Artist: Luke Hogan
Hometown: Portland, OR
TrunkSpace: You built the studio that you ultimately recorded your album in. Walk us through what that initial moment was like when you went from starting out in that space as a carpenter to returning to it as a singer-songwriter? Did it feel like you had traveled full circle?
Hogan: It was really cool to get to work in a space I had created, and with the person I had created it with. (Tomas Dolas, “Thank You Stranger” producer.) Anyone who’s ever been to a recording studio can appreciate how important it is to be comfortable with the space and the people you’re working with – I certainly had that luxury this time around. Also, it was fun to pop by when other bands were working in there – everyone seemed to really enjoy working in the studio we made.
TrunkSpace: As we mentioned, you’re a carpenter by trade. At this point, as you gear up to release your debut album, do you still see yourself as a carpenter first? Has there been an internal transition for you in terms of how you see yourself as your focus has changed?
Hogan: I am really trying my best to make the transition to seeing myself as a musician first as we speak – mostly it’s just been reflected in my paycheck – but I am spending way more time on music stuff, booking, gigging more, etc. The process of putting out this first record has forced me to focus on things like that. Right now it kinda feels like I have two part-time jobs.
TrunkSpace: How long had “Thank You Stranger” been itching to get out of you? Was this a long and winding journey for you to see the album become a reality?
Hogan: I certainly wouldn’t argue with that characterization. Some of these songs have been around for a really long time – “Nothing Special,” the closing track, is from 2004. But there are also newer songs on the record that didn’t exist when we started recording, so I’m glad we didn’t rush. Moving across the country to LA, then back home, then back to LA, then up to the Northwest, with plenty of detours along the way, all these events were part of the process of making and putting out this record. So yes, I suppose it has been a bit of an adventure. And it’s still actually not out yet…
TrunkSpace: For first-time listeners, what would they learn about you as a person and as an artist in sitting down to listen to “Thank You Stranger” in its entirety?
Hogan: Hopefully they don’t just think I’m some sad bastard. I think overall this record is really about trying to find your place, which is something most people can identify with, so ideally listeners would be able to find some common ground there. Hopefully they hear somebody who’s trying his best to make it all fit together in an honest and thoughtful way.
TrunkSpace: You have said that you connect with records on a very personal level. As someone who builds those connections with music, is there something kind of thrilling to putting an album out into the world knowing that you could be paying that same feeling forward – someone could be connecting to your music in the very same way?
Hogan: For sure, that’s really the point for me. I really enjoy writing, performing and recording but the end goal is to create something that people connect with. If there was some kid in high school who was just starting to write songs and he took influence from my record, that would be amazing.
TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with “Thank You Stranger” and how it all came together in the end?
Hogan: I’m really proud of all the people who helped make this record a reality, whether they played on it, made artwork for it, produced it, whatever – everyone did an amazing job and for very little compensation, if any at all. They know who they are. In terms of the record itself, it definitely feels to me like it tells a story, and certainly captures a very transformative period of my life. I’m really happy with the variety of instrumentation as well – some songs are full band, some more minimal. I think we really used the studio and all that it had to offer to its full potential. Right now, at least, it really feels like I made the record I wanted to make.
TrunkSpace: If you weren’t on your current path with “Thank You Stranger,” would creating music still be a part of your life, even if you weren’t sharing the results with people like you are now?
Hogan: Definitely, music was always more than just a hobby even when I was just writing songs at home and not really sharing them with anyone. It’s always been a big part of how I identify myself.
TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Hogan: It’s always been my goal to excel as a lyricist, so I suppose that’s where I am hardest on myself, but really the whole writing process is what I take the most seriously. But part of taking your writing seriously also involves trying not to take it too seriously, so there’s always that.
TrunkSpace: Music is a passion. Carpentry is a passion. Do the two ever intersect for you? Is there anything about the two – crafting something out of nothing – that excites the same part of your brain?
Hogan: Yes, obviously building Studio 22 and making this record there is a very literal example of the two intersecting, but on another level, for two things that are such a big part of one’s life it would be foolish not to expect them to intersect in many other ways, even ways you don’t necessarily see play out before your eyes. It would be interesting to find out which parts of the brain are excited by more physical, concrete creativity (like carpentry), as opposed to more abstract creativity, and if they overlap at all.
TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Hogan: At this point, I think I’m all in, so yes. I’m hoping for the best.
“Thank You Stranger” will be available this Fall. Hogan’s latest single, “Windowpane,” is available now.