One of the great things about music in our modern times is the increasingly blurred lines in genres. It's not uncommon to find so called "traditional" R&B acts dipping a toe into the dance or pop world and of course, history has taught us that hip-hop and rock are a lot more closely related that one had thought. HUGH are prime examples of genre fusion at its best.

Despite only releasing their first EP earlier this year, the group - consisting of producer Andy Highmore, Tino Kolarides, Joshua Idehen and Izzy Brooks - have been together for around two years. Their debut EP I Can't Figure You Out meshes together various elements of pop music, resulting in a solid four track musical collection. Think Metronomy but even cooler.

For this edition of 'The 405 meets...' we talk to vocalist Joshua Idehen about the band's history, new music, action movies and rom-coms (it'll all make sense eventually).


How did the new EP come about? How long have you been working on it?

We've written a lot of songs. Andy, myself Izzy and Tino; we all felt that before we made ourselves public, we would try and write as much as possible. It was quite an organic but really fast process in how we all met each other. I met Andy in a bar and he knew Tino, who he had worked with in Hoodlums and I knew a spoken word friend who was a singer looking for projects to get into and that's how I got to meet Izzy. We had that initial period where we said "Let's all work together and see how it goes and if it turns out that one of you is a psycho killer we'll split now and call it a day!" That turned into almost a year where we met up and just wrote songs. We've got about 40 now that are either absolutely done and dusted or kind of "This song has a verse; all we need now is a chorus, who has a chorus?" By the time we'd met our manager Lewis, we already had an idea of what the first EP would be and what the second EP would be. It was a case of picking the songs that we felt worked best together and expanding on the ideas and representation we've given ourselves with our first EP and letting people know there are different flavours of what HUGH is about.

Prior to HUGH, what were you doing?

I'm a spoken word artist. I run the Poe Jazzi night. I've got some other bands that I'm a part of and that's what kind of lead me to HUGH actually. At the time, I had written songs which I felt didn't really fit into any of the other projects. When I met Andy, I played him one of the songs and he really liked them. We just hit it off, started working together and got a few more people because we felt we needed this to sounds the best that it sounded in our collective heads.

How long has HUGH been together now?

I feel like I shouldn't say! We've been together for quite a while now. I think we met in 2012 or 2013. I think it was the tail end of 2012 we met and started working on material, and bringing our ideas together. I can't really remember because that was a mad time for me. I had released two different albums with two different projects.

I notice you've got a bit of an accent. Where are you from originally?

I was actually born here but I spent most of my life in Nigeria, from around 1984; the golden era. My dad owned a video store, so I spent much of my time indoors watching action movies repeatedly. We came back in 1999 and I've been here ever since.

Since there's a few of you in the band, I'd imagine there's a wide variety of different influences, but who are some of your personal musical influences?

We could go into in this all day! I'm a serial music kleptomaniac! I literally just collect stuff because it exists. You're right about the influences though because Tino, for example, he's a huge Elliott Smith and Tom Waits fan. I respect them but I don't listen to them as much as he does. I think where he and I link is with artists such as I Am Kloot and Cocteau Twins, which we're both really obsessed about. Andy, he's the youngest in the group, he really loves a lot of modern R&B - Andy and I link on that. Izzy also loves a lot of indie R&B stuff and she does a lot of folk music too. With 'One Of These Days', Andy did most of the production on that track. A lot of times when we work together it's me and Andy, we sit in a room, I give him ideas and he expands on it because he's much better at doing that or he'll give me something and I'll say "Great, I'll just write something on that" or give him some ideas. With this one, it was more of the latter; he sent over the track, I took it home, listened to it for a bit. At the time I was listening to a lot of modern R&B, alternative R&B if you will like Electric Wire Hustle, Little Dragon... some of those cats. With HUGH, we set ourselves the challenge that we should only write about confidence or love. In my head, the kind of love I wanted to write about was moment of pressure that had happened so a lot of songs deal with situations just before you meet or one particular moment where things aren't working very well or to the best that either party wants. With 'One Of Those Days' I guess something about the beat reminded me of really old movies from the '60s... those swash-buckling movies where the guy tries really hard to get the girl or really terrible rom-coms because only in rom-coms do those things actually happens. In everyday life if a guy tries really hard to get a girl, it's called stalking! But in these old films and rom-coms, it's seen a romantic and really cool. That's what informed some of my writing because I spent a large part of my childhood watching these films and I do really like them.

You mentioned that your father used to own a video store, which clearly has some sort of influence on your music. Have you always wanted to be a musician? Was there another dream when you were growing up?

I didn't want to sing when I was younger because I used to listen to a lot of soul and R&B. It's like... you either have a voice or you don't and I didn't have a voice; I just had a loud voice as opposed to anything that could produce the kind of music that anyone would want to sit down and listen to. Originally I wanted to be a film critic because that was me. I thought I'd be a film critic. I'd write a lot of stories and by the time I feel like I'm ready and fully understand the medium, I would write a script and everyone would love it because I am such a good film critic because film critics should know how to make great films. That was my plan. But I got introduced to poetry; from there I got introduced to spoken work, which is more performance. Then I ended up in a band where I used to perform a lot. I think with a lot of things I do, I usually start it as a joke then I suddenly realise "Oh, I can do this!" With poetry, I started writing joke poems then it turned serious and I started performing on stage. Once I started performing in the band I started joke singing like "We're kind of shouting but it sounds like we're singing!" then that worked out. It's been a list of happy accidents.

What your earliest musical memory? What was the point you thought you could do music professionally?

I think it was in this band! We all went down to Andy's place. Our first EP had a song called 'I can't figure You Out' which I'd written about the first time I'd met my wife on our first date. I was always quite nervous about singing it, not because of what the song was about, mostly because there was a lot of places I imagined the melody, I didn't imagine my voice being the best suited for it. Izzy came in and originally I said "Well, izzy's going to sing it, I can just be in the background for this one!" But the guys convinced me to sing it and that we should sing it together. So it's a testament to Andy as a producer; I don't think he knows how good he is. I don't think he knows how big a future he has for himself as a producer because he's really amazing. When we finished recording, we left, came back and he played us the first draft and I remember feeling those big explosions in my chest thinking "If we can write 20 more of these....!" I think that was the most exciting moment I had with the group, in terms of this whole project. That was the moment I really felt this is something I could do, this is something I could chase with this band. I was in a space where we could produce songs like this and it would work.

Going into the New Year, what do you have planned in terms of HUGH?

I think we're taking it as it goes at this stage. We've got the lovely Scruffy Bird, who have been really supportive and really helpful. We've just started, really. We've put some music out and we've been really happy with the response... a lot of people taking us under their wing, taking us to heart and really appreciating our music. Only last week, we supported Candi Staton, which is a big deal for me because 'You've Got The Love' and 'Young Hearts Run Free' is a part of my early life. In fact, Baz Lurhmann's Romeo + Juliet helped me understand Shakespeare,

Obviously, we've got plans in terms of gigs and future releases but it's a ride. It's an uncertain ride into a uncertain path. I think we're happy we're getting so much love at this point; long may it continue and hopefully it will and grow into a big time of happiness.

When the music is all said and done, how would you like to be remembered?

I think I'd like to be remembered as a writer; just someone who made sense. One of my biggest fears is that people don't understand me so I'd like to be remembered as someone who made sense.