Duke Hugh Comes Out Swinging With Debut EP on Rhythm Section
Since launching in 2014, Rhythm Section has grown into one of the most trusted and impactful independent labels, championing underground electronic music of all kinds, from house to jazz, soul and beats.
The label continues to be a great platform for introducing new artists, and for their 16th release comes the first solo release from The Netherlands’ Duke Hugh. “Canvas” is a 9 track EP that oscillates between electronic, jazz, broken beat and house. A perfect mix of headphone and dancefloor gems.
Ahead of the double-pack vinyl release I caught up with Duke to talk about his debut EP.
Lexis: First off I gotta say I was really impressed by the diversity and musical maturity of your EP. Is it exciting to be putting our your first physical release as a solo artist into the world?
@DukeHugh: Yeah man, I’m super hyped.
Tell me a little bit about how you came to link up with Bradley Zero & Rhythm Section?
@DukeHugh: I was following a lot of stuff going on in London in general. Dego & the whole 2000Black movement obviously, Floating Points, Eglo, and then I ran into 22a records and Rhythm Section releases shortly after that. I think I found 22a by browsing on Bandcamp. I really liked all those sounds and the freedom of all those labels and artists.
About a year ago a friend of mine texted me that Bradley Zero was playing in Amsterdam, and since we were stockpiling those Rhythm Section releases his name was pretty familiar from our paypal accounts.
I was working on a project that I finished on the train (while my friend finished his PHD thesis, no joke), and gave it on a USB to Bradley at the end of the night. So yeah I was a fan first haha.
Yeah RS definitely seems like the perfect home for you. The fact that you can do an EP with so many different tempos, genres is a very London thing.
@DukeHugh: Yeah I think some people that I played the tracks to at home thought the opening track was too slow, but I felt that one really had to stay.
Tell me a little bit about your background and how you started out.
@DukeHugh: I’m from Groningen, a small student city in the Netherlands. There’s a big going out and partying scene with a couple of really nice underground venues. I started out playing classical violin. I guess I peaked at 12 and then lost interest. I made a lot of hiphop beats, played in a reggae band. I was really into the whole Beats Scene going on around 2005, MySpace era.
Yeah Holland had a really nice Beats Scene in those days right?
@DukeHugh: Yeah man that was crazy. Looking back I think there was a little bit too much of a focus to become the next Nicolay (from the Foreign Exchange). This whole MySpace thing was new, everyone was connecting online, although not enough finished projects came out of that era if you look at all of the potential.
Which is why it’s dope that you got signed on this EP from handing out a physical object rather than sending Bradley a link… but I would have given you bonus points for giving out a CD-R or a minidisc!
@DukeHugh: Haha for sure. I think it’s the only time I ever gave a demo to someone.
Gotta give a big shoutout to Kid Sublime who has been giving me shit for throwing stuff online instead of finishing a project and giving it to someone I respect!
Kid Sublime is the don. He did a really nice guest mix for us, maybe you can do one too someday! I see from your Soundcloud that you’re a very prolific guy, giving yourself challenges to do a beat a day. Are you still on the same pace these days?
@DukeHugh: Thankfully I’m on a break from the last one. I started that last year.. I think the whole Rhythm Section release comes from tracks made in that one month. My daughter was born in 2013 and after that I didn’t make so much. The challenge helped me create music and be free about it.. Most of my songs start as one thing and end up as something else. Often I would stop before the creative process really got going.
Now I know to just keep going and something will happen. During the whole beat-a-day month last year I was trying to create the track Church In The Wild. I think it happened on day 29, but some other fun stuff happened on the way. I did it again this year, but now I have two kids haha. Exhausting but very gratifying. It’s like practicing a sport in a way, things go easier when you do them a lot.
Has being a father inspired your music in ways you wouldn’t have expected? Other than the fact it must be hard to have time to finish what you start in one session.
@DukeHugh: The inspiration still comes from the same place but can be a bit more intense. I think I’m generally making more “good vibes” songs these days. I made a tune that is definitely about my daughter but I only realized that when it was done. She headnods to the hardest beats so that’s good!
Thats a beautiful thing man!
Well I’m going to wish you good luck on the release. I’m sure it will do really well.
Its one of the strongest debut EPs I’ve heard in a loooooooooong time.
@DukeHugh: Thanks man, really appreciate it. I’ve read a lot of stuff on MIMS over the years!
Listen to the full EP here.Buy Album