Luke Potter Music

Biography

“The songs I write are like letters to myself,” is how Luke Potter describes his approach to music. “Sometimes I’ve just needed to tell myself that things will be alright, if I’ll just let them be alright.”

Many of us would keep those letters private, but Luke wants the world to know what’s in them. He has that rare talent: a knack for creating songs so intimate and honest that they could only have come from the truest of places, but with lyrics so inclusive that it feels the world can instantly connect with them.

And it looks like the world might be about to do exactly that. Based in Weston-super-Mare with footprints in London, Sweden, Orlando and LA, Luke’s a self-taught musician whose instinctive ear for melody sent 2017’s single Something More soaring past 16m Spotify plays, while its successor It’s Easy has already set the stage for an exciting 2018, with Potter now working alongside musical mentor Jörgen Elofsson (Britney, Paloma Faith, Robyn).

While success has come relatively recently, Luke’s career is built on solid foundations that involve years of determination and hard work. He started writing songs in his teens, before he could even play an instrument, but it was when he eventually taught himself guitar at 17 that he unlocked the full extent of his creativity.

“I’ve always been a song-first guy,” he says of the styles he’s naturally able to straddle, from fresh and modern electronic pop, to acoustic singer/songwriter, taking in mid-2000s US mainstream rock along the way. “I’ve never been hung up on what I should sound like, I’ve just tried to write good songs. As long as I’m still creating and expressing myself, I’m happy.” This approach has made him an incredibly nimble songwriter, able to flip from one genre to the next — and it’s already attracting the interest of other artists, including one act who regularly top 100m streams and who’ve picked one of Luke’s songs for their next single.

Luke pinpoints his musical awakening to an otherwise uneventful Saturday afternoon many years ago when he and a friend were getting a lift to the local mall; on the back seat of a parent’s car they swapped iPods and Luke found his eyes naturally drawn to a band he’d never heard of before — Goo Goo Dolls — and their song Iris. “That’s the first time I ever connected with music on an emotional level,” he recalls. “I remember being on the back seat of the car, crying my eyes out to this song I’d never heard before. When you’re a teenager you feel like nobody understands the way you feel but I remember being overwhelmed with a sense of ‘I need to make other people feel the way I feel right now’.”

By 17 he was well on his way, getting involved in Weston-super-Mare’s various open mic nights, but rather than going in for the usual sets full of cover versions he was performing songs he’d written himself. “It was scary,” he admits today. “I was up on stage shaking, performing the few songs I’d written at the time. Obviously I’d finish on Wonderwall because you need to do at least one pub classic when you’re doing pubs, but really the whole process was about learning how to sing, how to perform, and how to be in front of people. Being the shy person I am, I knew it was something I had to do. I knew that if I could stand in front of a room, singing for people who had no idea who I was, then I could do anything.”

Luke’s father would offer small pieces of advice here and there but this was no regular dadsplaining — around one million years ago Luke’s father had been in a band whose brief brush with almost-fame came when they were signed by an A&R man whose next move, sadly, was to go ‘broke’. That A&R man ended up doing pretty well in music (plot twist: he was Simon Cowell) but by that point Luke’s dad’s attentions had already turned elsewhere. “I’m lucky he had that background,” Luke explains. “Music’s never been forced on me, but I’m so lucky that I’ve been supported in what I want to do. Nobody’s ever told me to think about doing something else.”

Luke’s certainly packed a lot into the last few years, including a period in Orlando where he was managed by management legend Johnny Wright, who’d previously worked magic on the likes of the Jonas Brothers and Justin Timberlake, and who guided a couple of Luke’s early releases to US radio play. Then there was time in LA recording an album’s worth of songs with collaborator Bleu (Demi Lovato, Joe Jonas, Hanson), along with writing sessions in London and Sweden. By 2017 Luke was on the verge of forming a band, when one afternoon he got a call: Sony had heard his song Something More, and were keen on releasing it.

Ironically the song itself was written when Luke had found himself at something of a career crossroads, unsure if after a few years of raised hopes, near misses and false alarms his career would ever take off. Indeed, the call from Sony had come halfway through one of his shifts as a part-time lifeguard. “The entire idea behind Something More was that maybe there’s something more to life than following this dream,” Luke remembers. “The song was very personal: I remember writing it, coming downstairs, sitting in a chair and crying. And I remember saying: I can’t do this forever if it’s not going to pay off. It really felt like a make or break song.”

Well, fate called his bluff. Something More ended up racking more than 16m streams on Spotify alone, and propelled Luke into 2018 with a renewed sense of focus. He’s also been taken under the wing of legendary popsmith Jörgen Elofsson, under whose tutelage Luke has been able to polish his own production skills, which means he’s able to work on tracks in his home studio when he’s not with in Sweden. “Jörgen’s just a great mentor,” Luke smiles. “To be working with someone like him is an eye-opener — every time I’m with him I learn something new about music or writing. He’s very good at showing, rather than just telling: I’ll play him an idea, and he’ll say ‘that’s good but if you did this instead’ — then he’ll do it on the piano — ‘you’d have a hit song on your hands.’”

It’s a way of working that feels like the perfect complement to a catalogue of songs bursting with the sense that a situation can be completely different if viewed from a very slightly different angle. Luke was adopted as a baby and acknowledges that he spent a lot of his formative years with a lot of questions about trust and commitment, sometimes to the detriment of his own relationships and mental health, which in turn led to some trying times as he approached his 20s. But he found that through music — those letters he’d write to himself — he was able to make sense of the world.

“Being able to write about it helped me see who I am as a person,” is how he puts it. “It’s like once you’ve written something into a song, you’ve let it go — you can be very emotional when you write it, then you listen to the song a couple couple weeks later and think, ‘wow, that’s how I felt’. Even when I’m on stage I’m sometimes taken back to where I was when I was writing the song. Sometimes that’s a scary place to go.”

As well as finding personal catharsis in songwriting, Luke’s big hope is that his songs connect with an audience who need their own reassurance in life. Perhaps, he thinks, one of his songs might hit one of his fans the way that Goo Goo Dolls track hit him in the back of that car all those years ago.

“People who need my music will find it,” Luke predicts. “I hope it works as a beacon and provides hope for them: a lot of my songs are about getting through darkness. They’re for people who maybe don’t have everything figured out quite yet, but who can hopefully find something in my words. Ultimately, I want people to feel okay about themselves and comfortable in their own skins.”

March 2018