Thursday, March 14, 2013

Interview with Alex Ruder of Hush Hush Records

What's up Cairo fam?

We at Cairo are super stoked to tell you more about the Hush Hush showcase event happening this Saturday, March 16th - here to do it is Alex Ruder, aka DJ Alex over at KEXP, and founder of Seattle's label Hush Hush Records!

Hey Alex! Can you tell Cairo blog readers a little about yourself?

Heyyyyy! My name is Alex Ruder. I'm a DJ and assistant to the music director at KEXP, host the monthly DJ night Hush Hush, and also run Hush Hush Records.

What is the origin story of Hush Hush Records? What inspired you to start it?

Hush Hush began as a DJ night in February 2012 when I was invited by Josh Roberts (aka DJ Verse) to start a new monthly at the now-closed Living Room on Capitol Hill. I wanted to do a night to showcase beats that weren't necessarily dancefloor-oriented but more vibe-heavy, sounds that fell into a new(ish) term to describe a certain type of music called "night bus," basically music that's cinematic, atmospheric, slow, sexy, contemplative, nostalgic, etc. -- music/beats where the emphasis is more on a feeling (one of listening to music at night on headphones alone on a bus) than a particular genre. I was already a  big fan of Seattle artist Kid Smpl (Joey Butler) after hearing his 2011 EP 'Ghostsuit' (released by the future bass label Car Crash Set run by DJ/producer/homie supreme Ill Cosby), and his music perfectly fit into the "night bus" realm, so I asked him to be the night's inaugural guest. Joey had been sending me new, unreleased tracks that he was working on towards the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012 for KEXP airplay consideration, and by early spring of 2012 it got to a point where I felt he had enough high-quality cuts for a full-length album. Some early attempts to get established labels involved never panned out, so I half-jokingly mentioned that his music made me want to start a label, and that soon turned into sitting down over lots of cups of coffee at Vita and actually figuring out how to start a label and get a plan in the works to release his debut album.

What do you hope to bring to the Seattle music community with Hush Hush records?

Initially, simply placing a spotlight both on "night bus" music in all its various guises and on the artists working in this realm in the Seattle area, although I'm not exclusively working with local musicians. I feel a lot of the artists that make this type of music are typically introverted, often making music solo in their bedrooms and on their laptops, so I hope to give them a comfortable platform and environment for them to feel confident about their music and potentially sharing it with a larger audience. With the night beginning as a DJ night and quickly blossoming and extending into a label with a growing roster of artists, it's been wonderful to see DJs, artists, friends, and fans coming together on an equal level at the Hush Hush nights to cool out, meet each other, and vibe to music that's usually reserved for more personal listening sessions. I hope to continue to build upon that foundation.

Has anyone in the Seattle community or beyond played a major role in Hush Hush's growth or development - artistically or otherwise?

Kid Smpl/Joey Butler has played a super significant role, as he was the first guest for the Hush Hush monthly night and his music was the motivation behind launching Hush Hush as a label. Ill Cosby has been a critical connector of a lot of Hush Hush-related figures during his days here in Seattle running the Car Crash Set label and hosting various DJ nights. I picked his brain a lot about the necessary things to know in order to start a label. Allen Huang (aka DJ Hojo of JK Pop) has been an integral philosopher and supporter of the "night bus" idea/sound since its early days and helped solidify and push-start the idea behind Hush Hush. Josh Roberts (aka DJ Verse) planted the seed when he invited me to start a monthly DJ night at the adventurously-booked Living Room. And graphic designers Erika Miyagiwa, Matt Heinzler, and Skip Buringrud, as well as webmaster Benny Phanichkul, have all been massive in their help with establishing the visual aesthetic of Hush Hush. Shout outs to all those lovely, talented, supportive people.

Tell us a little about the artists that will be performing at the showcase at Cairo this weekend - what can listeners expect? 

Kid Smpl (Joey Butler), DJAO (Alex Osuch), and IG88 (Branden Clarke) will all be performing live sets and I'm sure DJAO will throw in some of his trademark screwmixes. They're all amazingly talented local producers that make beautiful, complex, emotionally-packed electronic music. Decibel Festival's David Kwan will be on-hand to provide live visuals throughout the night too! I also encourage you to check out the artist's Soundcloud pages to hear their lovely musical creations: Kid SmplDJAO, and IG88

Is there a song by a Hush Hush artist that you are incredibly stoked on right now?

Well, if we're talking about a song that's already been released, and not going down the ALL OF THEM road, I might lean towards Kid Smpl's "But I Don't" or "Star Ocean." Those are personal faves from his debut album 'Skylight' and both those tracks in his live performance carry such a beautifully heavy emotional resonance. His new original productions for an upcoming EP are stunning and showcase a thrilling evolution within his style. In addition to his upcoming EP, there's quite a lot of other forthcoming Hush Hush releases with songs I'm really stoked to get out into the world. Beat tapes, EPs, remix collections, even an LP by summertime.  Actually the next LP that Hush Hush will be putting out I think will be a special one that might surprise a lot of people. It's the next full-length album from local duo Cock and Swan and it'll be a self-titled record. It'll also be the first Hush Hush release with prominent live, non-sampled vocals, and the most pop-oriented release, yet it's still a dark, mysterious, enveloping record that I feel fits perfectly into the "night bus" vibe. So yeah, lots of goodies in store. Stay tuned :)

Check out Hush Hush Records to stay up to date with releases and news, and join Cairo's Hush Hush showcase event page here.

We'll see you dreamcats Saturday night, March 16th at 8PM -
$5 at the door and all-ages, always!

1 comment:

estetik said...

simply placing a spotlight both on "night bus" music in all its various guises and on the artists working in this realm in the Seattle area, although I'm not exclusively working with local musicians.