‘Drag’: An interview with Reuben Hudson
With Arpie Shirlow
On 20 August, Tāmaki Makaurau’s Reuben Hudson released his latest single ‘Drag’, featuring Jade Lewis on vocals – and it’s currently #1 on ‘The 95bFM Top Ten’! The song represents the last of his DIY releases before a collaborative studio recorded EP. Arpie spoke to Reuben about the project, his transition to an alternative/indie rock, and more!
HUP: Tell us about your band – who/where from/where based/how long been together?
Reuben: I have been running with this project in terms of releasing music since I first began properly writing songs as a teenager (teen heartbreak songs - haha), as well as my involvement in the webseries’ ‘Nothing Much To Do’ and ‘Lovely Little Losers’. The first EP, ‘When I Was Sixteen’, was acoustic folk, and I’ve transitioned through beat-making and writing raps, and being super Frank Ocean influenced to now making alternative/indie rock.
It's really just me telling my story, writing and recording music in my room and it’s become my most honest form of self-expression.
I’m from Sandringham and have been playing music with friends from around-ish where I grew up my whole life. I’ve been actively gigging this project since I was about 21 - and am currently rolling with Adam Staples, David Harris, Bridget McArthur, Jin Song and myself.
HUP: What brought you together/how did you come to be in this band?
Reuben: I’ve known some of them from as early as Playcentre, met others through high school, and different friend groups, and now I’m studying at the University of Auckland which is where I met my latest bandmate Jin. They’ve been people who have remained constant that I vibe with and enjoy playing music with.
HUP: Who does what? Writes the songs/plays what instruments/books shows/designs your artwork, etc.
Reuben: I’ve always been writing songs for this project, involving bandmates when the time comes for shows – and being lucky enough that they are down! I used to rely on others for artwork, but I’ve been getting really into visual art and graphic design. So I recently got photoshop and have been playing with it all myself since, making my artwork and posters for shows I organise. For the live shows Adam plays keys, Jin bass, David drums and Bridget's on drum machines.
HUP: What does the song writing process look like? Does one person bring ideas and then jam it out or something else.
Reuben: Usually it starts with me having a little harmonic/melodic idea on keys or guitar and then fleshing that out in logic – looping and layering different instruments and sounds. Lyrics kinda spill out as to whatever feels right or I think sounds cool. Then I’ll come back to them and realise there’s quite a lot of meaning in there. If I’m trying too hard to say something specific it doesn’t feel natural and I usually end up leaving those songs be. For live stuff I bring the songs, and we’re playing them pretty much as is – but I’m always open to anything being altered to feel better for live performance.
HUP: How often do you practice and where does that happen?
Reuben: Lucky enough to still have a space to rehearse at my mum and dad’s place – we’ll do a couple before gigs. Shout out to my mum and dad.
HUP: Tell us about your recording process to date/latest music – where did you do it, with who, etc. Was it a cool experience or something else?
Reuben: My latest release ‘Drag’ features Jade Lewis on vocals and Jin Song did the mixing and mastering. I started recording it in 2019 – I was unwell with kidney failure at the time, and you can definitely hear that in some of the sentiments of the song. I got to freshen it all up this year, taking my laptop to Jade’s and recording her vocals, then taking the project to Jin to mix/master. It was cool to give this song new life with my renewed energy, and to involve friends on it. For a song like ‘Drag’ it was fun to keep the final part light-hearted.
HUP: What is the scene like in your hometown these days?
Reuben: Poppin’ off! So many good bands. I’m such a big fan of so many acts in Tāmaki at the moment. Go see them all at the Others Way!
HUP: What are you listening to at the moment? What was the last band you heard for the first time that stopped you in your tracks?
Reuben: COBRAH, haha, Leith Sye Towers’s New EP ‘No Farm, No Fowl’ – and I stumbled on this band called Armlock who make great - sad indie songs. Their songs ‘Turf War’ and ‘April’ definitely caught me in my feels. I'm a big fan of other Tāmaki bands like Sulfate, Phoebe Rings and Pocket Money too.
HUP: When did you think ‘I can be in a band’ for the first time and how did that turn out?
Reuben: Me and my primary school friends made a band called DNA and won some intermediate/school band competitions. Had a really good run until the New Zealand Chilli Fest in 2011 at the Kings Arms.
HUP: Which of the band is the sportiest?
Reuben: I literally have no idea, haha. Haven’t found the mid-20s to be super sporty - Yoga’s good though - I could definitely get back into some cricket.
HUP: If you could organise a show anywhere in the world - which three bands are playing, where is it, and what are we drinking?
Reuben: This is one specific vibe - but something festival-like in Norway, near a fiord with some snow capped mountains in sight somewhere - orca’s splashing about - night time - but everyone’s dressed super warm. Beery ales watching Alex G as the sun goes down, lemony, icy and sparkly gins to Weyes Blood as the northern lights appear, and then a Frank Ocean set starts. That’d be pretty dreamy.