There’s an air of chaos that seems to exist permanently over New York. Maybe it’s because the MTA is the seventh circle of hell or because your rent is too damn high but, more often than not, this chaos exists because we’ve become accustomed to juggling an endless array of identities.
But, while many queer kids in the city are content to be students by day and nightclub fixtures after dark, Lucas AB is reaching higher. On any given day, the New York native is working as a senior account executive at a healthcare advertising agency or dancing with his boyfriend Austin in the darkness of Holy Mountain. Under his packed schedule, AB has also been hard at work in the Warner Studios working on his debut album. The revelation that he’s been hitting the studio shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. AB’s circle of friends includes queer musicians like Shamir and The Drums frontman Jonny Pierce.
While he hunkers down in the studio and keeps working on his upcoming debut album, he’s decided to pull back the curtain with “ESCA.” For this erotic, contorting track, AB teamed up with trans model Avie Acosta and director Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, whose 2016 film As You Are debuted to critical acclaim at Sundance. While he takes a break from being a multihyphenate musician-socialite-account executive, we caught up with the artist to talk about the new video and the queer pain he’s translating into music.
OUT: How did you get started with your music project?
Lucas AB: I had played music throughout my schooling but that dropped off dramatically after graduating from college and starting to work full time. In the summer of 2015, I was struck by the need to make songs again, and started writing and sending things to friends. Shamir and Greg Krelenstein, among others, convinced me to pursue it more actively, so I started writing more consistently and—eventually—recording.
You worked with Miles Joris-Peyrafitte on this video. How did the concept come together?
When Miles reached out about doing the video, he and I sat down to talk about a first concept. He had a very grand vision that I loved but [it] was intimidatingly large in scale. After discussing it for a bit, we decided to do something quieter, more intimate, but still (hopefully) forceful. He came back to Avie and I a week later with an idea about a slow-burning, piquant, sexually-charged interaction between her and I, and we were sold.
In the video, you and Avie are engaged in a long, erotic power struggle. What was the experience in filming that?
It was especially interesting for me because my main vantage point throughout the entire video is from a chair, tied up, looking at her, even while there's all this activity going on behind and around me. I had such control in creating the song itself and the concept for the video, so it was actually nice to be somewhat stripped of that control in the whirlwind of filming.
Doing the last scene was super difficult and exciting, because of the space we were in and the need to get the emotion right on both our parts. It felt so intimate and playful and dramatic. Seeing that shot on the camera just after shooting it was super rewarding.
Why was it important for you to work with almost exclusively gay, trans, and GNC people?
Well, I'm gay, and the song itself was my way of dealing with the aftermath of an astonishingly difficult relationship with a boy. While the song's emotion is not specific to queer relationships, the fact that it came from queer pain made it important for me to visually render that while surrounded by queer performers and creators.
What do you hope to bring to the table in terms of your music?
Sometimes I feel like my music making is kind of selfish because, for me, it's about the release of pain and working out my confusion—a personal way of making sense of things. But, at the end of the day, I'm happy that there's a chance to share that with people in the hope that they'll get something out of it too.