premiere: quiet luke hopes his music will remind you of disney world
Quiet Luke's new EP, 'Your Happy Place,' is loaded with powerful, 'plastic' pop rock. As i-D premieres the video for 'Connecting Line,' we talk to Luke about visiting Epcot and collaborating with Zuri Marley.
Photography Santangelo Williams
Your Happy Place isn’t just an EP for Quiet Luke: it’s a “brand,” a feeling and a space for the New York-based musician. The musician, whose real name is Alexander Luke, pivoted into making music as Quiet Luke following a stint as a rapper. Last year, Your Happy Place became Quiet Luke’s main focus, focusing on pop culture, consumerism, and “plastic” songs. In a way, Your Happy Place is a musical persona for Quiet Luke. It has also developed into a clothing brand, Your Happy Place LLC. The EP, which was written and produced between Berlin and New York, is antithetical to Quiet Luke’s 2016 EP Beholden — he finds himself in happy-go-lucky territory while exploring his own nostalgic experiences.
While Your Happy Place is just one of Quiet Luke’s projects, he’d like the brand to live on past this EP. However, he expects there will be a shift in sound for his next body of work — something that goes back to the sound of Beholden. If Your Happy Place is something to listen to in the background, his next body of work will be something that grabs your attention. Premiering below from Your Happy Place is Quiet Luke's colorful DIY video for “Connecting Line."
How did Quiet Luke begin?
I started out living in a boring town in Florida and just being really into creating a mythos, and I did that through music and imagining things. That’s how I started getting my creative juices going. I didn’t actually really ever consider being an artist until I was older. I guess it’s separate: Quiet Luke is a name I gave myself after I stopped rapping. That’s how I got started in music - I was a rapper/producer. Then I wanted to make something else. I knew it would be called Quiet Luke but I didn’t know what genre it was going to be. It’s been my alter ego and alias since then. It’s something that started in my bedroom as a kid.
Tell me about your latest EP, Your Happy Place. How did it come together?
I actually used the EP as a way to launch a brand I collab on, so I kind of wanted the music to feel more like being in a theme park or Disney World or what I associate eating McDonald’s with. Especially for the song “YHP,” I was imagining some kind of song when they call out batters at baseball games. I think I was very influenced by trying to create something that came close to classic rock. I was inspired by pop from a lot of different eras — a lot of 90s guitar pop, alternative rock, and big 80s songs. It’s interesting because a lot of the stuff I was imagining I wasn’t even listening to.
What’s your favorite place to go at Disney World?
When I was younger I was really into Epcot. I think it’s cool because 20th century ideas of what the future will look like are really interesting. I really like the world showcase where you can hop from country to country. I love how fake it feels — you get the highlights of each country and then move onto the next one.
Do you think your music gets misinterpreted?
There are a lot of subtleties to it that don’t play out well when something is online. I find when I perform live people understand what I’m doing now. With the records, I want them to sound plastic, kitschy, and to the point of it being a song you can wind up and it glitches like it was made cheaply. You’d wonder if it was out of tune. I don’t know if you’ve ever read my Spotify bio, but I call my music a “postmodern real-time performance art piece.”
This project sounds like it was challenging in a lot of ways.
I did it to empower myself, in a way. It felt like I was playing a character making something or doing an exercise artistically — trying to push myself in a certain direction. It turned out to be pretty weird when I got to the heart of it. In a way, it’s not what I would have made — it’s what I pushed myself to make. Some people would say it’s insincere, but it’s something I thought should exist and I tried to make. I think I realize through the process it will always be me. Another thing I was super influenced by was 1920s literature. The song “New Rochelle” was a score for a rich person seeing their life deteriorate as a safe haven. The singes like “YHP” and “I Wanna Go” were supposed to be really uplifting but they go into that ethereal, emotional space. I’m finding as I make more stuff though, it ends up as me.
How did you end up collaborating with Zuri Marley on “Longtimes”?
Zuri is actually one of my best friends. We both went to NYU’s Clive Davis Institute. There was actually a time when I was helping her write songs and it didn’t turn out the way she or I wanted. I think I learned a lot about collaborating and writing even though the music is never gonna come out. When I had this song, I knew she’d like it because it exists in this space between us as musicians and we worked from there. She’s not even really singing lyrics for a lot of it, but I really love it. It was a pretty natural collaboration between friends.