New York Musician, Husks, is laying the foundation for a boundless journey ahead stemming from the creative madness in his head. Elevating listeners out of thought-processes that are smothered with the mundane through Electronic elements that spark curiosity of a day in the life of his multi-faceted universe, Husks uses the darkness as a tool and his music is created without rules from an abysmally deep place within. Fueled from the heart, I caught up with Husks on the brink of the anticipated release of his upcoming debut EP, ‘Design Me’, which drops this Friday, June 22nd.
Congrats on the upcoming release of your debut, ‘Design Me’. Tell us about the creative process behind this release and what you learned about yourself throughout the experience.
Thank you! I’m very excited to share my new music with the world. The creative process was really cathartic for me. I basically used this project to dive deeply into my darker side and take that to its conclusion. I wanted to to center everything around cinematic sounds, more specifically with the horror genre. Last year I battled through a lot of mental health issues, some really dark times, and I started experimenting with heavier sounds than I had before. A lot of that came from binge watching horror movies on Netflix; for some reason I’ve always been drawn to scarier films. The scores from horror films really resonated with me during that period of my life and I felt like incorporating that into my music. But I actually owe a lot of that to an impulse purchase of a Roli Seaboard when I was at Guitar Center getting some repairs done to a guitar – the capabilities of that keyboard, how it almost plays like a guitar, allowed me to get into a new creative rhythm. I think the newness and the variety of it allowed me to really shed all the old creative ruts I was in and come up with this new sound, which ultimately became “Design Me”. So basically I would sit with it each night, experimenting and just letting myself channel my energy through it – a lot of the rumblings and also the siren sounds throughout the EP never would have happened without that keyboard. The first song I wrote for the EP was “If I Had A Heart,” which is the last song on the tracklist. It to me was the most cathartic piece of music I’ve ever written. Once I finished that song I knew that “Design Me,” even though it wasn’t even fully formed yet, was going to be about changing the path I was on, and learning how to cope with darkness, mental health issues, and finding a place to channel all of the negative impulses and thoughts I was dealing with. I ultimately learned how to let go of some things that haunted me by creating haunting music for those thoughts and experiences to exist outside of myself.
Photo Credit: Satchmo
Let’s rewind back to the first day that you decided that you wanted to create music. Tell us about what or who influenced you and the steps that you took from there.
It’s really tough to pinpoint exactly when I decided because it almost wasn’t a conscious decisions: I just always knew this was what I wanted to do with my life. My mother always told me that when I was a toddler she’d find me in the kitchen having pulled all of our pots and pans out onto the floor, and I’d hit them with spoons because I liked how they sounded. I think she knew I had some sort of affinity for music because I started singing in our church choir and taking piano lessons when I was 4 or 5. I really decided to pursue this full force in middle school when I started playing the guitar though – I was blessed to be in a program with a great teacher who would assemble local kids into a band to perform throughout the year (almost like School of Rock). I got a feel for performing live through that and started playing in bands and hitting up rock clubs in the Philly area. I mean, my bandmates and I couldn’t even drink but we’d still be there trying to rock out with our under-21 bracelets. There was literally nothing else that came close to the rush of being on stage for me, so I knew it was something I wanted to keep doing. In college, I got into electronic experimentation through my music Professor, Paul Botelho. He was a real mad-scientist type who showed me groups like Sigur Ros and also composers like John Cage. That was when I started doing production. Between then and now I’ve been in so many types of bands – Ska, punk, garage rock, electro-soul – while always experimenting with electronics on my own time, which allowed me to pull in an eclectic mix of sounds when I started crafting “Design Me.” Even though there may not be those influences on this project, the practice of combining different styles and sounds let me push the boundaries when I was in the production phase.
Let’s talk tattoos. Tell us about some of your favorite personal pieces and the tattoo artists that you have worked with to bring them to life.
Yeah, so I actually just got some filler work done on a the first piece I ever got. I had this idea when I was younger to get a circular window tattooed on my inside left bicep, split into four quadrants (each representing a life goal). Each time I’ve achieved one of my goals I get a new section filled in, with the hope that eventually I get to look back “through the window” at a complete image. It keeps me motivated, and being my first tattoo it’s very special to me. That was done by Adriana Hallow at Majestic Tattoo in Bushwick. She also did some Gaelic script over top that represents each member of my family. The piece I’m most proud of is a depiction of the Sun & Moon during Genesis from Taschen’s “Alchemy & Mysticism.” I got it while visiting Ireland with one of my best friends – Charlie Black at Galway Tattoo did a superb job on it. I have a few other little favorites, like the Sheikah Eye Symbol from Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask (my favorite video game), and lyrics from Jack Garratt’s “Weathered” on the back of my right arm. I think the sentiment of that song is so beautiful and it’s one of my all-time favorites. I think I trend towards the sentimental with my ink, but I wouldn’t have it any other way and I have been blessed to work with some great artists around New York where I live.
