Jaeden Luke sits on a Bothell park bench strumming his guitar, singing softly to himself. His salmon-colored pineapple print shirt complements his subtle tan and white smile.
Singing songs about love, happiness and moving on, the Bothell resident smiles as he strums.
The 19-year-old singer-songwriter recently released his first full-length album, “Free of Me.”
Raised on a healthy diet of Beatles music, he said he knew he wanted to pursue music at age 9.
“I remember I got all their CDs one year for my birthday and I would play them for hours and hours on my old CD player,” Luke said. “They sparked my interest in music. It was like, ‘If they can do it, I can do it.’”
At 9 years old, he received his first guitar and lessons to go with it. He progressed to teach himself piano and drums. He said he never considered not singing while playing guitar — it came naturally to him.
He wrote his first song when he was 10. For him, even at 10 years old, songwriting was his way of getting out his emotions.
“I knew I should be writing stuff,” he said. “It was the best way to express myself.”
He sang in the choir at his family’s church. Luke said there was a man at the church who had cancer and loved Luke’s voice. The man asked Luke to visit him and sing and play for him.
“I was about 11 or 12 when he asked me to come and play for him,” Luke said. “I wrote a song about life, living and purpose and I saw how it had an impact on him. It opened my eyes that I was doing something important —that it was more than a hobby.”
The song he wrote for the man, “Where Am I?” became the first song he recorded for Luke’s first EP, “Fly.”
“Fly” was produced by Luke’s friend in their home studio. The eight-track EP was released in 2017.
“I wanted to see what people thought of it and what they thought of me,” he said.
At that time, Luke had not performed in front of an audience of more than his family and friends. One day while at Guitar Center, someone from the Redmond Old Fire House (OFH) Teen Center asked him to open for his band’s upcoming show.
“I didn’t really want to do it at first, but I decided to go for it at the last minute,” he said.
At age 16, he performed for the first time in front of an audience at OFH.
“It was the coolest thing ever,” he said. “It was crazy and I made so many mistakes but it was so much fun. I loved being on stage.”
Since then, Luke has been playing shows around the area. He frequents the 110° Siam coffee shop in Bothell every Friday as well as various wineries in Woodinville.
In 2018, Luke got a call from one of the concert organizers at Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville. He asked Luke if he would be interested to open for Chris Isaak. Two days later, Luke was on stage in front of a few thousand people.
“It was so much fun, I just thrived off the energy from the audience,” he said. “And, Chris said I was his favorite opener.”
Now, with his new album, Luke hopes to get in front of more people and have them hear his music.
“Free of Me” is self recorded and self produced. Luke spent about a year on the project, dedicating eight hours a day, seven days a week.
The process proved to be a challenge for Luke. His family built him an in-home studio in the garage for recording. For Luke, he said his biggest hurdles were all mental.
“It was hard to stay in it and not feel like giving up,” he said. “I saw the album as a reflection of myself and not seeing it go the way you want it to go makes you doubt if what you’re doing is right.”
However, through support from his family and friends and getting consistent local gigs, he got through it.
“I just had to take a deep breath when I started to doubt myself and remind myself why I’m doing this and how important it is…and just play,” he said.
The album itself is about moving on from a past relationship, being happy for them and being happy for yourself.
The title track, Luke said, can be interpreted in different ways, but for him it means being free for himself and being free of himself.
“I was madly in love with this girl and when it didn’t work out it was really hard and music was the only way I could process what I was going through,” he said. “Moving on and forgiving and being happy for them and myself let me be free — free for myself and free of my old self.”
Luke said he hopes the album will speak to people going through a similar experience and help them get through it.
“I want people to know they’re not alone and they can find a way to be happy again,” he said. “I hope my music can touch people in some way.”
To learn more about Luke visit jaedenluke.com. “Free of Me” is available on Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud and YouTube.