Raised on a Peabody Estate in Waterloo, Bower was more interested in football and friends in his younger years until he stumbled across his calling. “I used to have a piano at my grandparents that I’d fiddle about with as a really young kid,” he remembers, “but it wasn’t until I was like 14 that I started to give it a proper go.” Tinkering away during music lessons at school, reworking indie classics into piano-led versions, he quickly caught onto the freeform creativity that music afforded him.
Moving from piano to acoustic guitar, Luke began self-teaching his way around structure and form. A last-minute call from the prestigious Brit School, just five weeks before term was due to start, took that ambition further still. “I’d forgotten all about the Brit School!” he admits, “but they called up like, ‘Someone’s dropped out, do you wanna step in?”. Naturally, Luke seized the opportunity, where he was able to cut his teeth and learn the play bass and get to grips with electronic production elements, paving the way for his future sound.
Early bands saw him playing shows at South London hotspots like the Amersham Arms and Off The Cuff, alongside everyone from punk groups like Shame and HMLTD to new wave jazz pioneers like Moses Boyd and Poppy Ajudha.
From there, Luke became embedded in that scene. A frequent face – both on-stage and in the crowd – at shows in South London’s low-key jazz joints Steez and Brainchild, he caught early, embryonic versions of “so many of the bands that are killing it now.” He began inviting them into practise rooms and shared spaces, collaborating on whatever sounds came forth. “It was really chaotic,” he laughs, “but great for knowing how to work with other musicians – how to be tested. You’d have to bring your A-game.”. Cut to 2017 and Luke was playing lead guitar in Puma Blue and bass with Nilufer Yanya as part of their world-touring live bands.
Now, Luke is breaking out of his comfort zone. Turning down world tours and setting aside three months at the start of 2019 to go into the studio, the result is a more focused vision from the musical polymath. New singles ‘Crucial’ and ‘Adonis’ are lushly arranged cuts of future-facing, jazzy pop production. Building on the steady foundation of last summer’s ‘Vol. 1’ EP, it’s evidence that Luke’s years of digesting the scenes and sounds around him has led to something special. “With this next EP, it’s less about what I have to say, and more what I want to say. The different sounds and vibes on it are exactly what I want to be making. It’s a really nice feeling.”