In this Rolling Stone AU/NZ series, we take a look at some rising Aotearoa artists who are looking to impress in 2023 and beyond. It may still be an uncertain time for the Kiwi music industry at large, but exciting new artists like those included in this series keep on emerging.
Luca George’s latest single is called “Blue Again”, but his career is definitely not in the doldrums.
You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep, and you can also tell a lot about an artist by who wants to work with them, so it feels notable that Australian pop icon Troye Sivan selected George as the sole New Zealand artist to take part in his recent SongHubs songwriting camp.
The fledgling Kiwi pop star – he’s still only 19-years old – flew to Sydney to take part in the camp, getting to work with top songwriters and producers from around the world.
And a lot of the same qualities that helped Sivan rise to the top are prominent in George’s music: sugary vocals, natural charisma, and melancholic yet hopeful pop aesthetics.
On “Blue Again”, his first single of 2023, the Wanaka-born musician ruminates on a toxic relationship, a relationship so dangerously magnetic it keeps dragging one into its messy existence.
George worked alongside producer – and fellow Kiwi – Josh Fountain on the track, well-known for co-writing some of BENEE‘s breakout hits, and there’s every chance he could find himself at the “Supalonely” singer’s global level one day.
As he prepares for the release of his debut EP this year, Rolling Stone AU/NZ caught up with George to find out more about his life and career, which you can read below.
Luca George’s “Blue Again” is out now.
Rolling Stone AU/NZ: How did music influence you in your early life?
Luca George: Music hasn’t only influenced my life, it has literally consumed it. Every breath I breathe, every blink, every step I walk is towards my dream.
It’s funny, I sometimes feel bad for the people that stumble into my life – you will get a song written about you. I write about literally everything, it comes like breathing to me. It’s so natural. And it’s crazy because I’m the most dyslexic person you could meet, writing and reading used to be such a miserable tainted thing in my life through school. Now it’s the one thing that I am most passionate about. I never thought I’d be a writer but here I am.
What artists influenced you growing up?
I grew up listening to artists such as Adele, Sam Smith, Bruno Mars, and Britney Spears. I have always been obsessed with capturing pure emotion whilst writing lyrics and recording vocals in the studio. I love how artists like Adele and Sam Smith are able to tap into your emotions and somehow enable the listener to relate to their stories.
When did you discover your passion for creating music?
I feel as though my entire life has been leading up to this moment. I feel like I was always meant to be an artist but I never knew exactly what type of artist I wanted to be. It’s been a journey of trial and error, creating music of different genres to find what I connect with the most. That journey started during the first COVID lockdown with my family in my hometown of Wanaka. I was stuck in my room with my piano 24/7. I ended up writing a song a day and became absolutely obsessed with expressing myself through the art of songwriting.
What are some career highlights so far?
It’s still early days in my music career but already I’ve been blessed with so many incredible opportunities. I flew to London for 10 days of writing with songwriters that are credited for some big hits that have been released recently.
I also featured in a 15-page spread, my first-ever shoot for a fashion magazine, working with brands such as COACH who have supported me as an artist.
I opened for Calum Scott, my first in front of a sell-out crowd. I was also cast to act in my first-ever film and had one of my songs feature in that film as well. My songs have been played on every major radio station in NZ with the support of NZ On Air. And this is just the start!
What kind of personality traits and values do you believe it takes to succeed in the music industry?
Lots of people ask me this question, whether they are an artist or someone working in the industry. I always say if you choose to go down this path then there is no other option. I think you have to be fully committed and 100% dedicated to succeed. That means hard work and learning to roll with the punches. Once you have a little bit of success that’s enough to spur you on even more.
How huge was it to be selected by Troye Sivan for his songwriting camp? What did you learn from the star?
It was huge. I cried when I first got the call from my manager. I just knew this was going to be the start of something huge and it was. Troye was honestly the loveliest human I’ve ever met. He had so much good advice and wisdom to share. I think the main thing I learnt from meeting Troye is that we are all human but we are here to create and share our stories through songs. I could sense his passion and love for the art of songwriting. It was true and it was beautiful.
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How would you describe your music to a potential fan?
I think I would describe my music as being honest. Every song of mine encompasses a true life experience or feeling. When I receive messages and feedback from people who can relate to those experiences, I know I’ve done my job. I want to share my art for everyone to hear, and if I can tap into a single person’s emotions and make them feel a sense of being a little less alone in the world, that warms my heart.
Tell us about “Blue Again”. What inspired that song?
“Blue Again” is about a toxic relationship that everyone, including my own mother, told me wasn’t good for me, but I kept going back thinking next time will be different. Blue represents sadness but it’s also the colour of bruises and it’s like every time we reconnected I’d come away with these emotional bruises. Ultimately I knew that it could never last, but I think we all have these relationships at some time where we wish so bad we could salvage (them). Sometimes we just need to cut our losses. I hadn’t figured out how to do that, so I wrote a song about it.
Were you happy with fans’ reaction to the single?
Absolutely. The amount of videos I’ve had from people walking around on the streets and hearing it in stores or in supermarkets is insane!!!! I have felt so much love from this song. In saying that, the song is still a baby and it has a long way to go but the support has been greatly received so far!
What are your goals for 2023 and beyond? What can fans expect from you this year?
Already this year I have travelled around the world recording the most insane music with some incredible songwriters. Our plan is to release some of those songs on an EP mid-year. I’m so incredibly excited to share them. My fans can expect more live shows, that is definitely a goal. To travel more, write more, and record more, 2023 is my year of writing hits. I’m working so extremely hard in the studio creating some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever made and I’m so excited to share all of my stories with you.