Mr. Hudson’s star is certainly rising. Working with Kanye West and Jay-Z, Hudson’s vocals have reached a wider audience and set up interest for his forthcoming LP. We caught up with Mr. Hudson during his last Stateside trip.To read more just click
Fast-forward 2 years. The Library moniker is dropped, Kanye’s named a pair of LV shoes after Hudson, and Jay-Z has nabbed him for a feature. Dubbed “…bigger than Kanye” by Mr. West himself, this London bloke stays busy. As a solo artist he appears on West’s club-banger Paranoid. As a front man, his band Mr. Hudson is slated to release their sophomore album Straight No Chaser this October. When he’s not behind the mic, he’s at the mixing board – producing for the likes of The Arctic Monkeys, Dizzee Rascal… and even Kanye.
I caught up with Mr. Hudson over the phone while he was in New York playing a few shows. As he was recovering from a late night out in Manhattan, the conversation covers an eclectic range of topics – Dunhill, Jaguar, cookies, and Maggie Ghylenhal’s oven, to name a few.
HS: Mr. Hudson, thanks for taking the time to speak with me, how are you?
H: I’m good, man. Recovering from a medium to large night in Manhattan – a lot of wine and cigarettes.
H: Unsure. Someone was just putting them in my mouth.
HS: Sounds like a dream come true. How did the show go? Were you happy with it?
H: Yeah, it was great, only our second show in NY but it seemed like everyone was there for us. It was packed and they seemed to enjoy it. We gave it everything we got. Recently, there’s been a lot of hype about me so I just have to go in hard.
HS: I actually stumbled upon you guys (previously Mr. Hudson & The Library) while sifting through some Jamie T. tracks on YouTube and instantly fell in love.
H: It’s nuts isn’t it. The connection was through Kanye but I think Jay had actually heard my music before Kanye. I think he heard of couple of my demos, back in ’06 – which is crazy. Kanye flew me out to Hawaii to sing on The Blueprint 3. I think he’d run it past Jay and it sort of came from both those directions. Kanye suggested it and Jay knew of me – so it was out of my hands, they decided it for me! And it was because of working on that album (The Blueprint 3) that I ended up working on 808’s and Heartbreaks.
H: Yeah well that beat was anyway. I think most of The Blueprint 3 is more recent but that was one of the first tracks.
HS: Moving on to your band’s projects, what can we expect from Straight No Chaser in comparison to A Tale of Two Cities?
H: I think, you know, what’s the same is me. You get the same guy, just two years later. To me it’s almost like part two. The first album is me very much in my flat in London – having a cup of tea, making beats, and writing songs on the piano. This album is the sound of someone who has traveled and had a lot of late nights and early starts from Hawaii, to Hollywood, to Hackney, to Houston. I’m trying to think of places that began with H. Plus touring around Europe and UK with the Glow In The Dark tour, it’s just the sound of someone whose played in some big, big rooms full of people – just two or three years later. Sonically, this record is bigger, it’s punchier, less ornate I suppose. There’s a delicacy to some of the beats though. You hear a Spanish guitar and so on. But punchier is the major difference.
HS: There’s been talk of you writing Straight No Chaser in only two months and how your break-up (from a longtime girlfriend) contributed to the album. Is every lyric a direct response to your break up and is that how you mentally approached this collection of songs?
H: No, I didn’t plan it to be. It’s not the whole album but it’s definitely a break-up record. I was writing lots of songs and for some reason those pertaining to loss and leaving people behind shouldered their way to the front of the album. I’ll also write little political things or whatever. It’s weird. I’ve said to people don’t break your relationship off to make an album but if you do, make sure to make an album, you know like – GET TO A STUDIO NEAR YOU.
H: Good question. It changes. At the moment, if I had to pin it down, I’m a big fan of “I knew you were trouble.” Partly because it’s working really well live and it keeps getting bigger and bigger.
HS: In terms of your maturation, is this a track that you are just happy to play or something you are proud of musically and lyrically?
H: All of the above I’m glad to say. It’s opens with this repetitive synth line; it’s almost like me tipping my cap to paranoid. Then the song kicks in and it goes off on some weird, rolling stone, Joe Cocker just letting it rip. The album is soulful and poetical, lyrical; but this one is wow, just big. I’m singing higher and louder than I was on the first album.
HS: Sounds dope, I’m excited to hear it.
H: Yeah, the song hasn’t even leaked yet.
H: Yeah, totally and now a days the leaks aren’t even mp3’s. Their like mp1/2’s, often sped up or slowed down, not necessarily the mixed mastered version. It’s a shame because people aren’t getting the quality the artist puts into it. We’re actually putting our album out on heavyweight white vinyl. It will be a really nice object to have in your house. People should get something for their $15-20 dollars.
