Owl Compass: New EP from Luke Clerkin
Grappling with homesickness while living abroad, and reflecting on past relationships, were key sources of inspiration for musician Luke Clerkin when he was writing songs for his new EP, ‘Owl Compass’.
Originally from Springfield in Tallaght, Luke’s sense of home is also reflected in the cover art of the EP, which features the striking blue pyramid that sits atop The Square Shopping Centre.
The past pupil of St Mark’s Community School’s sound primarily mixes indie and pop, with folk leanings. He previously lived in Germany for a few months, but is now happily back in Dublin.
Luke, who is a Ballyfermot College of Further Education graduate, told The Echo what it was like to work with Berlin producer jaako on his new EP and why it was important for him to include a reference to his hometown on the EP’s cover art.
He also shared details about his show next month in aid of the Irish Red Cross Ukraine Appeal, and why he felt the urge to use his talent as a musician – along with other creatives – to help those in Ukraine.
Your new EP is the culmination of work between you and Berlin-based producer jaako. What was that experience like, and have you ever worked that closely with a producer before?
Jaako is one of the best people I’ve ever worked with – his guidance, support, and generosity is something I’ll always be grateful for.
Even though we were in different countries, he was still there ready to talk about anything I was having issues with.
I could WhatsApp him or call him and he’d be there to help me. I don’t think I have worked as closely with a producer before, not on the level we did. We built a trust between us.
I put my vulnerabilities into those songs and allowed him to turn them into what they became. He trusted me to record them by myself, and was very supportive of my ideas and input into the production itself.
The cover art for the Owl Compass EP features the pyramid from The Square, why was it important for you to incorporate that into the cover?
If you look at the artwork for my singles ‘Normal People’, ‘Fall in Line’, and ‘Lost in Translation’, each of them has a Dublin reference featured in them. It’s because the name ‘Owl Compass’ represents my own compass of spirituality.
When I was abroad and feeling lost, it pointed to where I feel I belong most, and the compass pointed home.
Home, no matter where I end up in the world, will always be Dublin, it will always be Tallaght. So having The Square – the thing that most people would associate with Tallaght – made sense.
I was so lucky to be put in contact with the photographer, George Kelly, by his brother Kieran, and to work again with my friend Gav Doyle on the artwork.
Gav did all the previous artwork and also acted as a consultant on the production, he’s somebody I’ve worked with since day one.
The Owl Compass EP seems to deal with both moving on and reflecting on past relationships. Did you find it cathartic to write those songs?
That’s exactly what songwriting is for me: cathartic, freeing…it’s my source of mindfulness, the sense of flow, everything. It’s my healer. So, writing these songs, especially ‘Catch Up’ and ‘Lost in Translation’ was so helpful in processing what I was going through at the time I was writing them.
I wrote ‘Lost in Translation’ when I was struggling with homesickness, as well as anxiety and depression brought on by living abroad in an industrial city, where I didn’t really know the language. ‘Catch Up’ was written when I came home, and I started to see people and things differently because I’d been away for so long. It was the first step to seeking help.
You’re one of the organisers of the Smithfield Creatives: Creatives for Ukraine event on April 1. How did your involvement in this come about?
I was in the local supermarket, and I saw a picture in a newspaper of a young school girl killed by a Russian strike on Ukraine, and it really hit me.
I felt helpless at that moment and wanted to do something. I messaged my friend Adam Kelly, the founder of Smithfield Creatives, and asked him if we could organise a gig to help people like that girl and her family, to help those affected by what’s going on right now.
He jumped on the idea straight away and together we got a lineup, venue and date sorted in a few days.
What does it mean, to you, to take part in the Creatives for Ukraine event?
I did my thesis in college last year on the power of music, and what it can do for social change. I studied all the different movements going from Live Aid and Rock Against Racism, all the way back to The Anti Vietnam War Movement, and I interviewed famous people like Billy Bragg and Peggy Seeger.
This research made me realise that it’s the duty of any artist or creative to use their art for change when it’s needed, so to be able to provide a platform where this can happen is huge for me.
To be able to perform alongside some of the best poets, comedians and songwriters around, and to do it for the people of Ukraine, is an honour.
Smithfield Creatives: Creatives for Ukraine takes place in Sin É on Ormond Quay on April 1 at 7.30 pm, entry is a minimum donation of €5 with all proceeds going to the Irish Red Cross Ukraine Appeal.
The ‘Owl Compass’ EP will be available on all streaming platforms, also on April 1.