A couple of months ago I was approached by a strange electronic musician to play our first annual block fest. Being a local and having never heard any of his shows being advertised I was quite skeptical. I was astonished by his music; my whole body tingled with goose bumps. I couldn’t believe that a musician of this caliber wanted to join my tiny event. This was the first thing on that album that I had heard:
I immediately booked him and had him headline because I knew that anything that was this good had to be heard live. Knowing not what to expect, I had never met him nor seen what he performed like live. He explained to me in his introduction message that his live arrangements consist of live looping simultaneous keyboards, along with an ongoing drum machine to create fast paced electronic music. I was intrigued. The day of the event came and he began his mass setup of 3 analog synthesizers, a drum machine and pedals. The crowd seemed to know what was about to commence. 808’s and bass heavy drum loop thumped; the crowd was vivacious and within seconds one of the best natural dance parties had begun. People had no regard for anything except for the need to get down, some friends and I even began to crowd surf. Starting a trend of people crowd surfing in the tight Batcave living room, I knew then how talented this guy really was considering he wasn’t just pressing play like most DJ’s usually do. Hudson also told me he was improvising his whole set and creating all of the music on the spot. I couldn’t believe the talent that had landed in my lap and I knew there was something bigger and better this musician living in a small town had to offer to the music world.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Glover in his apartment above a large warehouse, where he and his girlfriend have lived for a couple of years now. We ate watermelon in his converted studio room where he had several keyboards ranging from the early 60’s to the late 90’s to modern midi. The walls were covered in anime and drawings of his favorite anime characters. It was apparent that Glover was a diehard anime fanatic, otherwise known as an Otaku. He explained to us that Anime inspires most of the music he creates in a variety of ways, especially in the way it exaggerates nearly everything. We spent nearly an hour messing around with keyboards that sounded like they could have scored classic horror films, or sleek electronic mysterious scores with varying arpeggiators reminiscent of soundtracks to newer movies. Aside from his hobbies of creating any type of electronic possible, scoring indie films, or watching anime, Glover works as a behavioral therapist for a local private organization called Trumpet. Glover does a variety of behavioral treatments for disabled autistic children. He graduated from college as a psychology major with a minor in music. He plans to apply his talents and expertise in music production to one-day score anime or video games. Coming off as a mainly anime influenced music producer, one would never assume Glover was classically trained. Surprisingly, classical music is the core of his inspiration to create his music. We sat and discussed his inspirations and goals, what he has accomplished as a musician, the modern electronic music scene, and who he really is…
Me: Who and What consists of Hudson Glover?
Hudson: Well, I have had a lot of collaborators, but I guess it depends on the kind of style it is I guess, it’s primarily…a more kind of soundtrack-y electronic melodic percussive kind of combinational type of music which has been mostly myself. It came to be the point where monikers became kind of pointless. There was just so many like mourning pastel, Kane & Fable, Plastic Sea Monster, Deep Mau6, & Peach Fuzz. It just become harder to consolidate everything so it just made sense.
Me: Why did you choose your real name in the end?
Hudson: It can be arrogant sounding (to have a self titled project), but all of my favorite composers use their real name like John Cage, Philip Glass, Claude Debussy, R. Stevie Moore, Brian Eno and even someone like Aphex Twin (Richard D. James). He still uses monikers but he’s definitely beyond that now. His name is so prevalent that he could release anything under the name Richard D. James and people would still recognize it. I think it’s rare for people to just use their normal name though. In experimental electronic music people usually hide behind their moniker, I’m not sure why, but it’s probably because most people that produce music don’t come from a traditional music background. The producer verse composer dichotomy is very grey now which I quite like, but I prefer to be associated with the latter. I think it’s also really personal when someone is talking about you on a blog and they could either hate or really enjoy your music. They’re speaking directly about you & it took a while to build the confidence to accept that and own up to my weird creations. It’s also strange when you’re playing live & everyone around you has a stage name like it’s circus or something, fewer people will know what to expect I guess and I kind of like that.
Me: What genre would you consider yourself?
Hudson: Right now I would consider it electronic acoustic, almost folk-tronica experimental… microtonal… classical techno influence… ambient with a lot of romantic jazz inspired chord progressions.
Me: That’s such a big range of stuff but still incredible how much it correlates with everything that you’ve released. It must be hard to really pigeon hole you as a genre.
Hudson: I would say the one thing that persists is just a heavy influence on melodic content. It doesn’t matter really if it’s acoustic instruments or electronic instruments or a band or something as long as it has a heavy influence on chord progression and melody. It’s just like anything – pop, classical music, all traditional forms of music and even harsh noise has some sort of melodic content. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all consonant melodies but there is an inherent sense of musical movement. It’s more common for me to have just an all-instrumental melodic thing than a strictly percussive approach. My favorite moments in music are usually at the verge of change, I love those dropping chord progressions that kind of bite at you. Everything I’ve done in the last couple of months revolves around these constant changes. Sometimes I challenge myself and try to create a percussive environment lacking of your standard melody and verse chorus structure though. I’ll just sample a bunch of things or play some tibetan bowl thing and beat out these odd time signature & see what happens, I have to refrain from from adding anything on top though. Percussion is very important to me but I started to appreciating it a lot later, probably after playing the drums so much at my old sunny brae jam house. That house is a whole story in itself and I’m kind of talking in circles now.
Me: What was your earliest inspiration?
Hudson: I’ve always enjoyed music a lot; I didn’t start making it until late middle school. I really liked Hot Chip, of Montreal and a lot of that DFA post disco cheese. Basically hybridized electronic, funky R&B… I was just drawn to pop music that had synths in it & high pitched singers.. I got a synth and wrote hundreds of shitty songs in garage band to emulate that sound. I ended up bringing some of them out and reworked them over the years. Since then I have probably had at least 400 – 600 unreleased songs, it went through all these weird phases of ‘cool pop’ & ‘shit folk’ but it developed on it’s own. Nothing I made sounded like my original influences & people generally thought it sucked at first. It was like Daniel Johnston trying to sound like the Beatles, he didn’t sound anything like them but he made something on a whole other level. So I fell into experimental music by accident, because I couldn’t make normal pop music very well. My biggest shift was probably from vocal to instrumental music though. At first, my voice use to be my main & only instrument so I was very drawn to vocal harmonies akin to Brian Wilson but as I started to learn more instruments my voice started to fade away and I lost things to talk about.
Me: What influences your music today?
Hudson: Romantic harmonies like Erik Satie and Debussy. Terry Riley, Lamont Young, & Charles Mingus (love his big mood shifts) are my favorite composers and Philip Glass for just minimal style harmony. Animixes Volume 2(hyperlink). The main chord progressions in Animixes Vol. 2 were really influenced by j-pop like Perfume and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, as well as sounds and nostalgic innocence from Nintendo games like Zelda, Donkey Kong Country or Bomberman. I love those big leaps in melodic intervals and unpredictable key changes. I didn’t sample any of it, just the sounds of the games & Japanese culture inspired me, the guy, c418, from Minecraft is definitely an inspiration as well in a more cinematic way. And the people who will always be influences are the pioneers of nerd-bop like Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Ceephax Acid Crew, Mike Paradinas and Autechre. They’re a foundation but I try not to emulate them that much, more of maintaining a philosophy of making electronic music independent from conformity.
Me: Do you realize that you’re one of the only musicians out here who creates music with the biggest scale of technical equipment both live and recorded in Arcata?
Hudson: Well, electronic music here is very popular in the sense of mainstream trap and dubstep style stuff for a trimmer focused population. The term electronic is as broad as comparing jazz to bluegrass. They’re both instrumental and use the same instruments but so different in their intention. But there’s always some decent stuff that World Famous puts on at the ATL. They had DJ Spinn come through, so there always is something there but it’s not that popular. There’s a great local scene of producers that don’t come out of their room much though. There are people like Dat-1, whom I’ve played with on Monday who makes really dope MPC style two step-ie Burial-esque drum and bass type of stuff. There’s also Kobe Thompson who improvises these mad house beats from machinedrum and juno 60 & all the the people associated with phantom wave (a local record label) have been really cool & talented – but there is a really small community of people that make electronic music live outside of just a computer and that’s the biggest separation. There are a lot of DJ’s and that is an art in it’s own right but it’s a completely different way at like looking at music. I think the biggest difference when you’re doing something as live and organic as possible is that you’re going to make a lot of mistakes and you’re bound to make some weird sounds and do things that are unintended but that’s kind of the beauty of it. I think people enjoy that. You can get away with a lot more with my performances because I think people can see how hard I am working, it’s kind of like this constant chess game of thinking what should come next while simultaneously building loops and playing instruments. I usually practice 3-4 hours each day for several weeks just for small shows, so that’s the kind of commitment I have; I like to think of it as some sort of martial art or something and that you get special powers like Dragon Ball z and Naruto for training.. I’ve DJ’d maybe 5 to 7 times and all of them were with vinyl, which was fun just because they were all just my favorite house, jungle,, and rave records laying around my house. But the hardest thing about being a DJ is that it’s so selfless; people expect you to play their music. I love playing or doing that with my friends because we all like the same stuff which is cool but being a DJ in the bay area… it’s like you’re a charity or something and people take you for granted. They don’t care about your well-being or anything they just want to please themselves and it’s like this really selfish really sexually heated climate you know, but I want to go as far from that as possible. As far as my electronic music goes, I like to think of it as more of an improvised jazz setting, even if it’s hard acid that’s so far from jazz, but it still has a similar approach. It’s kind of evolving and you could make a lot of mistakes but sometimes when I make mistakes when I play live I kind of accentuate them.
Me: Is there a following that you have formed, being in a small town like this?
Hudson: Not really, it’s mostly my friends and connections out of that and people I have played music with. That’s how I’ve met everybody here, it’s usually just collaborating with people in different forms. There is a small following in the bay area and Santa Cruz though, some of my friends that have started a project out there called Bourgeois Speedball, who I have collaborated with. Their music is very multifaceted, it’s similar in that it is electronic but it’s very folk influenced so it has a really classic pop structure but they use field recording of oppression and cover topics of all sorts of social aspects; they’re pushing boundaries. They just got written up for recording glass being broken in a bank at a local protest and using that as a snare; it has a lot of heat to it that you wouldn’t really understand upon first listening to it. Way more emotional than some shitty preset. I usually tour with them, it’s a really interesting juxtaposition because my music is heavily improvised and dependant on my mood where theirs is very psychological and has a meaning that is very organized, poignant, rehearsed and technical. It’s like a math rocky Bob Dylan, a bad analogy but sort of. It’s been cool having that connection with them in the bay for the amount of years that I have. We’re all from down south, and we’ve loved psychedelic and garage music since we were kids but it’s so fun seeing us grow into new territory side by side.
Me: What does your setup usually consist of when you play shows?
Hudson: That is usually something that is constantly changing. But it depends, sometimes I’ll be on a role if I had a really successful show and may use a similar setups for later events. What I used to bring was my Rhodes (piano) that’s my favorite instrument in here (his room). It makes me feel at home. A couple of years ago I would bring that and a looper pedal it would be much more experimental stuff like percussive things to build these strange kind of soundscapes, very ambient and romantic. Then I started taking this synth, the roland jx8p, with me just to add textures, after a while it evolved into a more electronic sounding thing, after that I added a drum machine (a DR-660). It’s kind of evolved into more ambient IDM style acid jungle thing and it just grew from there. Now I have a lot of options depending on the type of audience, that is really important. If it’s going to be a straight dance party I don’t have to bring anything really – I just bring a drum machine and a bass synth. To make people move all you all need is a kick and bass, the equipment doesn’t matter that much for this kind of stuff, it just comes down to your knowledge of all those classic techno/jungle records, any drum machine or synth will do with the right person behind it. And with live electronic music you’re looking at screens, and turning flashing knobs it’s not natural or organic but if you have the proper mindset you can fabricate that and that’s ultimately my goal. My live performances are much more revolved around dancing than my studio tracks so whatever I’m lacking in music quality I make up for in speed, just making everything faster than it should be, that’s my secret, it just makes people happy.
Me: What is the overall outcome/goal of this project?
Hudson: It would be cool to just play for people, or for more appropriate audiences. When you’re first starting out no one knows who you are and you are playing in venues that aren’t appropriate for you. Eventually more venues are asking you to play so audiences are seeking you out, or to at least be able to work with people of similar music styles. It’s my fault for not comprising with people, as a musician it’s easy to be selfish and only make music for you, like not give a shit if people like your music, and there’s something genuine about that… But recently, I’ve tried to come up with ways to compensate for these abstract ideas and to make them more palatable so people can enjoy them as well because it’s also fun to have people enjoy them with you. Same thing when you’re collaborating with people it’s fun to enjoy hearing the music that you created together. So that’s all part of it, making music that people could just jive off of and be more interactive..
All of Hudson Glover’s music can be found at http://hudsonglover.bandcamp.com/
By: Benji Aguirre