Luke Marzec is a Polish-British multi-instrumentalist. His music blends elements of electronica, soul and R&B. We talked to Luke about life on a London houseboat, the importance of boredom and the life-changing power of lists. Hello Luke. How has your day been so far? I had my first face-to-face interview, which was fun. And around […]
Luke Marzec is a Polish-British multi-instrumentalis
Hello Luke. How has your day been so far?
I had my first face-to-face interview, which was fun. And around dinner time I had a photoshoot and some video stuff and now I’m walking to my studio to have a session with someone else, so quite a busy day.
Let’s start with your unique abode! How did you end up living on a houseboat?
It kind of happened by accident. One of my best friends owned the boat and he asked whether I’d like to stay with him last spring. I think we both needed each other at the time, so we spent the summer together and after that he was moving to Africa for his work, he’s a journalist, and then he offered to sell me the boat. So, the boat found me I guess. I didn’t really intend it, but it seems to work really nicely. I get to move around the rivers and canals whenever I like. So if I get bored of one place I get to explore somewhere else. I think it’s really cool for London.
Living in London can be quite expensive . . .
Most people under the age of 35 in London do not own their own property, and I think those renting have to move often because they don’t have that long term rental security. It makes it difficult for people to feel like they have a home. And then what I found having my own place, which I can do whatever I like to I see that my personality can develop as I change the space to suit my changing wants and needs.
A lot of people live either with their partner or live with friends, which is fine, but people don’t even have the choice or opportunity to live alone even if they wanted to, because of the prices which I think can potentially stop people from their personal growth . . .
That’s a good point. Would you say living on the boat has helped you in a way? Being able to move around and change places?
The place changing and stuff is more for fun. But I would say what has benefitted me most is having my own space where I can make the place as I want it and do things on my own, in my own time and pace.
Do you have internet access there?
I do, yes. I have a smartphone now. I mean I go through periods of having a smartphone and then not having a smartphone depending on how I feel. If I need to give myself space. But yeah I can have internet if I want, I can hotspot from my phone if I want to use my laptop. But like everything on the boat, whether it’s water, gas or electricity you have to be a bit frugal so you know, you don’t leave Wi-Fi 24/7, you don’t keep the heating on the whole time and you can’t use electricity the whole time. You need to be a bit more thoughtful about how you use it. So that’s what I like about it, I have limitations on how much internet I can use. Which again gives me more space.
I guess it shows you don’t have to be connected to the internet all the time? Something we’re quite used to now.
Yeah, totally. I mean now even though I do have my smartphone, I try to practice turning it off. And I think, if and when, I move into a house it’s just getting into practice of turning off the router. There’s this thing with phones, the constant potential for distraction and whether you’re using it or not, you know that your brain knows that it’s there, and I wonder to what extent that stops people from being able to focus on other things. Because it’s just the potential of all the communications and the whole universe in your phone that you have. I just think it’s nice to have less of that.
Do you think that helps you with your song writing or your creativity?
Yes, I think it helps me with my mental balance, and happy state of being which leads to being more creative. It gives me space. You know one of the things I noticed, especially over the past few months when I haven’t had any phone or laptop on my boat, is that you learn to be bored. And when I’m bored I tend to pick up the guitar or the piano for a reason not to write but just because I’m bored and I need to make my own leisure. I also play solitaire with cards, and you know even that rather than using an app on your phone, you have to be a bit more time aware and you get much more out of it. I feel like we need to give ourselves, well our brain, the space to understand itself. Space for learning to be bored, learning to remember what it’s like to stare out of a window for an hour and letting your mind sort itself out.
Speaking of music who would you say are your biggest influences or inspirations?
I’d say Ray Charles, Bob Marley, Bon Iver, maybe Jeff Buckley, James Blake. I can’t think of more artists for now, but people who really seem to lose themselves in the music. That’s what I like, people who sing from their heart.
You released an album earlier this year (Regrets & Resolutions) are you currently working on anything new?
I’m working on an album. I feel really good right now, I find that any time I sit at the piano I’ve got some stuff falling out of me so I’m gonna try and use the most of that. Because I kind of consciously decided, at the start of the year, that I wouldn’t really try and make any music at all until I got to a place where I really had the want to do that, the need. So I’m doing it now, getting it all out.
Could you tell us about your own experiences with mental health and if you have any advice for people who might be struggling with any similar issues?
I’ll have to be very careful how I word this, but I think the only thing I can talk about is how I tried to deal with it myself. Oh god it’s actually quite scary to talk about …
Lives can be beautiful, they can be like a great adventure. So if you’re scared about what to do in life or where your place is in it I think this can help. That’s what I did. I wrote a list of things that I’d like to do, that I don’t do right now and I started with the smallest things like I’d like to cycle more and see more parts of the city or I’d like to listen to Radio 3 sometimes, and I started doing those things. I’ve tried to write all these exhaustive lists of all the possible things I could think of that would make me happy like seeing my friends for dinner once a week, going to the cinema on my own once a month, you know cycle a little bit more, exercise, read. Couple months later I looked back at this long list and I was like Oh look I’ve done all this!
So, taking small steps?
Yeah, kind of and then working my way up. I also did a list of things that I have and a list of things that I want to have. On the list of things that I have I wrote this nice pen, this book, and then I went up to slightly bigger things like a saxophone, and some more abstract things like my friend Michael as someone I have in my life, and I wrote that list and I looked back on it and I realised that these are all really beautiful things that I have.
And then I went on to write things that I want to have like I want to have a nice radio, and then you can start to get those things. And then once you’re at a place where, this is just coming from my experience, once I found out that I was at a place where I finally felt like I was doing the things that I liked and started to enjoy myself and started to feel a little bit healthier and appreciating what I have, then I felt that I was in a safe place where I could now try and give to people around me. I could finally do that and try to love more.
And do things in your own time maybe?
Yeah definitely! You can take time. The thing is, we have a whole life ahead of us, so if you need to take six months to maybe travel or put your job on hold for a while, you can take your time and things will get better and it’s ok to be happy and enjoy yourself.
Do you have any books, songs or films that make you happy, you would like to recommend?
Yeah, maybe not specifically happy but things that I like that make me feel nice. There’s the book The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and that’s not particularly helped me much but it kind of beautifully helps in understanding tragedies and Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I read that before I started feeling better and I guess that was kind of reaching into some mindful ideas. I also found some radio hosts that I like, so as soon as I put the radio on, and I felt this yesterday for the first time, Gideon Coe on Radio 6 music was talking and I was like Oh Gideon my old friend!
Luke performs at The Social, London on 24 September.
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