Interview: Luca Fogale, Musician

Luca Fogale is born and raised in Vancouver BC and his west coast attitude hits close to home. For Luca, home is wherever his music is. Sitting on a sunny patio next to roaring midday traffic, we both opt for a dark roast brewed coffee, agreeing that a solid brew can satisfy one perfectly. As an old friend and admirer, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to pick at his brain, and was pleasantly surprised to learn much more than I had previously known about the roots of his undeniable talent.I wanted to know what defines a musician, what is the source of their passion, and what is a measure of success for a songwriter and a performer? Luca is one of the few musicians that I have had the pleasure of getting to know who embodies a sincerity that you can sense simmering in every word of his lyrical poetry.

Luca is both amazed and inspired by the people he encounters, and his contagious enthusiasm for life makes you wish you could feel that same fire as strongly as he does throughout his creative process. He is currently sharing his time between his students; seasonal weddings; a local Bikram studio that features his live music throughout the duration of their hot yoga class; and scheduling regular performances that have recently reached the eastern coast of Canada. He is currently working on a second full-length album while collaborating with other musicians and experimenting with new sounds. His unique voice has a comforting quality that resonates with a purity that every listener can identify with while simultaneously creating a nostalgic scene that you simply want to get lost in.

If you would like to listen to songs from his first album, click here.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I wanted to be bunch of things. I wanted to be an architect when I was a kid – when I was in elementary school I really liked the idea of designing buildings… I never studied it in any capacity. As I started playing guitar, which was after I was taking lessons in piano, I wanted to be like a Jimmy Hendrix, so I got more heavily into the Blues. Then I kinda started getting into psychology. I was in my first two years of university, and then music started taking over. I don’t know how, I really felt like I had to play, I couldn’t go home to study, I went home and I played guitar. I did okay in university but it was just so wrong. I would go to school, sit on the bus, think about music, go to class, think about music while sitting in the lecture, come home, think about music and then play music, and not study and then go to bed. Two years of that. And that’s when I really knew that I had to pursue music. There was moments when I had to play, I couldn’t do anything else, and it happened more often then not, every day. If I didn’t have the time, I felt that it drove me crazy. So I had to give up, I had to stop, with studying and with school, and began playing all day, and it just felt so good, so fulfilling from that first day that I knew I was doing it for real. While the rest of my classmates would have been entering their third year of school, I was busy with my guitar, and it finally felt right.

Did the meaning for what music did for you then, did it change between then and now?

Yeah, I mean, it’s become everything but in a bigger capacity. I definitely thought it was important two years ago but now that feeling has completely trumped it. It’s quickly become everything I do and everything I think about, in every respect. It has definitely changed. And if anything, it can only become more meaningful in my life as it already defines me completely.

Do you still see it as a part of you now, or just something that you do?

Oh it is me. I think music and me are the same thing. I try to embody it as much as I can because I think that’s how great artists are made, when they completely surrender themselves to their art. They become exactly what they are doing and that’s what I am trying to do. I’m always thinking, coming up with ideas of how to get there. I love the idea of being dedicated to one thing, having one focus. I guess I’m not good at multitasking…

I don’t know if all people are meant to multitask … if you divide the entirety of your focus among different tasks, you are making yourself less able to a certain extent. What do you think?

I get that. But I’ve met people who prove that wrong. My manager, for one, he is amazing at every little piece of his life. You have to find what works for you, you can’t constantly shift from one thing to another. The way he (my manager) works is he has certain specific tasks that he is so good at and he does them all really well. He does graphic design, he works with social media, he organizes my bookings, business plans, marketing plans… and everything is related. He has found what works for him. With my work, I really feel that I need to point my focus in one direction and give it my full attention.

What do you think most people could use more of?

Well, I think they could use less expectations. I think people ask too much of themselves and they don’t let themselves be who they should be, who they already are. A lot of people get stuck. I know a lot of people love what they are doing in school, and I think that’s great, I just didn’t personally love it. But I met some people who felt a similar way as I did but they were in school, and they stuck to it and now they are graduating. I met a lot of people who are not happy with what they are doing, but they think pursuing their art is a mistake. They think about whether it will make them money, what their parents will say, but that’s stopping them from trying. If you love it, then do it. People expect that they can’t do what they want because they think there are only a couple of ways to live your life and it’s not true. There’s only one way to do it, and it’s living your life exactly the way you want all of the time. In a different capacity, it changes, there are also unrealistic expectations, you shouldn’t be sitting on your ass and not going to school. But a lot of people don’t give their dreams a chance. So, I think there needs to be more freedom essentially, freedom of being yourself.

