Hectic Eclectic: An Interview with Hudson Mohawke

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Hectic Eclectic: An Interview with Hudson Mohawke

Hudson Mohawke can be a real ball-buster (I don’t know what the female version of that would be? Lady-ball buster? Whatever.) when it comes to his music. By that I mean that it is entirely possible to break your body when stuck in a HudMo boogie time.

I caught HudMo at his gig with Mr. Carmack in January and it was an experience that was equal parts pleasure/seizure. Fifteen minutes in I had lost all inhibitions, wringing my top out on top of my friend’s head whilst generally submitting to a sweaty haze and incredibly beautiful cluster of sounds.

Since then HudMo has been hard at work pushing out his second studio album which lands today on Warp. After smashing the scene with his first record Butter in 2009, HudMo returned with collaborative project TNGHT before releasing his Chimes EP last year. It has been an undoubtedly intense trajectory through the music industry thus far – with his notable successes in the hip-hop world being so widely recognised that many of us suspected it to take over his future releases. With today’s release of Lantern, it’s pretty clear that HudMo has scrunched up and thrown out expectations like a sweaty concert singlet.

I had a chance to chat to HudMo this morning and I couldn’t wait for chats on how he went about blowing expectations out of the water, what his new live show will look like, when we’ll get to see it (!!!) and how he’s all round just a pretty hectic eclectic dude.

IC: So lets talk about Lantern man! I’ve been reading review after review this morning and the general consensus is that this album ‘defies expectations’. How do you feel about that? Was it important for you to…defy expectations?


HM: Personally I think that it wasn’t an attempt to defy expectations, I just think I kind of felt like I knew what people’s expectations were. They wanted another straight up rap record that just sounds like TNGHT that just sounds like a bunch of other stuff that I’ve done in the past rather than me doing something which satisfies myself creatively. So it’s definitely not a deliberate attempt to ‘defy expectations’ – its just like… like that old Jay-Z quote; “If you like my old shit then listen to my old albums.”


IC: I like that note of fluidity – I think it’s really important not to constrain ourselves to genre when consuming, and I’m sure creating, music.


HM: Yeah. It’s really about me being satisfied creatively and any other considerations will come after that – so that’s the objective to me to create something that’s satisfying for me.




IC: Was there a marked shift in your intentions over the past six years in terms of what would make you satisfied?


HM: There has been to be honest because I think some of my earlier material and my first full length record were, even though a lot of people still reference those records at the moment, I feel like they were more just me saying – “How can I make this sound more messy? How can I make this sound more fucked up? How can I make this more technical? How can I be more technical than the next guy?” Which definitely comes from my teenage years as a scratch DJ, because I was a competition/battle DJ. Whereas this time the approach was much more like, I just want to make music I really like as opposed to being competitive with the next guy.


IC: That’s interesting, I would assume it’s a problem that a lot of music creators face and its interesting to see you associate that to a youthful vision to a matured vision.


HM: The competitive DJ scene which was my early teen years was all I focused up. I don’t regret it at all I think it was an awesome experience to get to perform in those venues and be a part of it – but there did come a point when I turned 17 or 18 when I realised it shouldn’t be about trying to be better than the next guy it should be about being happy with your own creativity. I’m happy that I was able to have that experience so early because I know a number of people still involved in that competitive mentality and I think it holds them back a lot.


IC: So you like to have a familiar vibe with your collaborators? How important is that to you.


HM: It’s really important to me now. I used to not care if I could send an instrumental to someone and they would send their vocals back. This time I’ve made a point of bringing people to the studio. So I brought Antony and Miguel and people who are based in the states to London and creating the songs with them rather than pissing around sending files back and forth.


IC: I imagine it yields such a different result.


HM: Yeah it’s a totally different process and its something that I wasn’t a fan of for a long time. I guess with my background and my earlier records, they’re records that are made along in dark rooms in the middle of the night with headphones on. So to go from that to a much more organic, active, creative environment rather than just sitting alone in a room clicking a mouse.


IC: So I saw you in Australia at the beginning of the year.


HM: Where abouts?


IC: Well I’m in Sydney so I saw you at Oxford Arts Factory. Um dude, that was the sweatiest concert I have ever been to. I went with my friend and we were just slippin’ all over the place – it was an experience.


HM: [laughs] I had a lot of fun that night but I know that mid way through the show they had to set up fans on the stage so people could air themselves. There were shoes flying around the place – when I left there were clothes lying all over the pavement. I think maybe we should have done a bigger venue…


IC: [laughs] Crazy, but it was enjoyable!


HM: Well I mean it was very enjoyable for me – and people who want to get thrown around. But it’s maybe not so enjoyable for people who want to come and dance. It’s a lot of fun but I prefer an environment where you can have your circle fucking moshpits but as long as there’s somewhere to dance as well. With that party there were so many people crammed into that small room that there was no place for people to dance. It was fun – it was an amazing experience. It was the final night of the tour. My girlfriend is Australian and we’d spent the previous couple of days in Kiama because that’s where she’s from. So we spent a couple of days next to the ocean and chilling out and then we went directly into that!