HS: G.O.O.D. Music has a laundry list of heavy hitters on their roster. Line up aside; what sold you on signing with the label?
H: Um, I don’t think I had much choice. Did I? In honesty, I was a little bit lost at that point. I had made the first album. Didn’t know what I was going to do and it just made a lot of sense. Going through G.O.O.D. Music was really just a formality because Kanye was like (in so many words) “look, I’m going to look out for you, I’m going to produce your record. You make the music and I’ll make you famous.” It was simple. Even when we were talking about production and who to bring in for different pieces of the album he said – you just sing really well and I’ll make some beats. That was the plan. End of conversation. Just starting another cookie here… It’s got some walnuts or something in it. It’s weird. Some kind of nut.
What are these nuts? Pecans? I dunno. They’re dry and gravely. A bit gritty.
HS: I’m not a nut-oriented cookie fan myself.
H: Have you seen the film stranger than fiction?
HS: I have.
H: Is that one with Will Ferrell and Maggie Ghylenhal?
H: Do you remember the scene when he’s doing her tax stuff and she’s baking cookies in her shop downstairs? She insists on him eating a cookie and he says the cookies are amazing. He’s drinking the milk and he says he’s only ever had store bought cookies before. I’M THAT GUY.
H: Yeah, but even these are not the same as having a cookie fresh out of Maggie Ghlylenhal’s oven.
HS: I’m sure Maggie makes a good cookie.
H: Yeah. Who Knows. It could happen. I’m on The Blueprint 3. That’ll hopefully open some doors… and some ovens.
HS: Kanye has been quoted as saying “I believe Mr. Hudson has the potential to be bigger than me. He is one of the most important artists of his generation.” What are your sentiments about that?
H: Um. Just shear embarrassment. I’ll give it a go. You just have to wake up and do it. I hope to give this opportunity justice. I try and focus on the little things; play each show like it’s my last and put the hours in at the studio, be creative and try to stay up and keep surprising myself. It’s not up to me whether I’ll be Jim Morrison of whatever. It’s up to the people. I try not to worry about that. I’m not running for President.
H: I’ve been listening to Drake quite a bit. That’s been pretty much on loop, that So Far Gone mixtape. I really like it. Generally, I like listening to stuff people send me. There’s a lot of stuff coming through now. Whether they’re things people want help with or just want me to hear it. People hit me up on Twitter and say listen to this. It’s a huge compliment that people care what I think.
HS: Aside from music related interests, what else have you been up to?
H: I’ve been renting classic cars and driving around. I haven’t been drinking recently so instead I spend my money on renting funny little classics.
HS: What’s your favorite classic you’ve rented? Or one you wish to own someday?
H: Jaguar E-Type.
HS: What Year?
H: I actually prefer the Mach Two in the late sixties. The Mach Three V-12 has a better top speed but it’s more of a cruiser. It’s not as fun to drive as the Mach Two. I drove a ’67 the other day in Brooklyn. Beautiful Car. One of the finest they’ve ever made. I wish I could afford to own. I’ll have to ship some units for that. Then I can race Drake. He’ll be in his Phantom and I’ll be in the E-type.
HS: What can we expect next from Mr. Hudson?
H: I guess you’re going to see me working with other people. I love being in the studio and helping other people. I’ve been working with Estelle in the UK. I’ll be back over here soon. I just want to be busy and stay busy. I’ve waited long enough to get here so I should keep getting work done. I’m not going to just hang around now or muck about.
HS: You’re a stylish dude. What are some brands in the UK we should be on the lookout for in the states?
H:Yeah man. You should checkout the new Dunhill stuff by British designer, Kim Jones. His new collection is sick. Vivian Westwood is a gangster too. She’s sick. Victor & Rolf – just bought a nice suite from them. I still feel kind of ignorant. I’m constantly getting educated to the ways of fashion at the moment. Previously, it was whatever. I’d be in charity shops and getting hand-me-downs from my brothers and my Dad.
H: Taupe or whatever it’s called over here. Beige I guess, with some pieces in orange and pink . I don’t have a pair of the Mr. Hudson’s yet. I think they might be prohibitively expensive at around $1000 dollars. But I’ll try and save up. Sell some records maybe.
HS: Finally, people compare you to Sting, vocally. Are you cool with it?
H: It’s a compliment. I love The Police. We actually played with him and supported them at some stadiums. I’ve been at his house, played his piano. It’s definitely a compliment. He’s a lovely guy.
Mr. Hudson’s new album Straight No Chaser will be available for purchase October 5th 2009.