If it’s sun-kissed contemporary jazz blend with elements of hip-hop served up from the North East that you’re after, then look no further than Luke Royalty. His sizzling delivery is energising and has all the hallmarks of a future star.
Royalty only released his hazy debut single, ‘I Could Get Used To This’, last October. This year, he followed it up with the breezy ‘I Do’ before returning recently with the confessional effort ‘Stay Gold’. He’s a forward-thinking, progressive artist who only stumbled into music a few years ago and hasn’t looked back since. His brand of music is reminiscent of the sweet sounds of Tom Misch and Easy Life, but Royalty’s work has a layer of grit to it that makes him an exciting proposition.
Hailing from Darlington, Royalty spent his teenage years playing football for his beloved Darlington F.C. before parting ways at 14. It didn’t even cross his mind for a moment in his formative years that he could end up being a musician, but life had another avenue planned for him, and over the last few years, he’s thrown himself headfirst into his artistry.
Royalty is proud of his accent, and it’s refreshing to hear different regional voices in music rather than the pool of homogenous tones that we’ve become accustomed to hearing through the mainstream. Darlington is another one of Britain’s forgotten industrial towns, and growing up there has given Royalty a different worldly view to some of his contemporaries.
“I grew up listening to classic indie stuff like Oasis,” Royalty says over Zoom about his scattergun musical upbringing. “Because in Darlo, there’s not much else of a music scene apart from that. Once I found music, I was like; I’ll just do this because this is what everyone’s doing, and it was like an Oasis tribute band kind of thing.
“Then my dad, he’s into jazz, and my mum is into 80s pop, so I grew up around so many different music genres. All my mates are into like, grime, drill and MC’s,” he adds, discussing his smorgasbord of influences.
He continues: “My mates from school are all like football geezers, and when I was about 16, I wanted to learn the guitar. Then when I told my mates that I’d wrote a song, you can imagine what their reaction was, ‘weirdo’, and all the usual,” Royalty recollects.
After being released by Darlington at 14, Royalty explains how he spent two years “pissing around and getting into trouble” before music saved him. He thought that sport would be his escape, and adjusting to the reality that he wasn’t going to make it professional took some time to accept.
“Growing up being a footballer is the only aspiring job that anyone really talks about in the North East on the playground,” he explained. “I find it mad when I go to London, I’ve got a producer friend in London, and he’s like saying when he was in school that all his mates are like musicians, artists, or environmentalists.”
Royalty is still living in Darlington, and he wants to inspire others that there is another way. He wants to show the next generation that it’s possible to make a living by expressing your creativity, and you don’t have to accept your lot in life.
“My long term goal is to change this stigma around doing things which are creative,” Royalty passionately says. “Especially in the northeast, because it’s really not a thing at all. I know so many people get to that point at like 15/16, where they don’t want to get a manual labour job or go to Uni to do something they fucking hate. For me, the obvious option is to look outside the box and do something creative.”
Royalty notes how even though he only grew up just down the road from Newcastle, the two places couldn’t be any more different, and he wants to change that. It’s more than just about the music for him, he’s not expecting Darlington to create a flood of chart-topping artists, but he wants more people to see how having a creative outlet is life-changing.
His career is in safe hands, judging off the strength of his first few releases. However, Royalty wants to create a lasting impact bigger than himself, and it’s invigorating to see an artist be unashamed about their ambition. He wants to make music more inclusive and accessible to all, which can only be positive and will only lead to more original art.
The North East native is a glistening example of how creativity can transform a life. Fresh voices and unique life experiences are necessary for music to stay vitalised, and Royalty is a living testament to that.