Q&A’s: Lawson Hull Talks Us Through His New EP and All Things Musical

Words/Interview by Emily Hollitt {Malina Claire + Emily Hollit Content Writer}

An adventure through dreamy pop/ folk landscapes shapes Newcastle born Lawson Hull’s debut ‘Dreaming is Easy’. Opening with synthetic drums and atmospheric guitars, Try opens the record well, showcasing the best of Lawson’s smooth and soulful voice. Higher energy bops like Bad Habit sit amongst softer, gentler songs like Paint, College Town and Keep Running. Like a mix between Bon Iver and Julia Jacklin, the EP is an excellent snippet into the young artist and the brilliance he has to offer.

We were lucky enough to have a few moments of his time to pick his brain and explore how this excellent EP came about. 

You’ve just released your debut EP ‘Dreaming is Easy’. Can you take us through what the songs are about and what they mean to you? 

The ‘Dreaming is Easy’ EP has a little bit of something for everyone: old love, new love, sitting on the fence love, semi-existential crisis about being an artist, and a song about being stuck in a small town. Overall, this project gives me closure for a lot of things that happened a long time ago, and thinking about it, it should’ve come out years ago. As an artist, you’re always ahead of your releases, so stuff will always feel old. It’ll be nice to sign off on this so I can really gear up for next year’s releases (which I’m honestly so keen for). 

Are there any recurring themes that you explored throughout the EP?

Reoccurring themes may come out over time as they sometimes do, but at first glance, I can’t say that there are any obvious ones except for romance and relationships. If you’ve had a couple of long term relationships, (which I have), you’ll always have something to write about! I’ll write about this stuff all day, every day. Of course, your friends and family read into everything too much, but oh well.

There’s probably some nuance or underlying theme I don’t even realise, like maybe in the language; an apprehension, an insecurity or even a laziness to how I approach songs. There’s always some unconscious thing influencing a writer that goes beyond what they think they’re writing about. I’ll look back on the EP in a while and I’m sure I’ll see something about myself I hadn’t seen before. I’d love to know what the listeners might see, too. 

What messages do you want your listeners to gain from you EP? 

That’s a hard question. Hopefully everyone who listens will get something that applies to them. Even if it’s just one song that sticks out. The themes I mentioned in the first question could apply to most people. But to be specific. I hope people can get back to basics in their love relationships and friendships because of a song like Paint – enjoying the small, insignificant or mundane moments. In a song like Honey, I hope someone realises it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to leave a terrible relationship – might end up being the best thing they did. In a song like Keep Running, maybe a listener could wake up with the tiniest bit of hope or courage in order to make something happen in their life. Similarly in my song Bad Habit, maybe people could call their insecurities out, because insecurities can be so small and unnoticeable but crippling at the same time. 

How did you know you wanted to be a career musician?

No clue. It’s been something my life’s been around since a kid, so if there was ever some transition towards it being a career, I hadn’t noticed. Although I must say, when Canadian label Nettwerk came along and thought I had something in me, I definitely had to realign myself with what was important and it turned out that doing music in some near fulltime capacity was what I really wanted. It’s kind of hard to make money as an artist, so you’re always in this balancing act with your daytime job and your art.

You have a really unique mix of atmospheric instrumentation, layered guitars and somewhat electronic elements throughout your tracks. What songs, artists or albums inspired this production aesthetic? 

I’ve always found it hard to nail down a genre or do one genre really well. You always feel like you’re missing out on some other genre. As a result, the EP is kind of a mix of different stuff, but overall going for the folky dream-pop thing. It’s the type of music I’ve naturally been drawn to write for a long time.  You go through phases of trying to write like different artists, and since this has been such a drawn out project, I’ve written different songs with different artists in mind. Some songs come from artists like Dustin Tebbutt or The Paper Kites for moody folk, while other songs are inspired by the likes of Mac Demarco or old school Tom Petty or Bob Dylan. A significant album for the EP has been Julia Jacklin’s 2019 album ‘Crushing’.

Continuing from this, what are the top 3 albums that shaped your musical taste? 

‘Prisoner’ – Ryan Adams
‘Lost in the Dream’ – The War on Drugs
‘Life After Youth’ – Land of Talk

The songwriting on this EP are really lovely! I really love the atmosphere, the Elliot Smith style vocal production, everything! How do you approach songwriting? Do you have a set time in the day, write it when it comes to you, start with the instrumentation? 

I always have one-liners popping into my head whenever I’m doing mundane things like driving or walking somewhere, so that’s usually how a song would start and it would be based around that line. Sometimes if I’m lucky, a good melody will come along in the same way, but it’s pretty rare. The melodies usually come out when I sit down with whatever lyrics are in front of me and I begin some basic chord progression and start fumbling a melody together. 

This year has been particularly strenuous on working musicians due to the COVID-19 pandemic. How has this affected your career both negatively and positively? 

Positively it has somehow leant itself to writing a string of what I think are really great songs. Maybe it felt like a general change of season… COVID season. I also felt like it was a time to reinvent myself. It was like everyone had been equalised and in some way we’re all starting again on a new page. On the negative side, I really wanted to take my live music to another level this year and play with a band, and that chance never came. Absolute bullshit.

Do you have any advice for young artists how want to go into music?

Write music in some capacity every day and don’t put it off for weeks because you think you’re in a rut. Take a step back and take a different approach. The best stuff always comes when you’re not expecting it. If you’re anything like me and get wound up in a weird mood because nothing good is emerging, stop trying so hard. Take a break, then get back into something different, but be lazy about it.

To finish, the music industry faces a unique set of challenges in to work with, particularly in such an interpersonal art form, which can result in a lot of stressors which can affect artists’ mental health. There are a lot wider conversations and charities about this topic and the conversations are only going wider thanks to instability caused by the events of this year. Do you have any tips and tricks in how you keep yourself afloat working in such a competitive and sometimes scrutinous industry?

Not believing in myself as an artist wasn’t something I’d thought about much until I recognised it, then I knew it was always there and it became a problem for a bit, but it comes and goes. You question everything. All the time. Like many areas of someone’s life, we can’t help but make comparisons. I’d go through phases of comparing myself to other artists in various ways like Spotify monthly listens or followers, how many streams a song got, who featured/premiered your song, how many people show up to your shows, what record label they’re on, how many Instagram followers they have. It’s a pretty fucked up and flawed way to go about your life because we all know there’s someone achieving more or becoming more successful than you in certain ways. It doesn’t make them better or worse.

Tips? This goes for myself. Regarding platforms (social/music): it helps to have a level of self-restraint when using them. It’s so easy to get swept up. The more you’re on social media, the more you compare yourself to people. I don’t think our brains can keep up.

Tune in to ‘Dreaming Is Easy’ HERE

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With thanks to Comes With Fries

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