Audeze interviews producer and musician Luke Fitton
October 04, 2022
Audeze interviews producer and musician Luke Fitton
Luke Fitton is a London based producer/songwriter and guitarist that has worked with artists such as James Arthur, Rudimental, Kylie Minogue, Lewis Capaldi, Freya Ridings, Kaiser Chiefs, Little Mix, Girls Aloud and more. As well as writing and producing, Luke is also a proficient multi-instrumentalist and has toured as Kylie Minogue’s guitarist for the last decade.
"Having Audeze headphones has allowed me to hear the full sonic picture in a highly detailed yet musical way." - Luke Fitton
Here's our talk with Luke:
Can you pick out any favorites from your work that you're particularly proud of?
I am really proud of the most recent release “Lasting Lover” by Sigala feat. James Arthur. It is a notable track as it was written with Lewis Capaldi for his debut album and then found its way to Sigala who put his spin on it. It went through many iterations, as songs so often do, but it paid off and is currently in the top 30 at US radio as well as reaching number 1 in the UK.
I am also particularly proud of working with UK artist Freya Ridings on her debut album as she has such a wonderfully haunting voice and it was so inspiring to create with her. Ultraviolet from the album was the first song we wrote together, trying to capture something that was dark and cinematic. It’s a song and production I’m proud of.
As I guitarist I was fortunate to work at Abbey Road with Kylie Minogue for her “Abbey Road Sessions" album, reinterpreting her biggest hits with stripped back acoustic and orchestral arrangements. It was special to be a part of such an album and especially to make it at the most iconic studio in the world. Kylie has provided me with many of my favourite moments in my career as a musician, most notably performing on the main stage at Glastonbury in 2019 when she headlined the ‘legend’ slot on the Sunday afternoon, making it the most-watched Glastonbury performance ever.
How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?
As a songwriter/producer my role often changes depending on the project or artist I am working with, but I consistently strive to be the best collaborator I can be. I want to find ways to add value, to justify the reason why such talented artists would want to work with me. That might be contributing musical starting points for a song, honing the sonics and mood of a production, tweaking a mix or even being a cheerleader for the moments of creative magic that just need some encouragement. Sometimes the job can be to write the song on guitar or piano and record into an iPhone and other days it can be full scale production and mixing as you write.
How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?
I got started playing the guitar when I was 6 years old. My grandad thought it important to find something that would “keep me out of trouble” and I became obsessed pretty quickly. Growing up, my dad, a passionate music fan, was a DJ on weekends, playing weddings and birthday parties which meant he always bought what was in the charts to stay up to date and the house was filled with music constantly. He grew up in the 70s and introduced me to music such as T-Rex, The Jam, Fleetwood Mac, The Specials & Dire Straits as well as The Beatles which were a staple in our family car. The more I developed as a guitarist the more I was drawn to anything and everything with a guitar in it from BB King to David Bowie to Chic and The Smiths. Starting my own band I began my journey into songwriting and arranging. As my appreciation for the craft of songwriting and production developed it opened me up to a much broader range of music obsessing on sounds just as much as the melodies and performances.
Can you name any factors you feel majorly influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?
I big moment in my life was getting the opportunity to work for producer Brian Higgins (co-writer of Cher’s “Believe”) at his production house Xenomania. He was someone that felt that I had potential beyond solely being a guitarist and gave me a chance as a songwriter and producer. He was the first person I met that was as fiercely passionate about pop music as he was about underground electronic music and cult indie bands. He saw no high or low art in terms of being creative and it really opened me up to embrace projects that I might usually consider “not my usual thing”. From then on I’ve always loved jumping into different musical worlds and exploring where that can take me.
Having the privilege to work with Kylie Minogue has had a huge impact on my life. As such an iconic artist, with a career spanning over 3 decades, she has set the bar in terms of work ethic. It’s like she’s just starting out with every project she works on and never rests on her laurels. There is no ego and she treats her team extremely well which in turn gets the best results. I therefore am of the belief that no matter who you are you can treat people well and with respect - I don’t want to work with anyone that sees that any different.
Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?
Learning production and engineering as a necessary skillset to enhance my songwriting ideas has been a constant source of frustration throughout my growth as a producer. It’s easy to get so caught up in the technical side of things that it can stifle the creative process and idea itself. Nowadays I feel I am able to separate the creativity and the sonics much better. I try to get the ideas down as quick as possible and then take the time to work on the sounds and mix. Over the years my ears have improved significantly to make the right choices quicker, but without a good idea it doesn’t matter how good the mix sounds.
Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?
I absolutely rely on Logic Pro. It’s the DAW I’ve always used and it allows me to do everything I need to. Being able to use it as a tool to enhance the speed of a session so that the artist isn’t waiting on me is vital. I must also stress the value of an amazing microphone, I use an Advanced Audio CM67se. If you have 1 day with an artist and get the chance to capture a demo vocal then getting the best quality vocal is hugely important. When the label or management ask to hear the demo at the end of the day, as long the vocal sounds amazing, you’re already on your way to the song getting taken seriously.
There’s rarely a session I don’t have a guitar in my hand to help me navigate the harmonic and rhythmic feel of an idea even if there won’t be any guitar used in the song. I have a Gibson Hummingbird which is an amazing workhorse of an instrument and it does record beautifully. I also use it live as the pickups work surprisingly well at providing a much more natural tone than the typical and awful “DI acoustic” sound.
Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?
I would advise people to collaborate. You don’t have to be an expert at everything all at once. Working with people is the main part of my job and understanding how to navigate a group dynamic provides skills that you’ll use for your entire career. This approach also teaches you to gain the confidence to publicly suck. The quicker you can develop that confidence to share your own ideas and get feedback from others builds a thick skin which I would say is a prerequisite for surviving the music industry. There are so many talented people that don’t have the confidence to share their ideas, which holds them back. While working with others you learn so much more so much quicker.
How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?
As I have a writing and production room in my house here in London I have used headphones daily for the last decade. My room isn’t perfectly treated so having as many ways to check a mix is of the utmost importance. Often working late into the night, it’s the perfect option and allows me to keep the neighbours on my good side. I always use headphones when tracking vocals regardless of whether I’m in the studio or at home. It allows me to hear the exact mix the singer is hearing and also provide a magnifying glass on the vocal takes.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020 I have predominantly been working from home. My wife has also had to do the same and I’ve adapted by almost exclusively working from headphones to provide a consistent reference and also not drive my wife totally crazy as she tries to have zoom meetings in the next room.
How have your Audeze headphones affected your work?
Having Audeze headphones has allowed me to hear the full sonic picture in a highly detailed yet musical way. Previously when working on headphones I wasn't confident my mixes would translate as I was often over compensating for what I wasn't able to hear, getting unwanted surprises. They are a game changer in bringing consistency to my music when working remotely, no matter where I am.
Can you tell us what you've been working on with them so far?