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“I spent five weeks in a row spending my whole weekend just writing and I literally got nothing done. You end up sitting in a dark room for eight hours, and you’re not eating. When you force yourself to write it doesn’t work. It has to be natural.”
Whilst he was chewing on a pink lady apple, we spoke to Luka Palm about his view on the growing Irish hip-hop scene.
Opening up on his plans for the future, his inspirations in music & his family ties, Luka Palm shows that there’s more than meets in the eye. His hints of new music with artists like Bobby Basil and Kojaque are certainly promising.
Where does the name Luka Palm come from?
Palm comes from my granddad. He was a musician himself. It comes from the Swedish side of my family. My mam’s maiden name is Palm.
My name is Lukas, but Lukas Palm doesn’t have a ring to it, so I cut the ‘s’ and became Luka Palm.
Do you think having that Swedish background has influenced your music?
Not really, I moved to Ireland when I was two so I can’t really rap about Sweden that much. I only really learn about Sweden from the news, or from what my mam would tell me about it. I don’t really think it influences me. I do listen to Swedish artists though, like Yung Lean.
It’s interesting that he comes from Sweden, you wouldn’t really think it, his music is so different.
Yeah, everyone forgets that. He’s bigger than a lot of American rappers, it’s crazy. Very few people in Sweden actually like Yung Lean. When my brother and I first started listening to Yung Lean, we’d ask people in Sweden about him but they wouldn’t know who he is – he got an American fan base before he got fans in Sweden.
The video for ‘Pink Lady’ was shot by Hugh Mulhern over a period of two years in both Stockholm and Dublin. The video is interesting because you literally grow up in it, was this intentional?
It wasn’t actually shot in Stockholm, lots of people think it was, but it was only shot in Dublin. It was shot over two or two and a half years. In the beginning, Hugh and I were planning on getting the video done in a couple months but Hugh became really busy and we just kept pushing it back.
There was this stage where I was gonna rerecord the track because my voice had changed so much. After a year and a half we just thought that we may as well take our time with it and get that weird ageing effect in it.
We didn’t go out with the idea to do that originally but it just kind of happened over time. In the end we spent time getting more shots of me grown up to make it look better, around the time that we were beginning to edit it.
It’s been a while since we heard anything from you, do you have any new music on the way?
It’s been so long! I do have music ready but I don’t want to release it when I’m in the middle of all this schoolwork. If I did a video for a track now it wouldn’t be as good as a video I could do over the summer when I have cash and lots of free time.
I don’t feel the need to rush my music. My writing process is very slow. It takes me ages to write a song. Someone like Bobby Basil can write a track in a day, but I have this weird buzz about me where I have to spend months on a track to perfect it. I’m a perfectionist, I’d spend a month working on one line because I hate the way it sounds.
The little things are really important. I’d hate to release something and then be unhappy with it a month later.
I spent five weeks in a row spending my whole weekend just writing and I literally got nothing done. You end up sitting in a dark room for eight hours, and you’re not eating. When you force yourself to write it doesn’t work. It has to be natural.
Are you working toward a project or dropping individual tracks?
I was going to work on a project, but if I work on one it’ll take a long time for it to release. I’d rather release a few tracks every few months. I want to build up my material, and then when I have material I can release a project. Bobby Basil and I are moving to Sweden in September for six months or so. We have a small house there so I’m just going to be working full time on music. I’ll definitely get loads of stuff done.
“The first rapper I ever listened to was Jay Z. I picked up ‘Reasonable Doubt’ on CD and I peeled off the parental advisory sticker on it so my mam would get it for me. I only listened to Jay Z for years.”
You said that because you’re doing your Leaving Cert, school is holding you back musically. Do you think school has an influence on your music?
No, not at all. Even though I do have time to work on music as well as school, you’re in school all day and when you come home all you want to do is relax. After writing in school all day, it leaves you with no motivation to come home and write music. You’re sick of using your brain. Some people are different to me and can write anytime. I’d much rather write music when I’m not in school and I can just focus on it, rather than the stress of exams.
You have previously hinted at collaborations with Bobby Basil and Kojaque before – can we expect to hear these tracks any time soon?
Bobby and I were meant to release a song ages ago but I decided to make it a solo track. As I said I’m going to be living in Sweden with him so I’m sure we’ll get a lot of music done together then. Lots of weird things are gonna be going on there.
The music Bobby has on the way is crazy. Definitely the best he’s ever done. Kojaque and I have been talking about releasing something for ages but we’ve never gotten around to it. We’ve sent each other beats back and forth but we’re just waiting for the right track. We definitely will be working on something.
You have a close relationship with the guys at Soft Boy Records? Apart from Kojaque, will you be working with any of the guys over there?
