Interview: Hudson Rose

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Hudson Rose is an emerging singer-songwriter from the mid north coast of New South Wales, and she’s having quite a big year. Not only has this great new talent released her debut single, ‘Never See Me Cry’, and an accompanying video, but she’s been signed to a global publishing deal with Checked Label Services/Kobalt Music Publishing – and she’s just completed her Higher School Certificate.

Rose only started writing about two years ago with some local musicians, and says during COVID she has been working on doing some Zoom writing with other artists in the country music industry. The single was written with a friend of hers, Jackson James. ‘We seem to write really well,’ she says. ‘We get along. He’s super helpful. It’s been really good. I love co-writing. I think it brings definitely bring something else to the table.’

Writing on Zoom has been, Rose says, ‘surprisingly really good. I have an interface so I connect the guitar and the microphone separately, so that you can hear both instruments. It’s been really, really cool to be able to do that and understand a whole different world of technology.’

Rose says of her publishing deal, ‘We don’t actually have to write a certain amount of songs a year, but we get sent writing briefs and, and we can co-write, we can write by ourselves. It’s up to us really, and to get the best product, I think, is the main goal. So they’ll send out a writing brief of things that different artists or different different people are looking for, and you can sit down and have a go and see what you come up with.’

She says she’s ‘super excited and super grateful for all the support’, but – like so many artists who planned to release music this year – she had to adjust her expectations of how her music would reach people, saying she held on to the song a little longer after writing it in April and recording it in time to shoot the video in May.

‘I think I just wanted to make sure it was all right for my first release,’ she says. ‘I wanted to wait until I was 18 to release some music, so 2020 was always going to be the year. So it had to happen, COVID or no COVID! So we spoke to Will from Checked Label Services and Karen from Little Sparrow [PR] and we came up with a date and made sure we had everything, got the music video sorted. I guess that’s why we’ve held onto it for a little bit longer.’

Still, the timeline was rapid – but, explains Rose, ‘We had some incredible musicians play on the track. Bill Chambers is actually doing pedal steel and banjo on this track. And we had Jacob Neill. Jackson did a lot of the instrumentation and Rhys Zacher from Spinlight Studio mastered and did the drums. So when you’re working with really polished, professional people, I think it does fall into place really, really quickly.’

Part of the considerations for all artists this year has been the fact that they can’t tour in support of new releases. Rose says she usually plays gigs up and down the mid north coast from about South West Rocks to Newcastle.

‘They’re normally cover gigs,’ she says, ‘and so we’re looking at doing some more ticketed shows. I did a ticketed show in February, my first two, and they sold out, which was amazing. But hopefully around the release of another single we might be able to do a singer-songwriter thing or something like that.’

In the absence of shows, a video can become even more important, and this video, Rose’s first, turned out to quite the adventure.

‘The video experience was interesting,’ she says. ‘It was a bit of a whirlwind. We filmed the video in May. One of the lines in the song says “the walls are so paper thin” and in the video of the walls that are made out of Besser blocks … We had a friend that had this old derelict house on their property. And we were thought, okay, we’ll check it out. So we went there and it was just looked like a bunch of trees and inside that was like a house out of Besser blocks. It was all falling apart, had no floor, roof, doors, windows, anything. And so my mum, Jackson – who did the filming for me, who also co-wrote the song – and myself, we were there and Jackson actually fell through the floor that day.

‘So we were said, okay, we need to make this safe for a music video set. We had a few friends come and help, and we built a floor. We had trees growing through it so we had to cut some trees. We built a floor out of sheets of ply. So we did that during the week and then we filmed on the weekend, and we actually filmed at night to get a whole different effect as well with the lights and the vibe. It was definitely a process, but I’d do it all again. It was so fun and we were so tired, but I think that’s what makes it so enjoyable.’

Given that Rose was doing all of this in between studying for her HSC, it seems that she must be quite organised – but she laughs and says, ‘I wouldn’t say that I’m organised. My mum is very organised and keeps me focused. I have ideas and motivation to do things, but the organisation doesn’t quite catch up sometimes.’

