Hugo -- About to Pop
By Ashley Iasimone Posted Oct 12th 2010 12:00PM
Video: '99 Problems'
Hails From: New York, N.Y.
For Fans Of: Jack White, Cage the Elephant
Why He's About to Pop: With musical influences ranging from Jim Morrison to Howlin' Wolf to Michael Jackson, Hugo first started his recording career as a teen while living in Thailand, where he played with a band called Siplor. The rocker eventually headed off to England, and it was there that one of his songs, 'Disappear,' happened to land in the hands of none other than Beyonce. Beyonce chose to record the Hugo-penned tune for 'I Am ... Sasha Fierce,' which led to Hugo landing a record deal with Jay-Z's label, Roc Nation.
"It is intimidating to meet someone with that level of experience in the game," Hugo tells PopEater of his experience with Jay-Z. "His advice to me before a show was, 'Don't f--- it up!' Priceless."
Hugo's upcoming album, 'Old Tyme Religion,' blends his rock and roots background with a bit of relevant pop appeal -- and it features a cover of Jay-Z's '99 Problems.' PopEater caught up with Hugo about his bluesy, banjo-laced take on the song, his biggest influences and the story behind 'Old Tyme Religion.' Check out his '99 Problems' video and read on below.
Five Questions With Hugo:
Who are your musical idols?
Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Howlin' Wolf, CCR, Led Zeppelin, Robert Johnson, Prince, John Lennon, Marc Bolan, Michael Jackson.
Was there a defining moment in your life when you realized you wanted to pursue a career in music?
When I first started rehearsing with my band at school, a kindly teacher offered to help us record some tracks on an old tape machine. I was hooked.
What inspired the direction that you took with your cover of '99 Problems'?
I had the idea to treat '99 Problems' like an old folk saying or blues song that gets endlessly reworked over the years until you forget its origin. The lyrics are rewritten as well, but in the same feel as the Jay-Z song. Obviously, I had to rewrite them to fit with my experience and to be truthful. It's about trying to buy back your soul, to renegotiate with the devil after the fact.
What's the story behind the album title 'Old Tyme Religion'?
'Old Tyme Religion' is the track on the album that really set the template for the record -- writing folk songs over hard beats. Also, my musical tastes are pretty old-school to the point where it feels like I'm a practitioner of some old dying religion.
Assuming you'll be touring in support of this release in the near future, what are three things that you can't live without while on the road?
Well, I haven't got out there yet, so this will be my first time touring America. I shall be taking a band, a van and plenty of optimism.
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