Luke Frees‘ latest song, “Strings,” is a neat alternative rock track with raw energy and an emotional punch. This Chicago-based songwriter, performer, photographer, and producer has poured his heart and soul into this track, and it shows in every note. Luke’s influences from David Bowie and Nick Cave, Tom Waits, and The Cure are evident in the raw energy and compositional knack that he infuses into this laid back rock song.
The song’s theme is about the first moments of clarity you have when you stand up for yourself in an unhealthy relationship, and how uplifting it can feel to take control of your own life again. The lyrics are vivid and evoke strong emotions in the listener, while the vocal choral harmony sections during the chorus remind you of retro classic rock music like The Beatles.
The arrangement is stunning, with Gary Zucker on drums, Niels Sorensen on bass, Garrett Frees on saxophone, and Sadie Carpenter on whistles. The track was also mastered by Garrett Edson, adding to the overall polished sound. All other instruments were played by Luke Frees himself, showcasing his musical talents. Frees’ songwriting is amazing, and it shines through in every aspect of “Strings.” The lyrics are powerful, and the melody and instrumentation are perfectly crafted to convey the emotion of the song. The track is a true testament to Luke’s skill as a songwriter and producer.
“Strings” is an amazing song that showcases Frees’ incredible talent as a songwriter, performer, and producer. This is a must-listen for anyone who loves alternative rock, classic rock, or simply great music. I highly recommend this song and can’t wait to hear more from Luke Frees in the future.
We get to speak to Luke about the song and his music in general.
- You’ve had a diverse background in music as a songwriter, performer, photographer, and producer. How do you think your experiences in those different areas have influenced your music, and what inspired you to pursue those different avenues in your career?
I started taking piano lessons when I was 4 or 5, and one of the things I always loved doing was making up my own songs. It was a really instinctive thing for me to do—just like how when you’re that age you start making up your own sentences.I was just around music all the time growing up and it made sense for me to do that. I think that naturally led me to performing and producing my own music, because I didn’t start doing it to make something, I just started doing it because it felt good to do. Photography was a little different though—that came later, andwas more out of my need to have a different creative outlet once music had become my job.
- Your music draws influence from a wide range of artists, including David Bowie and Nick Cave, Tom Waits and The Cure. Can you tell us about how those artists have inspired you, and how you incorporate those influences into your own sound?
Definitely. I cast the net wide when I’m looking for new music. As long as I can get behind the artist’s intention, I’m down with it. If the music has integrity and was born out of someone’s need to express something, not sell something, then I like it. So those influences might pop up here and there in my music on a surface level or aesthetic level, but ultimately I listen to the artists I listen to because I feel like they’re doing interesting work creatively, disregarding how much it might sell or how mainstream or accessible it is.
- “Strings” is a powerful and uplifting song about standing up for yourself in an unhealthy relationship. Can you speak to any personal experiences that inspired the song, and how you approached translating those experiences into lyrics and music?
I think the specific relationship this song is about was not as toxic as I made it out to be, but as an artist or a writer, you tend to magnify experiences. You blow things out of proportion to make something in the hopes that it will resonate with other people going through something similar.
- The vocal choral harmonies in “Strings” have a very retro classic rock feel, similar to the Beatles. Was that an intentional choice, and how do you think that element contributes to the overall feel of the song?
Thank you! I mean I was brought up on classic rock, so that influence is definitely an undercurrent in everything I do. But on the other hand, I’m really into groups like of Montreal, and songs of theirs like Lysergic Bliss were a huge influence on the background vocals for this song.
- The lyrics in “Strings” are incredibly vivid and evocative. Can you speak to any specific images or feelings you were trying to convey with the lyrics, and how you approached crafting such a rich and layered story?
Pat Pattison told me once that 9 out of 10 songs I write won’t be my best 10% and I’ve really held onto that for a while now. I write so many songs that never even leave my notebook—I really treat it like an office job. Because I’m exercising that muscle every day and putting words together all the time, when something happens in my personal life where I go “I need to write a song about that,” at this point, I’ve had enough practice where I can usually articulate my thoughts exactly how I want to. This was one of the few songs I’ve written where I didn’t go back to change a single word. It all tumbled out at once.
- “Strings” features a number of talented musicians, each with their own unique contributions to the song. Can you talk a bit about how you approached working with each musician, and what you feel they brought to the final product?
Totally! Well Gary is my unofficial drummer now—we play in my friend SteveKnecht’s band together, The Burning Lights, and we’ve developed a pretty close friendship this past year. I’ve been playing with Niels for a long time—he was my first bassist when I got to college, and he’s been playing with me off and on since my first solo album in 2017. And then Garrett, my younger brother, is just an incredible musician. Way better than I am. So anytime we’re in the same city we always get together and jam, and it’s just so much fun. It was a no-brainer to have him play on this. And what was cool was this was the first song of mine I’ve ever taken a guitar solo on, and he’s playing alongside me, harmonizing with my every move. Oh and Sadie’s great. She’s a good friend of mine and wanted to help out,so she gives it that casual walk-to-the-grocery-store vibe in that interlude with the whistles.
- Looking ahead, what can fans expect from you in the future? Are there any particular goals or aspirations that you’re working towards, and how do you see your music evolving and developing over time?
I’m writing more than I’ve ever written before—I think last year I wrote over 30 songs, so I’m going to continue my single-a-month project. Honeycomb Hotel is next, and that one’s coming up very soon. So yeah, stay tuned for that! It’s got a Prince meets Bowie vibe.
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