Nick Hudson is a prolific figure on the UK underground music scene and is perhaps best known as frontman of art-rock band The Academy Of Sun, who released their dystopian epic ‘The Quiet Earth’ last year to critical acclaim. Apart from music, Nick’s vast output also encompasses painting, film, and he has just completed his first novel.
Hudson has just released a single ‘Come Back When There’s Nothing Left’ with vocals from Toby Driver off his forthcoming solo album ‘Font of Human Fractures’. This is a surreal and fractured track – with layers of alien noises and sound effects hovering in the distance and a haunting refrain. There is an elegiac tone filled with anxiety and apprehension.
Hudson says of the track:
Come Back When There’s Nothing Left is a song about taking responsibility for one’s spiritual and moral decisions, and reducing to ascribe them to extant agents or systems. We have more resources and capacity for endurance than we may realize. And to regard ourselves as something separate or distinct from nature itself is a dangerous supposition, and one we’d be healthier and happier not making.
The result is nothing short of magnificent and stately, with an unnerving edge and dark lyrics that still manages a hint of optimism:
Don’t blame the silence.
That’s not why you’re bereft.
Come back when there’s nothing left.
The accompanying video was directed by the acclaimed Scottish novelist and filmmaker Ewan Morrison and has a fittingly ghostly and enigmatic atmosphere:
Hudson has also collaborated with Wayne Hussey (The Mission) and Matthew Seligman (Bowie, Tori Amos, Morrissey), as well as members of NYC’s Kayo Dot, David Tibet (Current 93), Asva and Canadian queercore icon GB Jones. As The Academy Of Sun, he has also collaborated with Massive Attack’s Shara Nelson. Having toured 3 continents, highlights include appearances with Mogwai, Toby Driver and Keith Abrams of Kayo Dot, and Timba Harris (Mr Bungle, Amanda Palmer).
We fired a couple of questions to Hudson about the track and the video:
What can you tell us about ‘Come Back When There’s Nothing Left’?
It was the last to be recorded for the album. In lockdown one I found myself bingeing Clive Barker’s books and films. My friend Toby Driver of Kayo Dot emphatically recommended Barker’s film Lord Of Illusions which I promptly watched and loved. I wrote Come Back When There’s Nothing Left that same night. I’d say it was inspired by the energy of the film rather than any directly narrative element. Given Toby had in some ways midwifed the writing of the track it felt right to ask him to sing the lead. Otherwise I created a MIDI keyboard out of my voice so in some sense it’s a duet.
Who is Ewan Morrison to you and how did you two come to collaborate?
Ewan is a brilliant novelist, a dear friend with a great mind and heart. I sent him the record and he became transfixed on Come Back When There’s Nothing Left and felt inspired and compelled to create a video for it.
Is this the first time you’ve worked with Toby Driver?
Toby and I have been collaborating for years. He’s one of my best friends and one of the most adventurous composers in the world today, formally, emotionally and texturally. We first collaborated when John Zorn offered Toby a residency at The Stone in NYC. We performed a trio set with Greg Massi (where in fact I debuted my version of Dambala which six years later would appear on the album we’re here to talk about.) Toby and I have also toured together extensively and last year made a duo record whilst in NYC to see the Mr Bungle shows. And indeed, doesn’t he have a beautiful voice.
The video would seem to suggest that everything is running in a non-linear way, yet backwards. It also seems to convey solitude in a very melancholic way. Is this intentional? What do you like most about your new video?
You’d have to ask Ewan who directed it. But yes, I definitely think the perceived non-linearity resonates with the fractured MIDI voice and the sense of time as a slippery, elusive mass that expands and contracts based on perception, will and circumstance.
Does Nick Hudson even need people? Need art? What exactly motivates you to make music? Who is it for?
Nick Hudson definitely needs people. I just asked him. There’s one right next to him now who he needs as much as oxygen.
As for art, at its best it is a projection of the artist’s essence, and what could be more beautiful than seeing the human soul writ on canvas or on the ceilings or walls of a chapel or cathedral. Art is about transcendence.
What motivates me to make music? The pursuit of silence. I’m at a strange crossroads with music, right now.
Hudson’s ‘Come Back When There’s Nothing Left’ EP is available everywhere online, including and Spotify. The ‘Font of Human Fractures’ album will be released on vinyl and digitally on April 30. Both of these releases are available directly from the artist via Bandcamp.
Feature Photograph: Wolfgang Dubien