IC: Must have been pretty hectic! I just know that I had to take my top off and tie it around my waist and then I walked out of there and had crusty make-up face – but it’s all fun! I guess I’m wondering – how do you see this album translating to live? How do you visualise this album in performance?


HM: Well we basically just started to do a new live show for this record. The debut show was in New York about two weeks ago and the debut London show was just on the weekend this past Saturday – we had one show the day after that. So we did three shows in total. So it’s myself, this guy called Redinho who’s a musician in his own right – I think he’s touring Australia himself – and then this guy called Ben playing drums who was previously a member of Two Door Cinema Club. So now its more of a live band set up and we’ve built a show with the person who’s currently doing the Twigs show and has done some shows that have blown me away over the last couple of years. We wanted to kind of transcend the sort of EDM live show thing and do something that felt a bit more organic. This designer does a lot of high fashion runway shows as opposed to a lot of strobes and glitter type thing – we wanted to step away from that and do something a bit more organic rather than straight “hands in the air”.


IC: Well, that sounds amazing! All of that is right up my alley. And will we get to see it [laughs]?


HM: I don’t know if it’s been announced yet but we’ll be at Laneway next summer for you guys.


IC: Awesome! That’s a great festival!


HM: We’re bringing the live show. I’ve done a number of festivals over there and I love the idea of touring festivals where the same line up goes to a bunch of different cities. That’s where I’ve met a bunch of people that I’ve collaborated with. I find that sort of concept of the touring festival as a really good chance to meet people – a lot of festivals you come in, play your set and you leave. But with this you’re with a group of people for two or three weeks. It’s great and you get a chance to bond.


IC: So a question that I love asking is – if you were to curate a party lineup, who would be on it?


HM: Well I’m actually curating a lineup in Berlin next weekend – I’ve done a couple in the past “HudMo Presents”. In the past our acts have been people like Action Bronson, Redinho who’s now in the band with me. The people who we’re doing for the forthcoming event are Kindness, Earl Sweatshirt, myself doing a live band project and also doing live back-to-back DJing with Mark Ronson.


IC: Holy shit that sounds so amazing.


HM: We’ve also got Sophie, A. G. Cook – it’s a varied lineup. Not everyone will love every act. We’re not doing an event where every single artist is doing 4/4, but again, going back to what we were discussing earlier – it’s just music that I like to listen to.


IC: Well it is really bold to put PC Music and Earl Sweatshirt side by side but I do think that people are becoming more open into transcending genres and getting out of their genre specifications.


HM: Absolutely. And even within the mainstream that sort of tired idea of – ‘this is what makes a hit’ and ‘this is a hit’ is not relevant anymore. Anything can be a hit. You could follow steps how to do it and it wont work, but the most random song ever that is created in fifteen minutes can end up being a worldwide smash – its so unpredictable that it’s incredibly exciting.


IC: On that note – what would be your advice for young producers?


HM: A lot of my developing has come from being a bedroom producer for years and years. I got kind of bored of it but there’s kind of an art to it. As far as Soundcloud and things there’s no boundary to what could be a number one or what could get fifteen plays on soundcloud. That hierarchy doesn’t exist anymore. Something can go from literally nothing to being a world wide smash within 24 hours so there’s no having to contact managers or go through A&R – you can go direct to the artists now. Being able to make a song in your parents house or some shit and then habing it be recorded the next day by some A-list artist is something that could never have been possible a few years ago.


[Here I thought that HudMo and I would wrap up and started thanking him for his time, before…]


HM: Thank you for coming to my show at Oxford Art Factory.


IC: Oh my god – again, it has just stuck in my memory. The ground was wet, and it was like – sweat wet – it was something else.


HM: I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing, I feel like it kind of pisses a lot of girls off.


IC: Um…nah. I think that with gigs like that you get to the point where you don’t really give a fuck. You’re getting fucking drenched, everyone’s gross – you kind of get to a point of submission with your environment. And I’m into that.


HM: I guess it’s kind of a similar vibe to the Defqon shit in Australia now – as far as the kind of super hard dance music. That’s the music that I grew up with and that’s where that mentality comes from – that extreme dance music. I know that it does freak a lot of the girls out in terms of getting barged out of the way and shit like that which is something I’m not trying to do.


IC: Well I know in Australia there are a lot of girls that really embrace it – and at that show in particular.


HM: My girlfriend in particular is into the gabber shit and thoroughly appreciates it, whereas me growing up in Europe my gabber experience was a very ‘bro’ type scene. There weren’t may females there – I like that girls get into it in Australia.


IC: I know that in Australia it’s really changed in the past few years – sometimes in the scene it’s a battle to be the most hardcore bitch. It’s great.


HM: [laughs] I’m glad to hear it.


Hudson Mohawke’s stunning second album Latern is out now on Warp via Inertia.

Getcha self a copy via iTunes.

[All photos are from HudMo’s Oxford Art Factory gig, courtesy of Voena.]

Follow Izzy on Twitter @IzzyCombs



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