Luke Wade jumped right out of The Voice gate with a stirring and emotive rendition of “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” and with the four chair turn Wade picked Pharrell as his coach.
It was a solid move for Wade, whose R&B and soul passions originated from listening to his parent’s stacks (or excuse the pun, Stax) of records. With a couple of albums already under his belt (The River was released in March), Wade talked about receiving production insight from Coach Pharrell.
Check out our interview below as Wade talks about his journey on The Voice and why, whenever he’s on stage, it feels like he’s “going home.”
You’re one of the frontrunners to win it all on The Voice. Is that, for lack of a better word, a good or bad thing?
The show is about the human connection between the audience and you. Being a frontrunner has nothing to do with how much you connect with people, because ultimately it’s their desire to help you get further that is going to push you through the show.
The disadvantage of being a frontrunner is that people think you may have it made already and you’re going to skate through – so maybe they’ll vote for someone they don’t think will make it but they also like.
At this point, I think it’s all about that human connection. The vocal performance is definitely probably the most important part of it. That’s my focus – I’m not going to be better or worse than anybody. I’m just going to be somebody who happens to be on a show and hopefully people will identify with that and want to save me.
Growing up you must have listened to a ton of Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and Curtis Mayfield. Is that where some of your early motivations lie – R&B and soul of yesteryear.
My mom’s a dance teacher and in order for me to get my five dollar allowance as a kid – it went up to $10 when I got my driver’s license. I would clean my mom’s dance studio and all she would have over there was records. I would listen my dad and mom’s old records. It was some Otis, some Sam Cooke, a lot of Led Zeppelin though, and a lot of Beatles. A lot of Eric Clapton and a lot of Bob Marley.
Really when I got into soul music it was when I had the realization – I actually started singing because I had something to say. It wasn’t based out of an idolization of someone else. I wen through a lot of hard times as a young man and I needed to find a way to express that. Music was the way.
Soul music, the thing about it, is that you can say less and say more because it’s all about the soul (and) the inflection. You can say almost anything if you sing it right. That’s when I jumped down that rabbit hole and I guess ultimately it got me here.
How much practice and preparation goes into the songs that are performed on The Voice. Do the artists have tons of prep time?
It varies from person to person greatly depending on their level of comfort and confidence. Because you can definitely over practice and over prepare. You definitely want it to be genuine and of the moment, and you can rehearse that out of yourself if you do it too much.
But you definitely have lots of time to prepare. We have lots of help. So you’re talking anywhere between a week and a whole month to prepare for these songs. It varies from performance to performance. You have your coach and you also have your vocal coach. So yeah – a lot of TLC.
It must also be great to have albums under your belt that fans can currently check out, along with your music on The Voice.
I’m so glad that I have that, because what this show is really about from a personal perspective – it’s about trying to catch as much lightning in a bottle as you can. The way I tell people to think about the show is that it’s not like someone is giving you a car and keys and you can drive wherever. Someone’s giving you fuel. If you don’t somehow build or acquire something to put the fuel in – like a team of people and a mechanism for going somewhere, it’s just going to be a really pretty explosion.
Those albums I have, and I have a great manager and a great booking agency, a road manager, and band, and great merchandising. All that great stuff in place, so for me it’s just amazing that I can take this and go from it being a career to a career that I want. So it makes all the difference in the world.
Learning from Pharrell are you seeing a different angle to music, especially from a production standpoint?
Yeah, definitely. One of the first things he said to me was to not overthink and over feel. I’ve been doing this for 12 years, and I’ve been doing it professionally for 5 years. It means to stop trying to produce myself all the time and allow myself to be an artist. And allow people to help me with their perspective. It’s hard to read the label from inside the bottle. Sometimes you have to ask people to do that.
And that’s something I’m going to carry with me into producing and creating the next album. It’s just really getting someone whose ears and vision I trust to create something that shows everyone who I am more than I thought was possible.
Lastly, going into Lives, what is it like performing in front of people in general?
To me, it’s like going home. What happens is that we think that we’re all separate and that all of these things outside of us, and it might be material things or it might be the idea of a relationship or romantic love or something that we can find and reintroduce into ourselves that will make us whole.
The thing is, we’re all really the same thing and the same person. And whenever you can create a moment that you can share with everyone, you can remind yourself and everyone in the audience that’s where they belong. The thing we’re missing is that connection – the feeling that we’re all the same.
We can chip away at it with social media and it feeds it for a nanosecond at a time. But that moment on stage is where you can actually spend some time where you belong.
Luke, thank you so much for your time and good luck.
Well thank you so much.
The Voice Live Playoffs start tonight on NBC (8 pm et/pt)