harry hudson recorded his debut record whilst suffering from cancer
We meet up with the young musician whose The Treatment EP deals with life, loss and acceptance.
A debut song peaking at number one on Hypemachine; a meeting and potential record deal with Cherrytree exec Martin Kierszenbaum - Harry Hudson's career beginnings sound like modern musical fairytale, great hair and all. Then in June 2013, he was diagnosed with late-stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
The Treatment (A-Side) is his latest EP, and was made during an intensive seven months of chemotherapy sessions that saw him walk away cancer free. Stacked with sweet mellow R&B tracks, he deals with his experience in a refreshingly candid and accepting way, crooning songs titled It Is What Is and I'm Good. A glance at his Twitter and Instagram illustrate more of that openness, something that saw his following and support skyrocket throughout his health battles.
That same Instagram also features some familiar faces - Kylie Jenner, Willow and Jaden Smith, and Hailey Baldwin are part of his similarly starry crew. We caught up with Harry to talk famous friends, medicinal music, and why weirdos are the best.
Your latest EP is called The Treatment (A-Side) and was written while you were battling with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. How did music help you get through this?
I always say that music saved my life because it gave me a chance to escape the reality of being sick. I would write my songs during my chemotherapy sessions and leave to go straight to the studio to record them. It was my routine. When you're going through cancer your life is pretty much scheduled for you with all the things you can/can't do, all the doctors visits. I scheduled all my appointments and chemo treatments around my recording schedule. Cancer wasn't my life, it was just apart of it. I told myself, "I can throw up, after I finish this verse or hook," and push myself to the point where I would forget I had cancer. I remember being in the studio one night until 3am, and forgetting that I had chemo the next morning. It was a wild time in my life and music really saved me.
The lyrics of It Is What It Is feel like you're making peace with life and all its confusion-how did you get to that place of acceptance?
I remember being told that there's a chance I might not survive, with cancer you never really know the outcome. No matter what you just have to keep pushing through all the pain and sickness. In my head I couldn't run away from what I had because I had to fight or I wouldn't make it. My fighting words were always "It is what it is... It could have been way worse", and I knew that. I had cancer, but there were people next to me being treated with worse forms of cancer. I feel like we should all be grateful for the positions we're in, even if it's not the best one. Once I accepted the fact that there will always be obstacles in my life, I was truly able to find my peace.
What's your songwriting process? Do you write the lyrics and melodies and bring that to your producers fully formed, or are you bouncing ideas back and forth with them throughout the whole process?
Most of what I say comes from my heart, not a pen or a pad. I'll sit in the studio with the producer, co-produce the track with him, then lay down what I feel should be said on that track. The lyrics all come from me, but I love bouncing ideas back and forth with who ever is in the studio with me at that time.
Your music has a mellow R&B vibe--how did you find your sound, and how long did it take to figure it out?
I think the sound found me early on. I grew up listening to R&B artists like Al Green and Michael Jackson, and singer-songwriters like Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash. I try and make music with feeling and a message. All of those influences just poured out of me naturally during my battle with cancer.
You've also collaborated with your friend Gnash to make and release some songs under the name gemineyes…
He's one of my best friends. We set up a session one day to see how we'd vibe in the studio together. During it we created a song called Knock Knock, which is on the EP, and from there we were just like we're both hella cute, we're both Gemini's, we both have green eyes, let's make an EP... The rest is history.
Who else would you love to work with?
Someone who's not from this planet OR Chamillionaire... fact.
You've got a song called Daydreams of a Weirdo. Why do you consider yourself a weirdo?
People always called me weird growing up, then as I got older I embraced that shit to the fullest... it's what makes me, me.
Weirdos are the best though, right?
If you aren't weird, you probably won't ever be seen near me.
You said in an interview that the best inspiration always comes in the shower. What or who else inspires you?
It sounds cliché, but every time I walk out of my house I get inspired. I'll walk on the sidewalk then think of the process of how it got there, then look at buildings and think someone designed this building on a blueprint and turned that design into reality. Everything you've ever seen had to go through a process for you to even see it. Life inspires me always.
You've got some pretty high profile friends - how do they influence you and your work?
They influence me by always being real with me and staying humble no matter what. That influences my work because my friends work hard to be in the positions they are in, so it keeps me working.
Besides music, what do you guys do to relax and have fun?
We build things, we paint, we hike, we talk to aliens, we go to museums, pretty much anything that can influence our minds and inspire us.
What advice would you give to young people going through rough times?
Everyone in life goes through rough times, that's the whole purpose of life. If it was easy we wouldn't be here. Just know that you have a purpose no matter what anyone else tells you. Life is beautiful and you only have one, so make the best of it - live, laugh, and love.
When can we expect The Treatment (B-Side)?
At the end of this year, or beginning of next. You'll know when the flame's coming.
Text Georgie Wright