RGM Introducing – Our Interview with the artist HUSK

Hiya mate thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
A big virtual ‘Hello!’

What made you decide to start to become a soloist?

It wasn’t really a decision, it just kind of happened. I’ve written music for others, but I had some music I just really liked playing. I recorded it and decided to just put it out there. It was all a bit of an accident, but I still love playing with a band. Although, it is easier to organise a schedule when there’s only one of you! Haha!

Introduce us all to yourself and your musical history?

I’ve been writing music since about 15 years old, and have written for some amazing artists, from drag queens to a full choir! Writing is my favourite thing to do, and my songs are kind of like my children, some of them, I want to take care of myself! Haha!

I got really inspired in 2017, by Dragonette’s Royal Blues album, and when Nadine Coyle brought out ‘Go To Work’, and I was just like ‘this is really well crafted Pop, interesting, satisfying and just really well done!’ So I decided I wanted to hop into the studio and make something too. So I came up with the pseudonym ‘HUSK’ which I actually got from Marvel’s X-Men. To me, it’s kind of like an exterior, the bits of yourself you bring to the front when stepping out on your own like that whilst protecting the squishy parts of you. Performing was a really daunting prospect.

I made a little EP with Sugar House Music, that had ‘You Got It’ on it, that ended up getting some National airplay on 6Music, quite a lot actually, amongst other things, and I was like ‘this is really fun!’ I kept writing, and noticed that people were responding really well.

I’ve had some amazing opportunities, hard fought for mind, and made an impact on a few people who needed to see a performer like me: queer, trans, fun and unapologetically open about it. I never had that, and it took me a long time, and a lot of heartache to know I can be open and honest about it, even if it’s hard, and so that’s all I try to be.

I’ve tried chasing Spotify playlists, tried converting industry peeps who said they ‘like the music’ but ‘don’t know what to do with me’ or radio DJ’s who say ‘I don’t get your voice’, because it’s not typically masc or femme, but I’ve taken the weight out of all of that. I’m just having fun with some music I’m proud of, and that real people like.

How much are you looking forward to playing live?

I did my first show with real people, allowed to get up on their feet and really enjoy it last weekend. It was incredible. Especially being out with songs I released during lockdown that have so much energy that I need to share with a real audience. I write music with a strong beat, disco vibes and loads of cathartic 80s synth to share it with other people, so I’m so, so happy to be able to do that again!

Music is a great connector, and it’s been suppressed for too long.

Whats one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?

‘What does Pride mean to you’. It’s a loaded question, and whilst I love being a visible queer, and more specifically trans artist, there’s a lot of layers to that question. Sometimes, I just wanna sing some songs, have a good time, and maybe be the representation that someone needs. Although, I did once have the whole crowd chant ‘trans rights are human rights’, which was really powerful!

What’s your favourite song right now from another artist currently on your local circuit?

‘Sorry’ by LIINES. I put it on when I’m in the gym!

Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?

I do like memes about ‘the gay agenda’, but the rest of them haven’t told me what it is yet and I’m beginning the think there isn’t one. I’m still making enquiries about ‘the trans agenda’.

What support is out there for new trans artists?

The best support there is, is people who just want good music, and/or want to support trans music. Those who buy and stream the music, share our posts, turn up to our shows. I think it’s true of any artist, but there aren’t really any A&R headhunters looking for trans artists, and there’s still a lot of stigma and prejudice against our existence. We have to carve out our own space and opportunities a lot of the time.

But there are some fantastic organisations, with fantastic people working for them, that know trans people have a lot to offer, and our music is good; if I do say so myself! Haha!

Who is inspiring you at the minute on the Manchester unsigned scene?

I’m doing a show with three of the finest at the end of August in Manchester: Softlad, The Elephant Trees, and The KTNA.

Always on the best Mancunian playlists, always doing the best shows, and now I get to do this show with all of them too!

Celebrating women & LGBT+ artist, it’s called ‘Louder’, and I think that’s what we should all be! We’re going for chilled vibe, and it’s going to be fabulous!

What useless party trick /talent do you have/?

I can do a pretty good Northern Irish accent, even my Irish friends are always impressed! Haha!

What was the most fun you have had on stage?

There’s so many! But I think one of the stand out one is Manchester International Festival in 2019. I love bringing visuals on stage with me, very neon, and they had a HUGE screen. The room was packed, and it seemed that everyone that has ever been to anyone of my shows in Manchester was there, having the best time.

