Indieterria meets Jodie Hughes
Another month, another edition of Indieterria and we just discovered a real gem worth telling you about. So far we concentrated on bands, but this time around we will profile a solo artist (even if she is part of a band as well). After all – variety is the spice of life.
We are beyond excited to bring you this interview . Jodie Hughes is unique: hip and mysterious, outgoing, intellectual, artistic and she`s also a polymath (person who is knowledgeable in various disciplines). She may be very young but, as you will soon discover, she had done in her time more than a lot of us. And she is just getting started.
Jodie Hughes – In a league of her own.
In the world where artists document their entire lives on social media, Jodie Hughes goes against the current. Her online presence is minimal, she scrupulously avoids the spotlight, values education more than fame and releases her music exclusively in form of home-made demos. In the same time, she is a multi-instrumentalist (playing piano, keyboards, synths, bass, ukulele and guitar), avid busker, alumni of Worcester School of Rock, one of the youngest participants of Worcester Music Festival (she was fifteen when she performed in 2015 to a full house) and recently she supported the hottest acts on indie scene – Anteros and The Assist.
We just knew that we had to interview Jodie . Not every day you meet such a diverse, young artist.
As a singer and songwriter, your presence on local scene is strong, yet you remain mysterious and elusive. I know you fiercely guard your privacy and allow little information to appear online. By your own words, what should be known about Jodie Huges as an artist and musician?
I have a very wide variety of influences and I like a little mystery! I’m very fussy about my original songs, they have to be perfect for me to share them.
You recently opened Independent Music Week event in Worcester by supporting such accomplished acts as The Assist and Anteros. What is your reflection of the night?
I really enjoyed it!! It was a fantastic opportunity and Independent Music Week is brilliant for reminding people of some of the great venues that are out there. I’m very honoured to have been a part of it!
Slap Magazine described you previously as possessing “beautifully melodic vocals”, others drew comparisons to Amy McDonald, Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star and Bilinda Butcher of My Bloody Valentine. Do you regard such praises as a compliment or unnecessary pressure?
I like hearing other people’s opinions of my music, I like learning different people’s interpretations! I definitely see it as a compliment to be compared to such successful artists and it sometimes introduces me to new artists too!
You are being likened to Hope Sandoval also because of your unusual artistic strategy: occasional gigs instead of regular performances, busking around with no prior announcements, no demos or EPs being released. Are you waging this musical guerrilla to keep audience on their toes?
Mostly it’s due to time constraints, it’s often difficult to balance time spent on music with college work, especially at this time of year! I definitely try to keep my music going in some form, be it writing or busking, alongside working – it’s healthy to have something separate to focus on as a break from college work. I’m hoping to work more intensely on writing and hopefully more gigs over the summer after exams though! Plus it’s always fun to keep people guessing!!!
Your SoundClound account is filled by original compositions and covers of eclectic artists like Neutral Milk Hotel and The Neighbourhood. You seem to enjoy confusing anyone who tries to squeeze you into a box.
I’ve always had a wide range of music tastes – I don’t think I could put myself into any box really! I’ve had phases where I’ve taken a particular type of music, like pop punk or indie, and tried to solely fit myself into that one genre, but there’s just so much out there it’s good to discover what else there is! My band do sometimes covers of many different artists – Fleetwood Mac, REM, Erasure and Beyonce to name a few. Over the years I’ve discovered so many great artists from so many genres, I encourage everyone else to do the same.
We are intrigued by one of your original pieces – “Don’t talk to me about death”. There is a line in the middle that goes “keep pretending that you`ll be my Kurt Cobain”. You sound almost furious in that track. Is it based on personal experience?
The song is based on a particular person – or I suppose a particular type of person – who tried to create a persona based on self-pity and trying to appear deep and meaningful through cynicism. The Kurt Cobain reference was in relation to this idea of appearing a certain way and glorifying and romanticizing mental illness, which is often done by the media regarding celebrities such as Kurt Cobain. The idea of trying to be negative just to appear a certain way, and almost making a mockery out of mental illness by using it as an accessory, seemed so ridiculous to me, it felt necessary to voice my feelings on it somehow.
