Martin Luke Brown hasn’t had it easy. Despite notoriously landing a major label deal with 2014’s debut single “Nostalgia”, to say it’s all been highs since for the artist would be somewhat twisting the truth. Without the chance to settle into the erratic ongoings of the industry, Martin promptly checked out and dove into what would become an indefinite hiatus from music.
He’d begun to take more of a collaborative approach, and as a self-taught multi-instrumentalist started to lend his knowledge to an array of budding artists just starting out. During this time, Martin built up quite the roster, co-writing and producing tracks with BTS, Lizzy McAlpine, Jacob Banks, YUNGBLUD and Galantis. And that’s only just scratching the surface.
When the world came to a halt in 2020, as did Martin’s output with other artists. The writing didn’t stop albeit, and he found himself resurrecting his own projects. After much reflection, Martin sprung back on his feet ready to give the music industry another whirl, and as he treaded lightly back into the limelight, he had time to perfect his highly awaited debut album ‘damn look at the view !’.
The new sound is harmonious, breezy and unashamedly Martin Luke Brown. It’s taken 10 years, but Martin is now firmly placed exactly where he’s supposed to be. Noctis Magazine spoke with the artist about his miraculous turnaround with music, his ever-evolving artistic vision and the joyous moment of returning with an album that at one point felt so far away.
Hello Martin! Talk to us – what’s going through your head right now having just released ‘damn, look at the view !’?
Honestly, relief is the biggest emotion right now. I’m just so glad there’s finally a body of work out in the world that I’m wholeheartedly proud of.
There’s a lot of pressure that comes with releasing any body of work, let alone a debut album! Did you ever feel like you faced any hurdles throughout the recording process?
I joked about this at a show the other day – how it took me 10 years to release an album but it all sort of fell out of me in about 3 months. All the songs just spilled out and none of it was agonised over like everything else before it. The 10 years was just emotional preparation. Once I was psychologically ready to just be myself and not let the cynicism take over it was super easy.
Any fan knows that this album really has undergone such a process over the years! Did this project go through multiple versions before landing at ‘damn, look at the view !’?
Other than a few voice notes and little lyrical ideas I’d scribbled down on notes, not really. The whole thing was an exercise in letting go and just playing, and making my peace with what came from that. I’ve always had a perfectionism problem and I wanted to try and nip that in the bud. The magic has always been in the play and as soon as it becomes about accomplishing something ‘perfect’ the magic is lost I think.
A few years ago you stepped back and decided to put your artist project on pause – what sparked this drastic move for yourself?
Being an artist, especially now with the culture of how music is consumed – it’s a real treadmill situation. Once you start it feels impossible to stop for fear of losing momentum or becoming irrelevant, I dunno – it just feels so risky. But allowing myself the space to reset and find the reason why I started doing music in the first place was so important. Music was always an escape for me, so when it became stressful and I wanted to escape music – it was confusing to say the least. I just felt so lost.
How do you think your sound / artistic vision has evolved over those years of time out?
It’s just chilled out. I’m not trying as hard, I’m just being. I used to feel like I was method acting as a cool person. I’m just being myself now. It’s way easier.
Looking back at it now, do you think that had you not taken those years out, that you’d still be making music today?
I think I’d have killed myself, honestly. I know that’s dark as hell but I was so lost. I was so desperate to just rest, smell the flowers, figure out what was going on internally. I think lockdown happening a couple of years into my artist project stopping was also a real blessing for me. The forced stop truly felt like a gift from the universe. I could so easily have spent the rest of my life running away from my problems and not acknowledging that I had agency and control over my own life.
One glance at your CV and we see that you’ve worked with some top billing acts, from BTS, YUNGBLUD and Lizzy McAlpine + more! Out of the artists you’ve collaborated with, have any given you solid advice that has stuck with you since?
Haha no one ever listens to advice do they?! I’ve been really lucky to work with some amazingly talented people. I think I’m always just inspired by the ones who are so unapologetically themselves – that’s what art is in my opinion. Just being undiluted. If anything, amping up what you are into cordial. I think successful artists are like blackberries that have found a way to make themselves into Ribena you know?
It’s only when artists are desperate to be a strawberry or something, that’s when it doesn’t work. You’ve just gotta be what you are, and double down on it. And that means taking the time to figure out who you are first.
The album itself is such a work of art – you should be so proud! Were there any specific messages you tried to convey through the album’s 8 tracks?
Thank you so much! Honestly, amidst all the deep stuff, I just wanted it to feel simple. I think life is best simple. Going for a walk with your mates, eating food, playing cards. I think that’s where real joy lies. It’s like, ALL OF THE EMOTIONS, but ultimately just chill. Squeeze the juice out of every moment.
You’ve been an artist nearing a decade now, and you mentioned not truly feeling like yourself throughout the entirety of it. Would you say that you feel like you’ve finally found yourself through this album?
I don’t know about FOUND, but I’m definitely getting there. It’s one of the best parts of growing up, getting to understand yourself more. I’m excited for what I’m going to make in the future. I really think it’s only gonna get better from here 🙂
We always like to ask what artist’s favourite tracks are from their new projects – which track from ‘damn, look at the view !’ would you say you resonate with the most right now?
They’ve all got their moments I think. ‘see you later x’ has felt particularly relevant this week lyrically. I’ve had a lot of kind messages from people from school I haven’t spoken to in years, and there was a billboard of the album in shepherd’s bush where my nan grew up (she’s mentioned in that song) – that felt serendipitous. Yeah, I really love the mood of that one. It’s sad, but triumphant.
Now that the album is out there for the world to consume and enjoy, what would you like to see the songs go on and do?
Stream billions of times and be synched on all of the massive blockbuster films ideally haha. No for real though I’m just enjoying the universe taking over part. They will all go on and live their own lives now and I’m excited for it all. I feel like a parent waving their kid off to school.