If you could get any tattoo, budget-free, from any tattoo artist in the world, what would you get done and which tattoo artist would you choose?
Wow that’s tough! I think it would be a toss up between Robert Wagemann (German-based artist who goes by Lin) or Anka Lavriv at Black Iris Tattoo in Greenpoint. Both of their line work blows me away – Lin is a little more minimal but they both use negative space in a way that I find incredibly appealing. I would love to get a bigger piece, probably a quarter or half sleeve involving the Tarot, by Anka and a smaller more delicate piece by Lin, probably involving a marble statue aesthetic at some point down the line!
As Brooklyn is full of culture and so many walks of life, how has growing up in the city served your growth as a musician?
I actually only moved to Brooklyn three years ago – I grew up in Philadelphia but both have had a big influence on my growth as a musician in different ways. Philly had some KILLER bands in the local scene when I was growing up, and it’s always been a rock and roll town. The basement-rock scene was thriving and we had bands like Dr. Dog, Modern Baseball, and Nothing coming up when I was in high school and that tradition has carried on with acts like Japanese Breakfast, Kurt Vile, etc. Being into the pop-punk and post-hardcore bands during my teenage years definitely got me in touch with my darker side early on. Brooklyn on the other hand is a world unto itself – it’s a place where a so many different musical worlds can coexist and thrive that it immediately forces you to pull yourself out of your comfort zone. There are so many DIY parties and meetups that let new and upcoming musicians find spaces to perform in authentic environments, and a lot of them will be eclectic acts on the bill which to me is more fun! It’s truly a network here, and even though it can be tough, having so many talented musicians in such close proximity has pushed me to step my game up.
If you could sit under the table and listen to any two human beings have a conversation to draw inspiration, who would you choose and why?
Justin Vernon and FKA Twigs I think would top my list. I admire both of those artists so much because I think they both have a lot to say within their music and outside of it as well. Justin Vernon’s music incorporates a lot of what I try to embody in my own art – using space, silence, and juxtaposing seemingly opposing sounds. Lyrically and philosophically he uses a lot of religious imagery, which I plan on heavily involving in my follow up to “Design Me.” Having grown up in a religious household that fascinates me. FKA Twigs is holistically one of the most interesting artists I’ve ever encountered – I think the manner in which she combines music, visuals, and dance is brilliant. Everything is connected, intentional, and has a purpose. She speaks to something higher through her art. It’s something I want to aim for. Listening to those two have a conversation would be so enlightening.
Where do you see Husks at five years from now? What do you ultimately want to achieve through your music?
I’ve always wanted Husks to be inclusive: it’s not as much for myself as it is to help people give their own negative feelings and thoughts a place to live. I want to help people get through their day and know they aren’t the only ones struggling or hurting. Hearing that in some of the music I listen to has gotten me through some hard times, so I think I want to pay it forward through my own music. And you know, five years from now I’d love to be in a position to collaborate with some bigger artists and be performing regularly – I want to help other musicians achieve their own vision as well and to bring their own artistry to audiences across the world. But coming full circle, I would really want to be involved in scoring horror films – which is where this whole project began.
What has been the most important dose of wisdom that you have received throughout your time as a musician that you have carried with you along the way?
I was once told to never limit myself or put myself into a box, and that if I ever got bored with what I was creating or listening to, to dive into something completely new and find something to draw inspiration from. I took that to heart – and not just with music. I find that I draw a lot of inspiration from film and photography. Sometimes I will try to create music while looking at a certain image or film on mute. Try to create music to fit what I’m seeing. I truly believe that interdisciplinary art has helped me become a better and more conscientious musician.
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans and supporters?
I hope anybody listening to my music will find something that helps them or touches them, but also that they’ll embrace the darkness a little bit. And also that I love speaking to fans, so feel free to reach out on social media any time with a hello! An obligatory shameless plug is that the EP drops on June 22nd. I’ll be playing shows in NYC starting in July to support it. You can pre-order the EP, as well as check out some Husks official merch, on my website!
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