Did you ever reach that point where you were too scared to make music your primary focus? Similar to that pressure that you mentioned that some of the people you spoke to are feeling, the fear of doing what you really enjoy.

That’s the thing – it wasn’t a fear of myself, or a fear that I didn’t think that I could do it. It was me thinking shit, everyone is going to be so upset with me, nobody is going to support me. That’s the one thing that helped me come back to my focus. After one year of trying, I was ready to quit, but I didn’t. That’s not a regret that I have, but I wish I had just gone for it, fearlessly. It was never about me thinking that I couldn’t do it, but I got wrapped up in everyone else’s expectations and forgot what I was chasing.

What is your first thought upon waking up every morning?

That’s a good question, it’s always different for me. I do a lot of things that keeps me busy with music. When I wake up, there’s always something that I need to get done, but it’s always based on me wanting to play, so I get whatever I need to get done just to get to that point where I can do that. Sometimes I would wake up and just grab the guitar, and set aside whatever else needed to get done…

Would you call that procrastination or work?

(Laughs) No – that’s the thing, it’s not procrastination because I do it for a living.

I guess you already crossed that border a while ago, from having a hobby or something that you do in your spare time, to making it real. Can you give me one word to describe your creative process?

A mess. It’s never the same, it’s always changing. I love writing music; lyrics are one of my favourite things to write. But they never come when I want them to, my songwriting is not structured. Sometimes I will be driving, singing to myself, and thinking about that first line until I can stop somewhere to write it down.

Do you have certain things that inspire you?

Talking to people, having a really good conversation with someone when you know you can spill your guts to them. You get the chance to get to know people you normally wouldn’t give a second glance. You look at them and try to understand them. Self-reflecting is also important, getting to know yourself better.

What does happiness mean to you?

I’d say I’m almost happy, almost there. I’m still working on finding that balance, that transition from now to where I want to be and where I see myself as having succeeded. I haven’t really felt that yet, but I am on the way. I’m getting close. I want to get to that point where I feel successful.

What does success mean for you?

Success is a combination of things. Being able to sincerely believe that you are the best representation of yourself. You are living your life to the best of your abilities and I don’t think I’m quite there yet. Success and money… that correlation is bullshit. People feel success when they believe they are doing the best that they can, their best work at that moment.

I think it’s a good criteria for almost any profession, where you feel the best when you give your best. Are there certain individuals that inspire you the most? I know you mentioned Jimi Hendrix…

It definitely started with him. I think it was his fearlessness. He was, to me, the epitome of surrendering yourself to your music – he was music. I have a lot of people in my life that inspire me too. Some of my friends work their ass off at what they are doing, some of them take big risks. Unhinged art, doing exactly what their heart is telling them to do. You know when someone is honest in their music? You can always tell when someone plays music and they only do it because its fun, which is great, I mean it’s a beautiful hobby, but you can always tell when someone just needs to be playing. When you watch these people in interviews, you can feel that it is just what they are, a feeling that is inescapable, an addiction. It inspires me to see people taking risks in their art, trusting themselves – most people don’t do that enough. Some of my favourite musicians are completely fearless, from the way that they write, not caring whether or not people like it, but just trusting their instincts – that’s a beautiful thing.

In terms of your art, and where you are at right now, where do you see it going from here?

I’m working on an album right now. It will be more in depth than my first album, Paths. It will be more along the lines of a story. This one is called Safety. It’s about comfort, finding yourself through a more in depth story. I am shooting for 12 songs. I didn’t have a lot of material when I jumped into Paths, and I don’t know if it represents me fully. I want Safety to be a complete, honest representation of myself, from an ideal sense. I want people to understand my story, offering it on the table with honest lyrics working around that theme of ‘safety’. Songwriting comes first – that and performing in public are my favourite things to do.

What are some of the reactions you have received from people after releasing Paths?

That was one of the coolest things about having your music recorded and being able to share it with others. People were reaching out on social media too. I had one of my guitar students tell me how I had represented some of his thoughts. When I recorded the album, we had not met yet, but he thought it worded some of his thoughts perfectly. Some people would come up to me after a few of my shows and share how they understood exactly what I was saying, also suggesting that I expressed how they had felt at a certain time. The album is a bit of a struggle – there is a lot of sense of frustration that I was experiencing at the time. I think we all get to a point where we are in a similar situation, we all come from the same ship in that sense. Everyone deals with the same problems, in different capacities and scenarios, but we all share these emotions. A few people said it had made them cry, or happy, or even helped them get through their day. One person said that they were having a bad day and they put my album on and immediately made their day better – that was probably the best thing I had ever heard. I indirectly affected someone else’s day through my music. I couldn’t believe it when I heard it. That’s what I want to do with my music. That’s what success is for me, right there. A little nugget of success.

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