Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Italy’s Luke Rhodes. Together we discussed the music scene in Italy, their time at private music school, their social media following, and so much more!
1. Mustard is grateful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you?
Hi Mustard! I’m great and I’m so happy to be part of such an awesome format and, not gonna lie, to be interviewed by a sauce, thanks a lot for having me!
2. You were born and raised in Italy. How would you describe the music scene in Italy? How does music fit within the culture?
I would describe the music scene here as fragmented and chaotic, but all in a good way hahaha.
During the last 5 years many indie artists took the spotlight and changed the way young people perceive music. Before this sort of discographic revolution everything on the radio was either “old” or came from the international market, while recently Italian indie music is definitely trending. That’s why I’m planning to move to Los Angeles in the next months, I respect the market I’m physically living in, but my heart belongs to international pop 😊
3. At the age of six you began teaching yourself how to play guitar. Do you remember the first song you learned to play?
I do, vividly! I woke up at my grandma’s house (I used to spend my summers there as a kid) and my cousin was playing an old song written by the songwriter Roberto Vecchioni. She was sitting on the stairs in front of the main door singing with her guitar and it was one of the best mornings I’ve ever had! From that day on I begged my parents to buy me a guitar and when I finally received it as a Christmas gift that was the first song I learned.
4. Is there a lesson from your time at private music school you still use today? What is some of the advice you were given?
More than a lesson it’s a very useful skill I had the opportunity to master in a very young age, thanks to my teacher (I don’t think he knows it though hahaha).
After two years of learning various types of chords and positions I noticed I started to get bored during my lessons and that the only thing we used to do was to find a song I liked and my teacher used to write the chords for me so I could play it by myself.
One day I thought “If he can do it what’s stopping me?”, so I tried and, even if probably not every detail was correct, I got the main chord progression by myself. Jeez, I was so proud of myself, and today I’m able to play every song after one listening thanks to that (actually I’m trying to understand if I have perfect pitch, sometimes it works, sometimes not, still figuring it out).
5. What is your songwriting process?
Well, it depends. Sometimes it’s a melody that gets stuck in my brain and that I have to catch with the recording app on my phone (aka the most powerful tool a songwriter can have!!!).
For my latest single “OUT of my life” it was a chord pattern I was dreaming very vividly during a nap, or it can also be a sentence, a thought that I don’t want to forget, so I start to sing it.
A powerful trick I recently learned is to “store” all these ideas so when the inspiration kicks in I can mix some of them together and have a song that have multiple strengths!
6. Who (or what) influences you?
My first musical influences were definitely 2 of the biggest names in the pop punk scene: Green Day and Avril Lavigne!
Growing up I fell in love with RnB and Soul harmonies, that’s when Beyoncé not only helped me to approach to a whole new way to conceive music (that made me appreciate artists as Etta James, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin etc.) to realize what does it mean to be a performer, what is like to create a show that’s not just someone singing on a stage but a whole celebration of the arts. I got closer to Michael Jackson’s discography (I also made an Acoustic Album with a cover of Smooth Criminal in it) and watched basically every single live show on YouTube of those two legends.
7. Was it a big cultural change to move from your small-town to Rome? Where do you recommend humans check out if visiting Rome?
It was, and a big one! People in a small town live in a simple way, which is reassuring but also limited my creativity and my personal development during my first 19 years. I feel lucky to have supporting parents that let me do this big step at such a young age and helped me financially ‘till I was able to find a job and be independent.
Rome is one chaotic city, if you live in it you notice how flawed it is in its management, but it remains one of the most poetic and interesting cities to visit.
The historic center is just breathtaking, it’s quite normal for us to get back home after a night out and have the colosseum literally 10ft away from the bus you’re sitting on,but I can imagine how a tourist can feel about it hahahah.
I think the most beautiful monument is the Altare della Patria, I shot some awesome pics from up there, but my favorite place to be is Parco degli Acquedotti, one of the biggest parks in Europe, it’s full of architectural ruins and you can peacefully watch the best sunset you’ve ever seen.
8. You have amassed over 3,000 followers on your YouTube page. For those who have not visited your YouTube channel, how would you describe it?
I’m gonna go with “friendly”, “full of memories” but mostly “MUSICAL”!
I opened that channel 10 years ago this year, what a journey!
I tried so many different formats and approaches, but one thing never changed: I wanted to sing in front of an audience, and I found it there when I had no chance of playing on a big stage.
I started posting my covers and original songs and years later my videoclips, and it’s still the main type of content, but I also started uploading additional ones, such as vlogs andbehind the scenes of my days of set and my recording sessions (It’s my favorite extra content!).
9. 2018 saw the release of your debut single “Missed It (I’ll Be Gone.) What was the inspiration behind this single?
Missed It is extremely important to me, and also the definition of catharsis.
I wrote it after finding out that my first plan to move to the US failed. I took a bad experience from which I didn’t know how to recover, and I turned it into music.
I elaborated what I needed while focusing on the production, the recordings, the videoclip, and all of this allowed me to take my time to think and reprogram my life, while creating and not destroying (even though in the videoclip I pretty much destroyed an entire room hahaha).
10. Your latest single “Out of my Life” returns to your roots. What about this song inspired you to return to your roots?
Even if RnB always seemed more appealing to me (I have more fun singing it, producing it, it’s perfect if I want to experiment…), a part of me always wanted to let that punk kid out and let him take the spotlight for a while.
When I noticed that emo punk pop music was rising again with artists such as MGK, YUNGBLUD and my beloved Avril Lavigne, I decided it was time, but I was gonna do it my own way.
I was recovering from a little heartbreak, and I realized that the thing that made me furious wasn’t the toxic relationship per se, but the fact that I didn’t say no to a situation I know well from the past, so I put that anger on paper.
The verses are mainly pop, I use them as a tool during the song to narrate my personal development and I experiment with synths and sounds there.
The chorus is where I let my rage out and DISTORTED GUITARS ARE BACK!!
11. “Out of my Life” tackles toxic relationships. What are some signs that humans may be in a toxic relationship? What advice would you give to those in one?
From my personal experience I learned that what we are taught to call “love at first sight”, the one that makes you feel the butterflies, that makes you struggle and live the drama in a tv show-style, is way too romanticized. We’re so used to toxic and focused on finding those strong and unpleasantly stressful feelings, that we’ve become anesthetized to real love. We can’t recognize it because it doesn’t feel like it if it’s not something that makes us 100% absorbed all the time.
My advice and personal goal is to “interiorize the concept that real love gives you time for yourself, lets you fill your days and your mind with things you love, and most importantly, REAL LOVE IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR SELF LOVE”.
12. What is next for Luke Rhodes?
This year will be full of new music! I know how cliché it must sound, but I planned the release of 6 singles during this year, and the first one (that’s an announcement, I’ve never told anyone yet) is coming out in February!!
I’ve already shoot the videoclip and it’ll be breathtaking, keyword: nature.
The others will be definitely fun songs, I’m gonna make you dance this year!
13. Where can readers listen to your music?
I’m practically everywhere, Spotify? Got it! Apple, Deezer, Tidal, Amazon, YouTube? I’m there waiting for you (“Luke Rhodes” everywhere)! And if you like to watch almost daily-ish contents you should follow me on Instagram and Tik Tok (@lukerhodesmusic)!
It’s not part of the question but I really wanna thank you, Mustard, for this beautiful and original interview, which allowed me to talk about certain things for the first time. This has been clearly made with heart and it shows, I had the time of my life!!
I wish you the best and send you a “squeezing” hug 😉
– Luke Rhodes