INTERVIEW // Husky On: ‘Stardust Blues’, Concept Albums, Baking Bread and Classic Novels

WORDS BY TARA CAMPBELL

Recently, I got the chance to catchup with Husky to chat about all things ‘Stardust Blues’, concept albums, baking bread and classic novels. There aren’t many albums that come along that are this clever and unique, and we rarely see concept albums these days. With influences of Pink Floyd, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the classics, ‘Stardust Blues’ is one of my favourite releases to come out of 2020.

T: So what have you guys been up to in this like really uncertain and strange time?

Well we all live in Melbourne or around the area, so yeah we’re in lockdown at the moment just laying low really and just trying to stay sane.

T: I had a listen to your new release ‘Stardust Blues’ and oh my god. It’s just phenomenal. Amazing! How does it feel to finally have another full release out? It has been quite some time since your last full length album.

Yeah! It’s great to have the music out there and in people’s ears where it belongs. There has been a really nice reaction to it as well. My friend messaged me the other day and said it was like a sonic massage- which you know I think we could all use a Sonic massage at the moment.

T: So how would you describe the sound of Husky to someone who has never heard of you all?

I mean that’s a tough one, we always get described as Indie Folk. I guess the indie part of it comes from the fact that our songs don’t follow the usual commercial kind of formula and structure, so that part of it makes sense. The folk part of it is the storytelling aspect and the acoustic instruments. We’re very focused on lyrics so I guess the folk part of it makes sense as well.

What influenced ‘Stardust Blues’- I saw that in the Press Release you mentioned that it was influenced by some classic literature.

I love talking about this. So one of the influences was the famous novel Ulysses. But there’s just so much to the album. All the songs started as instrumentals that I wrote with my bandmates Gideon Preiss and Jules Pascoe. We really weren’t planning on making a record at the time, we just wanted to get together and do some writing and have fun and take a journey. The thing about a journey is that you don’t know what’s going to happen and you never know when the journey will start. I think that freedom- that spontaneity and curiosity- can be heard in the unexpected twists and turns in the songs.

 At the time I was writing ‘Stardust Blues’ I was reading James Joyce’s classic novel Ulysses and the book, it follows a character on his internal and external journey through Dublin over 24 hours. I don’t know, that just kind of crept into the writing. As I was writing, after a few songs I noticed that there was a story emerging with this character moving through Melbourne. I guess subconsciously, I been influenced by the book. I got curious about what was going to happen, you know, to this character that was emerging in these songs I was writing and so I just followed it and we ended up with ‘Stardust Blues’ which tells this kind of overarching story.

Oh I love that. Not enough people are inspired by books and especially like classic literature. They [classic novels] are still so relevant, and I think that comes down to the fact that they talk about human beings and their emotions.

Exactly! Yeah it’s nice how these things transcend. It’s like we’re all in the business of exploring the human experience and I think that is really cool.  

How would you say that ‘Stardust Blues’ differs from your other albums.  

The first is the first proper concept album we’ve made. I think to me, the songs are more unusual in their structure and their arrangements and even their time signatures are differing from our previous albums. I think there’s a kind of psychedelic aspect to this album that perhaps wasn’t there before. With Stardust Blues,  there was quite an emphasis on electric guitar and delays and reverbs and overdrives in the studio and I think gives the record this this psychedelic kind of element.

Do you have a favourite track from the album?

It definitely changes all the time. It’s always a hard question to think about, one of them would have to be as SYWD. I listen to it and it doesn’t sound like anything I’ve really heard before and it doesn’t sound like something I would write.

We have a signature question that we ask all people we interview at Temporary Dreamer, If  Stardust Blues was like a colour, what would it be and why?

I love that question. It’s tough to choose one colour because to me the album is very multi-coloured. I would say it’s probably like a kind of Golden sunrise colour, because to me the album is sort of moving through the night towards the light- towards the sunrise- and then it arrives there eventually.

Is there a lyric that stands out for you in the album?

That’s a tough one. I don’t know ,I guess it’s hard to pick one. There’s this one line in Dirty River that says something alone the lines of “I’ve got to go now/  I’m not sure where/ There’s a world inside me/ there’s a world out there”

That to me is where the album lives; that frontier between the external world and the internal world, the external journey and the internal journey.

Yeah! That’s perfect. I remember when I sat down and listened to the album for the first time and immediately thought- “wow this is really, really cool”. We don’t hear many concept albums anymore, so it’s nice to hear a great one again.

That’s true- you don’t come across them that much anymore. I think that the great part about a concept album is you can tell all these little stories with each song, but you can also tell the a richer and bigger story.

Do you have any favourite concept albums?

Good question. I mean, I guess the most recent concept album is one by this more recent writer called Andy Shauf, and he put out an album called The Neon Skyline and I think that one is great.

I’m a big fan of the concept albums I grew up on. A lot of Bowie, Pink Floyd, Sgt. Peppers and all of those ones.

Most people don’t do concept albums anymore so I think it’s awesome you guys are bringing that breath of fresh air into the industry.

I’m glad you think so! I think you might be rare, I’m not sure there are that many people who are paying that close attention. With a concept album to really get it and get inside it, you gotta pay a lot of attention to. Nowadays people’s attention is divided up among so many things and I’m not sure there would be that many people willing to give one album so much attention.

I’m just glad that at least I know that there is at least one person so thank you for saying that. It really means a lot.

As a band you have had some amazing experiences… Like a Version, supporting some of Australia’s biggest artists etc. Have there been any moments that like really stood out for you?

Yeah well there have been a lot. We’ve been very lucky. We’ve travelled a lot- all over the world- and I guess in a way right now that stands out the most because we’re so far from being able to do that at the moment. When I think about how lucky we’ve been to get on airplanes and fly literally cross to the other side of the world and play music in towns and cities that we’ve never even heard of and have people come to shows, knowing every world- that’s just such a remarkable thing to be able to do. At the moment, it seems very, very distant but hopefully we’ll get back to being able to do that really soon.  

How do you feel that the whole coronavirus situation has like affected musicians and artists?

I mean look, it’s hard to talk about positives in a in an environment like this when there are so many negatives, and I’m not just talking about for musicians, I’m talking about everyone in the world in such a travelling time. For me personally, being locked down and having all this time on my own, it’s not a bad thing for my writing. There’s a silence in the world at the moment and everything has slowed down- almost paused- and as a writer it’s actually quite conducive to being creative and to turning inward.  So for me, that part of it has been has been interesting.

As musicians, we’re always onto another project without appreciating the one we’ve just completed so it’s not gonna hurt to slow down.

Have you picked up any funky or cool hobbies in this time?

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit some of them, but I will because you’ve been very kind. Like everybody else, I’ve learned to bake. I’ve got two loaves of bread freshly baked today. It’s sour dough too, so even better. I’ve got the culture sitting in my fridge at the moment. I’ve perfected it in the last sort of four or five months. I just feel like everybody at the beginning of all this was talking about sourdough and baking so it got a bit boring but yeah, I’ve been doing that. I’ve also started running. We’re only allowed out for an hour so I’ve got a nice routine where I listen to an audiobook while I run so I can get fit and get smart at the same time.

Thank you so much to Husky for having a chat to me. I’m truly humbled to have talked to someone with such musical understanding and awareness.

STREAM STARDUST BLUES BELOW (My favourite 2020 album so far)

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