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RGM Introducing – Hugo Valentine

Hiya Hugo thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat. Thanks for having me, definitely dying for a brew!

What made you decide to  become an artist? It’s just something I always wanted to do, ever since I was young kid. I used to be so excited about bands at that age, one of the first being (guilty pleasure alert) the Spice Girls. Then it became me listening to music in the car with my parents – Queen, INXS, Genesis, Simply Red. This was early years, but that was the start of it.

What have you been doing during lock down? Trying really hard not to get fat! Ha ha. But no, seriously, a lot of writing as you’d expect, production, yoga.Ffamily time as well has been really nice – I’m blessed to have been around my family during this period and we spent some quality time together. I’ve also even managed to record remotely with Henrik (Fossum, producer) – he’s been back in Norway with his family. It took a while for us to find our feet with this but we’ve now developed a workflow, and in fact, ‘Change’ was one of the songs that came from a remote recording session. Lockdown was also a good opportunity to get a lot of things done that otherwise might have not been done. I can tell you I cleared out a fair few cupboards and gave a lot of stuff away to charity!

How has it affected your mental health? Well at first, there is a bit of that novelty I must admit – being told I was going to have loads of extra time felt like a blessing at first because I was able to spend that time being creative, exploring new musical ideas, and even some self exploration. But then of course there is a lack of social life. Being a musician and a music producer, I spend an awful lot of time on my own, in my studio, late at night, making music and working on things. This is a life I’ve become accustomed to and I of course love, but having social engagements and seeing friends has always punctuated this in a way that gives me renewed energy. Over time, the lack of this has begun to eat away at me, and the little snippets of social activity that I was able to have between lockdowns I’m very grateful for. I can’t wait to get back to that.

So tell me a little bit about you and what you like doing for fun? All kinds of things really – travel is a big one for me. I love travelling to new places, seeing new things, trying new food, experiencing different cultures. I’ve spent a lot of time travelling around Italy, Spain, and also a fair bit of Asia. Being in a new place, hearing new sounds, smelling new smells and thinking new thoughts always inspires me massively and makes me create in a different mindset. I also love yoga, staying fit, mindfulness and also chess! I recently watched a show called the Queen’s Gambit and this massively rekindled my love for chess – I have been playing an awful lot recently.

How do you think the government have looked after the the night time economy / live gig circuit? This is a hard one. Ultimately, what it boils down to, it’s the same old thing – music and musicians are not really given the credit or the value that they deserve. It’s something that every musician has experienced probably on more than one occasion – music is expected to be given and people get so much out of it, but it’s not valued like other services, and often musicians are not remunerated for their work. This is reflected I think in how the government has handled it – the idea that musicians are not important, that we don’t have “real jobs.” Ultimately, it’s unsurprising, and what some people overlook is the fact that if tomorrow, music ceased to exist, the world and society as we know it would surely collapse. Rest assured however, music and musicians will never go away – we are here to stay, so throw what you can at us and we’ll just sing louder.

Whats one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed? To be honest, I don’t really get sick of interview questions – even ones that some might perceive to be basic or obvious will provoke different thought to me, depending on how I’m feeling or where I’m at in that moment. This means that I can always try and bring fresh perspective to things as my mindset is ever-changing. That said, I did have one interview where they asked me all kinds of banal questions about how I register my music with performing rights organisations, and how I deal with my distributors – very boring and not something that anyone particularly wants to hear

What support is out there for new artists in London ? London is a hard scene to crack, there is of course loads of music around but it’s often spread out, which makes it difficult to find defined scenes of music these days. This makes it harder to latch onto, but there are a lot of organisations, groups, collectives and I’ve come into contact and been involved with a few of these over the years that have really benefited me. There are also of course many awesome gigs, amazing venues (hopefully some of them will survive this pandemic), and some great musicians.

Who is inspiring you at the minute? Yebba. I can’t get enough of her – if you haven’t heard of her, go out and listen to her, you will be blown away. I’m also loving Dua Lipa at the moment, and I’ve also been listening a lot to Arcade Fire – they are by far one of my favourite bands, both on record and live.

If your fans could remember one thing about you what would it be? My extensive hat collection

What useless talent do you have/ party trick?  I don’t know if you’d call this a party trick, I’m not sure it’s entirely useless either, but one thing I often get browbeaten into doing at parties is headstands. I learnt to do these from practicing yoga, and though they’re not particularly difficult to do once you get the hang of them, they do look quite impressive, particularly after people have had a couple of drinks!!

What was the most fun you have had on stage? I had an amazing time at Carfest last year. I was with the full band, it was a beautiful day with blazing sunshine, and the tent was absolutely packed with people vibing and just having a great time. I love what Chris Evans does with Carfest, and it’s for such a cause which is the icing on an already amazing cake.

What was the worst experience on stage? I have to say I’ve done a fair few open mics in my time, and there have been some shockers. There is one particular time I was invited to play a gig at a venue in Islington. I was told it would be a mellow, singer-songwriter acoustic night, but it actually turned out to be a bar full of people having post-work drinks. I managed to fight my way through the packed room to carry my keyboard, to the back of the room, where I was able to just about set up. However, after two songs I had to abort because the in-house manager had refused to turn the background music off and unfortunately, nobody could hear me. It was awful.

Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about?  I used to do cricket scoring at school!

Who would you like to duet with? Chris Martin, obviously.

What advice would you give someone going into the music industry? There are so many clichéd answers to this question. Do something else? Haha. You know, would you believe that’s what people actually used to tell me when I started, and it just made me wanna do it more. But seriously though, live and breathe it, do it because you love it, love it because you do it. I can’t really say any more than that

Right now, whats pissing you of the most? (Cant say the virus 🙂  Being single.

We recently reviewed your last single. How did you feel the review went? You did indeed! Some very heartwarming words they were, inspiring. When people write nice things about me, it makes me want to do it more, it makes it all worth it. So thank you for that!

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world? Just love people. That something this whole pandemic has taught me – love the person next to you, we are all humans. Connect with people, be nice to them, but overall, learn to love yourself.

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