“I just want to keep on making albums and keep sharing music – that’s all. I just think sharing music is the most important thing.”
I had the pleasure of meeting Lucas O’Connell after he played a remarkable set at The Snug last Tuesday night. Over the course of a lengthy discussion about, well, anything and everything, the words ‘sharing’ and ‘connection’ came up time and time again. Now I must admit that I am generally a little suspicious of such terms. I mean come on… ‘sharing’ and ‘connection’ may have worked at Woodstock but in this day and age those kinds of sentiments are a little suspect. Of course it would have been a lot easier to maintain my staunch cynicism had I not witnessed firsthand the powerful effect Lucas’ songs had on the audience that night.
“I get inspired by the connection with the audience… people appreciating what you do and you appreciating what they do. It’s mutual appreciation between the artist and audience. Open mics are great for that”
Prior to our meeting I sit and watch Lucas’ set from a small side table at The Snug. He begins by laying down a steady, seemingly effortless finger-picking pattern, the song building in momentum with each passing chord. As he starts to sing in a startling and spookily understated voice the song unfurls before me, enveloping the room. Lucas goes on to sing about Medusa and Cleopatra, his voice rising and falling with the ease and grace of a champion figure skater. I exchange glances with a friend of mine, as if to say “what have we here?”
Over the course of his set he masterfully fuses the feel and mood of early trad folk with the creative clout of the best 60’s and 70’s singer-songwriters. It is one of those rare musical experiences – rather than simply being impressed I am left with the sense that I have witnessed something truly special.
“It’s a very private thing to share… your own songs. A lot of people struggle. I think it’s just relaxing for the soul to share your music.”
Originally hailing from Wellington in New Zealand Lucas has lived all over the world, spending time in Australia, Japan, Korea, Peru, Argentina, England, Scotland and parts of South-east Asia. He took up playing guitar at the age of 21 while travelling and from there began writing his own songs. It was in an Edinburgh post office in 2006 that he found a creative sanctuary of sorts, dreaming up folk tunes while sorting mail (On a side note I personally love this aspect of his artistic development – he is literally working his way up from the mailroom). Pretty soon fellow travelers were urging him to ‘share’ his songs on stage in front of a real audience.
“Because I was always travelling it was kind of a gradual step – playing in front of backpackers to playing on stage.”
Lucas’ inspirations are many. During our discussion he spoke of his love for Ancient Greek Mythology, Kerouac and 60’s bands, along with more discernibly obvious influences such as Nick Drake, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen et al. He also spoke of his fondness for open tunings.
“I use about fourteen different tunings in my songs. And I’m always looking for new ones – it’s like you’re creating your own chords.”
Two years ago Lucas released his debut album ‘Songs to Sleep on’ (great title!), receiving airplay in his native New Zealand as well as on BBC radio. He also shot an eye-popping video for the lead single ‘Liquid Night’ which was shown at the Byron Bay Film Festival. Lucas has decided to stay put in Melbourne for the next little while, so with any luck you will be fortunate enough to catch him playing at an open mic somewhere soon. Otherwise you can check out his tunes on Soundcloud, or find him on either Facebook or his website.