LUK is Lukas Beynon: an up-and-coming Electronic singer/song-writer…
from South Wales. The curly hair and bright eyes front a talent that is like nothing else. Part-D.I.Y., part-abstract; always laced with tropical, engaging lyrics; stunning, bubbling synths. and bass-heavy beats. Take in that warm and delirious aural delirium and you have an artist that is able to regale and seduce through his music. Movement is Luk’s single and one that is daring, warm and nuanced – few new artists come out of the stalls so solid and intriguing. I have been posing some questions to Luk in the hope of learning more about a fantastic young talent. He talks about battling dyslexia and how he got into music; the growth of South Wales’ music and the festivals he yearns to play.
Hey Luk. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi. Good, thank you! I’ve been freelancing some for Ministry of Sound and Project Forte -unapologetically rinsing BANKS’ The Altar as I go.
For anyone who has not encountered your music: can you introduce yourself, please?
I am Lukas. My mates call me Luke and text it as ‘Luk’. I’m 21-years-old from Merthyr Tydfil (South Wales valleys) and I make Electro-Pop. music - in hope to invite the sun out as it’s not too common here!
How did you first get into music? Was there a particular artist or moment that inspired you to take music up?
My father has always been very musical. He’s a beautiful singer (as is my mother) but that was inherited by my older sister, Leah, who has also been in bands and performed (and) stuff on the side.
My dad plays the guitar, drums; ukulele, harmonica and a variety of abstract world musical instruments he’s picked up over the years. However, as hard as I tried and persisted I could never pick any of that up! My other sister and I were always very visual but like a lot of us working-class valleys folk, there came a point in her maturity where it wasn’t realistic to be creative. I too felt the grip of such a common misconception during my adolescence and totally disconnected from that side of myself in public - so that I didn’t defy the norm.
It was always a very different story behind closed doors, though: I had mountains of artwork and libraries of ideas. To this day, our attic is full of my used paper and memories of a time where my body would run on imagination alone - until, of course, I would have to leave the house. I was still playing with sticks in the back garden until my early-teens. I just couldn’t shut it off, and for some stupid reason, I was deeply ashamed about that.
I felt like an anomaly amongst a family pedigree of netball and rugby captains; bare-knuckle fighters, tradesmen and every other stereotypical traditional Welsh family cliché.
Short answer: It’s hilariously personal. I immersed myself in music when I finally found a way to make it. I was inspired to pursue it by the prospect of connecting to others as well as finding a happier version of myself through it.
Long answer: I’ve retyped this answer so many times now because it’s SO long (and I’m very dyslexic, haha) but to summarise: there’s no real pinnacle or defining point where I got into music; I’ve always loved ‘creating’ and longed for some kind of approval from my father. I guess the moment that I found a way to make music (the relief!); I still kept it to myself. I did that right up until the first week of university where I was surrounded by like-minded creative people for the first time in my life and they encouraged me to share it with the world. The response I had from B.B.C. Introducing and the internet in general, as small as it was, gave me exactly what I needed to carry on - and ignited a spark in me that continues to burn and surprise even me with its intensity.
Azealia Bank & M.I.A.’s commitments to bending genres and being these ultra-creative artists - without actually singing at the time - made me take a step back and think: ‘if they can do it so can I’, so I did. Up until then, I was producing my own amateur fruity loops demos with no intention of singing; I still had absolutely no confidence and felt as though the only way I could put my voice to my music was by rapping, and to save time (like Azealia did) I wrote to instrumentals of songs and songs I liked - but even then, I didn’t have the confidence to talk in key. After getting a great response every time that I put something new out there; I began to chase the euphoria it gave me, knowing I was making someone, somewhere feel the same way about my music as I do. Now, I’m continually meeting people that build my confidence from what was initially a black pit of self-loathing. So, I guess, it’s how my music has helped me that keeps me focused on building my future around it. All I know is I love my music: it makes me happy and I want to carry-on making it so I will make it happen. I don’t see a future in which I’m not making music.
I imagine there was a lot of music played in your household growing up? Who were their artists and musicians you were exposed to as a child?
Christy Moore, Garth Brooks (Thunder Road used to scare shit out of me!); Celine Dion and Boyz II Men - but my sisters made sure to teach me that ‘cool kids’ listened to Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Spice Girls (not forgetting S Club 7 and Steps of course!). I literally only ever listened to what was put in front of me from Linkin Park to Abba: The Gold Edition - until my mid-teens where my musical sense of self exploded like The Big Bang. These artists had left a huge impression on me, though. I would listen to something super-weird because it wasn’t what I was used to. I was like some kind of prototype hipster, but thankfully, this attitude went on to introduce me to music that inspires me deeply and summons my inner artistic self.
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Movement is your new single. What was the reason behind writing the song? It is lighter and less heavy than some of your other work. Is that a sign of things to come?
The track itself is open for interpretation: some people see it quite literally - as the colours being the lights on the dancefloor - and the 'close your eyes' lyric translating as an order to let loose and forget your worries (and enjoy the music).
It was written and demoed incredibly quickly with one session - which lasted no more than four/five hours. The reason for this was its importance to me at the time. It is, of course, pressurising trying to pursue your passion and it's obvious that the creation of music itself is crucial to the reason why you love it. It's easy to forget that (sometimes) when colossal mountains of admin. work like P.R., label contact and gigging crush you. When it peaks, you find yourself facing this tsunami-like wall of water of thought and worry. It’s completely overwhelming. This song was (written) to remind me that it would always be alright as long as the music 'moves' me. It is a message to myself during the heavy storytelling in the rest of my music.
Lee House co-produced the track. How did you come to work with him and what did he bring to your music?
