Locals for Local Arts and Music 

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I recently contacted Luke from Au, in town March 22nd at Kilby Court, and even though he could not sit down with me due to an extended trip from Boulder he agreed to do an interview through e-mail.

Tell those that might not know a little bit about AU.

Oh geez..It’s a project I’ve been fully immersed in for last 7 years of my life. I’ve learned how to sing and write songs through it’s lens coming from a past in classical and free jazz. We’ve put out 2 LPs (AU and Verbs) and an EP (Versions) and have a brand new record coming out on April 3rd called Both Lights (on Hometapes in the US and the Leaf Label in Europe).

Who are you touring with on this part of your Tour?

I’m with Dana Valatka on drums and Holland Andrews on vocals and clarinet.

How is that so far?

It’s been amazing to have Holland with us. We had toured as a two piece since 2008, and while there is a certain power in such a combination, having Holland sing with us really takes everything over the top.

In general though, this tour has been a good litmus test of sorts. It’s been a few years since we’ve toured consistently and there is certainly a mind set that needs to come in to focus to help things run smoothly. 2 weeks in and I’ve finally found it again. SXSW was also a super blurry mess of fun.

I saw that the AU has been around in one way or another for awhile now, when did you and Dana start playing together?

I started AU as a solo project while I was finishing up art school in Boston back in 2005. Moved through several different combinations of people and finally settled as a duo with Dana after Verbs came out as he was the only one willing and wanting to tour consistently.

As far as Dana and I’s history, I met him in 2000 while I was at the Massachusetts College of Art. We’ve been playing together ever since.

Your site mentions that you have worked on collaborations with other bands, how many people are you currently touring with?

Currently Dana and I are only touring with this project. Holland however has her own solo project called, Like A Villain (which I highly highly recommend checking out) as well as playing with this great chamber pop group called Ocean Floor.

You are known for your stage presence and utilizing many instruments by yourself. Does it ever become taxing after or during your tour?

Ha. It’s a matter of getting in shape ultimately. Which can feel quite good. However there are certainly days when conjuring up that energy can be quite taxing. It seems to not matter as much once I remember how lucky I am to be playing music night after night. It’s an odd proportion for your day. The hours spent in the van at true half mast only to ramp it up for the hour you end up playing at night.

You moved from MA to OR, was it a hard transition from one state to the next?

Nah. I was only in Boston for school. Couldn’t have been happier to move west to Portland back in 2001.

It seems that OR is the new music Mecca in the US have you seen major improvements since your transition?

I think Dana put it best earlier today. He said since we first moved there 10 years ago everyone has gotten a lot more serious about their craft. I think there is a certain positive aspect to this progression, but I do often miss the raw cross pollination that used to take part in those years ago. Some pretty wild combinations sprung up for meer months at a time that felt brilliant at the time.

I do feel it pretty interesting how Portland as a city has become pretty branded.

You have a degree from a college of Art, is it difficult to work with artists that are less versed in music theory?

Well I didn’t go to school for music theory, and tend to write songs for the people I’m working with so I’ve run into very little difficulty in working with people who may be coming from a less ‘educated’ background.

You recently toured in Europe, many bands mention that at times they may have a bigger following in Europe than in the US how were you received?

Oh while I may have found this coming out of my mouth in the past, it’s hard to really gauge as a whole. I think the joy of being in different countries with such gorgeous histories, eating incredible food, staying in hotels…etc glorifies touring Europe. I certainly love it. Thankfully we’ll be there in April!

Where was your favorite place to play/visit in Europe?

Latvia and Poland have been by far our favorite places to play in Europe.

We look forward to seeing you on the 22nd and thank you for answering these questions for Utah Live.

Sorry I don’t have time to write more!

Thanks for doing this.

Hope to see you tomorrow.