminds me of my friend London O’Connor, a Jedi Master, friend and mentor to me, who also idolizes Bowie and slept on my floor (we didn’t have a couch) while I was really getting into Bowie. London also gives us an amazing moment on track 4 of Your Happy Place, his verse on “Longtimes”.
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