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A Short Conversation with Nick Hudson of The Academy of Sun

23 June 2020

As the recent brace of songs, “Rose Devoid of Form” and “Everything at Once Forever”, makes clear, The Academy of Sun is equally at home with the heart-aching and cinematic as it is with full on rock ’n’ roll. Perhaps tell me about the bands influences and musical plan of attack?

Nick Hudson: We don’t really think about genre. The way we go about arranging songs is probably more akin to painting – combining textures and tones within a given form. Generally what happens is, I’ll write the song and I’ll either have pretty developed ideas as to how it should be arranged, or it’ll be open to exploration in the studio and we’ll assemble it together with a healthy degree of spontaneity and intuition.

And again, those two songs also say something about the tools that you use to make music, one woven out of synth lines and field recordings, the other taking a more traditional, full-band delivery. Has a broad-minded approach to technology always been at the heart of the band?

Nick Hudson: Yeah. We’re an omnivorous collective in terms of what we watch, listen to, read, how we engage with culture and in what zones, both digital and analogue. My earliest recordings were meticulously edited wave forms that I’d bulldoze, mutate and invert through time-stretching, pitch-shifting, granular synthesis; treating sound like clay. I came at production from a totally autodidactic angle. Which has its disadvantages as well as advantages, haha. But yes, I think something shared across the board is a rapacious curiosity at the potentialities of sound to change the listener’s consciousness.

Being that the current lockdown has isolated musicians away from their places of work, what do you think you will take away from these recent months and do you think that will affect the way the band works in the future? Have their been any silver-linings or revelations?

Nick Hudson: Silver linings or grey hairs?

Well, we, and I, had tours lined up and naturally a tonne of dates centred around the album release. They have of course all been cancelled. Kianna Blue (our bassist) and I frequently compare notes and reflections on lockdown life and our main agreed takeaways seem to be that the days are so very long when lived in one concentrated physical space. I’m usually either insane or exhausted by about ten pm. I’ve started taking epic rural hikes just in an effort to ground myself, and by which of course to physically prepare myself for the revolution…

As for the band, we’re really eager to play together. I’ve shunned live-streams for the most part – there’s no way we could live-stream as a band, and solo, the one room in which I’ve spent the last three months is ill-equipped for broadcast to any standard I’d be happy with.

Meanwhile, the UK government has offered scant and fecund scraps from the table for their artists, compared to the likes of Germany. I do this full-time, and the disregard flaunted by the Tories towards musicians is mortifying, and yet, of course, unsurprising, Given a globalist open-mindedness is professionally contingent to the success of most musicians (and that most tendto be left-wing), what use are we to a cabal of mad, inbred, Etonian eugenicists who’s principal raison d’etre is to deliver Brexit at all costs? So yeah, I’m anxiously racking my brains to navigate a way forward for myself, and for us as a group.

The Academy of Sun has collaborated with quite a few interesting people, from Wayne Hussey to GB Jones, if you had to pick one of these musical hook-ups that taught you the most, musical or otherwise, which would you pick?

Nick Hudson: Ah, you learn something from every musical consciousness that’s kind enough to invite you in. I play with Asva, in Seattle, a hymnal doom-drone ensemble whose composer Stuart Dahlquist writes pieces usually under 50bpm. Learning to play at that tempo with precision while imbuing these long sustained phrases with focused intent of feeling and sensitivity of tone has proven an immaculate bootcamp. I play with Toby Driver (Kayo Dot) in various guises, and Toby’s musical mind is again like no other. Gaining insight into his singular compositional approach by playing keys in his solo ensemble is again a deeply enriching process. We made a record together in NYC this February, of which we’re both very proud.

There is obviously real depth to the lyrics of your songs, what sort of message are you trying to convey through your songs and is it important that people pick up on them or not?

Nick Hudson: Thank you very much for saying so. It’s definitely a queer perspective, extending into deep and expansive realms of borderline trangressive post-normativity. I’ve always been interested in giving voice to narratives seldom aired and doing so compassionately and unflinchingly. Literary influences include Dennis Cooper, Pierre Guyotat, William Burroughs, Antonin Artaud etc. I’ve experienced some pretty insane stuff in my 38 years thus far and whilst the lyrics aren’t diary entries per se, it shouldn’t take Columbo to derive that Glee club this is not. To me it’s infinitely preferable that listeners engage with the lyrics, as I spend as much time on them as I do the music, but then I can’t and wouldn’t want to become dictatorial in how people engage with culture. I do lament the lyrics being overlooked, but then perhaps I need to query my choice of medium for expressing complex and nuanced ideas in written form…

And The Academy of Sun’s new album is out on 19th June, what is it about The Quiet Earth that you are most proud of and what are you looking forward to most when you finally get to perform these new songs in a live setting again?

Nick Hudson: It was a luxuriant process, by design, and I think that shows in the vastness of the production and the arrangements. We wanted to forge a persuasive entry into the canon of epic music and I feel we’ve accomplished that. Some of these songs have upwards of forty vocal parts. When live engagements are renewed I want to find a way to honour those arrangements, which means production values, which means a suitcase of money from a Bond villain in a subterranean Mediterranean island lair. More in episode two.

2020 has been a difficult year so far, but you’ve had several releases. What’s next for The Academy of Sun?

Nick Hudson: We’ll it’s all been gearing to this release really. Bands move slower than solo or duo stuff, purely due to logistics. I’ve started writing new stuff for the band that we’ll record for a EP later in the year. I dunno when we’ll be able to play live again so until then I think we’ll issue videos and singles. We have a tonne of live footage that we’ll start making public soon I think. Otherwise, I’ve finished my first solo record since 2016, scored for piano, strings and voice. I’ll have that mastered and release it later this year. And I’ve just finished two films scores. Assuming concerts aren’t going to occur until 2021 it feels like time to hang up my calliope and get to work on this novel I’ve been sketching out for months.

Thank you for asking awesome questions. Let me finish by saying ACAB and solidarity with Black Lives Matter. Stay well.