It’s fascinating to watch artists evolve in their craft, especially when it comes to music makers. How exhilarating to listen to their flow, so successfully seamless through a multitude of personas, projects, and evolutions.
I’m not referring to those who mimic music trends for likes, no. In this context, I refer to the producers, composers, and songwriters who have a passion for creating fresh sounds, regardless of style.
Multi-instrumentalist and producer Lucas Gorham is in that special group of creators. His latest album, Blues of the World, released under the name Lucas/Heaven, is both humble and grandiose, unpretentious and intrepid. It’s bright, light, lush, and absolutely dance friendly.
“I Am Loved” is one of my favorite surprises on the album, and it includes a choir filling the air with the same energy as the hip-shaking percussion and overall good-vibes-only feel of the song. There is also that energy in “New Beginnings,” with the intro announcing, “There’s always time for new beginnings.” There’s something odd but groovy about the way the guitar is played in relation to all the other elements going on, but it makes sense. It’s a wonderful kind of weird.
In these new recordings, Lucas explores songwriting as well as expressing himself using his voice. His previous works include instrumental-only releases and beat-making.
I connected with Lucas by telephone, and we spoke about the different chapters of his life in music. We also had a really cool chat about love, hope, and life in Texas. He recognized the small Texas town I grew up in and even has family there, and we geeked out about Tejano music.
Currently based in Los Angeles, Lucas was born in Houston and grew up listening to his parent’s jazz and R&B music collection at home. “They were big jazz heads,” he explains enthusiastically. Music became a mainstay and eventually, as he approached his teens, Lucas learned to play music.
Once he entered high school, his curiosity about music led him to hip-hop, rap, blues, rock, and so much more. He listened to everything from Korn to Wu-Tang. No doubt his musical gamut flourished.
And his love of music and exploring new sounds continues to expand, as made clear throughout his diverse discography and other artistic endeavors.
In Houston, Lucas is well known for playing a mean lap steel guitar. He’s created instrumental beats and minimal electronic music as Heaven the Dude, rocked with Grandfather Child, Satin Hooks, and later switched things up with New Mercies. On this latter project, he did things on his own, looping a guitar with an iPad and using a talkbox.
He’s created music influenced by disco, funk, dance, and punk. Some of his compositions are jazz-inspired, and most reflect the array of musical influences in his life. As a producer, he’s worked on projects with Dent May and MC Fat Tony (10,000 Hours).
I told Lucas that I especially enjoy speaking with artists who have been in different projects and allow their curiosity to continuously explore other styles of music. “How do you separate all the music ‘personalities’? How does that happen?” I ask, especially knowing how musically curious he is.
“I feel like it’s… time, you know? It’s like eras or chapters of life, of my life,” Lucas says.
“Before I moved to L.A., when I was in Houston, my story was a little different. I was making different music and I was at a different point in my life. And so, you know, as it evolves and changes, I’ve always like— I don’t know, maybe it’s because nothing really… I don’t mean to sound like I’m shitting on myself or anything, but, I haven’t really blown up, per se, and so it’s like, okay, I don’t really need to worry about my name. Do you know what I mean? I’m free to do whatever I want and I feel like changing it up to do something a little different. I just don’t identify with calling myself X, Y or Z anymore. I feel I’m so open-minded about music and what I can create that it’s just a matter of… listening to your heart.”
Lucas goes on to explain that Blues of the World is more of a guided composition and a project in which he wanted to break away from instrumentals.
“This album is a very strong departure. It’s not just about beats,” he says. “There are songs on there and there are compositions. It’s more guided, I feel like, whereas the beat tapes I was making before were more, they were very casual listening. This one, there’s a really strong message. I kind of wanted to make a different project just for that. I wanted to start the path to where I’m playing more, making more songs, and singing.”
The Bandcamp page for Blues of the World explains it as “an album of striking honesty, desperation, and optimism, blended into a sound that combines the urgent poetics of Gil Scott-Heron with the undeniable rhythms of jazz stars like Makaya McCraven. … There’s a vulnerability to the album that helped convince Gorham to switch up identities and present this album as a thesis on his humanity, his POV.”
Listen to the full interview, along with snippets of Blues of the World, here.
Featured image: Multi-instrumentalist and producer Lucas Gorham (Courtesy of the artist)