We got to chat with singer/songwriter Luka James about his song “Silhouette” and the story behind the accompanying music video.

What initially sparked your interest in creating music? 

I fell in love listening to music outside my older brother’s door. I would keep my ear to the door as he played bands like Radiohead and Nirvana. It allowed me to partake in their hangouts, even with the door locked, and I wasn’t invited haha. I began hosting singing circles in Brooklyn five years ago, and feeling the magic of intertwined vocal rhythms and harmonies, inspired me to produce my own music.

Living in Brooklyn are you often inspired by other musicians and creatives in the city?

What I encounter in Brooklyn; the stoop sales, the block parties, the fashion, and the tastes, inspire me to be myself, and explore my own unique melody to share with the world. It frees me to dance to a wild rhythm. 

Tell our readers about your song “Silhouette.” What story are you telling through the lyrics?

“Silhouette” represents my romanticization of the past. It is my vulnerable lyrical journey about the challenge of letting go of my partner’s love. ‘Broken hand, holding on to your silhouette’ represents that feeling when a past lover seeps into your life, but you can’t tangibly interact with it. It is a creeping shadow, present, but faint.

For the “Silhouette” music video did you create storyboards? Were there any movies or television show stills that gave you a sense of what type of shots you wanted in the video?

Director Morgana Van Peebles and I were both inspired by film noir and shadow puppets. We watched different movements of shadows and worked with a dear friend, Nessa Norich, to choreograph dancers to tell a story in shadow play. We storyboarded the shots but also improvised some scenes once we saw how the shadows came out in the beautiful industrial space in Hudson, New York.

The music video represents what it looks like to romanticize the past and get lost in the past. As people get older it’s hard not to get caught up in how things were, especially during these times. Did the music video and the themes it touches on come from a personal place?

As Morgana says, ‘Silhouette is the temptation to breathe new life into old memories.’ In my breakups, there is a ruptured feeling that projects memories of the romance in rapid successions, like watching a film. At that moment, I want to freeze in time, confused by how a romantic flower blossoming just yesterday, is already in its winter season. The spiraling passage of time feels so heavy and ephemeral in that moment, and I fight to keep the light on, even as I know it’s an illusion. 

What advice do you have for aspiring musicians? 

If it’s from your heart, it is worth being expressed. It’s easy to get caught up in comparison or self-doubt, but keep following the sounds that please your heart’s passionate fire. Your heart aflame is all that matters.