Create And Be Real: Ten Quick Questions For Luce
We recently introduced you to Luce, an artist from Seattle, in the Pacific North West of the US. We were intrigued by this man whose music was completely different to what we’d expect to come from that part of the world – and so when he approached us to thank him for our piece, and offered to talk further, we decided to take him up on it. Luce, otherwise known as Leroy Lutu, gave us a very thoughtful, inspiring, and very enjoyable interview – and we hope you like it as much as we do.
EP: Your song, ‘New Mercedes’ is an interesting one, because we don’t normally associate Seattle with Hip Hop. What led you to deciding on this style of music?
L: Well for starters, I’d ask a question to that question: What really is Seattle music? I mean, is it a message or sound that people say, “Oh thats soo Seattle!”? I’m not so sure anymore…Seattle has such a deep and diverse cultural mix of really good music and real artists it’s hard to put one title-type-genre on this city. Obviously you have the immortals like Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain, etc so I guess a lot of people would associate Seattle with that rock/grunge sound, but really look at the local talent that Seattle constantly puts out. Artists/bands from Pearl Jam to Macklemore to Alice In Chains to Foo Fighters, Blue Scholars, Kenny G, and Odesza I mean the list is endless. I just named a collection of artists all from differentiating genres all out of Seattle. But there’s one common theme of all those different artists, really GOOD MUSIC.
As far as what led me to my “style of music,” it’s pretty simple. I make music that I want to hear. My music comes from my experiences in life, my successes, the countless failures, love, betrayal, heartbreak, loyalty, royalty, the energy, the good the bad and the ugly. Not everyone knows this but the song ‘New Mercedes’, has much less to do with an actual Mercedez-Benz car, and much more to do with setting goals and going out to do everything you can to accomplish those goals.I conceptualized that vision with the idea of a ‘New Mercedes’. I constantly preach to my nephew, who’s 7, that understanding how the goal-setting/goal-working/goal
-achieving ladder works is one of the most important lessons he might ever learn. By the way for what it’s worth, they aren’t teaching that in our schools.
EP: You’ve got this whole tropical vibe going down in your sound. To what extent do you attribute your Samoan and Hawaiian heritage for this? Did you grow up with islander music, and has this had a formative influence on you?
L: A lot. I grew up with the band Fiji constantly on my parent’s speakerbox. My dad is from Hawaii and he grew up with that Hawaiian-Reggae influence and he brought it into my childhood. By the time I was at the University of Hawaii, I was listening to mostly Hawaiian-Reggae music sprinkled with a little bit of Hip-Hop and RnB.
EP: Talk to us about ‘M U Z M | S Z N’. What do all those letters stand for? And what can we expect from the rest of the EP?
L: My debut EP, MUZM | SZN actually isn’t an acronym. It’s my shortened, artistic, and unique way to spell “Museum Season,” which is how the project is pronounced. The “Museum Season” theme itself is the ideology of taking whatever your passion, job, latest work-project, or life-mission might be and sculpting it and improving it everyday to make it the best version of itself. The “Museum Season” aka “MUZM | SZN” title/artwork concepts were heavily influenced by the Renaissance era — sculptures, statues, paintings, and artistic discoveries. Fans, listeners, and beyond can expect to hear a very high-quality product in MUZM SZN; not just in writing/lyricism but also delivery, execution, and production. It’s a project that talks from everything to motivations, inspirations, love, wine and drinking, travel, smoking, and feeling like you got “The Juice.”
Continuing the theme, since the debut EP MUZM SZN was 7-tracks, we plan on releasing 2-follow up EPs with the same Title and number of songs (7): MUZM SZN II, MUZM SZN III.
Following MUZM SZN III, we might look to combine all of them into a 21-song project/trilogy. ‘MUZM | TRILOGY’ has a nice ring to it…
EP: Who or what have been your major influences in music? What about your life influences?
L: Other than the Hawaiian or Rock artists/bands I heard growing up, musically I was heavily influenced by Tupac, Biggy, Nelly, Bone Thugs N Harmony, 50 Cent, Slimm Thug, Michael Jackson, and Bob Marley.
Life influences boils down to just two. My Dad and Kobe Bryant. My Dad was kind of a big deal to me when I was growing up, he was an ex-UW Husky/Hawaii legend and played a few years in the league (NFL) before injury. He was just such a figure whenever he walked into the room and he treated everyone with respect. He was the one who taught me the value of being the hardest worker in the room and always believing you can accomplish anything. The guy is a legend, I was very blessed to have a father-figure like that despite us dealing with loss growing up.
Other than my dad it was Kobe. He was and will forever be my favourite athlete of all-time. When I was growing up watching him in his prime, it was a very pivotal time for a young boy of 8-18, and he was always preaching the value of working harder than everyone else. Over time, the guy became a living legend and I was able to watch it all. A goal of mine is to have a glass or two of vino with him and just tell him, “Thank you”.
EP: How important is it to you to have complete creative control over your work?
L: Very important.
Yet at the same time it’s important to have a collaborative synergy open in your music. Some of the World’s greatest music has been created/made/released with a village behind it. If I can ever enhance the Gift through working with other creative minds and it feels right…an artist needs to be open to that idea.
EP: You’ve got a label, Create&BeReal Records, which you run with your friend Lux. What do you hope to achieve with this label?
L: Lux and I formed Create&BeReal Records back in July of 2015 with the sole purpose of putting out the music with our company behind it. So we could deliver the music how WE wanted to. We have lofty goals. Very lofty. They involve little gold trophies and lots of travel abroad/domestically sharing the gift of music.
EP: If you could go back in time and do it all again, what, if anything, would you do differently, and why? And what would you say to yourself back then, knowing what you know now?
L: I would spend more time in the back gym. Just to clarify, the “back gym” is the place you go to work when no one else is around. I spent a lot of time in the back gym, an absurd amount of time, when I was growing up and I saw the rewards. But that said, I would go back and spend even more time there.
EP: What’s your take on the current state of the music industry?
L: I’ll go and quote a Drake line here because it’s just fits nicely,”Pray the real live forever, man, pray the fakes get exposed.”
EP: Who are some artists we should be looking out for? Your top 3?
L: 1. Rigael Damar out of Seattle. One of the best song writer/singers I’ve been blessed to work with. He’s in the process of releasing his first US project in the coming months. He has been out in Europe for the last several years and made some major waves in those markets. Fortunately for us, he’s come home. I feel blessed to have worked/been working with him on different projects/songs currently.
2. Will Jordan out of Tacoma. An amazing talent who does it all. Sings, writes, and produces his own music. He was the one who penned one of Nicki Minaj’s Grammy nominated song ‘Fly’. The guy is an amazing soul. Amazing talent. I’m excited for what he is doing and excited to collaborate when I can.
3. Charles Hopper aka “Raw Finger” from Seattle. One of the best producers and engineers out there. A true professional with one of the best ears in the game. He’s the one responsible for engineer, producing, and helping us create ‘MUZM SZN’. He’s worked with everyone from Young Thug to Martell Webster to countless others. He has incredible songs that are diamonds waiting to be picked up. The guy is the definition of a pro and an artist.
These 3 guys are special.
As far as my top 3-4 who I’m playing the most…6lack, Roy Wood$, Bryson Tiller and Luce of course.
EP: What question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview, but nobody ever does? 🙂
L: “How do you balance music with other obligations – mate, children, job etc?”
‘New Mercedes’ is from Luce’s debut EP, ‘M U Z M | S Z N’, and is available to download from iTunes. You can find out more about Luce online from his official website, Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud, and Instagram.