In our next Artist Spotlight, we chat to Hull-based acoustic, and alternative pop artist, Louis Kyriacou [Lu Ku] about his music, band [Lightspeed Lover], inspirations and more.
S] Talk us through your musical background?
I was raised in a fairly strict Christian household with a Minister for a father, son of a preacher man and all that, so originally, apart from the odd song on the radio, all I had to listen too was gospel and Christian contemporary. My mother is a beautiful singer, my father a talented guitarist. They always performed in church and choirs and encouraged us to do the same, so from a young age I was used to singing in front of people and already had a passion for music.
As I got older and my own interests and ideals became more prominent I ‘rebelled’ in many ways, breaking away from religion and taking more of an interest in what we called “secular music”, still under the watchful eyes of my parents. The internet really opened up my eyes and ears and I was constantly violating the family computer from the sheer bulk of songs I’d download from some fairly unforgiving torrent sites, much to the annoyance of my parents. Fast forward to now and my tastes are incredibly varied, ranging from metal and all its glorious subgenres to folk, hip hop and grime to country, I love it all!
S] What challenges do you face as an artist?
I’d have to say my biggest challenge has been and continues to be myself. I’ve been through a lot over years, constantly battling with depression from a young age, drug and alcohol dependency and I always let it get in the way and hold me back. Although my music has been a release and one of my main tools for expression, there have been fairly large periods of time where it’s taken a back seat or been kicked out of the car all together. It always took me a while to get back, fortunately I don’t struggle with the same vices I did in my younger days but I feel a lot of regret.
I run a lot of my own music events now and work with a lot of young and up and coming artists and I’m constantly encouraging them to stick with it, don’t make the same mistakes I did. I’d be a lot further in my career and with my music in general if I hadn’t wasted so much time coming off the rails and losing motivation.
S] How do you feel about Hull’s music scene?
I’m so proud of our city and the incredible music that pours out of it. We have a rich scene in terms of talent, every genre is catered for by some truly spectacular performers of all ages and backgrounds. We’re lucky to have gigs and events of all sizes ranging from open mics to the almighty Humber Street Sesh, being a part of that with events of my own is a gorgeous feeling.
S] What motivates you outside of music?
Don’t get me wrong, it can be a real struggle for organisers and promoters to get people to the shows and it can feel like you’re pinging your head off a wall but at the same time there is so much love and community amongst the scene that is truly special. Keep supporting your local bands and musicians and keep live music alive in this city. There’s so much out there, it’s up to you to go and see it!
What motivates you outside of music?
Having turned what was once a hobby into my main source of income is a blessing, I’m constantly surrounded by amazing people and have worked with some mind blowing talent. I don’t want to sound too cheesy and cliche here but I’d have to say love is one of my biggest motivations. The friendships and relationships I’ve made and cultivated over the years mean so much to me, I’m incredibly fortunate to have such good foundations and I strive to make other people feel the love as much as I have and do.
S] What have been a couple of career highlights so far?
I’m still a very small time performer, haven’t done all that much recording or really pushed to get myself out there over the years. Having said that there have definitely been some high points, playing my first Humber Street Sesh with my band Lightspeed Lover to a packed and sweaty room of dancing people, singing along to ours songs was magical. In fact having anyone sing my lyrics or just know my songs at all is always humbling. Having people come up to me after shows with genuine love and respect for my performance always gets me!
Not long ago I released a live video of my song Thistle, which is about depression and the contemplation of suicide from my own experience, with an emphasis on regret if successful. The response I got from so many people was wonderful, it really connected and I was told by one or two listeners that it was helping keep them with us. Having struggled for so long with my own mental health, knowing the pain and hardship to then be told something I had created was a lifeline is honestly the highest point I think I’ll ever reach.
S] How do you define success as an artist?
Everyone has different opinions on what defines success. For me it isn’t about money or being world famous. If you can touch someone with your music, make them feel, cry, laugh, smile, that to me is success. Local artists Lewis Marrow, Fiona Lee and Elizabeth Pickering have songs that resonate so deeply within me, I’ve been moved to tears and joyously uplifted to the point I feel paralysed with joy, that to me is success. If you can do that, you’ve made it.
S] What advice would you give to any artist emerging from Hull?
Be patient, we’ve all got to pay our dues, nothing comes over night. Don’t be afraid to ask for things! You want to play a gig for a promoter, ask! You want to work with certain people, ask! There are so many people who are more than willing to help you and get you where you want to be just for the sheer love of music!
I have had the pleasure of having young performers play their first ever show for me and then grow over the years, getting more accomplished, getting bigger and better shows and knowing I was part of their journey is very special to me.
Also, easy on the drink and narcotics! Have fun by all means but speaking from personal experience, it’s really easy to fuck everything up. A few performers that are really going places with their careers don’t drink at all and are incredibly focused and motivated. Sorry for the grandad speech.