Getting To Know: Luke Baron: Nashville newcomer serves up escapist pop to wash away pandemic blues

"Lockdown sort of threw us all into this dystopian world where we were all forced to get more introspective. I too had fears of my own - but my intuition told me to make music."

Inspired by poetry, cinema, fashion, mysticism and philosophy, as well as pop superstars Lady Gaga and Lana Del Rey, Nashville's Luke Baron comes bearing glittering basslines and 80s' electro-pop nostalgia on his infectious debut single, 'Summer Of '83 (Call Me By Your Name)', out now.

If you hadn't guessed already, the track is inspired by the 2017 Timothée Chalamet-starring flick, 'Call Me By You Name', and celebrates gay love.

Here we get to know Baron, hear about the pros and cons of living in Nashville, where literally "everyone" is an artist, and why now was the time to launch his career.

How does it feel to be releasing your debut single? It’s really exciting. It was really hard being secretive but we’ve become so used to it. I’m happy that people can finally listen.  Tell us about the 'Call Me By Your Name' inspiration and how that film resonated with you? I saw 'Call Me By Your Name' back in 2017. I remember thinking, 'This film is so me.' From the colour palettes used to the scoring, I just completely immersed myself in that world. I had also yet to see a gay love story that was so nuanced on screen. The film left me heartbroken in the most beautiful way. And I did things backwards by reading the novel after seeing the film. It's okay, though, because I've both read the book and seen the film more times than I would like to admit. I think if the story was distilled to its core essence, I would say that it teaches us that heartbreak can be our biggest teacher but love is worth it anyways. Coming from Nashville, it's the home of music. How much does it influence your music? Nashville is an amazing place to live at the moment but it is not without its drawbacks. Everyone here is either a songwriter, a 'public figure,' or behind the scenes in the music industry. In a sense, it's a levelling ground because introducing yourself as an artist is so normalised. On the other hand, there is this invisible competition between everyone following their dream. While country music is the prevailing genre here in Nashville, every imaginable niche sound is also being cooked up here. If I had to say how Nashville has influenced me the most, it would be the storytelling. Embedding a narrative into a melody is popular in music from this area and that is something that my own music definitely mirrors.  You've largely kept your music to yourself until now, why was that and why is now the time to share it with the world? I’ve always shared my music with my closest people but there would be long spells where I wrote nothing. It was exciting getting back in the game.  Did you always want to do music? I’ve always loved music but I’ve wanted to do a lot of things. I still do. But music really is my escape. Adulthood has brought out more confidence in me, I think.  Who are your pop idols? I have followed the careers of both Lady Gaga and Lana Del Rey since their debuts and I think their songwriting gifts are as strong as their voices. I really admire that. I also love Lily Allen, Kacey Musgraves, and Troye Sivan.  Which came first piano or singing? Singing definitely came first, actually secondary to acting when I was young. My first professional gig was playing one of the Von Trapp children in ‘The Sound of Music’, which sort of opened up a lot of session work as a young kid. I did that until I was about 19.

It wasn’t until high school that I started learning the piano with my jazz combo group. I could read music but I really learned about chord progressions and different musical patterns which opened up a lot for me creatively. I’m not the best at piano but I write all of my songs at the keyboard.  Can you remember writing your first song?  I absolutely can. I think I had distilled the mood and theme of the song before it actually came together. I had recently read a book called 'Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock ’n’ Roll Group.' I was determined to make a cool song and I knew I could. It sort of just came together. I remember emailing it to my best friend Jess from London, and she kept telling me to make more. I still like my first song.  When did you start to realise you have such talent for songwriting? I didn’t initially know if I could write songs. I loved music so much, I loved to sing but I was also a serious student. I was constantly writing, loved language, but I didn’t really start to write songs until I was 21. I’m glad that I’ve had a positive response for what I’m putting out but growth would always be the most rewarding for me. 

You've been extremely productive during lockdown writing songs.  What has been inspiring you lyrically? I had to spend a lot of time with myself. Lockdown sort of threw us all into this dystopian world where we were all forced to get more introspective. I too had fears of my own - but my intuition told me to make music. 

How would you describe your style sonically and are there different sides to your sound that we are yet to experience? My intention was to create songs layered with many different textures. For our first single, there is an 80s' dance element to it, but there are also trippy and distorted soundbites and a pulsing bass line. I want it to be escapist pop. That was the spirit when I wrote them. I think it’s safe to anticipate some different styles. How do you hope your music will make people feel? I hope it makes people happy when they listen. We’re playing with a lot of genres but there is a centre of gravity to them all. I play my songs in all kinds of places to make sure they will work.  What can we expect for the rest of the year from you? We have a lot of songs in the works, possibly a different version of ‘Summer ’83’ coming soon. Stay tuned. Streaming 'Summer Of '83 (Call Me By Your Name)' here.