Of all the late 00s indie bands there was always something a little different about Egyptian Hip Hop. From their willingness to experiment, working with the likes of Hudson Mohawke, to their post nu-rave meets Madchester sound, the group made a point to set themselves apart from the countless other skinny jean clad boys and girls of the time. It shouldn’t come as any surprise then that five years after their debut album, a new force has risen from the group’s ashes, Aldous RH.
The new moniker of EHH frontman Alex Hewett, Aldous RH swaps the psychedelic funk of his past for a newfound 70s swagger, bringing in elements of yacht rock and the kind of hazy minded instrumentation known in certain circles as jizz jazz. The results are undeniably infectious. His latest single ‘Feelin’ Blue’, the video for which premieres today on Notion, is a bouncing, bop-along track owes as much to California and America’s west coast as it does to Aldous’ hometown of Manchester. Despite the song’s melancholy message, its sound is positively joyous, a contradiction shown in the video as the camera pans out slowly, bringing Aldous further into the frame. As Aldous centres himself, the California hills appear in the distance, glowing with the residuals of a recent sunset, all hazy greens and yellows against the deep blue of the dusk sky.
We caught up with Aldous to chat about the new project, his frustrations with the current day indie scene and landing a show on NTS Radio. Watch the video for ‘Feelin’ Blue’ below and read his interview after the jump.
There seems to be something of a 70s songwriting revival going on in the indie world – what attracted you to that kind of music?
I think the 1970’s kinda peaked in terms of how to do a fairly honest recording of an acoustic instrument, making sure it sounds super warm & fat. After that, things really started to change- drum machines, computers, modern recording technology in general. What it took to create an effective rhythm section or be a proficient band/musician changed pretty fast. You couldn’t fake it till ya make it so much back then too – talent had to be pure, it had to hit the tape pretty straight up – no buffer zone or bullshit.
I was really attracted to that honesty & the sound of the instruments in the room onto a tape machine.
I’ve since started to slowly take things in a more contemporary direction this past year or so, it seems like every dude & his dog is trying to be a 70’s era singer-songwriter. I’m a lot more excited now for people to hear new stuff… so better turn out to a show if you can.
I also feel totally alienated from the British ‘indie’ scene – for the most part super uninspiring. Very style over substance. I’m trying my best to offset the mediocrity of it all, Lord knows though, maybe my music is equally a bore.
What was the concept behind ‘Feelin’ Blue’?
It’s something I actually wrote quite a long time ago now. I was living with a couple of friends in the jankiest rat-infested terraced house in Manchester; all the connected properties were marked for demolition. It was peak squalor but also a great place to get my head down recording music & rehearsing. I think the song tackles pretty common themes of unrequited juvenile love; it probably fed off the isolation I felt at times from the ghost block I lived on. Its fully influenced by yacht rocky stuff like Fleetwood Mac, and definitely a nod to contemporary legends like Ariel Pink & my old pal Connan [Mockasin].
You’ve collaborated with Hudson Mohawke in the past; it’s not something you’d expect from an artist of your style, how did that come about?
It was way back yonder with Egyptian [Hip Hop], one of my first ever experiences in a recording studio. Early days for him too I think, he was still doing almost everything with Fruity Loops- so he’d bring his big desktop computer into the studio with him. That was his main instrument. It was a pretty interesting insight into someone else’s process. I think our styles had more in common than you would think, at least in terms of how we both grew up spending a tonne of time building songs using arbitrary midi software, stacking sounds on the PC – barely touching an instrument. It was a long time before I owned anything that could record an acoustic instrument properly.
How did you get involved with NTS?
I think those guys have always had a good ear & eye for keeping their station pretty eclectic. They’ve definitely established themselves as a great home for DJ’s/producers, but I guess occasionally they want people like myself playing jazz fusion & blue eyed soul/yacht rock on there too. It’s been a pleasure to contribute and it’s encouraged me to seek out new music a lot more too.
Why did you decide to go solo after Egyptian Hip Hop?
I think when you start a project so young, those years especially like 15 – 20. Everybody just changes so so much; you come out the end of that period a totally different adult-person. As a vocalist, it was so hard to figure out a way to express myself in such a democratic situation. I actually don’t think I would’ve ever figured out how to sing (debatable) had I not sought out a more independent project for myself.
What are your plans for the project? Will there be an EP/ album anytime soon?
I’m in the process of recording an album at the moment, there’s enough to work with, it’s just a matter of tidying it up & making sense of it all.
I have tonnes of 70s songwriter style material I sat on; I think I might wait until it isn’t flavour of the moment to get that out here though. To be honest, most of my time has been consumed with playing live; we’re really coming into our element as performers this year I feel.
My boys, Thom Bellini, Jolan Lewis and Edward Cittanova, are my best friends and rockin’ rhythm section. Couldn’t find a better crew to travel with. also catch us playing backing band for Drugdealer this summer.