I was introduced to Lee via a Welsh artist development scheme called Project Forte. They helped fund our time together and release both Movement and Magnetic You. I had heard of his work with HVNTER and I couldn’t be more excited. Up until working with him, I felt my demos. were misunderstood; mostly because of my underdeveloped producing skills - but Lee saw what I saw straight away when nobody else could and we were in each other’s heads from there. It was so easy and natural and also a massive relief.
Movement changed a lot during its development. Initially sounding much darker (think in the vein of an OSWLA artist). We managed to nail the sound for Magnetic You straight away taking influence from Mura Masa, Hot Natured and Jungle. So, we used that track as a reference when deciding how the final version of Movement would sound. He brought professionalism, pure skill and everything else I needed to take a giant step forward.
Looking back at your time in music so far: how would you say you’ve developed and changed since your earliest moments?
I think my most obvious improvement is my confidence. I started off too scared to rap into my phone - under the covers with my door locked and the light off - and now I’ve performed at festivals and supported artists like Man Without Country and Money.
I’ve found that self-belief is EVERYTHING. Like my voice and live skills: even writing and the process of conceiving ideas - and feeling inspired - improve ten-fold when you can kind of realise and believe in even the smallest bit of potential you have. It opens up so much opportunity for you. Contentment and happiness is an end goal of mine and creating music lets me taste that.
With a new single out: can we expect to see an E.P. or album arriving soon?
Of course! I’ve got complete tunnel vision for that at the moment. I love making music (admittedly a lot more than I love performing) so I’ve written and continue to write a ton of songs for an E.P. which hopefully could turn into an album eventually - if I’m fortunate enough to capture the right attention from the right people! At the moment, I’m very independent but I’m learning as much as I can as I go.
Hotlove has been the E.P.’s working-title the entire time because I feel it’s what best describes this body of work. It tells the story of a quick burning love for someone that starts off explosive - hot and bright - before fading (not without a fight) into something cold and dark. There are two mid-tempos called Fireblue and Starkiller that I’m not too sure I want out there - because they are like super personal, haha.
Your songs – Movement certainty – blend tropical lyrics, hard beats and bubbling synths. This style of music and compositional sound is being favoured by a lot of new artists. Why do you think that is?
I’m not sure but I think it’s great! I’ve always been attracted to that sound and the visuals - and emotion - I see and feel when I listen to it. Maybe it’s because it sonically feels good and carefree regardless of the subject or context - and people see it as an escape - given that the world is a pretty uninviting place at the moment. To be honest, I have absolutely no idea, haha. I hope it lasts, but trends never do.
Wales is a part of the U.K. that boasts many great musicians but is often overlooked. It may be an all-sweeping question but what is the music scene like in Wales?
It is stronger than ever. I’m not sure if that’s because I am more aware of it now that I’ve become a part of it, but I feel as though, in general, Welsh artists are finally finding their way to national and international territories. Most recently, Betsy, Estrons; Pretty Vicious and Catfish and the Bottlemen.
Thankfully, opportunities and possibilities continue to open themselves up to all kinds of artists in Wales - as our government has upped investments in our creative sectors in a bid for us to strengthen our colourful and unique culture.
It can be easy for Welsh musicians to stay Welsh musicians their entire career, however, and it’s very easy for Welsh language artists to do so successfully - which puts them in danger of staying within the local Welsh bubble. But, with a new online, globally-connected generation emerging; bigger ambitions and a broader spectrum of sounds are being discovered which will hopefully continue to turn heads our way - to recognise what it is that has given us the name ‘The Land of Song’.
Are there any artist – either locally or mainstream – you recommend we check out?
O.M.G., yes! I was housemates with Tom from Tibet. Watching them progress last year was hard because everything they do is so fucking awesome. Their latest video for There Is a Place is wicked! X&YO and Hvnter are killing it at the moment too. I’ve heard Hvnter’s E.P.: be prepared to see him everywhere when it drops!
It seems like you are an artist that wants to take your songs around the world and transcend from the smaller venues and gigs. Would this be a fair assessment and which countries/venues do you dream of playing?
Totally fair! I’m still pretty shy on stage but the idea of performing at events like Burning Man, SXSW or Coachella instantly pop to mind. It’s pretty ambitious, I guess, but it just seems right. They are always jam-packed with exciting Electronic artists past, present and future (plus they’re sunny, haha).
In terms of where around the world, I would love to take my music everywhere, to be honest - especially if there’s anybody there that wants to hear it.
There’s nowhere I don’t want to see: I’d absolutely love to go to Japan, though.
Looking over your career so far: which memories and gigs stand out?
My debut gig supporting Man Without Country at the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay. I like jumped off stage (nearly fell) and got in people’s faces with my visuals beaming behind me; everything felt so right. My latest gig at HUB festival was a real stand-out, though. It was the last gig with my old bandmate Manon and half-way through the first song everything but the mic. and the metronome switched off - and wouldn’t come back on for the rest of the set until the last song, haha. The audience evaporated before the first song was up. We spent the rest of the set dancing to metronome and performing what we could in an empty room whilst rearranging all the wires to our equipment. It was the biggest laugh and a real showcase at how far we had both come confidence-wise. Other highlights include the radio support I’ve received and all the support in general - and being introduced to Lee House and, of course, releasing Movement.
For those musicians that want to follow in your footsteps: what advice and guidance would you offer?
Make music because it makes you happy and you enjoy it. Always be nice.
Don’t give up if you want to make a go of it and believe in yourself and your music. There’s a reason why these phrases have become clichéd: if they weren’t true nobody would be saying them :)
Finally, and for being a good sport, I’ll play any song you want (not your own as I’ll put one in)…
Haha. The impossible question! I woke up with Hot Natured by Isis in my head so why not listen to the universe on this one?!