Miles Davis, The Trumpet, & The Solo Artist Transition: A Q&A With Spencer Ludwig


While it thrives in classical and jazz environments as the highest ranging brass instrument, the trumpet is highly under-appreciated in the world of pop music. That is, until Spencer Ludwig came along. 

From dominating as lead trumpet in the multiplatinum band Capital Cities, to launching the HISTORY project with Ryan Merchant and RAC, to opening for Katy Perry and playing alongside Foster the People, Portugal. The Man, Fitz and the Tantrums, Twin Shadow, St. Lucia, and more, Ludwig has maintained his loyalty to the trumpet and to the art of music creation and performance. 2016 marks what may be the most impactful year of Ludwig's thus far career, as he recently commenced his solo career with two infectiously jazzy pop songs: "Diggy" and "Right Into U" on Warner Bros. Records. While his previous collaborations never disappointed, Ludwig's debut to the solo world asserts his independence and individuality as a musician, and for that, we congratulate him!

Once we heard the news and heard the catchy new singles, we had to get the inside scoop from Spencer Ludwig himself. Read more about his transition to a solo artist, inspiration for playing trumpet, and ultimate goal as a musician below. Plus, don’t miss his live performance at the finale of our Union Station Summer Concerts series on Sept. 3–details here

OTW: Congrats on your debut singles! How did your experience with Capital Cities/HISTORY influence your solo work and how do they differ?

SL: Working with Capital Cities introduced me to the potential of trumpet in pop music. Touring with the band allowed me to discover and craft my identity as a trumpeter and performer. I was extremely inspired by the experience to taste that level of global success. I caught the tour bug big time and now I hope to regain that type of global momentum with my own project because what else are we in this for if not to share our music and these experiences with as many people as possible?

HISTORY was my first attempt at singing and songwriting. I learned how to record my vocals and how to start and finish a song while working on this project with Ryan Merchant and RAC. It was the best crash course in song writing and production that anyone could ever ask for.

I'd like to think my music has it's own quirkiness and funkiness that pays homage to classic funk, soul and disco fused with modern synths and electronic production. I tried to put as much of me into each song by playing and programming as many of the instruments you hear on the recordings. There are no vocal features on the album. All of the vocals are my own except for two songs that have some female BGVs tucked in the back to add color. Also, each song on the album was written with a different co-writer between LA, NY and London in an effort to make every song on the album as fresh and inspired as possible.

OTW: Do you plan to continue juggling multiple projects as you develop the Spencer Ludwig style?

SL: I do not plan to continue juggling multiple projects. I am fully committed to being a solo artist.

OTW: How did you end up playing trumpet of all instruments & what is it that you love most about it?

SL: It all started with Miles Davis. He inspired me to start and continues to inspire me to improve. The trumpet is the key to Mile's soul and since listening to him it has been my goal to be able to express myself as deeply and intellectually as he did.

OTW: What's the game plan for Spencer Ludwig - what's up next and what's your ultimate goal?

SL: My ultimate goal is to make music that the whole world can enjoy and be inspired by and to continue on this path as a solo artist for the rest of my life. I've already started writing album two. I hope to share many more albums to come.

What's up next is the release of more music, music videos and lots of touring. I intend to start touring heavily in the fall. I don't plan to drop the album right away. I'm just getting people warmed up to my sound. I will probably release another two singles before dropping the album.

OTW: Who are 3 artists on your Ones To Watch list & why?

SL: RAC–one of the hardest working artists out there who puts out more quality music than anyone I know. His progress and work ethic is extremely inspiring.

St. Lucia–The songwriting is impeccable. The newest album is fire. They are on the brink of breaking massively.

Lukas Graham–Although he's already a triple platinum-Billboard #1 charting pop artist, I truly believe this is just the beginning of a very long and amazing career for them. Their debut album is amazing top to bottom and the live show blew me away. We are going to hear a lot of quality music from these guys.