In our last Glassetonbury Championship Round, hundreds of votes were cast for each finalist. However, when the polls closed, Luxe proved himself worthy of being the last artist standing. We were able to catch up with the Toronto artist to learn about his influences, the creation process for his tournament-winning song “Heartless,” the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and more.
GLASSE: What are your earliest memories surrounding music?
Luxe: Some of my earliest memories growing up are the family drives we would take out of town to visit my grandparents. I remember my dad would play records like “Pet Sounds” by The Beach Boys or “News of the World” by Queen or “Stunt” by Barenaked Ladies. I remember being particularly obsessed with the vocal harmonies. No matter how many times I heard those records on the weekly car rides, I was never sick of them. To this day those albums remind me of being squished in the back of a car for a couple hours with my siblings daydreaming that I was a member of one of these bands, playing these songs live.
Who are some of the artists or bands in your lifetime that have dramatically altered the way you think about or approach music, and how do you think their influence has informed and inspired your own music?
I definitely have a ton of influences, as I feel my music is kind of all over the place when it comes to genre. When I first started making music in bands, I was heavily influenced by punk-rock bands like Blink 182, New Found Glory, The Starting Line, NOFX and The Used. When I started getting more into hip hop production, J Dilla was, and still is, one of my major influences. The way he was able to manipulate samples, the way his drums were just so smooth and groovy. They were programmed on his MPC, but they felt live. They weren’t always quantized, he let them sway. It definitely changed how I approached beat making. When it came to rapping, artists like Lil Wayne or even Drake sort of altered my approach in the sense that you can still rap and have it be melodic. It doesn’t always just need to be monotone.
You can really hear a lot of those sounds come together in a unique, successful way on “Heartless.” How important is it to your artistic mission to break away from any one specific genre and act as a sort of melting pot for all your influences?
As an artist, I never want to feel like I have to commit to one sound, or be placed in a box. I think in the era of streaming, you can literally do whatever you want with your music and sound. If the fans don’t like one song, I’m sure they’ll find another one that piques their interest. A little something for everyone. “Heartless” is a lot more heavy rock/metal inspired with obvious hip-hop elements, but if I’m in the studio and I come up with a pop-punk riff, I don’t want to feel I have to abandon it because that’s not the “sound” that I’m known for. It’s important for me to approach music with no limits and an open mind. If it slaps, it slaps. I have a song on the next project with steel guitar. Someone might hear it and say “well that’s not hip hop”. Who says? Music has no rules.
Is your creative process fairly consistent, or does it vary depending on the style of music you’re trying to create?
I would say it’s pretty consistent. Usually starts with the melody, then I record the drums and bass, add guitar, piano etc. And as I’m making the beat, I’m think of vocal melodies and flows. Then I start recording vocals. Usually I just get in the vocal booth and mutter until I find phrasing I like. Then I’ll come back and find words that fit.
What was the writing process like for Heartless? How did it come together in the studio?
This song had a bit of a different approach than my usual writing process. I had written the lyrics to this song first, and built the song around the concept. I knew what I wanted to write about, and built the song around the lyrics. After I had the best how I wanted it, I worked with Jake Barnes to lay down the piano and strings to make it sound super cinematic at parts. I also had my brother Nick Toews play some really heavy metal guitar on it to help give a more raw, heavy vibe.
How much of a factor was the current COVID-19 pandemic in your creation process for Heartless?
Not much changed, really. Instead of heading into a studio, I set one up in my place and recorded the track from home. The biggest impact has been not being able to perform the track live at shows yet.
How far away do you think your area of Canada is from being able to host live shows again, and how would you compare the COVID response there to what you’ve seen going on here in the States?
I’m really not sure on that. I know some places like the east coast have brought back some seated shows because they have low numbers. But we’re going back down into a second lockdown in the Toronto area. I hope it’s by next summer.
I think our politicians handled it fairly well and we made sure the citizens that needed help got it. If you lost your job you were entitled to monthly assistance. It was nice to see that the stimulus cheques here weren’t a partisan issue.
2020 has been a tough year for all of us, but what are some of the personal highlights of this year for you?
Music related, I was still able to release an EP at the beginning of the year called “The Comedown,” and shot some of my favourite videos yet for “I Can’t Stay” and “Heartless.” We actually just won an award for our video for “Act Out” which was pretty cool. Shout out to my video director Jordan Lehman. Other than that, I’m just stoked that my family and friends are healthy and safe and I’m able to continue working on the new project!
What have been some of the songs, albums, or artists that have inspired you this year? What song do you expect to top your Spotify Year in Review next month?
Some of my favourite releases this year were “Notes on a Conditional Form” by The 1975, “Meet the Woo 2” by Pop Smoke, “Circles” by Mac Miller, “My Turn” by Lil Baby, “After Hours” by The Weeknd, “Sex, Death & The Infinite Void” by Creeper and “Ultraviolet” by Misery Signals. I’m sure I’m missing a bunch in there; it was actually a really solid year for releases.
A lot of great records on that list. Have you had a chance to look at the GRAMMY nominations yet? What are your thoughts on The Weeknd being snubbed, and how do you feel about the awards as a whole?
To be honest, the GRAMMY’s rarely ever get it right. I still remember when “good kid, m.A.A.d City” by Kendrick Lamar lost to Macklemore. It’s all just a popularity contest. To me, awards are cool but I think the true rewarding part is seeing your music catch with the fans. I think The Weeknd definitely did that this year with his album. There’s definitely some shady stuff going on with the GRAMMY committee snubbing him.
You can either make the argument that the GRAMMYs are rewarded to the most “popular” artist/song of the year, or they’re rewarded to the greatest body of work. Either way you look at it, The Weeknd should have been nominated. With songs like Blinding Lights!?
It’s definitely bizarre that arguably the most inescapable song of this year didn’t even get a production nod.
Speaking of popularity contests, what was your experience like participating in our Glassetonbury tournament?
Hahaha, nice segue. It was a lot of fun! Definitely put me on to a lot of new underground artists. And I’m super thankful my friends and fans were able to vote and help us win. Really appreciate the opportunity.
What can your fans expect heading into 2021 from you, and when (roughly) are you hoping they can expect to see our live stream?
I’m currently in the demoing phase of my next project. It’s taking a bit longer than expected because everything is shutdown here for lockdown. I’m hoping once everything is opened I can get my next project out and showcase some new music for the livestream!
Luxe, thank you again for your time and for this interview. Congratulations on becoming our Glassetonbury champion, and we’ll see you soon for the Instagram Live set!
Don’t forget to save “Heartless” on Spotify below!