Definitely, I think Kean Kavanagh is amazing. The song ‘Sing Through the Blood’ is so sick, I showed it to my granddad, he loved it.
His sound is so different, I’d love to incorporate it somehow. Matt Finnegan is really different. The beat for ‘Sunday Roast’ by Kojaque is sick. I heard the beat before Kojaque used it and I really wanted to have it.
Who are your biggest influences in music?
The first rapper I ever listened to was Jay Z. I picked up ‘Reasonable Doubt’ on CD and I peeled off the parental advisory sticker on it so my mam would get it for me. I only listened to Jay Z for years.
When I started to get into rap, Rejjie Snow would have been a big influence on me. At the time when I wrote ‘Pink Lady’ all I was listening to was Jesse James Solomun, Loyle Carner and Rejjie.
That buzz that was going on in London was such a big influence. Even now with people like Daniel OG, London would still influence me a lot. I listen to loads of heads nowadays, but big influence from Jesse James and Rejjie Snow.
Nowadays, Irish artists would have an influence on me too like Bobby Basil and Kojaque. Having mates who make music too is a big influence on me. If you hear Kojaque make a deadly track, you’re like fuck, now I need to get onto that level.
America is obviously is a big part of it too. There was a stage where I was listening to Earl Sweatshirt and Odd Future a lot. Earl has been a big influence on the technicalities of my music, like how to formulate words together, because the way he does it is crazy.
I’m a big fan of Kirk Knight too. Denzel Curry and Wiki are amazing. Wiki has been a crazy influence over the last two years. I love the Secret Circle stuff so much. The sound is so grimey. The sounds are so New York. I like every track on the ‘Lil Me’ tape. It’s flawless and so underrated.
The scene in New York is very connected thanks to radio stations like ‘Know Wave’ that bring artists together and give them a platform to grow. Do you think that’s something that’s needed in Dublin?
Definitely, there’s so many more heads in the game now than there was even a few years ago. I’d say there’s over 200 rappers in Dublin now. I think the scene is very strong, especially with people like HUVA that have the African influence over their sound.
Immigration is a big factor too, that’s why places like London are so ahead of us because there’s so much more immigration over there.
Exactly, like the biggest heads from London all came from different places all over the world.
Especially because Ireland’s culture isn’t very lending to experimenting, that’s why when someone comes over from somewhere else and brings their culture and all of a sudden there’s this combination, and it makes really good music
Yeah, I think it’ll definitely improve over the years, especially because Dublin is still very conservative. In London you can wear anything and there’s so little judgement. When you’re on the tube you see people wearing the craziest shit, but if they wore it here they’d be ridiculed. Dublin’s still in that stage where if you wore a pink hoodie people would look at you and think you’re gay or just think you look ridiculous.
People like Sean Pussys are trying to break that barrier here but get shot down so much from people on the outside. People here are very disapproving of things before they even understand what’s happening.
I really like what Sean is doing, his stuff is deadly. It’s on the ball. I’d love to get into making clothes myself. Josh Anyae and I have been working on some really experimental clothing low key. We want to get it out for next year hopefully. It’d be very different to the stuff you see normally here, it’s the sort of thing that people would look twice at. Still keeping that streetwear buzz to it but just really different and out there.
You’ve mentioned your brother a lot. Does having strong family ties have a big influence on your music?
My brother is the one who got me into rap in the first place. In the beginning he would have been writing a lot of raps himself.
Every time I write a verse I go to him and ask him what he thinks of it. He’s really hard to impress and that motivates me. There’s been so many whack lines that I’ve written in the past that he’s made me take out or change up.
He started producing when he was really young and he’s producing a lot now. He’d definitely have a big influence on my raps and what I listen to. Almost everyone I listen to is because of him, I’d show him someone and he’d just be like, “yeah, I’ve been listening to him for a year now”.
My house is never quiet, we’re just always playing music. He brings out the best in me.
Finally, you’ve done a lot of shows over the last year or so, most notably your show with Wastefellow in Sin É. Are you going to be doing more shows post leaving cert?
That show in Sin É was crazy! I prefer smaller venues because then everyone is close together and it’s better for when you’re preforming. When I play shows I have to make sure that we bring the crowd in closer, it sucks when everyone’s spaced out.
There’s always older people drinking at the bar or sitting down, I just want everyone to be in close and enjoying the music. It’s so hard to get your friends to the shows too, because everyone’s still so young and all the clubs are 18+ that we play.
Over summer, I’ll definitely be playing shows. I originally wanted to get all my music out and be able to play festivals but school just messed everything up. I’d rather have lots of content out for when I play a festival. I’ll be trying to get a good few shows done though, with Josh Anyae as well.
My brother has good connections because he’s in event work so hopefully he can get me some stuff too. I want to play shows for sure.