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February 27, 2023

Retro-futurist Luke Million is going interstellar

Synth king Luke Million will fuse lights, sound, vocoders, instruments, headbands and comic strips to bring his furry, feline concept album, 'Gina The Synth Cat', to life for the Adelaide Fringe.

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  • Words: Angela Skujins
  • Image 1: Luke Million and his battle-axe (keytar) by Rosina Possingham
  • Pictures: Supplied

So much is already known about Luke Million.

The Adelaide-based musician, fluent in the language of analogue synthesisers, blew up in 2011 with ‘Arnold’ — an irresistible, sweaty disco bop nodding to the Austrian Oak, Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Gina The Synth Cat
12—13 March
The Moa, Gluttony
Murlawirrapurka Rymill Park, Adelaide 5000

Tix and more info here

Released on cult Sydney electronic label Future Classic, the song came in at number 71 in the Triple J Hottest 100 and became the soundtrack to every barbecue and pool party that year.

Five years later, Luke made international waves by reworking another parcel of pop culture: the theme song for the ’80s-inspired sci-fi television series Stranger Things.

In a video posted to his Facebook page, Luke plays the soundtrack live on 11 different instruments, spanning drum machines to ancient synthesisers. Luke’s dexterity is plain to see, as he flits between the instruments effortlessly (though it did require a lot of planning).

A lesser known fact about the producer is he’s a concept-album fanatic. He lists Pink Floyd’s 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon as one of his favourites. This passion recently propelled him to make one of his own.

“I just wanted to do something special,” Luke says of Gina The Synth Cat, his recent addition to the concept album canon.

“And this is very dear to my heart. It’s a true reflection of who I am musically, because the album gave me the room to just really write whatever music I wanted, and it has a story to tell.”

Luke will perform the concept album over two nights at the Adelaide Fringe, 12—13 March, at The Moa at Gluttony in Murlawirrapurka Rymill Park.

He’s lassoed creative minds Dave Court and David Musch, the latter of lighting production company Mapped Design, for these two performances, to help transport audiences into his futuristic, all-encompassing experience, which fuses light, sound and live music.

Dave and David


“People should expect to be transported into another world,” Luke says.

“The idea is that once you step into The Moa, you’re no longer in Rymill Park in Adelaide; we’re transporting everyone to outer space.

“It’s a journey.”

Luke, known for making club-ready songs, says this isn’t going to be the stock-standard nightclub event. Firstly, it’s not in a club. Also, he’s got fluorescent headbands. The real kicker, though, is the 40-page comic book chronicling Gina’s journey that punters can buy and read along with during the performance.

Visual artist Dave Court handled the creative direction for the graphic novel, with local film and television artist Anthony Robinson providing illustrations.

Across 40 pages, readers are taken on a journey with Gina, a fearless puss looking for a new, sustainable energy source to save her home, Planet Purrfection. The orange-suited feline plays a keyboard, travels in a spaceship and battles space dogs in this visual adventure.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Luke Million (@lukemillionmusic)


Luke admits to not really being into comic books. “The main comic book I used to read was Garfield,” he says. His expertise lies in music.

Sonically, Gina The Synth Cat’s 14 tracks are anchored in squelchy synthesisers, brought to life with bursts of cosmic, flavourful four-to-the-floor funk. Each track musically, and sometimes vocally, ­­tells a different chapter in Gina’s story.

The album is holistic in its sound, but the individual songs vary in mood.

For example, the opening track, ‘Taking Off’, features a twinkling riff (and sounds eerily similar to the repeated phrase in Gorillaz’s ‘On Melancholy Hill’). The lyrics bring us into Gina’s mind, with vocoder-warped vocals purring we will “travel far” where “the future is redefined”.

Then there are the instrumental tracks, such as ‘Arrival’, a strangely optimistic song which leans into Daft Punk territory with a whimsical whistle, and ‘Running On Empty’, which features a crawling, thumping bass. ‘Cat Party’, with its with a wailing keytar, closes the album on a feverish high.

Luke says he limited himself to 12 synthesisers for the making of the record. This selection includes a Multimoog, Prophet-5 and Oberheim OB-8, which binds the intergalactic work with a down-to-earth familiarity.

Although he recorded the whole thing in his city studio, the real-life inspiration for the album’s titular character came while he was housesitting for a friend in McLaren Vale.

We spy a Dave Court background. This picture: Rosina Possingham

“It happened one night I was there, and I usually take a little studio setup as well as a couple of keyboards and just, like, play around. And it’s right next door to Pizzateca, so I got myself a pizza [and] a bottle of wine,” Luke says.

“I was just sitting at this makeshift studio, and Gina the cat came and sat next to me.

“I was just… making music and she was just chilling out, and I was [thinking] about things in my head about wanting to do something that’s just more real synthy, you know? Something spacey.

“And then I’m looking at her I’m like… Hmmm, a space cat.”

Luke hunkered down, and worked on a bunch of material inspired by his newfound muse. Two of these early songs ended up on the release, and even a meow, too – though not from Gina. The cat was not able to perform on command, so Luke stepped in.

“It’s a very robotic meow,” he says. “And the meow is at the end of one song, very subtle.”

After the dust settles on Gina and Luke’s Fringe run, Luke says there’ll likely be future adventures in the synth cat’s universe. He plans to record follow-up EPs, acting as short stories, tracking the cat’s space adventures.

“This is something I want to share with people,” he says.

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