Luke Clerkin is an award-winning singer-songwriter from Dublin who is playing his first London headline show in the Camden Chapel at the London Irish Centre on October 19.
What are you up to?
I’m preparing for a gig in the Camden Chapel in the London Irish Centre on October 19. It's my first headline show in London, so there's a lot of love going into this one. I'm also working on my biggest project yet, my debut album, it's a long process but I'm very proud of what we've done so far. I'm aiming to release it by this time next year!
Which piece of music always sends a shiver down your spine?
There's a video of While My Guitar Gently Weeps recorded at George Harrison's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction featuring Prince, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood and Dhani Harrison. Every time I watch it, my mind is absolutely blown by Prince's guitar solo and how he just comes out of nowhere with it. It's unbelievable! The look of awe on Dhani Harrison's face is amazing.
Which musician has most influenced you?
Oasis are the reason I still play music! I went through a really bad depression over ten years ago and their music really helped me, and this gave me the inspiration to use my own music to help others. Live Forever literally saved my life during that time. I want my songs to inspire others to seek help when they're struggling, I want to be someone else's Oasis.
How did you get started in music?
I was given a guitar that was bought for my sister and she didn't want it, so I learned to play and then singing came after. I was about eight years old. I started playing music properly when I was twenty three and I set myself a goal of playing 300 gigs in a year. I got to 250 and my voice gave out, but that was the year that showed me how much I wanted to do music. That's when the journey really started.
Where are you from in Ireland, and what are your roots?
I'm from Tallaght in Dublin. My roots are Cavan and Tipperary with a bit of London thrown in the mix because I was born in Hackney. My dad's family are from Cavan and my Mam's are from Tipperary. We moved to Dublin when I was two, and it's been my home ever since.
What is your favourite place in Ireland?
Tallaght! I have so many reasons to hate it and so many reasons to love it, but I wouldn't be the person that I am without my experiences of growing up and living there. It's a city within a city, a place that gets a lot of bad press, but the people out shine all of that. I wear Tallaght on my sleeve and will tell anybody who will listen about my love for the place.
What would be your motto?
“You can never help the world unless you help yourself.” I have a background in mental health activism and advocacy, and because of own mental health struggles, I can become overwhelmed by all of this. So I make sure that I'm getting help before I try to help others, otherwise I'm no use to anybody.
Which living person do you most admire?
My mam, she's faced a lot of adversity in her life, and she's also going through some big stuff at the moment, but she remains a fighter, no matter what. I get my resiliency and my love for helping people from her. She always looks after everyone, and makes sure to keep in contact with people. I want to be like her when I grow up, haha.
If you weren’t a musician what other job would you be really good at?
Music management, events management or public relations. I have a lot of experience doing all three for myself and for different charities and organisations. I actually enjoy doing them all, but playing music is everything to me.
What's the worst piece of advice you've been given in life ?
“You need to find a real job.”
I think I've heard this or variations of this from so many people at this point that I've just become immune to it. I think some people don't consider music a job, but maybe they're just ignorant to the amount of work it takes to maintain a career, or the love that we give to the art form, or that sometimes what we get from it is far more important than money.
If I followed their advice, I don't know where I'd be, or if I'd be at all.
What is the best advice you've been given?
“Why be nervous doing something you love?”
I was around twenty two at the time, I wasn't a really good singer or guitarist at all, but I found myself surrounded by some of the best musicians around Tallaght and Dublin. This made me so nervous to play music around them, I always felt like I wasn't good enough because of how talented they were. I felt so nervous playing in front of them.
One day I sat down with one of my guitarist friends and I told him how I felt around them, and he said those words to me, and everything changed from that moment onwards. It put everything into perspective for me, I realised that my love for playing music is stronger than my insecurities surrounding it, and it was that love that made me improve, and I wouldn't be the songwriter or performer that I am without realising that.
Have you a favourite line from a song?
'True perfection has to be imperfect'. Oasis - Little By Little
What’s the greatest lesson life has taught you?
No matter what life throws at me, I have the strength to get through it, and when I feel I don't have any strength at all, I can ask for help, and there will always be someone who's willing to be there for me.
I've had so much happen to me in my life, I could literally write a book, but I wouldn't have got through any of it if I hadn't asked for help or guidance. Be that from friends, counsellors, loved ones, or even strangers on the street.
What do you believe in?
I struggle with this question a lot. I like to think that I believe in fate, and that life is a result of the choices that we make, and when we make these choices, life unfolds in mysterious ways. I've had so much crazy stuff happen in my life for me to believe that everything is just a coincidence.
I also believe in myself. Well, I'm trying to anyways, and I feel the more I do this, the more others will too! I'm on a journey of self love and self care at the moment, and self belief is a huge part of both.
What is your favourite album?
I've got so many favourite albums, but if I was to really choose, it would be Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. We used to do a lot of 'staycations' when I was a kid, and that album was the soundtrack to our road trips to wherever we'd be staying. I've become accustomed to writing strong hooks in my songs, and I think that exposure to The Beatles at such a young age helped me do that!