Stranger relations

Brothers Harry and Alfie are releasing their long awaited debut album
Brothers Harry and Alfie are releasing their long awaited debut album

People have been asking when their album is out for three years. Now that it’s here David Hennessy, who is one of those people, spoke to Alfie of the Irish musical duo, Hudson Taylor.

The title of their freshly released debut album, Singing for Strangers, refers to how Dublin sibling duo Hudson Taylor have served their musical apprenticeship. From busking on Grafton Street to finding popularity through YouTube and then supporting the likes of Jake Bugg and Kodaline, bothers Harry and Alfie have been steadily building up a loyal fan base for years. They were both still teenagers when they moved from Dublin to London to follow their dreams of a career in music.

“If it doesn’t come from the heart, we don’t like to sing it,” Alfie tells The Irish World. “You can’t really fake it because you’re up singing it live and you want to feel passionate about it. Otherwise, if you’re singing it and it doesn’t mean anything to you, you’ll probably get  bored so we write about things that affect us and things that are happening in our lives.”

Singing for Strangers has been out in Ireland since January and been received extremely well, while a worldwide release with follow later: “We would have loved for it to come out everywhere at the same time to be honest but we can’t wait to see what kind of impact it has on playing live in the UK with an album out because all our songs might be a little bit more familiar with people. That’s one of the things we’re most excited about. Just because we’ve had people asking when our album is coming out for the last three years, to finally have it in our hands, to finally have it available in the shops or anywhere, online even is just really exciting for us.”

Tracks like Off the Hook, Battles and Weapons sound like modern folk songs and from writers beyond the ages of 23 and 21. Are Hudson Taylor conscious of how the pair have matured as songwriters? “It’s definitely something we’ve just realised. When we started off, we moved to London to learn a bit more about music and the music industry and releasing music so we set up our own label and we released our first EP Battles through that label.

“That was a really good way for us to record an EP, learn the ropes in the studio and how to put it out. We had no money back then to support it or do any advertising, marketing or anything for it. Everybody who was listening to the music and coming to our gigs really helped us out by sharing everything and it was just such a natural way.

“It may sound routine but looking back at that and going, ‘that’s sort of what we want, that’s what we’re in it for really’. I definitely think (we have matured since then).

“Moving country anyway, I was 17 when I moved to London, Harry was 18 and that matured us massively anyway, ya know moving into a house, paying rent, doing all that stuff, that’s something we had never really done before. We were in school before all of this so it was definitely quite a change and then all the gigging as well, meeting people, all the busking.

“All of that stuff I think reflects on your song writing, the more gigs you see, the more things might rub off on you.

“I suppose over time, we have matured. We’ve come to understand it (songwriting) a little bit better. At the same time, I think we can never understand song writing, we can never understand where it comes from. Mostly, it comes accidentally. You can’t force it. Some people do it quite formulaic and they follow a structure that they always do but with Harry and I, it usually comes from a jam. It’s always come about jamming. All the songs that we’re happy with, it’s always just been the two of us in a room jamming away and coming up with something so I suppose as we’ve learned more, our song writing has matured.”

Is it help with their song writing that they are brothers and know each other so well? “Absolutely, it’s extremely beneficial. We first wanted to play music together when we were 15 and 16 living in Dublin. I was in  boarding school, only home at the weekends so we needed each other in a way, to make a bit of pocket money, to have a bit of a laugh and we would only see each other on weekends so we needed to get along and we needed each other on the weekends. That was something that was so positive for us because every time I came home, I would be so motivated to go out busking and so motivated to do a YouTube video and stuff, we became really good at working together and then the same thing with song writing.

“We grew up together, we both know each other’s stories and we know each other’s feelings and experiences about things so that’s really good.

“Just having the two of us so close, we can tell each other anything so the stories become a lot easier. You might tell something to your family that you don’t tell any of your other friends and you can write about it and it’s very therapeutic for the both of us and it’s something we really enjoy and that’s the main thing.”

Playing support to The Coronas, Jake Bugg, Kodaline as well as one occasion The Rolling Stones, the brothers have used their live shows to test out their material: “That’s how we even decided track listing, seeing what songs go well together, that sort of stuff was a brilliant way to just break it.

“We had a couple of support tours as well so you’re playing to people who have never heard of you before and it’s really good to see the reaction with totally fresh people listening to our music and seeing how it goes down.”

Although eager fans have been hoping for a release earlier, does Alfie feel this is the right time for the release? “It’s definitely the right time. I think it probably could have come earlier because we’ve had it finished since about October but it’s really just the way everything panned out.

“In the meantime, in the three years, yes, it has been frustrating not releasing an album but we got to release a lot of EPs which was good because you’re not throwing everything in the same basket, it gives you a bit of time to test things out, test out time in the studio, test out a producer, it gives you all that and that’s really been valuable time for us. Then in the same way, we got to play live so much and build up an audience live and again just develop it.

“Ultimately, I think we’re happy with the amount of time it’s taken but it could have been done quicker. I’m an album person, I like buying albums, I suppose I’m always eager to hear people’s music and hear people’s albums so hopefully next time around, that’s all we can do really, is take all this as a big learning experience and next time around, we’ll be able to write and record a lot quicker. We know what we want a lot more now so I think our second album will be a lot quicker but it has definitely been worth the wait for us, just to have the ability to tour and to record a bunch of times has definitely been worth it.”

Singing for Strangers by Hudson Taylor is out on March 30. For more information, go to http://www.hudsontaylormusic.com/

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