Luke Rathborne

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Photographs: Shanna Fisher
Interview: Koko Ntuen
Styled by: Quentin Fears

Luke Rathborne is constantly compared to legends like John Lennon, Lou Reed and Bob Dylan. Although he certainly looks and sounds the part, he adds his own unique, dynamic, prolific, and very melancholy sound to his music. It’s hard to believe he is only 22. We shot and interviewed him for our Surprise Issue hitting newsstands in May and being released digitally any day now. Check out some of the highlights below! His Double EP Dog Years / I Can Be One, is out now.
What was your favorite moment?
I was looking at the snow falling through the window a couple years ago at a close friend’s apartment. I like when things that are far away all come into complete focus. Everything all of a sudden is very clear.
What is the first thing that always pops into your mind right before you perform live?
I think about a lot of things. Some people get scared. I feel something, and I don’t think there’s a word for it. I don’t know what it is.
Where do you like to hang out in NYC?
I like to walk around a lot. I will walk from the Lower East Side to Union Square and into the West Village where it feels quiet and isolated. I like it there.
What is the last thing you read?
The last book I read was God Jr. by Dennis Cooper. I really liked it. I’m reading, The
Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima and Lolita by Nabokov. There’s a really great movie by Paul Schroeder about Mishima; he led an incredible life. I usually am reading a couple books at a time, and I will bring them around with me. Sometimes I don’t like to read at all. I don’t know what separates those times. I read one of these Salinger stories the other day where he talks about being in the War. He mostly walks around, drinks tea, and talks with a very young girl at a tea shop. It’s the only time Salinger ever wrote about the war, really.
I don’t think people understand how deep in the war he was. I mean, here was a guy who stormed the beach of Normandy. I never understood why people in high school, or in [my] life, would say The Catcher in the Rye “isn’t about anything.” It’s like they were speaking a foreign language to me. It seems to be about everything to me.
What was your biggest surprise?
You can do anything you want.
Tell us a secret that you have never told anyone before.
I am very open most of the time. I asked my friend what he thought I should say here, and he told me I don’t really tell secrets. Then again, I was talking to a family member on the phone the other day, and they said I was very guarded. When I think about it, neither one seems any less true.
What is your favorite thing about New York?
Central Park.
What is your favorite thing about Maine?
You’d have to go to Maine to really see it. There used to be the rumble of planes when I would go to bed because we lived by a Navy base. I really liked that. I used to have pink curtains, and [I would] listen to that sound when the sun would go down and [I would] fall asleep. Maine is a sort of untapped resource of wild land. It is very beautiful to me. I’m glad I moved into the cities of America. Los Angeles. New York. Now when I go back, I can really see it.
What were you thinking when you moved to New York right after high school? What drove you to move here?
I just took a bus here and got off. I went to Chicago for a little bit. A couple days. I ended up here though.
What is your favorite movie?
Paris, Texas is a beautiful film. I really love so many films. Have you ever heard of Pelle the Conqueror? It’s about a father and son who are forced to immigrate to Denmark and start a new life working on a farm. Max von Sydow is in it, who you’ve probably only seen be the bad guy in American films, but he actually was, and is, a very beautiful actor. There’s something really touching about the relationship with him and his son Pelle in the film.
Why did you decide to release a split EP?
It was a concept my manager and I came up with. My music always changes a lot, so it felt like an interesting way to put it out there. There was a David Bowie album, Low, and when you flip the record over, it’s all instrumental synthesizer-style music. When you flip the other side, it’s all songs with lyrics. I always liked that. You can’t tell it’s like that on a CD.
What’s your favorite song to perform off the new album?
I’m not sure we’re playing songs off the album! I think it’s all new stuff. Oh yeah! “Dog Years”!
This album seems so personal. What will your next album sound like?
It’s a mystery, even to me, until it happens.
What are you really into right now?
Japanese artwork. Chinese poet Li Po and the Muslim poet Rumi.
Do you keep a journal?
I have at different points. I have them all collected. They are important to me.

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