Mr Hudson Biography
Last updated: 05/24/2010
Most people sound-tracking their own break-up wouldn't make an album as gleamingly epic as Straight No Chaser, the future-thinking pop album from Mr Hudson. But most people don't have Kanye West throwing down the gauntlet to make a classic, stadium-filling pop record. G.O.O.D Music / Mercury Records artist Mr Hudson is a multi-talented singer/songwriter from Birmingham, UK with a heart for major hooks, soaring melodies, bright new-wave synths and crushing beats, so his break-up album is a document of misery that sounds like total joy; from the gravity-defying anthem 'Supernova,' to the dubwise banger 'Anyone But Him' to the utterly spare headphone-jam 'Instant Messenger.'
Written in just two months in the spring of 2009 after a whirlwind of touring the UK, flights between London, Los Angeles, and Hawaii (where he worked with West on 808s and Heartbreaks), Hudson was in a weird headspace upon his return to his tiny flat in North London. 'My room was full of guitars and keyboards, there wasn't even enough room for a bed,' says Hudson.
'So I got my landlord to sort out a mattress for me, and I'd put it up against the back wall, it was really good soundproofing. When I'd finished recording at like three AM, I'd throw it down on the floor and jump in my sleeping bag. It was a very low point in my life'I'd thrown everything away. I'd moved out, I left my girl, I had nothing.
So I had to make this album work.'
Hudson set out to make an album that both reflected his diverse musical background (raised on the piano and records by The Police, he can 'sort of' play any instrument he picks up) and his then-emotional truth. 'It's about not fiddling around, not over-complicating the message,' says Hudson. 'People have got busy lives out there, they don't want to be bothered by every idea you have squeezed into an album. It's great, it's fresh. I think we're at a stage now where it's all just pop music. There aren't any rules it's just like let's have fun and entertain people.' So he pared down his ideas and got on his grind. He expanded his vocal ability, singing in higher and breathier ranges than he had on A Tale of Two Cities, his somber, glitchy electronic album from 2007.
For Straight No Chaser - executive produced by West - Hudson plugged in an expanse of drum sounds, tweaking hip-hop, new wave and reggae influences together for epic rhythms. Deep beats, irrefutable piano melodies and vast vocal harmonies take a record steeped in dire emotional circumstances and launch it into something else entirely: ubiquitous, melodious pop. 'It wasn't so much tapping into the emotion of the breakup,' says Hudson, ' as the pipes bursting, so you grab a couple of buckets and try to collect the water. I'm not recommending to anyone to break up with someone in order to write a good album' but if you do, make sure you get into the studio shortly after.'
That such deep sorrow translates into such a massive record is really only right: it's been the emotional undercurrent in all of Hudson's influences ' from stadium-sized rock to Motown soul, from plaintive reggae chants to R&B balladry. 'To admit to the chinks in your armor, to admit to your sorrow, is actually the most gangster thing you can do,' he says.