Q&A: Irish folk duo Hudson Taylor talk identity, influence, and new album

Q&A: Irish folk duo Hudson Taylor talk identity, influence, and new album

Written by Olivia Oriaku

Brothers Alfie and Harry Hudson-Taylor have been surrounded by music for as long as they can remember. Drawing inspiration from their homeland of Dublin, Ireland, the duo formed Hudson Taylor and created a unique sound that falls somewhere between indie-rock and folk. They released their new mini-album “Bear Creek To Dame Street” on Sept. 21, following their successful five-track EP titled “Feel It Again,” and are currently traveling around North America, accompanying fellow Irishman Hozier on his sold-out tour and headlining several of their own shows.

In light of Hudson Taylor’s upcoming Boston shows, one being their headlining show on Sept. 30 at City Winery and the other being their supporting show with Hozier on Oct. 1 at House of Blues, Artistry Magazine spoke with Harry Hudson-Taylor over the phone, from a hotel room in Chicago, as he was gearing up for his show that night at Riviera Theatre.

Photos courtesy of Big Hassle Media

Artistry Magazine: How did you start creating music with your brother, Alfie? Did you grow up in a musical household?

Harry Hudson-Taylor: Yes, we grew up in quite a musical household! Some of my strongest memories are of my dad playing the piano and the trumpet, and at young ages, I think Alfie and I found comfort in my dad’s music. I picked up the trumpet when I was about four or five years old and played that for a few years. I also started taking piano lessons at a young age and picked up the guitar when I was about 13. During all of this, Alfie was engaged in Irish dancing. We didn’t actually start playing music together until we were about 15 and 16.

The story goes: I brought my guitar on a family holiday to Italy. We stayed in a caravan at a camping site on the beach with lots of different people from all over the world; it’s quite a European thing. So Alfie and I brought the guitar down to the beach and started playing a few tunes. There was a group of German people that were also on holiday, and they asked us to come over and play some music for them. The beach party that we had the first night, where we were playing tunes for them, sort of became a big thing that happened every night of the trip. And after a week, when it came time to leave, they told us to make a YouTube channel. We ended up making one and from there we went on busking and eventually ended up here somehow.

AM: What music did you grow up listening to? Who are some of your musical influences?

HH-T: From our parents’ collection of records, we listened to The Beach Boys, The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel. But it was Alfie and I’s older sister that got us into music that was more of our time — early 2000s music, like Eminem. I was a bit too young at this point to be listening to Eminem, but I did it anyway. As for Alfie, he went through a pretty big AC/DC phase. He even used to have a pink mohawk! Nowadays, we’re influenced by quite a lot of the same stuff. Right now, I’m influenced by Conor O’Brien, who’s part of an Irish band called the Villagers. I was actually just listening to their new album before I started talking to you; it’s absolutely brilliant. I’m also quite influenced by Paul Simon and Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice.

AM: How has your Irish identity and cultural background influenced your music?

HH-T: It’s an undeniable thing, being influenced by where you’ve grown up. The music culture in Ireland is really great. All the stereotypical Irish stuff you hear about is actually real; think guys playing fiddles and whistles and stuff like that. There’s a huge storytelling element to Irish folk music. Also, playing music on the streets is a big thing in Dublin. Over the years, big bands have come up through busking. Ireland has a lot of singer-songwriters, and in most pubs, there are always guys playing guitars and singing.

And this is random, but I grew up about five minutes from the sea in Dublin, and I think the seaside definitely influenced my music. I just love the sea and I love water. Ireland’s beautiful, and Boston is as well. You’re in Boston right?

AM: Yes! Have you performed in Boston before?

HH-T: Yes, we’ve played once in Boston before, back in February. We were supporting Gabrielle Aplin on tour. I had a great time in Boston, and I can’t wait to go back!

AM: So, this would be your second tour in the States?  

HH-T: Yes, the tour we did in February with Gabrielle went through roughly the same cities as this tour. On that tour, we performed in more club-sized venues, whereas this time, we’re performing in theatres. It’s been great! In the last six months, we’ve seen most major cities in the United States and a few in Canada.

AM: What is it like touring with Hozier?

HH-T: It’s amazing! Hozier is such a nice guy. He’s just the most angelic man, so calm and collected. I value his opinions so much. His band is also really lovely.

AM: What artists would you want to work with in the future?

HH-T: I’d love to work with Hozier! We have the same manager, so it’s quite possible! My lifetime dream would be to work with Paul Simon.

AM: I’m curious, is there any particular meaning behind the album’s name?

HH-T: Yes, ‘Bear Creek’ is the studio in Seattle where we recorded the new tracks on the album. Then, the ‘to Dame Street’ part comes from Olympia Theatre on Dame Street in Dublin, where we played a headline show. So, that’s where the name comes from, “Bear Creek to Dame Street” — it’s from studio to live.

AM: What’s your favorite song on the album?

HH-T: I think “Shot Someone” is my favorite song at the moment, but it changes a lot. “You Don’t Wanna Know” has been around for a long time, and I’m really excited that it’s finally released. On the live side of things, I really like “Don’t Know Why.” I’m really excited about the whole body of work! I like the way we’ve managed to arrange the album for Vinyl, where the first side has our new tracks and the second half has our older tracks, which are live.

AM: What can we expect from Hudson Taylor in the future? What’s next?

HH-T: From now until the end of this year, Hudson Taylor will be touring a lot! As soon as we’re back from our tour supporting Hozier, we’ll be doing some headline shows around Europe.

AM: Do you have any advice for upcoming singer-songwriters?

HH-T: First of all, I’d say make sure you’re in it for the right reasons. I mean, I don’t know what the right reasons are for everyone, but you shouldn’t do it for the money. You should do it for the love of it. Also, I’d say it’s very competitive out there. The best thing you can do for yourself is learn as much as you can. Whether it’s learning how to record or just going on YouTube to learn a new skill, you should take matters into your own hands. You are your own driving force.

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