A GoPride Interview

Luke Parkin

Luke Parkin interview with ChicagoPride.com

Thu. March 23, 2006  by Jason P. Freeman

Luke Parkin
Enter the Maestro: Luke Parkin on Love, Life Music and Art.

Flamboyant Liberace inspired stereotypes of popular contemporary pianists tickling the ivory 88s--careful their bobbles don't scratch the keys--are about to change. Canadian-residing keyboard-composer Luke Parkin, whose first major release, Winter Journal, is setting new trends for the modern-day piano player. Besides, according to Luke, he doesn't aspire to “that exact cultural mantelpiece.”

Indeed, the oeuvre of 27 year-old Luke's compositions doesn't sparkle like rhinestones or light up the sky as would the sensational Las Vegas strip. Combining a love of the traditional with young heart and soul innovation, Luke's instrumental sonatas resonate from a unique potpourri of classical and modern mediums—yet it's certainly not mainstream pop. His music is the kind that makes you stop, take a figurative step back and reflect, absorbing the sound and intellectually dissecting the piece as one would with any other body of art.

And he isn't bad to look at either. Talking to ChicagoPride.com about life, love, music and art, Luke can tickle our ivories any day.

JF: Winter Journal is your 68th opus, but your first major release. What brought on the decision to take your work to the next level?

LP: It was a conscious decision but it took some thought. Intuitively it felt right.

Winter Journal was a falling-off point. I tend to compose compulsively and always produce material in volume. Having said that, I've never experimented for the sake of experimentation. Each project/album is and was special. I had concerns up until now as to what material could potentially reach the best audience. In Composing Winter Journal, which is relatively plainspoken and melodic, I felt that it had/has the potential for widespread appeal as a stand-alone instrumental album. I also feel that it speaks with clarity without commercially pandering.

JF: You were born in Massachusetts but now hail from British Columbia. We need to keep our hotties in the states! Why the move?

LP: Relocating to Canada was essentially a career driven move. I'm also in love with the west coast of North America and feel very much at home here. I spent time in both the San Francisco bay area and also Los Angeles (two cities/areas that I also love) but found that this particular spot in B.C. conducive to everything creative I do, a great place to come back to, and not far From Vancouver, Seattle and Los Angeles for whatever business needs to be done. I can't say that people don't recognize that I'm not from here. I still have that Boston/New England angst thing.

JF: When did you start playing the piano and composing your own music? What is the driving force that holds you to that vehicle of musical and artistic expression?

LP: Playing the piano doesn't demand that I counterfeit emotion in any way. It's my voice as an artist & composer. It has since I was 6 years old. Being creative at the keyboard is a conduit to everything I need to express, in the way that a rapper throws down rhymes, or a singer/songwriter sings and plays.

JF: You're a single, out and proud gay man. Any romantic interests?

LP: Dating is fun when it's not called "dating." I like guys who are guys that don't bullshit. I want a man who looks like Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, writes like Proust and by the sheer SIZE of his—um—genius could preach a self-reliance like a Ralph Waldo Emerson. Yeah, that's it.

JF: Wow! You've just described me perfectly and we've never even met! Ever use the piano to woo an object of your affection?

LP: No way. The last time a guy tried to kiss me on the piano bench when I was playing I told him to F**k off. I was trying to concentrate.

JF: Well, as a Gay Canadian you have the legal right to marry. Any desire for future nuptials?

LP: Being permitted to find love with whomever I want and legitimate that (if you'll allow me to use such a spurious word) is an ENTITLEMENT that I would have never expected to look forward to as someone growing up painfully in the closet, squirming when the jokes were passed-around at school or in the locker room or at family functions. The legal right to marry another man or women, if you're gay, does a lot to DE-radicalize the "fag" stigma, or will as time goes on. That's important.

JF: Aside from dating, what is your family life like? Do you have any siblings, favorite aunts or uncles? Are you guys close?

LP: I have two sisters and we're close enough. They know what time it is with me and I know what time it is with them without talking too much. My mother advises caution. My father is supremely disappointed that his only son is that thing that he swore would be a passing phase. As far as extended family, there's a moratorium on the "G" word with some of them. "Don't make it my problem," one of them said once. Most of them say, "You don't act gay.” I don't get it.

JF: Winter Journal is composed of somber melodies with very slow and soft tones. As titled, it's a very "Wintry Album." How much does the season and environment play into your inspiration?

LP: Programmatic music was one of those seemingly proto-romantic or romantic things I used to shy away from. Maybe because I had a fear of being too corny or, god forbid, honest. You have to have some simplicity in your soul to be a great writer. It can't all be seething and obtuse, abstract or deliberately trying to accomplish “something.” Music isn't just an intellectual game. Winter Journal was a musical sketch-pad. It's imbued with the color of winter.

JF: So is there any chance for a Spring Journal?

LP: Spring evokes different sensations. Perhaps something less Seasonal will follow.

Luke is currently in the process of planning a late 2006/early 2007 tour.

His album can be found at www.LukeParkin.com.

Interviewed by Jason P. Freeman