Rose says of singing that ‘it’s always been my outlet, for emotions and stuff. Emotions and stuff, that’s not my forte! But I think I started singing when I was about eight years old. My sister and I used to sing and we both did the eisteddfods. She used to play guitar and I first learnt piano and then we did some festivals, little markets and stuff.

‘Then December 2016, I got my very first guitar and went to the Tamworth Country Music Festival the following January and I’d learnt three songs. I carried the guitar around because I thought that’s what the musos did and I looked the part anyway,’ she says, laughing.

‘One of the buskers stopped me and said, “You’ve got to go to sing something.” And I’ll never forget that. There’s nothing like Tamworth. I think it’s the people there, the atmosphere. They’re just so open. This busker I’ll never forget. He set me up, I sang a few songs. TJ was his name. I went back each day and sang those same three songs each morning for the rest of the days we were there. And ever since then I’ve just gone back and I just try to make it a little bit better each year.’

After that initial busking experience in 2017, in 2018 she returned with two friends and shared a spot.

‘In 2019 I had my own spot,’ she says, ‘and Mum and I were down basking at eight-thirty, nine o’clock every morning till about two in the afternoon. It gets quite hot! But I think you definitely have to put in those hard yards and that’s what Tamworth’s about. And you make some amazing connections on the streets. I met Nat Pearson and Brook Chivell on the street. I actually met [entrepreneur] Dick Smith on the street, which was pretty cool, and we chatted for a while.

‘I still have people that message me and say, “It was so great meeting you at Tamworth”, or, “I’m such a fan from Tamworth” and I think that’s so cool.’

Rose was so successful at busking that she was selected as one of the top ten buskers to play on the main stage at Toyota Park, which was, she says, ‘a little bit different to busking in Peel Street. A few nerves involved in that one.’

Nerves – and different technical challenges. ‘One of the most challenging things busking in the street, especially at Tamworth, is competing with the other noise and being able to focus on what you’re singing and what you’re playing and not getting distracted,’ she explains, ‘but then in Toyota Park you don’t really have that. But it’s interesting what you hear in the foldback speakers different to what people are hearing. I’m still learning. I haven’t mastered the technique yet, but hopefully just a few more stages. I’ll have to get out a bit more.’

Rose grew up listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Graeme Connors and Shania Twain, but after her sister gave up music – she now trains horses so, says Rose, ‘we’re both country, just in different ways’ – Rose was the only musical member of her family. She’s had lots of support from her mother, though, who accompanied her to the CMAA Junior Academy of Country Music.

‘She came and took it all in,’ says Rose. ‘She said it was full-on. I guess we both didn’t know what to expect, but we both definitely got heaps out of it.’

When asked the best things about the Academy Rose says, ‘The people that you meet and the connections that you make are invaluable. Lyn Bowtell and Roger Corbett at the heart of the Academy are just amazing. Irreplaceable. And I think having them supporting – they’re full-on days and for the Junior Academy you’re there for a week. So they’re definitely full-on days, but I think the connections that you make, especially with the other people attending the Academy, are really amazing.

‘I’m still in contact with Lyn, which I think is an amazing thing, that people are still open to help and support you after the Academy’s over. So they’re always there. Lyn says to me, “You know, Hudson, if you’re going on tour, make sure you contact the Academy people so that you don’t have to pay for accommodation and you can sleep on their couches.”‘

With school now finished and her first single released, Rose hasn’t yet decided on her next step.

‘I don’t know if I want to study straightaway,’ she says. ‘I am looking into JMC Academy potentially in Brisbane or Sydney, but I haven’t really looked into that one yet, so I’m not sure I see how we go. But I want to release some more music. Write. I did want to have a look at Nashville and head to Nashville, but I think that’s been put on hold a little bit for the moment. But I’ll get there just in time.’

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