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INTERVIEW: Mr. Hudson

Pic by Mathieu Cesar

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Chicago”?

On an otherwise quiet and claustrophobic project, this is a loud and proud slice of “beast mode”; me, singing high and loud. I guess I was angry when I wrote it. Anger can be a useful emotion.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

It’s a salty breakup song about the first time someone ghosted me and yet the record ended up being such a positive process working with Vic Mensa and taking me back to Chicago where i connected with Taylor Bennett and his big bro Chance. Every cloud…

Any plans to release a music video for the single?

Most artists think about visuals while they’re working and have a strong idea of what a video should look like. Not me! I wait for someone to say hey let’s do this and then i just go with it. The one exception is when Miley asked me to come up with a concept for our song with Future

The single comes off your new album When The Machine Stops – what’s the story behind the title?

It’s based on a short Sci Fi story called “The Machine Stops” – which is a remarkably accurate early 20th century prediction of the internet and the isolation it’s beginning to bring about in our society

How was the recording and writing process?

I locked myself away in my room (rather like the protagonist in The Machine Stops) It was just me and the laptop and mic… for months… until i started thinking about features. Then I finally left the house. I think that’s why it’s such a personal record. It’s me going back to where i started, working from home. No posh mixing desks or engineers or sushi.

Why did you choose to record the songs on a laptop rather than traditional studio gear? 

Because I wanted limitations. I wanted to see what i could achieve in the confines of logic. In a way, imposing limitations can set you free. When you’re trapped, you have to be creative. Reminds me of Maya Angelou “I know why the caged bird sings.”

A big chunk of the writing is being influenced by Blade Runner – were you drawn into this film before penning the song or were you rather drawn into this record throughout the process? 

Good question. Both. I kept going back to it. And it kept coming back to me. I had mixed feelings about the sequel but enjoyed its music particularly. It got me thinking about using 80’s synthesizers but still making a contemporary record.

What have you learned from your experience collaborating with other people from upcoming to major names?

I love working with new people. They have fire in their belly and are open to new things. For example, I asked Petite Noir to make a voice memo talking about jealousy. He did and I put it in time with the track. I asked him to do spoken word and he did it. I think most established artists would say “I don’t do that. Send me the track”

Speaking of which, you brought some great names on this record – did you handpick them or how did they come on board?

Mostly, I was already working with them on their stuff or for a third party. Taylor is the exception, as I slid into his DM’s

Do you tend to take a different approach when collaborating with someone else rather than working on your own?

Very different. I’m much more open minded and humble working on other people’s stuff often ending sentences with “I don’t know. What do you think?” In contrast, i’m always going to have the final say on my stuff. That’s what having a voice and authorship is all about. Being confident in your own taste. You’ve got to be the biggest fan of your music otherwise what’s the point! And you’re going to hear it more than anyone else. Particularly in this case as i produced and mixed the thing. Then i sat with John Greenham and watched him master the record.

Having built a name for yourself and with so many people waiting for new material – did you feel any pressure as you put together the album or rather the opposite?

I did but then I decided to put more pressure on myself. That’s the best way perhaps, to eclipse external pressure which I don’t think is creatively useful. You have to care more than anyone else. If you love it then any additional positivity is gravy. Someone asked me just before the album came out “How will you know if it’s a success?” I replied “It already is” and I meant it.

What aspect of relationships did you get to explore on this record?

While I was writing the record I thought it was about relationships but looking back I realise they just provided a skeleton or scaffolding for other themes: mainly my feelings about how culture is changing and where we’re going in the near future. Maybe I’ve been watching too many episodes of Black Mirror.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

Other than Sci Fi and relationships, I’m always inspired by people on social media; people talking about whatever they’re passionate about: Gary Vee doing his brotivational speaking, LeBron creating a university, Greta Thunberg saving the human race.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes. I want to do minimal and chic intimate shows. I’ll probably start with some spot shows in Los Angeles, London… maybe just me and laptop and a piano.

What else is happening next in Mr. Hudson’s world?

Now that I’ve finished the album and done a chunk of promo, I’m going to spend a week on the beach with my nearest and dearest building castles in the sand.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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