From Justin Bieber to Ed Sheeran, there’s a whole new group of pop artists breaking into the industry from DIY YouTube roots. But the plethora of musicians putting music online makes it harder than ever to sift the talent.
Six years after their first video was posted, Hudson Taylor, comprising brother duo Harry and Alfie Taylor, have made their brand of happy-go-lucky harmonised folk-pop one of the hits. They’ve got powerful husky vocals, brilliantly catchy melodies, outrageously good looks and those Irish accents. You know you’re gonna go far when you’re the perfect recipe for a teenage crush. Recent single ‘Weapons’ marks their first big budget cinematic video, and September will see the release of their debut album. Cherwell chats to Alfie about the journey to this point.
Back in 2008, Harry and Alfie went on holiday and managed to generate an international fan base before they’d even considered making music together. “Harry had brought the guitar, which we took to the beach with us one night. Then this group of about five or six German people asked us to play some cover songs. Everyday the crowd got bigger and bigger. There were Germans, Canadians, Americans, people from all over the place.” And when it was time to go home? “They said they wanted to hear more of us singing, and requested we put stuff up on YouTube. The week after we got back we started to put up videos, first covers, then our own songs. That’s how the whole thing started.” Starting with a peroxide-heavy camcorder cover of ‘I’m a Believer’, they busked online and on the streets of Dublin, and still do impromptu live performances. “It’s funny to see people’s reactions when we play on the Tube or train.”
The rise to popularity may not have intimidated the duo, but when the band moved to London from Dublin two and a half years ago, they were not so confident. “Initially it was very difficult. We’d not really prepared ourselves and we had no money. I was only 17 and Harry was only 20. It was just the two of us; no family or friends, so it was pretty daunting.” They drew on the experiences for their first EP, Battles. “That inspiration worked on every level. There was even a song about our next door neighbour who kept knocking because he got pissy that we were always playing music. “When we first moved over we didn’t know what an A&R person was, or even a PR person or manager. We were in the deep end and had to learn really quickly.” After a homemade background, the move to cinematic in the recent video for ‘Weapons’ seems like a big step for the pair, especially when the song’s background is so personal: “It was about a friend of mine and Harry’s who was breaching into a state of depression. We wrote the song for them.” But it’s this foundation in the personal which makes the band stand out. It has been their project from the start, and that hasn’t changed now they’ve been signed. It’s been a six year journey, but now they’re really ready to bring their simple, natural talent to the offline music industry.