Hype is a fascinating currency.
You can travel the world. You can open any door and many a set of long legs if you are swathed in hype. Yet at some point you need to account for your talent and if you don’t have it in the lock-up you’ll be papped out in the cold faster than you can say ‘Fool’s gold’.
Hudson Mohawke, Glasgow’s much-touted beat monger recently became one of the most hyped electronic artists for a considerable time. It was both captivating, and as a contemporary from Glasgow, slightly worrying to see so much pressure heaped on him based on just one EP. With the ink still moist on a contract with Warp Records things went up another level as people dug out his web-based beat tapes, and the blogs wetted both their legs. Dizzying no doubt.
So, how was all this hype for Ross Bichard, stranded on the opposite side of the magazine copy and web pages dedicated to him? “Overall I felt, ‘If I can’t nail this first one, than I have no career’, basically. After I signed a deal with Warp it was almost a year before I even started to work on an album, I was just so freaked out about it. Just the thought of having to stand alongside these other guys on the label.”
Those other guys are artists like Aphex Twin and Squarepusher, but there’s also a growing, almost global niche of wonky, abstract hip-hop pioneered by the likes of Prefuse 73 and Dabrye yet galvanised over the last few years by a roll call of disparate producers such as Flying Lotus from LA, Fulgeance from France, Bullion and Paul White from London and brother in rhythm Rustie from Glasgow.
“I do feel like there’s a bit of a community spread about a little bit,” claims the former teenage DMC Champion, “but I also think what’s nice about that is the way it’s going at the moment; we’re all sort of in a niche, nobody’s really making the same music. Nobody’s doing exactly the same thing but it’s all falling into the same sounds. I wouldn’t want to be involved in a scene where everybody’s doing the same thing. I think it’s relatively fresh and it keeps it interesting.”
Despite a similar sound growing in varying sunlit corners around Europe and the US it is hard to overstate how important geography was for Hudson’s debut album, ‘Butter’. Glasgow is currently filling her lungs ready to blow the sounds of a new generation across the world. Already a city addicted to machine funk and the glacial kiss of techno, its rhythms over the last few years have started to splinter. Dubstep was quickly adopted as its own whilst freaked out hip-hop drenched in off-kilter detail has become something of a speciality.
Aided by a spate of small but well amplified cellars holding anywhere between eighty and three hundred people, there were enough spaces for micro club nights to emerge and sustain themselves on specialist sounds. Out of this has come the Numbers club night/label alongside artists like Rustie (also appearing on Warp in 2010) and promoters like Ballers Social, who fly in incredibly niche guests to feed the appetites of a scene that is completely restless.
Ross expands: “The root of it is that people are open to hear different kinds of stuff even though it’s traditionally a techno city. It’s kind of cosmopolitan now, people are just open to hearing new things. Because there’s so many different nights on that bring in foreign guests people are getting used to not always hearing the same stuff. While it’s never been traditionally a city where you’d go out to hear hip-hop, I think we’re just sort of ready to hear a version of hip-hop that seemed a bit more in line with what they were used to, which was a bit more electronic and a bit more dance floor aimed.”
Glasgow’s future, however, will have to cope without Hudson’s scattered beats as he recently moved to London, though expect him to be propping up Jay-Z’s studio bar before too long in LA. The twenty-three-year-old has an artistic vision that is quite unique amongst the Warp glitterati. Rather than disappear into the Scottish highlands to buy tanks and old banks the producer wants his chrome-plated beats to be burning mercurially through the charts. And we are talking big. “My immediate plan is to do some production for other major artists, and there have been some initial talks with Rihanna’s people,” he reveals. “I’m going to be doing some Crookers stuff as well as speaking to Erykah Badu. Basically I want to move in that scene and become more of a producer, working on an actual artist. Not that I’m comparing myself to him but sort of Quincy Jones style, that’s what I’d like to go for, kind of like an executive producer.” Keep paying attention as sunnier climes than Glasgow or London no doubt beckon, since Hudson’s bass rate just keeps on rising.
‘Butter’ is out now on Warp.
Words by Matthew Bennett