Darlington’s very own Luke Royalty has finally released his debut EP, My Blue Room, which has been a long time coming and arrives as a beautiful first outing from an artist who promises to be one of the most exciting new acts in 2022.
Royalty shared his summery first release alongside frequent collaborator Sweets, ‘I Could Get Used To This’, under this alias back in 2020, and he’s since shared a string of seductive singles, but creating a body of work is a different task altogether. However, it’s one that he’s shone at on his first attempt.
The North East native’s seven-track EP begins with the melancholic and vulnerable, ‘Brighter Mourning’, where Royalty opens up about his woes over the top of a hypnotic bedroom production. It sets out a cohesive theme that runs throughout the project as Royalty tries to navigate his way through the trials and tribulations of young adulthood.
Royalty speaks to me over Zoom from his blue room, and it was the day after he returned from the eye-opening experience of supporting Jake Bugg on tour. Despite already sleeping through his first interview of the day and waking up 20 minutes before our meeting, I surprisingly find Luke in fine spirits after his mammoth rest.
While many emerging artists like to dump a shit tonne of material into the ocean of Spotify in the hope of catching traction on algorithms, Royalty has instead been methodical, and his debut EP has been something he has been carefully and strategically considering for some time. “It feels like ages ago it was finished, but with it being the first one, I wanted to make sure it was done properly, and it’s been me pushing it back,” he admits. “I’m dead finicky on any little thing. Some of the tracks are on mix nine,” Royalty adds.
“There was barely any sessions, me and my producer Julian Flew did it all in a week or two. On the first day, we made a start on three tracks, and five sessions later, the whole thing was done,” he excitedly adds.
Royalty went into the sessions at Premises Studios in Hackney without a clear idea of what he wanted the EP to be. Instead, the project came together naturally as the thoughts and feelings that occupied his mind flowed from head to pen. “You can tell it was written over a short space of time, and that’s why the theme which runs through it is the same thing. I tried to write one song and ended up writing seven,” he laughed.
Adding: “I really like that, though. All my favourite albums are the ones that reference all the same lyrics. It was definitely a conscious thing to be from the perspective of my room, be really introspective, and just hone in on what I was thinking about at the time.”
They adopted a lo-fi approach to the production, with Royalty saying that the “songs would sound shit if it was recorded in a beautiful studio”, which provides My Blue Room with an intimate touch that makes you feel like a fly on the wall.
Royalty notes how James Blake’s eponymous debut album was his main source of inspiration during the recording process. “When he wrote that, he had no intention of anyone else hearing it, and it was all him pissing about with his computer, and you can hear that in the tracks. Some of it doesn’t sound finished almost,” he said.
Blake’s experience is one that he can heavily relate to, and although he admits that stylistically they are walls apart from one another, there is a personal touch that aligns them.
Rather than attempting to take the intimate feel of My Blue Room into large rooms throughout the country while supporting Bugg, Royalty adjusted the tracks for the live environment, and the whole tour was a task he relished. “A lot of people didn’t have a clue who we were, but it made it easier in a way because you can go up there with nothing to lose,” Luke explains. “With it being our first proper tour, we were just happy for the experience.”
He continues: “We felt like outsiders, to begin with, but it’s crazy how quickly you get used to it. I remember on the third night, we went into the dressing room, which we’d never had before, and my guitarist complained because there was San Miguel. We all looked at each other and said, ‘Shut up, you’ve got free beer, and sat in a dressing room,'” he says with a glistening smile.
Royalty’s future looks gleaming thanks to his perfectionist instincts, making My Blue Room an earnest and emotive listen. It’s a vulnerable snapshot into his mind during a moment when Royalty was feeling overwhelmed by the world around him and finds the universal within the personal.