Luke Kuplowsky originally started his indie folk project LUKA two and a half years ago as an outlet for a group of songs that didn’t fit in with Broken Bricks, his main band at the time. The hauntingly intimate heartbreak ballads caught the ear of Toronto producer Stephen Prickett, who helped Luke shape the material into last years understatedly beautiful Calling All Cats Black.
Luke and Stephen have teamed up again to record the upcoming second LUKA album, Summon Up a Monkey King, scheduled for release in early 2015. The first single "Pauses Of The Night" drops today, and Noisey is bringing you the exclusive premiere of the evocative video. Directed by Montreal-based avant-garde filmmaker Michele Ayoub, the video marries MRI scan footage with primitive stop motion animation and low-res video to create a subtly nostalgic backdrop for the melancholic song of longing and loss.
While LUKA’s debut may have flown undeservedly under-the-radar, an upcoming string of dates supporting Timber Timbre across Southern Ontario might be the bump in profile that will expand his reach beyond the sometimes insular Toronto indie folk scene.
Noisey: What has changed between recording Calling All Cats Black and writing the material for the new album?
Luke: The first album was a bundle of songs that were all circling around a breakup of that time. The new record is somewhat still concerned with those experiences, but is very different because the first was recorded in this feeling of solitude, whereas this one has so much more hindsight. When you have that hindsight, things get a lot funnier, and you’re more open to seeing the intensity of feelings as either foolish or noble, and you can choose that more wisely than when you’re in the immediacy of the solitude.
How did you end up linking up with Timber Timbre for the upcoming mini-tour?
I crossed paths with Timber Timbre’s Taylor Kirk last December at a friend’s birthday party where I was playing some music. Then in April I was travelling through Europe to play some shows and ran into Taylor again in Berlin where he was playing. We got to talking, and he wanted to try to set something up in the future, and then these shows came up. It’s going to be a completely different audience with fresh ears that I’ve never played for before. I’m so used to playing for the same people from the same musical community.
Are you referring to the Toronto indie folk community?
Well, there really isn’t one. There are a few singer songwriters that I like, and they’re mainly the ones playing on this record with me, but most of my friends are in bands that are very different from what I do. It’s interesting to play on those kinds of bills with harder bands or electronic acts. If you’re a good singer/songwriter, it can actually be a very confrontational type of music, because the audience can’t really ignore it if they like it. You can like and enjoy a good electronic band, but still kind of ignore them while they’re on, because you can still feel good while listening to them and drinking. But with a good singer songwriter you have to drop everything and pay attention, if you’re into it. With a bad singer songwriter, you just look at your friend and cringe, and then go back to your beer and ignore them.
The film portrait is by Brittany Lucas
The painted portrait is by Adam Kuplowsky
Catch LUKA on the road with Timber Timber this month at the following towns:
9/11 Waterloo, On The Starlight
9/12 – London, ON – The Aeolian
9/13 – Kingston, ON – Isabel Bader Centre for the Arts
Benjamin Boles is a writer living in Toronto - @BenjaminBoles