LUKE MILLION Got synth, will travel

Synthesizer enthusiast, Luke Million, is a talent on the rise. Following his 2011 break out via the hard-pumping Arnold, Million has been busy producing and collaborating with a wide range of artists, such as Asta on popular new single, Heard it on the Radio (available on all major streaming platforms here), which he is supporting with a national tour hitting Jack Rabbit Slim’s on Saturday, September 7. To find out more, MICHAEL HOLLICK had a chat with Luke Million about what to expect from the show, the inspiration behind the single and just what it is about synths that has Mr Million head over heels in love. 

Congratulations on your new single, Heard it on the Radio. What was the inspiration behind track and is it true that the track was a collaboration with Touch Sensitive?

Well, that is sort of the case, in as much as Touch Sensitive is based in Sydney and the track did start there. We are good friends and share a love of synthesizers so usually when I’m in Sydney we catch up and have a jam, and likewise when he is in Adelaide. Fast forward to now and I’d say sometime over a year ago, I popped into his studio and we were doing a heap of tracks and one of them was the tune that became Heard it on the Radio. The jam felt really good at the time and came together quite effortlessly but then it sat on my hard drive for almost a year until I rediscovered and thought “wow, I have to do something with this.”

How did Asta come to feature on the track?

Once I rediscovered the original track on my hard drive and had set about turning it into a song, I got to the point where I needed a singer. I have been running into Asta for years now, and we’ve been saying to each other that we have to collab one day and so this was just the perfect opportunity. I sent the track off and literally within twenty-four hours she had completed her demo vocals and returned them to me.  And her vocals, they were just amazing. So I jumped on a plane to Sydney so we could do a proper recording of her vocals at Studio 301, and there followed a bit more back and forth between Sydney to get it over the line.

What can we expect from the Heard it on the Radio tour?

Well, I’ll tell you upfront that I don’t bring the vintage (synthesizer) stuff on tour as there is always a chance of something going wrong with it. I have had shows in the past where a keyboard just decided to go in and out of tune and there was nothing I could do about it. Instead, I use a lot of Roland equipment. They have these newer keyboards, the JDXA, which are modern but they also have an analogue component to them, which means I am really able to get close to the sounds I achieved the studios live. I can really get in there and tweak the sound. Obviously, it’s not the same, but it’s very damn close.

Any other party tricks lined up?

Definitely. I have a vocoder on that keyboard, so I can do the classic Daft Punk robot voice, which I love, and I have drum pads and of course the most important thing, the keytar. You know the keytar must be back, as manufacturers are making new ones. It’s officially actually a thing now.

I believe you personally picked the support acts, Reija Lee and Juno Disco, for the tour. What stood out to you about these two artists?

The way I was looking at, I wanted to create a real theme for the night and those guys tread in similar areas to myself, like synth-wave and synth-pop as well as a bit of disco, so I think we have that in common and it will link the night together. I think there is an overall feel that comes into it, something that ties us all together, that is quite important and in terms of shaping the night, they will allow us to have a really good time before I get to come out and unleash the keytar. Basically, if people like my music, then they’re going to love their music. Plus, I see them as the up-comers, they are just starting to do really special things and I really wanted to bring something fresh to the crowd.

When discussing this single in the PR release, you have referred to your extensive use of the RX-7 patches. What keyboard sound is that actually, and why did you want to use it?

The RX-7 is a Yamaha keyboard and it was one of the most instrumental digital synthesisers. I think it may have been the first, but if not it was the definitely the first big manufactured digital keyboard and it ended up on everything in the 80s. Literally, everything. From Phil Collins to Bananarama. Before that, it was all about analogue synths, they were the big thing in the 70s but with the arrival of the RX-7, the whole soundscape changed. So for this track, and in general, I like to use both, as I really love that marriage of the cold and calculated digital signals mixed with the glowing, warm tones of the analogue synths.

You started out this journey almost a decade ago. Looking back, what has the journey been like for you ?

Well, if I take Arnold as a starting point, that was where things changed. Prior to Arnold, I was playing in a band called The Swiss and we were touring heavily around Australia and playing all the festivals, like the Big Day Out and Stereosonic and Parklife, all the ones that don’t exist anymore, and then touring America and Europe. Then in 2010 it kind of switched over to just the solo stuff. I guess that was related to Arnold, which had a proper release on Future Classic in 2011, though it was just meant to be a fun promo thing for my first release. And really, that’s the point where the door opened for me.

Since then, there have been a lot of interesting collaborations with people and just making more music and touring and developing my skills in the studio. I also always had great support from triple j and now it’s progressed to me doing my own live show, putting on my own night with these great supports, it has been such a journey.

How has the reaction been to Heard it on the Radio? And how does it compare to your bigger works, like Arnold and the Stranger Things remix?

The reaction I got when I did the Stranger Things track, that was just awesome. And the reaction I am getting right now is probably the best I have ever had in my career, and I am so happy with that because I feel so connected to the song. I made a promise that I am going to release way more music now and make music that actually means something. I am not worrying about writing some banger that ticks all the boxes. This music is the music that is inside me and I want to share it with others.

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