An Interview with Luke Deane Open Nites - Rail Rat

Luke Deane, born in United Kingdom and lives in Rotterdam, is a composer and artist. He worked before for club Guy and Roni and the Nite team on 'Salam', 'Before / After', and on developing the NITE Hotel. Luke does at the moment three productions for NNT. One of them is 'Rail Rat', in coworking with actor Tim Linde who wrote the script, and director Jan Hulst. This interview tells Luke something about the process of making 'Rail Rat'.

Luke did his bachelor's in Birmingham and came to Den Haag for an Erasmus scholarship. Later he did his master's in Amsterdam. ''So that's how I ended up in the Netherlands because of the music scene. A fantastic contemporary music scene here, which is really rich and it has a rich history. And we studied contemporary music from the Netherlands in England. I'd already heard about it. Yeah, that's why I ended up coming.''

Luke works in theater and the art world.
Luke Deane
© NNT – Luke Deane. Photo provided by NNT.

''I deal with quite a lot of independent projects as well, that is sort of multi-layered, like interactive websites to feature different artists.'' For NITE, he worked on the website from the Nite hotel '' I also build the sound engine that sort of runs in the website. So it feels like a musical experience as well.'' and Luke worked in film. He was supposed to work with the National Opera this year, but this is canceled due to Covid.

Besides The Netherlands, Luke also works in England because this is easy right now ''these days, many things are remote. So it doesn't matter where you are, which is also makes it an interesting and perhaps exciting time for different reasons.''

Luke feels because he is an artist always a bit of an outsider, not personally but because of the way he makes his art. "I have an alter ego, called Lisa. And I make music with my band with that. And that's also about being non-binary or somehow in-between spaces. So I guess I put some parts of me that identify, with working from the outside or in a place that is working in unexpected space.'' Luke said that this happened with Rail Rat.

Rail Rat
© NNT. Rail Rat - Luke Deane. Photo provided by NNT.
They were supposed to make a staged monologue; instead, they choose to create an animated film.

''I've done quite a lot of virtual work. I can say that I made the first virtual reality Opera in the world in 2016; I was there for a festival in Amsterdam. And so since then, I made a lot of virtual worlds.'' Luke showed Jan and Tim his work, and they would know if he was able to make a whole play with animated characters who talk to each other. ''My actual answer was, I don't know. So when we started to make the Rail Rat, it was also unknown territory. We don't know how far we can go. But we all love cinema. And we want to make this kind of edgy, graphic novel use cinema look and feeling. So we just stayed up all night, trying to make that get as close as possible''.

It was challenging for Luke to make the animation; Tim has a lot of experience with film and tv acting and came with the idea for a storyboard, making the process easier. ''We did follow the storyboard, and I did manage to make all the shots. So it was really, like, an amazing lesson for me in how important those things are. Because as a composer, I can quite easily lost in the poetry of the music. And that's really where I belong.''

Rail Rat
© NNT. Rail Rat - Luke Deane. Photo provided by NNT.

Luke is a member of a collective of fifty musicians in Amsterdam, called Splendour, which includes an own venue. One of the founding members is composer David Tran. That is Luke's connection with NNT. David Tran introduces Luke to Guy to work on Salam. Luke prepared a lot of melodies for that project ''obviously, in every theater project, everything the text, the music, the stage, the script, it all goes through some kind of crazy process. And often, it will come out completely different where when it went in. And I only gave my input to the ensemble. But a lot of my melodies lived through to the end result in that production.''

Guy has asked Luke to write all the music for the production 'Before / After'.

''I think Guy asked me back to work for Before / After because he felt connected to the melodies that I wrote. And we're still working together now in various ways.'' Luke is a melodic composer, and he finds that the most mysterious about music ''for me, at least to make a good melody, there has to be a really deep emotional drive, or it won't come out.'' Luke said that when he works with Guy, they always work with the origin and emotional drive.

When I researched Luke, I noticed that he always focused on self-expression or pain in his productions, so I asked Luke about the reason for his focus on these subjects. ''I think I believe that music is emotion. So then, being it's a safe space to express difficult emotions. And it can also be a fantastic mirror. When you listen to music, all the motor areas of your brain are going up and down and the melodies going up and down, your body feels it's physically moving, there's kind of what they call mirror, mirror neurons are happening there. And so I think music can also give you a chance to connect and reflect with a different and deeper side of yourself. That's maybe how I feel about it.''

Luke describes 'Rail Rat' as ''grungy punky; it comes right out of nowhere.''
Rail Rat
© NNT. Rail Rat - Luke Deane. Photo provided by NNT.

He thinks it is not easy to explain because the process was from play to animation, and it looks like a graphic novel. ''I think that's why it's cool for Open Nites because it's really like opening a door and going into a weird place.'' The process starts with Tim writing a monologue, Luke composes the music, and Jan gives advice. Luke used some well-known music like a recording from Cisco Houston called drill you terriers drill. This recording refers to immigrant Irish workers who worked on American railroads in the mid 19th century.

In between the lockdowns, Luke did some concerts with a maximum of twenty people. ''People cried, and I cried; we all cried about having been able to experience live music together. And I realized that people come to concerts and events now. They automatically come to events with an open mind now. So in that way, you could see it as a new era of experimentalism because people come expecting the unexpected, just by default. So I think those things I find really exciting. I also suffer from loneliness very badly. I relate to the character in the railroad so much right now, sometimes. So I'm hoping for everyone that it will change soon.''

Luke is working on his first album with his alter ego, Lisa. The album is called footsteps on the wall; and will be released in June on vinyl. ''And that's in collaboration with a project I'm doing with guy Wiseman in Hanover called pitch, I'm a goddess.'' Also, for NNT Nites delivery, Luke is working on a project with virtual holidays.

'Rail Rat' is streaming till March 31. More information: Nite.nl.

Photos provided by NNT