Interview: Hudson Mohawke
The electronic producer on big name collaborators and doing his own thing
Hudson Mohawke is one of the most startling electronic producers to come out of Scotland in recent years. David Pollock talks to him about beats, LuckyMe and his new EP on Warp Records.
At last, the world seems to be catching up with Hudson Mohawke. It’s been two years since the Glasgow-bred, London-based producer released his debut album Butter on the mighty Warp Records, largely to recognition only from listeners of a truly underground sensibility. The hyperactive combination of hip hop, electro and synthetic 80s soul was fiercely challenging, and perhaps took a bit of getting used to.
Fast forward to 2011 and 25-year-old Ross Birchard had made enough of an impact to appear on the cover of the furiously trend-surfing Guardian Guide a couple of months ago, around the time of his Satin Panthers EP release. He’s also been producing for a number of high-profile clients in the US, although he isn’t at liberty to name many of them. And now, ahead of this rescheduled date with old collaborators LuckyMe in Edinburgh, his thoughts are turning to the next record.
‘I think it’ll be a more succinct album,’ he says on the line from a hotel room in Europe, ‘because last time I didn’t set out to make an album from start to finish, it was more a compilation of tracks picked from the back catalogue of everything I’d ever done. So this one will be planned from start to finish.’ Satin Panthers was Birchard says, a departure into a more club-oriented sound, but for the new record he wants to make ‘more of a listening album.’
As far as possible collaborators go, he’d rather not spill the beans until nearer the album’s planned release towards summer 2012. ‘I’m not discussing anything about it in interviews,’ he says, ‘because I’ve done that in the past, announced stuff and then it hasn’t happened.’ Will we be hearing big names or up and coming artists? ‘Big names to me,’ he laughs.
Fortunately the roster of Birchard’s production collaborators isn’t entirely a closely-guarded secret. He produced the debut EP by Manchester band Egyptian Hip-Hop last year, and since then he’s worked with members of Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment collective and the notorious Chris Brown. ‘That came from a weird connection,’ he says of the latter link-up. ‘Steve Beckett who runs Warp, his wife is friends with two choreographer guys who’d done videos with Chris Brown, so they came to see me in New York and word got back to him. It’s not the kind of thing where I was sitting in a studio with him, but it should open doors – it seems to be already, actually.’
Despite the growing international recognition, though, the move to London has been the only major life change since the release of Butter. ‘All I want to do is make music,’ HudMo says, ‘and as long as I can sit in a room on my own and do that, then that’s enough for me. Nothing’s changed, I’m not living in a mansion or anything like that. I’ve got a slightly more professional studio, but even that’s still really basic.
‘I’m just not big into self-promotion, you know? I just like to do my own thing, and hopefully people take notice and it can grow organically from there. That’s how I want it to be, I don’t want to spam people or force things on them.’ At this rate, as he’s proving, the world will come to him eventually.
Hudson Mohawke plays LuckyMe at Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, Fri 25 Nov.