While Look Out Machines! may technically only be Duke Special’s fourth studio album, he’s been involved in a dizzying array of other projects.
Whether it’s writing new songs for Berthold Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children at London’s National Theatre, being invited by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to write an album inspired by the work of early photographers, or DJing with vintage 78s as part of the Shellac Collective, Duke is a busy man.
But Look Out Machines! sees Duke, also known as Peter Wilson, release a collection of incredibly catchy, rousing and lyrically poignant tracks.
The new album was initially funded through crowdfunding website Pledgemusic. As Duke says: ‘Your job as an artist isn’t only to make people who like your music happy, it’s also to follow your gut and your muse, while still of course trying to bring people with you.
‘It’s about finding that balance of finding something that people value while not being ridiculous with it.
‘It’s an amazing thing that there are people out there who like what you do enough to invest in them.‘
Your job as an artist isn’t only to make people who like your music happy, it’s also to follow your gut and your muse, while still of course trying to bring people with youDuke Special
And it’s following his muse that has given Duke the chance to get involved in such a wide variety of projects.
‘Since about 2009 when I made the decision to be involved in a theatre production, that swung me in a very different direction,’ he says.
‘It’s not like I’ve ever gone, “I’m going to be deliberately confusing”, it’s more that “this sounds like a lovely thing to be involved in.”
‘If I’d gone in and done another studio album, maybe those things wouldn’t have happened, in fact I’m sure they wouldn’t have happened.
‘Like most recently I’m writing music for Gulliver’s Travels, which is going to be a play in Belfast, and I got that invite because someone had seen Mother Courage.’
And although his music often combines the baroque and the music hall traditions with more modern elements, he adds: ‘It’s not like I want to be a fading echo of something that’s gone before.’
‘It’s taking some of these elements that have gone before and dusting them done and mixing them with something new.’
He plays at Komedia in Brighton on Thursday and Talking Heads in Southampton on Friday, April 24. Tickets £14.
Go to dukespecial.com