Luck is a strange thing. In music, luck is often used to excuse a musician’s own artistic failings, and is also seen as some sort of divine force which has or has not given a musician the break which they deserve. But was John Lennon lucky to write Instant Karma? No. Was Ian McCulloch lucky to write The Killing Moon? No. We make our own luck.
So was nineteen year old Luke Muscatelli lucky when he got the chance to move to the good old USA to play bass in Pop Levi’s band? No. It simply serves to show that somebody this creative will get their chances, regardless of luck. Talent is, more often than not, rewarded.
The past is the past, and the present is the present. After returning to the UK at the beginning of this year, having recorded two critically acclaimed albums, produced two documentaries/road films and basically living out the most enviable of stateside adventures, Luke set about releasing his own music, completely self-produced, under his nickname LUCKY BEACHES. “I left Liverpool and travelled the world with only my iPod. Everyone else had MacBooks and then, about halfway though my time over there, when I got my own, GarageBand and iMovie just blew me away.” Arriving back in town with not only the ambition to go it alone, but now also the tools, he set about writing and recording the five track Lucky Beaches EP which has set many tongues a-wagging in the city this year. T. Rex stomper, Circles (In My Mind), and cosmic jangle, I’ll Let Go Now (Honey, True), are clear indicators of the sonic road that Lucky Beaches intends to tread. I challenge anybody to find a better song this year than EP opener, Jenny Mo, his glorious tribute to his new wife, which is fit to burst with Lennon-referencing charm. This release was closely followed by the sublime single, Group Hallucination. Lucky Beaches could have settled and rested on his laurels from his American experience; instead it seems it has left him fired-up and passionate, ready to create something of his own, and better equipped to actually do so.
Luke takes control of all elements of his output. You can’t help but feel this approach is in no small part fuelled by his past experiences within the music industry, in that to depend on labels and others has risks. “Just as quickly as the whole thing started in LA, the money dried up and it was over.” Liverpool welcomes ya’ back, man. His DIY ethos runs throughout his whole body of work, setting up Girl Records as his overall platform to release music from each of his many incarnations. Although Lucky Beaches is Luke’s most prolific act, outfits such as High School Massacre and The Myst show a depth to his talent which is rarely seen. Check out the promo to High School Massacre single, It’s Real, and tell us that we’re wrong. The way in which he approaches the relationship between music and video shares many traits with that of the underground music press’s current squeeze, Lana Del Rey. Both aspects of the release (the audio and the visual) are planned and shot by the artists themselves, resulting in a full listening and viewing package from their perspective.
All promotional work from the Girl Records stable is Luke’s creation, along with the wealth of films he creates which are not related to specific songs, but which regardless sit very neatly into his overall package. “I spent hours cutting tapes and editing my first films,” says Luke, citing the lost Bob Dylan masterpiece, Eat The Document, as his greatest filmmaking influence, a point which is clearly illustrated by the two acclaimed Pop Levi road movies which he made whilst travelling the world with the band. “I love DA Pennebaker, who did the Dylan and Ziggy Stardust films. These are the types of films which really inspire me.” It was the fact that Eat The Document was edited by Dylan himself which really strikes a chord: “Whatever you do, whether that be film, music, writing or art, the thing which matters most is that it is genuine to the person who is creating it. It needs to be true. The best films come from filming things that are not planned and just filming what happens in front of you. Then try and make it look good afterwards by just using simple techniques.” This theory and work ethic permeates all aspects of his work, even with regards to how he writes and creates his music.
Literature is another source of constant inspiration and outlet for Luke’s creativity and talent. He is currently putting the finishing touches to his first book, Sterling Silver Gets Rich. Half autobiographical, half novel, in much the same way as one of its main literary influences, On The Road (Kerouac’s experience of his journey rather than the actual factual journey itself), it reads like Hunter S Thomson for the modern palette. Bob Dylan’s Tarantula also garners special praise during our chat and, when reading through typewritten copies of Luke’s drafts, it’s easy to see that its influence is profound. You cannot also help being reminded of Lennon’s A Spaniard In The Works and In His Own Write, and not solely for what is written on the pages but more the context of the piece, taking into account the author’s relationship to both music and literature.
It’s via the Lucky Beaches blog (luckybeaches.com) that Luke reaches his public, with prolific updates giving an insight into his world. Using music, film and literature he is constantly letting us into his way of thinking, and doing so in a very unique way. You can’t help feeling that this type of interaction, along with the level and scale of his output has rarely been seen in this city.
So, the world of Lucky Beaches. It’s madcap, its sometimes weird, it’s lunacy, but overall it’s really different and really f*****g good. Lucky? No. But we are lucky to have him, because real luck is knowing what you’ve got when you’ve got it.
Lucky Beaches EP and recent single Group Hallucination are out now. The full debut LP is due this year.