Block Island student releases first CD

Thu, 04/18/2019 - 5:30pm
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Block Island School senior Luke “Mac” Brown isn’t just coasting toward graduation day. He’s already been accepted to college, and he’s finished his Senior Project. An extension of that project, however, is a new CD of original music that will be released on Friday, April 19.

Brown, 18, started writing the songs several years ago, and with minimal equipment and even less of a budget he recorded 14 songs, a good many of them based on his life and experiences so far. The CD is called “Wings” and he is releasing it under his stage name, Lokie.

He grew up on the island; his family is still here, including many cousins and a grandfather on his mom’s side and a grandmother on his dad’s side — and a great-great grandmother.

It is a musical family. “My mom was always singing and my dad, for a good 10 years, was in a band. They played out here and recorded a record.” (The band was called “13 Miles Out.”) “He did some singing, rapping... rock metal mixed with rap.” As for his personal tastes, Brown said “I listen to a lot of R&B, jazz, soul, house music, and then I started developing an interest in the punk rock scene.” He credits that to the soundtrack to a Tony Hawk video game he started playing when he was about seven years old. The wide range isn’t surprising; the “Wings” CD covers a lot of musical ground: old-fashioned rock and roll, metal, a ballad or two. Lyrically, the songs are very strong.

When asked what made him think of becoming a musician, he remembered the exact day.

“I was on the boat three days after I turned 14 — I remember exactly, it was such a pivotal moment for me. At 14, out here, you’re in the eighth grade and you’re still playing in the school band. I realized when the year was over I wasn’t going to have a kit to play” — Brown was a drummer — “and I saw Chief Carlone on the boat. I said, ‘I have a guitar and if I bring it with some strings will you string it for me and tune it?’ and he said yes. The next morning, I brought him the guitar and he said this is not going to work. The body was broken, I had steel strings for a nylon string guitar. He went upstairs and he brought down a beautiful Yamaha guitar. He said it was left by the last chief of police. He restrung it for me on the spot and tuned it. I spent the next two or three months going over to the police station to play and learn a little something.”

That summer, Brown said he learned how to play the song “Amnesia” by the band 5 Seconds of Summer, and “that was the kick-off of it.”

He has, through the course of his school career, played in various bands with different names, most often with his friend Jake Douglas, who graduated last year.

Now he’s off on his own, playing under a new stage name. When asked how he came by Lokie, he said it was all about distinguishing yourself from the crowd. He said his own name was too common and there were already too many social media accounts with that name that were already up, and he remembered an artist by the name of Andy Biersack who played under various stage names. At first, he tried out the name Moz, taken from a book that Brown said he related to, only to find that, too, had been taken. So he settled on Lokie, which is all his own.

There are 14 songs on the new CD, and Brown said the process of creation was different on almost every song. Some just flowed out, and others took a little longer to create. Sometimes the lyrics came first, sometime the tune. Sometimes, Brown said, the inspiration for a song was that he just needed to get something off his chest.

The CD was recorded at the Block Island School and at home over the course of several weeks. He had some help from some other musicians: Island resident Jim Ortel played the drums, music teacher Noah Denzer played the piano. It was mixed by his uncle, Will Inman. “Wings” is out on Friday, April 19, and will be available on Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, Pandora, iHeart Radio — all streaming platforms. After the summer, he’s off to Roanoke College in Virginia to study music composition.

For the last question, he was asked where the inspiration for the name of the CD came from. “My mom is getting really emotional about me going off to college, but she knows that once I leave I’ll be able to spread my wings. So the name of the album is a tribute to my mom. She’s the best.”