Who or what inspired you to take up composing, and pursue a career in music?
I’ve always had an innate attraction to music. My mother often told me stories about how, as a toddler, music was the only thing that would calm me when I was upset. Composing began very early in my life. It began once I started taking piano lessons at age 7. I would often hear alternative melodies in my head while learning a new Beethoven or Brahms piece. This led to me experimenting with alternative endings or re-writing certain themes (much to the chagrin of Beethoven, Brahms and my piano teacher).
Who or what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?
Growing up I had many influences both from the classical music world as well as more contemporary composers. I remember being in awe the first time I started learning works by Brahms. His music is so rich and complex. It really fuelled my young composer’s imagination and offered me insight into just how limitless the creation of music could be. In addition, I was also influenced by new age composers such as George Winston and Liz Story, as well as film composers such as James Newton Howard, Alexandre Desplat and Thomas Newman.
What have been the greatest challenges/frustrations of your career so far?
As an artist, I am my own worst critic. Sometimes, there are days when everything you write sounds bad and you begin to question your ability to compose. That’s when I step back and do something else. Often, I will go for a run to take my mind off music for a bit.
What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?
I’ve had the privilege of being hired to compose music for various visual media content. Being able to connect the visual emotions of a tv ad or a film with music can be a very rewarding experience. However, one has to remember that you have been hired to help produce someone else’s vision. You have to always be open to criticism and not let your ego get in the way.
How would you characterise your compositional language?
Music is a uniquely human phenomenon. My compositions often draw from the human experience, the way we interpret and see the world. Often, my music can be deeply personal, intimate and emotional.
How do you work?
Every day I try to write something. Maybe it will not lead to anything and sometimes it will. However, I try to sit at the piano and just start playing. Often, I will stumble upon a melody that I like or an interesting chord progression. I then will develop that theme or idea until I feel it has some cohesiveness to it. Then I will continue to develop that idea or theme by morphing it or modulating it into similar but slightly different ideas.
Who are your favourite musicians/composers?
This is constantly a revolving list but recently I have been listening to artists such as Olafur Arnalds, Max Richter, Alexandre Desplat, and Ben Howard.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
Getting to wake up everyday and write music for a living is something I have always strived for since I was a child. So, in that regard, I guess you could say I’ve achieved some level of success. However, I don’t like to think that I’ve achieved success because that sounds like such an endpoint. There will always be new challenges and hurdles to overcome. The pursuit of success is much more enjoyable than the end result.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
For aspiring composers I would urge you to find your own voice. Be unique! Be bold! Do something that no one else has done before. I’ve heard this advice repeated many times and believe it to be sound advice. If you have a unique sound, people will remember you for that.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
For me, happiness is not reaching a specific goal. Rather, it is the journey one takes to get to that goal. Once you achieve success, there is a lot of pressure to maintain that success. So for me, I try to just enjoy the ride to the destination rather than the destination itself.
Gavin Luke’s new single ‘In Search of Home’ is available now to stream or download
Gavin Luke is an American composer who was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since 2010, Gavin has divided his time between composing his own pieces and composing music for visual media. In 2016, he released four albums and two singles, with the track Delicate Transitions gaining over 25 million plays on Spotify. 2017 and 2018 saw the release of several EPs and singles and his music has now been heard several billion times on YouTube.