When I finished, I thanked them all for having me, and sharing their time with me. As a home town show, with real community vibes, I got a little emotional, and had a little cry!

What was the worst experience on stage?

I did a show exactly one year after Prince had died, and I wore this beautiful long tailed waist coat as an ode to Prince. The crowd were already a little confused by me, it happens sometimes when you get an audience who are not exposed to queer performers a lot. I mentioned my waist coat, and how it was an ode to Prince, and how it was the anniversary of his death, expecting a little cheer for Prince, because, well, he’s a legend. Dead. Silence.

It was awful. I got off stage and got a stiff drink.

Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about?

I have a Girls Aloud tattoo on my chest.

It’s the lyrics ‘beautiful robots dancing alone’ from ‘Untouchable’, with a cute robot I named ‘Brian’ after Brian Higgins, the guy behind their music!

Tell us a funny story from backstage?

There’s been a few, but I remember this one because of the graphic nature of some of the drawings. The green room at this venue I played had like a million penis drawings, doodled by the bands that have played there. Me, St Lucifer and DEF NEON drew some vaginas, as a protest.

If you had to describe your sound to an alien how would you describe them?

Neon beat driven ear worm left field Pop!

Name a four piece band made up of legends – who would be in it? (drummer, bass, lead singer etc)
Lead Singer: Debbie Harry (Blondie) because her energy is amazing.
Bass: Bernard Edwards (Chic), I don’t think this needs an explanation

Synth: Eurythmics, both of them because we need their layers. We could get Annie doing vocals with Debbie too!
Drums: Neil Peart (Rush), he was incredibly talented but never stopped learning, and that’s so inspiring!

If you could play any music festival which would it be?

I think Glastonbury, as the original, is the dream. If not myself playing it, someone singing my songs on the Pyramid Stage, being sung back from the crowd. Dream big, hey?

Whats your biggest achievement as an Artist?

My Brit award. No, I’m totally joking, but that would be cool. The biggest achievement is definitely when you’re walking through a space, and someone stops you to tell you they ‘love’ you! It means what you’re doing is working, and for me, being my authentic self is touching the people who need it. 

LGBT+ people tend to find each other because we’re outcast from the rest of the world in a lot of ways. So yeah, having someone you haven’t seen at a show before singing your songs or having a stranger come up to you and compliment your music is the biggest achievement, even if it is a little strange! I’ve actually made some good friends this way.

What makes you stand out as an Artist?

I make music that is meant to be cathartic to anyone who feels like the world is on their shoulders, and I think that’s pretty much everyone these days. I perform it as a visible trans masculine, non- binary, openly queer artist, and my music is a cathartic experience for myself as a queer person. When I do a show, it’s not a ‘performance’, but me just really getting all the bad stuff out by vibing to the music.

There aren’t a lot of visible Synthpop making trans masc people, at least not in Manchester, or even the UK right now, I’m pretty much it! But being openly trans gives you freedoms because you’ve basically broken all the rules in society anyway, so you might as well just go for it – that’s how I want others to feel, queer or not! Music is freedom.

Right now, whats pissing you of the most? (Cant say the virus)

The fact that it’s not Autumn yet. I’m ready for crunchy leaves, cinnamon on everything, and most importantly, the absence of pollen.

I hear you have a new single brewing, what can you tell us about it?

I’ve just released my new one ‘My Innocence’ which is ‘thunderous pop at home in a neon roller disco’. I wrote it back in November, when I was really missing sweaty night club dancing and seeing people embracing possibilities with new friends and lovers. It’s basically a song about and for all of that.

It’s very 80’s and disco-y. Akin to the likes of Erasure, The Pet Shop Boys, Years & Years, Roísín Murphy’s new stuff and Bright Light Bright Light.

What are your plans for the year ahead? Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
LIVE SHOWS! I’m going to be back out on stage! I’m doing, Louder at Feel Good Club on 26th, Alt Femme, Alt Pride Manchester Pride weekend, Chester Pride in September and rescheduled Electropop Curious! 

I’ve also got a video and remix of ‘My Innocence’ on the way and am making new stuff in the studio as we speak!

I’m hoping I can write for more people too, as it’s been so long that I’ve been able to connect with anyone and collaborate on new projects.