Husk is the solo project on Manchester based electronic musician Alfie Austin. With music that leans heavily on analogue synth sounds and a slightly left field take on electropop, Husk blends accessible beats and catchy melodies with some very personal lyrics that show electronic music can have a very sophisticated and human side to it. Read on to find out more about this exciting up and coming artist.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s the story behind Husk, and how would you describe your sound?
It’s Proper Electropop – with a kind of rudimentary approach. I tend to focus on creativity when I begin producing new stuff, then work with all the tech later. I’ve been likened to CHVRCHES and Prince but I would compare myself to an early Madonna. I need infectious melodies along with the clapping snares and big-wide-synths but I have a soulful tone to my voice. As a transman, taking testosterone has changed it too, so it doesn’t have a defined masculine or feminine range, which I’m actually really happy about. I don’t shy away from being trans, and I want to see more of it in art, especially music.
What motivates you and inspires your music, aesthetic and vibe?
Queer culture does a lot, and the authenticity that it allows so many cool people. For me, really enjoying Pop music and being slightly theatrical is me being authentic! Also, I think music has always been an outlet for expression in queer culture, both from LGBT+ side of things, and those who simply stray from the societal ‘norm’. I think that’s why I like synth so much, it’s limitless with so many different colours and textures that you can create!
You’re one of the few artists I’ve seen to cite Xenomania as an influence. What is it about the English production team that appeals to you musically?
I guess it’s the melodies. If you take a track like Girls Aloud’s Biology, there are three strong, catchy themes that shouldn’t really fit together, but they all do, and even 12 years later I still find myself singing it in the shower. I deviate from their production style though, I love the idea of having these mainstream style Pop melodies with more of an unpolished production style, giving it a bit more crunch!
You’ve described yourself as ‘electronic evangelist’ – what do you mean by that?
It’s actually a title that I was given before ‘Husk’ even came about. It started when I was in college because most of the people in my class were really into classic rock and kind of against synthesised instruments. Meanwhile, I found a Roland Juno 60 gathering dust in a cupboard there and was programming electronic drum parts in Reason 4. I found myself really rebelling against what was happening around me with every piece I started, as synth would find it’s way into it, almost religiously!
You’re currently working on material for a new album, how is that going? Will there be any changes to your sound, and when can we expect to hear more?
There’s a few changes that are really exciting! I’ve just finished working with the awesome Sugar House Music. We came up with some creative ideas for vocal harmonies and found an amazing haunting vocoder that adds something a little dark. We’ve also added live drums, which I’ve never done before, that added so much colour to the songs; they have huge climaxes.
What’s up next for Husk? Any upcoming gigs, new releases on the horizon, other projects?
Yes, I released my self-titled, three track EP on 16th March. I wanted to make it all about the energy and the camaraderie of that moment when the thick texture of the synths ascend and driving drums give you itchy feet!
Each track has a definite Husk stamp, but each are different too. Brother Kin, the lead track, has a kind of aggression and came from a politically motivated session, whereas Every Bone is a lot softer and vulnerable and You Got It is not too serious and lots of fun.