Alex Hulme is the type of singer/songwriter that stands out in the crowd. From the shock of curly blond hair to his bright blue eyes, he demands notice … but when he sings, he commands attention.
The Liverpool-born musician makes music that is easy to relate to and fantastic to listen to. I first heard “Little Lives” several months ago and was hooked. He is a storyteller in the truest sense. His music is not complex, but yet it is very deep.
“Climb” incorporates the guitar, a banjo and even string instruments into a fast-paced foot-tapper of a tune.
“Back of the Pack” is another winner … Alex has a formula that works and he uses it well, crafting songs that draw the listener in with his soulful vocals.
He is another performer scheduled to take part in Oxjam Leeds Takeover on Oct. 22 (http://oxjamleeds.co.uk/) and is another performer I was lucky enough to pin down for a chat. Timing was off and his phone was about to die, but here is the conversation we had while his battery lasted …
What is your background in music? When did you start playing?
I started playing at 10 (guitar anyway!) and then I started my singer/songwriter project at 14 and I’ve been doing it ever since.
Who were your influences, and when did you start writing songs?
I was heavily influenced by my mum and dad’s music, which consisted mainly of acts like James Taylor and Van Morrison.
I started pretty much immediately! They were awful songs at first! (Hopefully they are better now haha!). I think my first song was called “Golden Star” and it was about a box (on the side was written Golden Star) that was being used to hold all my things whilst we moved houses.
There’s even a recording of it somewhere I think! It’s dreadful. But almost straight away, I knew that writing songs was what I wanted to do!
Did you always know music is what you wanted to do?
Not at first. Before I picked up a guitar and for a while after I was really into DINOSAURS! Really wanted to be a palaeontologist. But once I got into the songwriting, that’s really what I wanted to do! In high school, I started some more awful pop punk band and had a great time. When we split up after a few years I was devastated. That’s when I really knew that I wanted to do music!
Do you just play guitar or other instruments too?
I play piano, banjo, bass (like a guitarist) and I’m heavily into production. To me, production is the unseen instrument. It’s amazing what a few reverbs and compressors can do!
It’s good to learn all sides of the business too … have a better understanding of it and everyone is so DIY these days …
Exactly! It’s expected that artists can write, record, produce and run their own media campaigns!
I have always been super knowledge hungry so I love learning as much as I can about the different parts of the industry.
Although sometimes I wish I could focus on the songwriting and performance more. I’m sure that’s a very normal feeling for a lot of artist these days.
It’s good to be a jack in as many trades as possible, as long as that doesn’t stop you mastering the things that matter most to you.
Yes, it is … How often are you writing songs? How many are in your storehouse now?
All the time! I’m exceptional fierce on quality control though.
I’m working on a four-track EP for the new year, and I’ve already got the next EP written after that!
I would like to speed up the release schedule if possible to be honest it’s hard being as excited about a track you wrote six to eight months ago!
I’m happiest when I have new songs in the pipeline!
I get wrestles if I don’t have something new On the way!
That is fantastic. I am really enjoying all the tracks I’ve heard from you so far … So what will we hear from you at Oxjam Leeds?
The tracks you’ve heard are easily over a year old! I think that my best work is going to be coming out over the next year! I feel like my songwriting has grown loads over the last year.
The set at Leeds will have just one track from the EP’s I’ve released. Maybe two if I can squeeze it in. It’s nearly all new songs, or songs from the last year that missed the last recording deadline.
Will you be performing solo or with a band?
I’ll be solo but my band is in my pedals! I’m a loop station user though I loop as quickly as possible, also I have a large stomp board and I do a lot guitar drumming. I am rather LOUD live, with lots of layers.
How often do you get to play out live?
I gig every week for my residency and I do maybe three to four times a year normally, centered around singles and EP releases. I love gigging! Shows and songwriting are why I play music.
Favorite places to play (small vs. big venues)?
I love smaller venues. I often do singalongs and I find it so much easier to judge a room when it’s small. Nothing quite like the feeling of getting a jam-packed room singing along. I love building a connection with the audience and smaller venues are the best for that!
How long have you been teaching guitar?
I’ve been teaching for three years! It’s great fun and it’s been a great tool to help expand my knowledge and work on the aspects that I am weak in. Really great fun and not a bad job what so ever!
Have you worked out a collaboration with Hannah Clive (Alex, Hannah and several Red Light Revival band mates are planning a special performance during Hannah’s set)?
Working on something special for the Oxjam Leeds gig with Red Light Revival. It should be a great bit of fun!
Do you collaborate often?
I do collaborations occasionally, more to do with starting a new project or helping someone else. My own material tends to veer off on a different direction when I work with other people so I usually do that myself. I consider producers and co-writers, though a lot of my songs change massively when I take them to the studio. Producers are wizards!
You can find Alex Hulme on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AlexHulmeMusic, on Twitter at @AlexHulmeMusic, on the web at http://alexhulmemusic.wixsite.com/thisalexhulme and on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/alexhulmemusic.