In this series, we present our new composers. We are proud to introduce Grant Hughson.
Please tell us about yourself and what you do.
My professional focus has always been split between music and computers. I was classically trained on piano and cornet before playing in bands in the 80s when the music of the time included punk, post punk and ska.
My influences then ranged from the Clash to Duke Ellington and from Swell Maps to Curtis Mayfield. My first compositions were with the Miltown Stowaways, a lively funk-soul band that emerged from the Newmatics. We co-composed all of our works (1982-83).
A gig that was memorable was a gig at His Majesty’s Theatre, a benefit gig for Tim Mahon (Blam, Blam, Blam) and his wife Carol (the Girls), who were badly injured in a band van crash, exiting Wanganui while on the ScreemingBlamatic tour. That gig was also memorable because the theatre was “accidentally” demolished immediately after we packed out.
The Miltown Stowaways had about 30 originals and managed to record around half with four vinyl releases, an album and three EPs. The Newmatics had 90 and recorded seven. Although the ratio improved, all that other music is mostly lost, a great shame.
One of the Miltown Stowaways first gigs was on the main stage at Sweetwaters in 1982, before Herbs and UB40. We only had four tunes, which all became extended versions. I joined other bands for fun, tours or recording, like Netherworld Dancing Toys, Peking Man, Not Really Anything, Rick Bryant’s Jive Bombers, Wentworth Brewster and Midge Marsden.
I started a software company that consumed most of my time, meaning music slowly became a listening instead of playing component of my life, but I always knew I would be back when music and computers joined together. That arrived for me in 2005.
Please choose 2-3 of your works/albums and tell us about them.
My works are slowly appearing on emiTten.co. I take the approach of using virtual (performance) artists which I call VAs to release my music. This has relevance to the concepts underpinning emiTten.co’s future.
There are four videos up now, split between two of my VAs, moron the flipside and mr gee sweet. They both have soundcloud accounts with some of their older works:
I have just released the three saucer sympathy (read the press release here), a classically inspired work. This work is a concept piece, a prelude to gather support for a larger work.
The video for this work was so distracted by the lockdown that it was retitled into “a sympathy”; the main three actors in the video were digitised saucers, sans cups from espresso sets captured in 2D and animated using 3D tools.
The second I will talk about is follow the sugar to the gee. This was my first solo composition to be formally released, in November 2018. All prior were co-authored Miltown Stowaways works 36 years prior. It was judged a finalist in the 2019 APRA AMCOS New Zealand Jazz Composition Awards which was an inspiration to continue.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just finished the three saucer sympathy and it was a major effort to get that locked down.
The larger follow on work awaits, but next is a video for moron the flipside’s wop to the new wop to wop to two, the audio of which is on emiTten.co already. Also, some new artists have just conjured themselves into the artistic stable of emiTten.co who need attention. An experimental jazz fusion trio solo duet group (we are uncertain which yet) called odbaltreo, whose first track is about a new kind of pop music, called weasel pop, or popping. db bare, whose roots tie him down to drum and bass but wants to escape, and ovarle la trino, who we are still figuring out. All of these have daring combinations of personality and musical expression waiting to be revealed to cheer up and inspire the world to be a little less serious.
emiTten.co is now the release vehicle for my work, fulfilling the role of label and distributor, with the gaps of marketing and fan base coming soon. My work has not reached much of an audience because I do not have those things, mainly.
But, I am working on them now as they seem to be important to a concept I now feel is vital, I refer to it as “living making”. The audience has actually been extremely lucky from a timing perspective, in that regard as my skills have been improving over time.
I have applied more focus with the “how’s”, of activities like digital engineering, mastering and video production, in order to enable them in emiTten.co’s future state. I want people to be able to log in and use these processes to create for themselves.
Would you like to tell us anything else?
Of course, can I lay down here?
I just lived in a single person bubble for the last seven weeks
I said single, but there were several half-built Virtual Artists there too
Was I lying then or am I lying in two manners now?
They were there with me, sort of.
I have to believe in them, it’s my job.
My question for you Doctor, is, am, umm, am I still me?
Rats, that question is for my next meeting,
ahh next appointment…