Electronic music with a 70s, sometimes Teutonic twist, Alice Hubble is the solo project of Alice Hubley (Mass Datura, Cosines, Arthur and Martha). She’s described her music as being the ‘product of one lady locked at home with her enormous collection of synthesisers’, and that description alone made us want to chat to her.
Alice Hubble’s Polarlichter album is out now on Happy Robots Records and she some live dates coming up – including one on October 3rd at The Eagle Inn in Salford, we asked her to tell us more about herself and her music.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s the story behind Alice Hubble and how would you describe your sound?
I’ve played in various bands over the years, but this is the first time I’ve done a solo project. Alice Hubble was born out of a desire to do something on my own timeline and also an excuse for me to hang out at home with my synthesisers. I like to think of it as a feminine take on the 70’s synth sound, though also taking inspiration from newer synth musicians such as Jane Weaver and Goldfrapp.
What motivates you and inspires your music, aesthetic and vibe?
I’m very inspired by places, nature, architecture as well as people and human interactions. The album was initially going to be called People and Place to recognise this, but I went with Polarlichter, the German word for northern lights, inspired by the artwork which I found in a flea market in Berlin.
You mentioned your Polarlichter album, also your recent release has gained a lot of positive attention – could you tell us a bit more about them?
Goddess the debut single came out in May and I was absolutely delighted with the reception it received. Steve Lamacq really got behind the track, played it 10 shows in a row on 6 Music, asked me to record an interview and named it his track of the year so far. This led to other DJs picking up on the track and other interest.
There has been a lot of interest recently in the Arthur and Martha project you did with Rodney Cromwell. What brought that about?
Arthur and Martha were a band that myself and Adam (Rodney Cromwell) started doing when I moved to London in 2004. It was a bit of a slow burner, but Navigation was finally released in 2009 and we split up very soon after its release.
At some point a few years ago Adam realised that we had a bunch of remixes which were never released. He then brought to me the idea of doing a full remix album, so we reached out to friends to do more such as Soft Riot and Kelarissa and we each contributed a remix to the LP too. I really love my remix of Ultra Alliance, I got a bit carried away and it’s drenched in mellotron flute! I then thought it would be nice to do a one-off show to coincide with the release (though typically the album came out two months after the gig!), which was so much to do.
I’m very proud of the Arthur and Martha album we did those years ago, we always struggled to find our feet, we were too electro for the indie scene and too indie for the electro scene, it’s been fantastic to meet people who have discovered the record since the band finished.
Having worked in bands and as a solo artist, what would you say are the main differences?
One of the things I found most daunting about going solo was stepping away from the (apologise for the corporate lingo) quality control assurance that working with a band brings. I remember after working on the Alice Hubble LP for some time that I had to take my recordings to a select group of people to ask: “Is this any good?”.
One other big difference with working solo is not being as reliant to other people’s calendars, though it means you have to be proactive with setting your own timeline. Being solo gives you a lot more autonomy with decision making, and in some ways if you have the time it can speed up the process.
I do really love working with other people on projects though and really enjoyed working with Mikey Collins (check out his album) on completing the album, I plan to bring other people into the recording process in the future and am considering bringing in band members for the live show.
You’ve recently done a few remixes for various artists – what’s it like to work on other people’s music? How does your writing process differ from that of your original material?
With remixing I like to take a track in a different direction from the original. I normally start by listening to the original files, keep the parts I respond to and then see what’s left. I also like to use parts differently, for example with my Dreamlands (Rodney Cromwell) remix the synth solo became the main riff. It’s then a case of arranging the samples and then seeing where it makes sense to add to the tracks. I normally add too many parts and then edit a lot out.
With my own stuff I try to experiment with different ways of writing to keep myself fresh, sometimes I’m trying to recreate the sounds in my head, other times it’s opening myself up to a happy accident.
What’s up next for Alice Hubble? Any upcoming gigs, new releases on the horizon, other projects?
I’m touring in October and I’m really looking to playing more. I also have plans to go back into the studio to start working on more recordings. There’s also a single coming out October/November with a fantastic video made by Phil from Vanishing Twin.
Photo by Daniel Chapman.