Cityscape Presents Maxwell Watts Out of The Blue launch show at The Castle, Manchester, 16th February
Artwork by SkyhighOctopi
Artwork by SkyhighOctopi
Here’s a great interview of Alex Hulme by Alex Fenton of Creative Hive – the original is here: http://www.creativehive.org/post/1260
As part of my coverage of Kendal Calling 2012, I ventured up to the fabulous Woodland Stage at the festival on Sunday to watch singer songwriter Alex Hulme from Garstang. I’d seen Alex play in Bolton a few weeks before and I got the chance to ask him a few questions when he came off stage.
AF: Alex, what a fantastic performance, how’ve you enjoyed playing KC?
AH: Its been absolutely amazing. When I came last year, I said I really wanted to play at this festival next year and it’s been a fantastic weekend.
AF: What are you looking forward to at this years festival.
AH: Im going to go and see Feeder tonight. They were my favourite childhood band – this will be my tenth time, I’ll have to see them. I’m going to the Riot Jazz stage to see Lauren Housley. Ryan Kean was really good and Toe Rag were bonkers – it was nice to go bonkers!
AF: What have been your career highlights so far?
AH: I got to play a couple of my songs for Paul McCartney a month ago which was unreal. I was part of LIPA and me and 4 people got to play for him, which was outrageous. KC has been a massive highlight – a big tick on the list.
AF: What are your thoughts on the TV Talent shows
AH: Xfactor and Britains got talent are a scandal, part of my dissertation was about these programmes and their effect on the industry. Everything is focussed on the journey and not the end product. People are very talented on there, which is just exploiting people as they win and then everyone forgets about them and then it moves on to the next years contestants rather than building up slowly and doing things properly.
AF: You’ve got a new EP out ‘The Start’ which is great – how does this EP differ from your earlier material?
AH: The production values are much higher, we worked really hard on the arrangements and the sound. It’s got a real mix of stuff, I like to write poppy stuff, I’ve got a bit of pop in me that I’ve never properly exploited. I like to mix and match – there’s a crazy one, a soft one and it’s a nice ride through everything I’m doing at the minute.
AF: When you met Macca, was there one thing that really stuck in your mind that he said to you?
AH: He really stresses the song writing – the 3 most important things – Melody, Melody and Melody, that really stuck in my head.
AF: As well as singing and playing the guitar, you control a sampler with your feet – it looks incredibly difficult, how did you learn to do it?
AH: When I first learned to write and record my songs, I used to use a Line Six, very lo fi recording device, a computer loop machine. I started using that when I was 14 using loop phrases spending hours practising in my bedroom.
AF: How do you think that social media helps or hinders you as an artist?
AH: Facebook is the singular best form of promotion to anyone that hasn’t got a huge budget. It’s surpassed MySpace by a million miles – the ability to post a YouTube video and Soundcloud clip. Facebook allows you to share it and pass it on, it makes spreading the word 100 times easier. I think its helped my new EP surpass all previous records.
Getting people to LIKE your page on Facebook is unbelievably hard though! Facebook likes are the new MySpace hits in the industry, so getting people to click that button is really important. I look through the list occasionally and think Why havent you clicked Like!
AF: I heard you play Sparks recently and I must admit, I had to suppress a tear. Are there any songs that really move you?
AH: Aww! (Laughs) Yes, there’s a guy Sufjan Stevens – I never thought I had a favourite artist as such, but he’s got a track on his album Illinois, which is hideously horrible, its about Leukaemia, a stunningly beautiful song, but harrowing. I was driving home on the way home and I had to stop, because I was filling up.
AF: One of your songs is about your Grandad Wally who passed away – can you tell me a bit more about this one
AH: My Grandparents are really big characters and influences on my life. The song’s called Salute. My Grandad was 92 and still looking after my nan who had dementia. He was still carrying her to the toilet at 92, which was mad and he just plummeted over the course of a few months. The song is about that – it was a big shock in my life.
AF: Do you think that song writing can help you come to terms with things?
AH: Totally. When I wrote Salute, I was balling my eyes out while writing it as I’d never really spoken about that side of it. It’s hideously cheesy, but I think the best songs come from the heart.
AF: Slightly off topic now – VW campervans – old ones or new ones?
AH: It has to be an old one – they might break down more, but they have more character. Its like the old mini and new mini, the new mini is bigger, faster and HUGE – you have to have to the iconic version!
AF: If you could play with any artist living or dead, who would it be?
AH: Probably Irish singer songwriter Foy Vance. If I could sing with Sufjan Stevens and Fionn Regan that would be unreal!
AF: Alex, its been a pleasure, have a great rest of your festival!
AH: Cheers Alex!