Another track worth mentioning is “Mixtapes And Metaphors” – a love song with incredibly clever lyrics. As a song writer what is more important to you – composing of music or having a story to tell?
I think it’s a bit of both – they can work quite well together actually. I like intricacy, it’s something I’ve been trying to work on more by remodelling some of my old songs and adding more subtle details. I personally find writing lyrics very difficult, so I think I generally prefer the composing and storytelling through the other parts of the song. I am hoping to improve my lyric-writing though! I find some songs with such detail and little lyrics sometimes work better (like The 1975’s song “I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It”).
Besides being a musician, you are also a skilled painter. You design all covers to your demos. Can we expect any exhibitions from you in the future?
That’d definitely be something I’d like to do one day! I’ve been experimenting with what subject matter I like to work with recently – animals and flowers have been fun to study. Similarly to my music, it’s nice to have something to do as a break from work, and having stopped studying art at college I’ve been able to experiment more at my own pace and in my own style.
You are currently working towards a degree in law and philosophy. Do you think it is obligatory for musicians these days to have a proper education alongside their artistic endeavors?
It’s a matter of choice really. I know some great musicians who are going to do degrees in music tech, which is a really good option for them. I personally chose to go down a path not related to music so that I can enjoy lots of different things – Law is a subject that I really enjoy studying, whereas things like music and art I prefer to have more freedom over, and the option to pick it up as and when I have the inspiration. I’ve personally found it harder to work creatively under time constraints. However if that works for other musicians that’s great for them! I think everyone should consider what would be best for them in the long run, but that may be a music-based career/education for some people.
We know you prefer to take your audience by surprise. But what should we expect from Jodie Hughes in the months or years to come?
I’m hoping to go a bit more electronic maybe. I’ve been looking into getting hold of an Akai Miniak – my dad has two he uses for gigs and there’s so much you can do with them. That’s definitely something I’m interested in. Again, I’m hoping to have more time to write and record more after exams, perhaps re-recording some of my old songs and updating them a bit. Who knows, I may even start new projects while I’m at university!
Focused, fiercely independent and always looking for new artistic endeavours, Jodie Hughes has no match on local music scene. She has created a whole league of her own.
Jodie Hughes – Mixtapes and Metaphors (EP review)
“Mixtapes and Metaphors” is a digital EP or a collection of home recordings that Jodie released between 2015 and 2017. It contains the following original compositions: Angel Statue, Crazy Scientist, Don’t Talk To Me About Death, Small Talks, unfinished version of New Years and the title track Mixtapes and Metaphors. Each song is accompanied by a mysterious drawing, often a study of animals, human faces or natura morta. Most tracks can be qualified into singer/songwriter category bringing comparisons with Amy McDonald or Courtney Barnett. Don’t Talk to Me about Death stands out thanks to very personal lyrics and angry vocals, while Angel Statue incorporates keyboards, samples and has a vivid shoegaze feel to it, including distorted vocals that make Jodie Hughes sound eerily like Belinda Butcher. Somebody please call Creation Records!
On April 14th, Jodie released a new demo – Lake Water (Blue) – this time playing with synthesizers and electronica.
We thought you would like to see the covers of Jodie`s demos. They are spectacular.
You can read this interview (in a shorter form) in the April 2017 issue of Slap Magazine:
Online version of the magazine can be found here:
or you can download the file directly from here:
You can follow Jodie Hughes using the links below:
Independent Venue Week 2017
Last week of January is usually dedicated to independent music venues across the country. Worcester is a home to Marrs Bar, which is both proudly independent and ran with the local music scene in mind. On 26th January 2017, Marrs Bar hosted an opening night of UNCOVER – a local club night, while simultaneously taking part in Independent Venue Week.
