Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
Jeremy Williams-Chalmers
Arts Correspondent
6:00 AM 18th May 2020

Interview With Luca Sestak

Luca Sestak is one of the freshest artists around. While he has spent his formative years writing and recording, dabbling with his sound, he is now signed to a major label and ready to release his new album. Right Or Wrong marries Jamie Cullum vibes with Shawn Mendes appeal, which is no bad thing. Destined to be yours (and our) new favourite popstar, we caught up with him to find out more...

First and foremost, hello and how are you?

Hi! I feel great, thanks for having me.

Tell us about the record you have just released…

Right or Wrong is the first album, where I sing and present full, produced songs together with a band. It’s a colorful, soulful and dynamic album, with a lot of passion for detail.

The songs developed over a period of almost 2 years - a time where a lot of things happened. It kind of captures my journey during a time of me moving to a new city, meeting a lot of new people and made some crazy experiences. Being produced during that rather long period of time the individual songs ended up being pretty different from each other in terms of style and production. There are pop numbers as well as very jazzy ones, ballads and even one "neo-classical" instrumental piece. Many of the songs are quite playful, with a lot of small details - I tried to make something that you could listen to for 50 times and still discover something new that makes you smile. I hope it does, seeing people smile when they listen to your music is amazing.

Basically, Right or Wrong combines all styles and genres that I love while telling some of my stories - with my never ending struggle to know if some decisions you make are right or wrong.

How do you feel when releasing a record?

Yesterday I saw an Instagram story of Dua Lipa where she says releasing a record feels like giving it to your fans and listeners so it no longer belongs to you but to them. I think that sums it up pretty well. When you work on these songs day by day they kind of become something like your „children“ and now it feels like they’re finally grown up and you let them go, seeing how they deal with the wide world out there. Anyway, holding that CD in my hands after that 2-year long roller coaster ride of writing, recording, producing (and sometimes a bit of struggling) feels great - almost unreal.

What inspired the record?

The biggest influences are my life and the music I love. I feel every song wants to illuminate a different a different genre that I listen to. It all started about 3 years ago when I wrote the first song for the record - not knowing it would ever really get recorded. I just made a little (and pretty shabby) „desktop-demo“ of „Dress of Innocence“ and send it to my label to see what they think. From then on I started writing more and more songs, learned how to produce them a little nicer and tried to figure out what my sound is. During these 2 years I discovered a ton of great new music, made some bad, good, exciting and memorable experiences which found their way onto the lyrics of the record.

Tell us a little about your creative process…

I think most artists can relate when I say inspiration kicks in anywhere at any time. In my case it has the habit to visit in very inconvenient places like the bus, train or while I’m grocery shopping. Luckily nowadays we have the technology to record these ideas wherever we want if we can bare with the awkwardness of standing between bread and vegetables in the supermarket, silently singing a song into your phone. The ideas doesn’t necessarily have to be melodies - they can be just beats, phrases, lyrics or just chords.

I usually listen to the idea again later and start building a song around it with my little studio setup I have at home. Record some piano, put the drums and bass together and from then on it gets shaped more and more into a finished song - in the best case. (I have hundreds of unfinished projects on my computer as well and the naive perfectionist in me still thinks one day I’m going to finish all off them.) Usually the lyrics are for me the hardest part as I’m not a native English speaker and I don’t want to sound stupid when I’m singing my songs.

Later, if I decide to have acoustic instruments on the track I call my buddies Alex (electric and double bass) and Nicholas (drums), send them the demos and eventually we record them in a studio.

If the record were an animal, what animal would it be?

It’s probably a young puppy!

Define your sound in five words…

Funky - Dynamic - Catchy - Playful - Emotional

What was the first song that caught your attention?

Rumour has it that I danced and sang along very loudly to a Tom Jones’ Sex Bomb cassette in the basement of my parent’s house when I was about 5 years old…

What was the first song you bought?

I have to admit I never really bought single songs on iTunes or something. I used to listen to the cassettes of my parents when I was younger and then I was given many jazz and blues records on concerts. Anyway scrolling down my Spotify Library I find Smooth Sailing by Leon Bridges as the first song I added - good song by the way.

And the first album?

I think that must have been something like The Best Yet by Vince Weber, who is a German pianist and singer. Sadly he passed away this year. His excellent playing taught me a lot about piano and his voice made me start singing.

What was the best concert you have ever seen?

Two year ago in the summer my friends and I went to a festival in the north of Germany. I think it was around noon, we just got up and heard someone do a little soundcheck on the stage and we’re like „damn this is freaking good“ so we went up to him and asked when he played. It turned out he’s the frontman of a 4-man band with a quite unique instrumentation and an absolutely sensational live show. When we went to the show later that day I was blown away, the name of the band is Bukahara and they make really good music - especially live.

What did the experience teach you that you have translated to your own shows?

Interact with the audience and show all the fun you’re having making music onstage with your band. Laugh and be authentic but don’t lose your concentration.

What other artist are you most excited to hear from?

I’ve been a great fan of Jamie Cullum and Bruno Major for a long time, so from these 2 I’m always excited to hear news.

If you could work with them, what would you hope to record?

A groovy, soulful and jazzy tune - with some meaningful lyrics. Something you can close your eyes and dance to. I hope that song would be in C-sharp major then.

If you had to pick three artists to be filed next to, who would they be and why?

Well, Jamie of course. I think his songs had probably the biggest impact on my songwriting and when someone asks me for an influence I think of him first.

Matt Simons - a really great, authentic songwriter and keyboarder wrote some nice and catchy songs, I really like his style and I think his earlier songs are somewhat similar to my songwriting style.

Charlie Puth - is at the very top of the music industry right now and in my opinion it’s well deserved. He produces and writes his songs on his own, he likes jazz and is a music nerd - that reminds me of myself. Charlie also combines jazz music with modern and electronic pop production as if it was meant to be with each other. Something I try to do as well in some of my songs.

If you could jam with one artist alive or dead, who would it be?

I bet it must be a ton of fun to jam with Vulfpeck - but jamming with these cats I’d probably just sit there with my mouth wide open and forget to how to play. They’re an amazing band, just checked out their Madison Square Garden concert yesterday.

If you could have written one song by another artist, what would it be?

Losing You by Randy Newman.

Someone is making a film of your life, who will play you?

1995 Matt Le Blanc would be a choice I’d definitely be cool with.

Lastly, tell us one thing you have never revealed in an interview…

I have a weakness for hot sauces, the hotter the better. I have a dozen different way too spicy ghost pepper sauces at home and I have a habit of pouring too much of them on everything that (in my opinion) doesn’t taste good enough.

Right or Wrong is out on May 29.
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