Some people spend years in this game and never get a Grammy nomination. Def Jam singing sensation Luke James hasn’t even put out an album yet and he has one.
And you know what, he deserves it.
Dude has been putting it down for a while now, making quality, adult-sounding R&B music. Things are paying off for him in a big way, and it will start on February 9th when there’s a good chance he will take home a Grammy for his breakout single “I Want You,” which was nominated for Best R&B Performance.
Following that, we’ll see Luke’s debut album, Made to Love, sometime this year. So before Luke becomes the biggest thing in music, we had to catch up with the kid to talk about the Grammy nomination, what touring with Beyonce did for his career, his latest mixtape, Whispers in the Dark, and what we can expect from his debut album.
Check it out below.
It feels good being nominated for a Grammy, huh?
Yes, it does. For the Academy to acknowledge me is awesome. It’s like the Oscars. It’s the elite of the music business. And I’ll never be able to let that go, and I’m proud of that, man.
R&B is pretty young right now. How do you feel you fit into the scene?
I think it’s just a vibe, man. I don’t know; I do what I do and hopefully somebody has a taste for what I do. And I try to be as honest as I can possibly be and be as much of me as I can possibly be and hopefully people accept that. I think we’re in a generation of being yourself. People can see through that fakeness. Just be who you are, man. Life is short. I fit in because I’m just going to be myself. And I’m gonna do solid music that I love and hopefully they love it, too.
How much competition is in you? Like you saw Frank Ocean kill it last year so do you think to yourself “I can do that better?”
No, because I can never do what Frank Ocean does. I can do music and that’s the only thing we have in common (we’re both from New Orleans, but that’s that.) He has his lane, he has this thing he does. He has his world, his life and his message. It’s coming from him. And I have my own. I don’t live his life. I don’t look at competition. It’s music. It’s art, everybody should be able to speak their mind freely and at least be given the chance to be heard. As far as competition, I don’t really look at it like that.
Why do a tape — are the songs on Whispers in the Dark leftovers from the album?
No. It’s a feeling. It’s like: OK, album is not coming out this year. We’re going into the New Year. I want to give my friends, my family and people who admire me something to live with, because all I have is a single, and the radio is only going to play one record, if they play it. I’m still promoting myself and I want people to get into me, which will basically, hopefully, make them feel like they want to buy my record. The album is going to be what it is. It’s going to be dope. It’s not like I set time aside, ‘Oh, let me do this mixtape while I’m doing my album. Oh, this song is for the mixtape. This that.’ That wasn’t the idea. It just happened to turn out that way because of time and why not give them something?
Do you know what the album is gonna be?
I have a few songs I know for sure are going to be on it.
I just see what happens. I don’t want to concentrate and say I’m gonna do this. You just got to let it flow. You can’t rush it. It’s gotta be: “I’m hanging out today. You know what? I’m gonna go to the studio. I got a feeling.” And you go to the studio and magic happens. But if you make it a work kind of thing, sometimes it just doesn’t happen that way. Music isn’t like that. I mean, the kind of music I do isn’t like that.
What has opening for Beyonce done for you?
More fans, more people — more Stans, that’s what they call em, huh? And just gaining respect as an artist, as an performer. To be able to grace the stage of such an iconic women…I think it speaks in volumes that I’m here. I’m here to make a lot of noise. You’re going to hear me, one way or another. I’m just thrilled that Beyonce supports that, just somebody making it and expressing themselves and allowing me the platform to do so at such an almost impromptu show. It was great. And, you know, her fans, they’re tough. And I’m very appreciative of them for just allowing me to give a little and give me a shot.
I know you saw the shout out she gave you for the Grammy nomination.
It’s super cool, man. I mean, come on, man. If Prince would have did that then, OK, that’s all in the same category to me.
She’s awesome, man. I mean, the few times that I’ve been around her, I’ve seen her just work and just really be about her business, and she’s making people feel good. And I hope it does something for her, too. Because it does something for me to be able to make music and then find out that somebody fell in love from that, or just found themselves from that.
Do you get feedback like that?
Yes. It’s deep, man. It’s deep stuff. I’ve had people write me and say they lost their parents and they just fell into a dark place, out of love, and then they heard “I Want You” or a song I have called “Made to Love” and it just brightened their spirits and they’re trying harder. And that’s all we’re here for, man. We’re messengers. It’s us, but it’s not really us. We hear a frequency different than some people. It’s just like a painter. It’s their vision. They see it. You don’t see it until they put it down.
You always talk about older singers, do you like music nowadays?
I love music nowadays.
So the last album you really enjoyed was what?
I really enjoy James Blake. I like that artist. It’s very trippy. I enjoy it a lot. Miguel. I like that vibe. Because it’s free. I like free music, when you just feel like he was just feeling it. And he didn’t care and he looked like he was having a good time. The engineer in there really feeling what Miguel was feeling and the producers were in there making a composition, something that mattered.
It’s not computed. It’s definitely ‘I feel like doing this. Let’s see what that sounds like. Oh, it sounds great.’ You know, it’s experimental. And I think that’s what music is, that’s what art is. You have to experiment. You have to know your limits and ignore them. Try some other stuff.
That’s what you strive to do?
Yes. In every way, man. My voice, stretching it out, trying to hit a beautiful note, powerful. And sing a song with all of my passion and create a record that I really really love, wholeheartedly, without a doubt.
Album this year?
Yeah. 2013, Made to Love. I don’t have an actual date. I’m just gonna be on the road, promoting myself, promoting Whispers in the Dark. And I’m also getting into the acting world. But I really want to do it, I really want to be great at it. I don’t want to half-ass it. I just want to get into all aspects of art.
Hopefully next time we see you, Grammy-winning Luke James.
God willing, man.