Irish alternative-folk duo Hudson Taylor — comprised of brothers Harry and Alfie — will release their highly anticipated debut record Singing for Strangers on March 30th. To discuss moving to London, singing for strangers, action figures, the nineties, and Irish artists, A Music Blog, Yea? recently gave the charming and charismatic Alfie Hudson-Taylor a call. Dive into our conversation below and be sure to pre-order Singing for Strangers here.
AMBY: Hey Alfie, welcome to AMBY. How are you doing?
Hudson Taylor: I’m great, thanks. Are you in Canada?
Hudson Taylor: Ah, that’s amazing. I love Canada.
AMBY: I have to say, I’ve been trying to track down an interview with you for quite some time, for about a year or two. I’m very happy we could make this happen today.
Hudson Taylor: A couple of years?!
AMBY: [laughs] Yes, my staff and I have been fans for a while.
Hudson Taylor: Oh wow. We should have done this sooner, Alicia. Thanks for the opportunity.
AMBY: It’s my pleasure! Well, to kick things off, you release your debut record Singing for Strangers worldwide this month. Congratulations.
Hudson Taylor: Thank you so much.
AMBY: Tell me a bit about the record and your experience recording it with your brother.
Hudson Taylor: The album is actually quite a long album; it’s got twenty-one songs on it which includes twelve that were recorded in the studio and nine other songs that Harry and I produced ourselves over the years. We’ve been to lots of different studios around the UK, but we’ve been based in London over the last three years. I suppose, a lot of the songs are about our journey in music. We grew up in Dublin and then moved to pursue music as a career and find out a bit more about it; find out what a record label was, find out how to make an album, and all sorts of things. I left school and Harry left his university as well in order to come over to London. That had a lot of strain on relationships and family and a bunch of things. So, a lot of the album is written about that and is inspired by the last three or four years.
AMBY: You mention there how the album is about your journey. I know that you and your brother initially started out by busking at a very young age. Is that where the record’s title Singing for Strangers derived from?
Hudson Taylor: Exactly! We thought that it was the best fit for the title and summed everything up the most. The first time we ever kind of picked up and played together was on a family holiday in Italy and there were a bunch of people sitting on a beach. We had a guitar and they asked us if we could play them a song, and so we did. It all sort of started from there, as we were singing for strangers. Then we got back to Dublin, started putting stuff up on YouTube, and we were singing to the camera while still “singing for strangers” [laughs]. We absolutely loved busking so much and it was a great way for me and Harry to have something to do on the weekend. It was also a great way for me and Harry to get along and be together.
AMBY: Were there any stories in specific from your busking experiences that went into a song or lyric on the album?
Hudson Taylor: I’m sure there is now. I need to have a think. Harry’s here, actually, and he might be able to think of one. [speaks away from phone] Harry, are there any songs on the album that were inspired directly from busking? [back to phone] Oh yea! We have a song on one of our EPs which was inspired by busking. When we moved to London and tried to busk in London, it didn’t really go as well as it had in Dublin. It is kind of about that and how people might not want to listen and how that felt.
AMBY: While recording the album, did you find the dynamic of being siblings made working together easier or did you butt heads more often because of it?
Hudson Taylor: To be honest, it makes it so much easier. We’ve not really been in any other serious bands or anything, so we’ve gone through the whole process together and know just as much about each other as we do ourselves. We think that’s a very cool thing because any difficult conversations we need to have about music or anything, we can have them together. There’s two of us in the exact same boat, we’re really good friends, so we’re able to talk about anything. That really helps. Often as well, with the two of us singing, we have quite similar voices being that we have the same parents and have the same blood – that’s nice.
AMBY and Hudson Taylor: [laughs]
AMBY: You recently released a video for World Without You which features the Action Man action figure. It’s a very heartfelt video, so I’m curious, why did you decide to go with that toy rather than any other? What’s its significance to you?
Hudson Taylor: The reason, I suppose, is because we wrote the song two years ago and now it’s going to be our next single off the album. We wanted to, with the video, have the concept of a father and son but make it relate to us. I think it really hits home with anybody who’s gone through a divorce in the family. Harry and I went through that with our parents when we were quite young, so it hit home with us. Then we worked with two directors on the idea since we wanted it to capture some imagery from there; we remembered how we both had Action Man at a time and decided to put it in the video.
AMBY: After posting the video on Facebook, you wrote to your fans “Children of the 90s, this one’s dedicated to you!”
Hudson Taylor: Absolutely.
AMBY: What would you say is your favourite thing to come out of the nineties?
Hudson Taylor: One of the first songs I ever remember hearing was Oasis’ Wonderwall, and I suppose it’s a very overplayed song at this point, but I love that song and it somewhat got me into music.
Hudson Taylor: I’ve never thought about that before [laughs].
AMBY: You and Harry wrapped up your first Singing for Strangers tour recently, and I loved the photographs you posted after each show with the crowds behind you.
Hudson Taylor: Ah, thank you.
AMBY: How was that touring experience for you, and how were the crowds vibing off the new music?
Hudson Taylor: The experience was absolutely amazing. We are itching to go out on another tour – it’s our favourite thing to do. We started off in Scotland and then made our way down the UK and back to London and then got to go home and play in Ireland. Our album has been out in Ireland since January, so the crowd’s reactions to the songs were amazing. We’ve also had the opportunity to tour with other artists like Jake Bugg and another Irish band called Kodaline. We can’t wait to get back on the road again.
AMBY: I’m glad to hear it. You mention Kodaline there who we love here at AMBY, and at the moment, there’s this incredible wave of Irish music coming along. Which artists from there would you recommend our readers listen to?
Hudson Taylor: Well, Kodaline is one of them since I think they’re an absolutely great band. There’s another guy called Gavin James who’s brilliant and is an absolutely amazing songwriting. Hozier, of course, everyone would know him at this stage but he’s a great songwriter. Orla Gartland is a friend of ours who’s great, too.
AMBY: And to wrap things up, what’s the best part of being in Hudson Taylor?
Hudson Taylor: The best part is probably playing live with my brother, getting to travel the world with my brother, and having all of our friends with us. Just having the times of our lives, I suppose! Doing that and getting to share it all is amazing.
Thank you Hudson Taylor, for giving us your answers!
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/160820417″ params=”color=00aabb&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout