Tennyson’s talent has always been undeniable, even if he’s still discovering himself.
Born Luke Pretty, his creativity bloomed in the basement of his parent’s home. Younger sister Tess is his drum-playing partner, and the siblings cut their teeth on local jazz clubs. As a teen, Luke got his hands on some production software, mixing complex beats with cutesy melodies. The 2015 Like What EP led to releases with Mr. Carmack and Skrillex.
“That was working for a while,” he says. “I don't know if it was genuine, though.”
The ‘Telescope’ EP, released in 2019, showcased a growing understanding of pop structure without forgoing Luke’s roots. Soon after, his world crumbled.
“There was mold in my basement all under the floor," he says. "My ears were ringing like nothing I've ever experienced. Everything was twice as loud as it should be. I thought my life was over."
Soaked in existential dread in the midst of a global pandemic, Luke wrote songs to keep his hands busy. He thought he was making "garbage," but when he listened back months later, the melodies made him cry.“It sounded like what I went through,” he says.
Rot is a musical diary of a brain gone sideways, the sound of a young artist on the brink of his own disaster. Ironically, it’s also the moment Tennyson’s voice falls into place. Rot has the Tennyson charm, but the beats are a little simpler and the hooks a bit catchier. It's a change Luke had to make to please his ringing ears, but it plays to a new strength.
“I'm starting to get more of a sense of what my skill set is,” he says. “Somehow, I've gotten a pretty strong handle on controlling sound in a very specific way ... To be honest, my whole nervous system and general sensory input is still really broken, but it doesn't bother me anymore.”