UNCOVER invited some esteemed guests to play in Worcester: Anteros and Rhythm Method (London) and The Assist (Birmingham). Jodie has been invited to represent home town scene and opened the night with a semi acoustic set.
It is always fun to see the jaws drop when Jodie enters the stage and beings to sing. If the audience expects a clone of Taylor Swift or Duffy belting out covers, then they are in for big disappointment. Jodie presented a set consisting of her own tunes with occasional rendition of a song by The Neighbourhood. And she sang in such a passion and verve like she headlined John Peel Stage at Glasto. The audience had goose bumps and once again comparisons to Bilinda Butcher were uttered in whispers. And we won`t be lying to tell you that we have seen people leave the venue after seeing Jodie and The Assist. They did not even wait for the main act!
We at Vanadian Avenue thought that such a successful debut called for a celebration. Or at least a present. Few days before the gig, we framed the poster and handed it to Jodie once she came off stage. Here she is holding the poster with her name on it. A small memento of her big night.
You can see the review of the gig at Slap magazine:
Or you can download the file here:
We hope that you have enjoyed this issue of Indieterria and we will surely come back to update you on Jodie`s future plans and gigs.
All you good, good people – listen to us. Time has come to introduce you to The Lightweights, a project where Jodi Hughes plays guitar and shares vocal duties. We have mentioned the band before, but in our interview we wanted to focus on Jodie alone.
Now, that we have seen The Lightweights live, we can put our stamp of approval on them and encourage you to catch them on stage if you have a chance.
The Lightweights are a quartet consisting of Alex Russell (drums), Fiona Berry (rhythm guitar), Jodie Hughes (vox, lead guitar) and Euan Richardson (vox, bass).
We had a real pleasure to see Lightweights during The Battle of The Bands at the Worcester Rugby Club on 23rd July 2017 and they made an impact all right. Performing as a trio (Fiona Berry is on sabbatical), the band is a very contemporary twist on American college rock, combining energy of Hole with harmonies and dynamics of Veruca Salt as Jodie and Euan take turns at the microphone. The youngest of the lot Alex (he is just 14) kept the perfect rhythm and it seemed so effortless for him. It is hard not to compare Euan to legendary bass woman Kristen Pfaff – with her dark flowing hair and elaborate stage outfit. She and Jodie contrast and yet complete each other. Lack of second guitarist was felt, but it did not slow the band at all. We can only hope Fiona will return shortly so we can enjoy The Lightweights in their full line up.
We grabbed some merch (pins and mirrors) from the band and count the night to be a perfect one.
You can follow The Lightweights are the links below:
We will return to The Lightweights for a moment as we managed to catch them live on July 1st 2017 as part of the Worcester Carnival and as usual they were stunning. Jodie, Alex and Euan opened the stage dedicated to Worcester School of Rock and delivered 45 minutes show despite scorching heat. Those kids may be young, but they are professional to the core. Rain, shine, 37 degrees in the shade – doesn’t matter. The band will play and the crowd will have a lot of fun.
If you haven’t heard of Worcester School of Rock and Performance before, then listen carefully – because this organisation has been operating in town for twenty years. They hold music courses for anyone between eight and eighteen and coach young musicians to be able to perform on stage as part of a – yes, you guessed it – rock band. Young artists not only learn their craft, but also polish their stage presence and get to know how to co-operate in a group. You don’t have to end up being new Rolling Stones but the skills acquired at the school will be useful thought your adult life. Nothing beats creativity and willingness to work with others.
The school has regular shows at Marrs Bar (our prime venue in town), Mapp Fest and several other music events though out the year. If you feel like joining – please use the links below. And the coolest news of the day is that on July 14th – WSRP will hold a gig at Marrs Bar and guess who is on the bill.
Yep The Lightweights will be rocking out and we have cameras at the ready. So expect another update to this blog. We can`t get enough of Jodie, Alex and Euan. To see them live, pleasure and privilege is ours.