The enchanting music of Luke Slott has been compared to Philip Glass and Michael Nyman. Born to a family of actors, musicians, writers, producers and choreographers, and raised in a house with a hundred talking parrots, dogs, rabbits and reptiles, the 26-year-old multi-instrumentalist Slott grew up in the menagerie of his Dublin family home hearing music – human and animal – from all sides. His brother Mike Slott forms half of acclaimed hip hop duo, Heralds of Change, while their father, the late trumpet-player Mike Nolan, was the founder of Ireland’s longest-running jazz club.
At the age of twelve, Luke began learning the trumpet from his father via old records by jazz legends like Chet Baker and Miles Davis, and then went on to study classical piano at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Having won the Heineken Green Energy Band Challenge and signed a major record deal at the tender age of 18, Slott spent several years as lead singer with Irish rock band Melaton, but after two critically-acclaimed singles and a never-released album, he left the band and started to explore other areas of music.
In 2005, Slott conceived and hosted a series of multi-cultural-house-concerts entitled ‘Unity-in-Diversity’ in his Dublin family home, where crowds of friends and neighbours would gather each week to attend intimate performances by some of Ireland’s leading musicians, and recitals by some of her best-loved poets. Saxophonist Keith Donald (Moving Hearts), flautist Brian Dunning (Puck Fair), violinist Cora Venus Lunny, cellist-singer Vyvienne Long, poets Macdara Woods and Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, as well as a host of Irish bands including the Chapters and Star Turtle, were among the many artists who shared their talents in Slott’s family home. ‘Sometimes we’d have 70 people packed into these concerts in our living-room,’ Slott recalls. ‘Each week we would cook food from a different part of the world, and share some ideas from different cultures. It was a big undertaking, but I think it brought a lot of people together.’
In 2006, Slott left Ireland and moved to New York, where he taught music, played piano in restaurants, and honed his song-writing skills in the clubs and open-mics of downtown Manhattan. A year and a half later, he returned to Ireland and set out on a tour of house-concerts around the country (‘I just called a bunch a friends and said, “Hey, can I play a concert in your house?”,’ says Slott). In between playing concerts in living-rooms around Ireland, he began to record a batch of piano compositions which he had written in the years since Melaton. He then launched his own website, and promised a free 2-track CD of his piano music to the first 1000 visitors to www.lukeslott.com. He indeed fulfilled his promise, and sent 1000 free CDs around the world. ‘It broke the bank,’ says Slott, ‘but I think fans really appreciate getting a gift directly from the artist. It has given me an invaluable connection to my listeners.’
Slott continues to sing and write songs and promises a return to the singer-songwriter scene in due course, but his ambitious debut release as a solo artist is the instrumental ‘Don’t Go Back To Sleep’, a collection of ten pieces for solo piano whose darkly humorous waltzes hint at Slott’s love of Chopin – a fitting nod to his own Polish ancestry.
By: Shayne Byrne | Beat-Play Ambassador Ireland | @shaynewithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC