Hudson Mohawke interview
As Hudson Mohawke gets set to release his debut album David Pollock catches up with the 23-year-old musical prodigy and key member of the LuckyMe collective
Where once Glasgow was known for bands comprised of skinny indie boys playing guitars, music and design collective LuckyMe is changing the face of the city’s music scene. The group of artists and friends (male and female) has been redefining Glasgow’s audio culture with a blend of homemade hip hop and electro music that’s feted by style mags and dance publications, and fast becoming a genre in its own right.
The collective’s most famous member is Hudson Mohawke, a 23-year-old musical prodigy from Glasgow who will release his debut album on revered electronic label Warp (home to Aphex Twin and Maximo Park) this month, and who has already been hailed by Goldie and offered the chance to write songs for Rihanna. HudMo’s real name is Ross Birchard, and he’s lived in Glasgow all his life bar the last month, which is when he relocated to London. However, his father Paul is from Los Angeles, and maintains a career as a Glasgow-based actor: his recent work has included plays for the National Theatre of Scotland and a bit part in The Dark Knight.
‘My dad used to do an American chart show in the middle of the night on Radio Clyde,’ says Birchard, ‘so that was my first exposure to music when I was young. Then Music, the first Playstation game you could make music on, came out roughly the middle of ‘98, and the next edition in 2000 let you take samples from other tracks. That was how I first properly started making music.’
Birchard first met Dominic Flanagan of LuckyMe at the age of 15 through local hip hop clubs, and played at his very first club night. The pair and fellow LM originator Mike Slott – in Birchard’s case, at least, under the influence of being able to hear Missy Elliot mixed in with Detroit techno at the Sub Club’s Optimo – started creating music together, and Slott and Birchard (now rechristened Hudson Mohawke at the random suggestion of a friend) released their first record together as Heralds of Change in early 2006.
Around the same time, Birchard posted a mix tape on his MySpace and sent it to the few labels he most respected, including Paris-based Ed Banger. It was this that convinced Warp to seek him out and offer him a deal, although afterwards, ‘I did pretty much nothing for a year because I was just so excited.’ The year-long recording of his debut album Butter finished in the summer.
‘I’d like to move into guest production for pop and R’n’B acts now,’ says Birchard. ‘One of the songs on the album was meant to go to Rihanna, but I held it back for my own record, perhaps foolishly. I don’t want to be a solo artist like Calvin Harris, though. I want to stay in the background. The career of a guy like (Jay-Z producer) Just Blaze would be perfect for me.’
Hudson Mohawke’s debut album Butter is out on Mon 12 Oct on Warp records. He will launch it with a live set at Numbers at Stereo, Glasgow, Sat 17 Oct. Ballers Social Club with special guest LD is at Stereo, Glasgow, Fri 9 Oct.