After dropping out of education to pursue a career in music, brothers Harry and Alfie Hudson-Taylor have succeeded in accumulating an impressive following and are about to release their debut album in the UK. Taking inspiration from busking and performing songs on Youtube, the suitably titled Singing For Strangers is a collection from the last three years of older EP tracks and a selection of the band’s more recent compositions, most famously ‘Battles’ which achieved a lot of radio play and attention online.
The journey that the band has been on can be traced back to the moment they first performed to the public. Whilst on a family holiday, they were asked by a small group of people to play them a song. “That’s how we started, that was the first time we played together when we actually wanted to”, says Alfie. “It’s a lovely feeling to be able to go into a room of people who you’ve never met before and play some songs.
After playing to a larger crowd of people each night, Hudson Taylor continued to develop, taking inspiration from family and relationships as well as the experiences of living in both Dublin and London. They insist that, despite the progression of the last few years, musically their songs are “the same thing at the core”. The involvement of record labels has had an impact but they always stayed true to themselves.
We never needed to be shined or popped up to be something that we’re not. We are who we are and essentially at the end of the day if you see us playing live, that’s what we wanted it to be all along.
The music has also been influenced by the music from a variety of eras, describing the eighties as providing “some really interesting changes”, most importantly by Duran Duran and Genesis after being introduced to their music by a friend of theirs. Harry says “prior to that we’d never experienced really delving into the eighties stuff because we were very much focused on our singer-songwriter guys from the sixties and seventies”. They mention gaining inspiration from their musical peers and a variety of genres, stating “It’s never like stealing their ideas, it’s more like getting inspired by it”.
“We never needed to be shined or popped up to be something that we’re not”
The fact that Harry and Alfie have been working towards the album for so many years means that it feels autobiographical to them. “We can listen to a song or play a song live and go back to that particular point.” The re-recording of tracks that feature on previous EPs means that the earlier selection of the discography of the band still remains a part of their live show and the album, so this sense of nostalgia surrounding past songs continues to exist.
The band’s direction has been heavily decided by their live shows, by letting the success of these define various aspects of the album such as which songs make the final cut and the order of the tracklisting. Describing this process, they say “Luckily it hasn’t been difficult, it’s kind of been no-brainers for us”.
The debut album has already been released in Ireland, and they describe the response as “amazing”. In addition to being able to spend time with family, the pair have sold out a show at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin, where they first began busking and have always looked up to. Alfie talks about this with obvious joy: “We got told on the day our album came out there and it was just a dream”.
This tour brings them back to playing venues where it all began for them. Despite most of the venues being bigger than on previous tours, they enjoy the intimacy of smaller venues. “It looks a bit more like everyone’s closer. We like to play on that, tonight maybe we’ll plug out and do something acoustic without mics as it’s a nice room.” However, the difference in their shows between now and a year ago is noticeable, with the additions of more crew, production, and even a tour bus. “It sort of feels like moving up, going up in the world.”