Liverpool based singer-songwriter Alex Hulme played for Sir Paul McCartney this year and Sir Paul enjoyed his performance. I can pretty much wrap up my review of the 21-year-old blonde shaggy-haired acoustic performer with that. Sir Paul isn’t usually wrong. I won’t close up my profile of Mr. Hulme that quickly, though, and I can assure you that the former Beatle certainly got it right with Hulme. His clean, breezy voice breaks through in his summer pop hit, “The Start,” just released on July 16. The song, like his voice, is refreshingly palatable, a simple catchy pop tune with solid production value.
Hulme is an artist who will certainly become more popular once he releases some more material. His youth plays to his favor in this respect. At this point in his young career, Hulme’s natural vocal talents are most impressive. His chops are subtly powerful and genuine. His looks are not going to hurt him either. He looks straight out of a Nickelodeon boyband. And don’t interpret that as an insult. He is good-looking and has an infectious tone to his voice. Those are two elements that can take him very far. You can purchase his new EP The Start on his Bandcamp.
I want to provide one more song for your listening pleasure. This is without production. It is simply Hulme and his acoustic guitar busking in a shopping area in Liverpool. I’m doing this so you can just see how naturally fine and mature Hulme’s voice is.
It is a vibrant, ebullient performance, and Hulme doesn’t let back. He belts out the song to the passerbys, and it is this candid performance that excites me more about Hulme’s future prospects in music. He has raw talent, and, for many modern musicians, that is something to be said.
Friend of us here at Cityscape Records, Nick Bold, has written this lovely record of songs sung by Linda Jennings. I’ve been listening to it a lot and set up a Soundcloud for him. Really recommend it if you love melody and Burt Bacharach / Jimmy Webb style stuff. Track 3, When is a standout for me, but it’s well worth a listen, folks :0)
Click here for the PDF:The Start press release
We think, that with The Start, Alex Hulme has produced the summeriest pop tune of the year. What do you reckon?
It’s been a good year for Garstang born, Liverpool based, Alex. Having played for Sir Paul McCartney and Billy Ocean and supported a wealth of artists including Willy Mason, Willis Earl Beal and Emmy the Great, 2012 certainly seems like the start of something good for this pop/folk, singer/songwriter. Alex’s first two EPs caught the attention of BBC DJs, and festival programmers alike but Alex’s third EP, The Start, showcases his best work to date.
“I’m tired of always hearing down beat tracks from solo acoustic artists,” says 21 year old Alex, “I really want to write the songs that people sing along to, the ones that make you want to turn them up, jump around and enjoy life!” The title track of the EP does just that. The Start is a pulsing, pounding, feel-good, acoustic pop song with glorious boy/girl summer harmonies.
Second track, All that I Have, is an example of some of Alex’s more thoughtful song writing, working delicate vocals over beautiful guitar and building to a full sing-a long chorus at the end. It has an uplifting feel and is a fans’ favourite at live shows, where Alex often gets the whole room singing along at the top of their lungs.
Background, is a powerful and emotive track showcasing Alex’s folkier tendencies. Its epic arrangement of layered vocals, guitar, banjo, twin basses and twin drum kits rises to a loud, tumultuous and captivating crescendo.
The closing track, Sparks, once again featuring boy/girl dynamics, is full of charm and character. Alex describes it as, “A simple and naive love song.”
Cityscape Records is a long established kitchen table label which has been championing DIY pop from a Bolton terrace since ‘96. Recording in glamorous locations such as the ‘back room’ and utilising the best mixing and mastering talent Urmston has to offer, we really hope you enjoy our latest labour of love.
Praise for Alex Hulme
A beautiful song and a wonderful melody Sir Paul McCartney
A great voice and a great understanding for melody Billy Ocean
His ability to command the room was nothing short of remarkable…Bido Lito
This multi-talented musician is definitely one to watch. Object of Dreams Magazine
Great songs with performances to match, Alex Hulme is one to watch Liverpool Acoustic
Acoustic magic…An emerging talent. No doubt about it… Salford Music.com
Alex is in it for the long haul… definitely one of the highlights of the festival Ultimate- Guitar.com
Finally up was Alex Hulme, a baby-faced Liverpudlian whose brand of summery acoustic pop music lightened the mood considerably.
After getting everyone’s attention with a loud wail which opened Old Man, Hulme went on to sing out in his strong, tuneful voice, holding his own even as the hen parties cackled noisily outside.
Hulme stomps on the floor petulantly, screws up his face in a pained expression as he hits the high notes, and generally puts on a great acoustic show, rather than following the trend for sitting motionless. Comparisons with Ed Sheeran are inevitable, but there is also the attitude of KT Tunstall, which is definitely a successful combination.