Arthur Valentine (a.k.a Luke Aston)’s creation of ‘Hausu’ has been a huge creative outlet, a musical outlet premised on living in a house and forging a studio with those he lives with, essentially making music a lifestyle.
Coincidentally, the set-up is ideal for the current scenario, a kind of hub that naturally not only survives, but thrives in a corona-hit world.
His latest single ‘Fruit Juice’ is the result of just such a setup. I caught up with him to talk all about it…
Can you tell me a little bit about your musical background, and how you got to launching your first singles?
I come from a very musical family, so music has always been a pretty big part of my life. I’ve been writing music and recording with my Hausu mates Jack (actualacid) and Drew (Automatic Blue) for years, but there was always something that kept us from releasing anything.
Looking back, I think we knew that the music we were originally making wasn’t exactly the vibe we were going for. It wasn’t until I recorded Selfish that I think we gained the confidence to start putting the music out into the world. We definitely took our time, only putting out two singles last year, but it was always my intention to ramp it up in terms of releases this year.
What’s the story with Fruit Juice, and what kind of introduction are you hoping it will be for you, alongside your earlier tracks?
Fruit Juice is a track that was born out of quarantine. It happened one night when I couldn’t sleep, I went into the studio and started working on a completely different song. The track I was working on was very heavy and sombre, and working on it felt a bit overwhelming given the climate at the time.
I started thinking that I’d love to make a more upbeat, optimistic track. I started looking through old beats that Jack had made for the Arthur Valentine project and found the outline of the beat that would later become Fruit Juice. I laid down guitar, bass and some vocal melodies and lyric ideas that night at about 4am.
I showed it to the lads the next morning and they were hyped, so we just tore into it from there. The track was finished about a week or two later. In terms of how people react to the Fruit Juice – making the song acted as a form of catharsis for me, an escape from quarantine. I guess I’d like people who hear it to feel something similar.
How’s your work with Hausu helped you develop?
I don’t think I’d be making music if it wasn’t for Hausu and the people in it. For the most part, my music is a collaborative effort. Almost every Arthur Valentine song – released and unreleased – have been produced by Jack, Drew and Myself, and I’ve also worked with Matt on a number of tracks.
Outside of the music-making process, I think working with the amazing graphic designers, photographers and filmographers in Hausu has made me a better artist in general. Collaborating with people who you know and trust makes it far easier to express yourself and not be afraid to take risks artistically.
What are you doing with Hausu outside of your own stuff?
I have collaborated with Automatic Blue, Ghostking is Dead and Actualacid in one way or another on all of their most recent projects, be it as listed features or background vocal stuff – I made a sample pack of vocal ad-libs for Matt’s most recent project. He turned them into something really cool, but it’s a sound folder I hope nobody ever hears on its own.
To be honest, I probably benefit the most from the Hausu infrastructure in terms of collaboration, but I help out on other projects wherever I can. We were actually in the process of organising a very cool Hausu live show prior to quarantine. Hopefully, something we will be able to get back on track in the coming months.
How would you describe the progress of your own style over the last few months?
Myself, Jack and Drew moved in together at the end of last year and set up our own studio in the house. Since then, the Arthur Valentine project has developed and progressed massively. We’ve been able to take the time to find out what sort of music we want to make and what works best for us creatively. In terms of genres, it’s hard to say if we’ve started to make X or Y type of music. All I can say is that I think we’ve crafted a sound that is unique to us and is something that we’re really proud of.
What is the Cork music scene like at the moment, and how involved with it do you feel?
I think the music scene in Cork has unlimited potential and is definitely on the rise. There are some really incredible artists and collectives coming out of Cork at the moment – Yenkee, Gaptoof, Lewwab, Damsel, God Alone, 1000 Beasts, Angry Mom Collective to name a few.
On top of that, you have long-standing venues seeing a resurgence, with the newly refurbished Cyprus Avenue and the Kino being taken over by the great folks at The Good Room. Personally, I’m looking forward to getting more involved in the live music scene in cork. Just before lockdown, I played my first show with a full band and it was incredible. I had a few shows lined up which were unfortunately canceled because of the pandemic. I’m excited to get it up and running again as soon as things start getting back to normal.
How has the shutdown impacted on your music and the launch – I understand the single we basically born out of being shut at home?
In terms of making music, the shutdown had somewhat of a positive impact. Even though most of our time prior to lockdown was spent inside in the studio anyway, we definitely were able to turn it up a notch in terms of our efficiency and output.
We finished the debut Arthur Valentine EP in quarantine and as I mentioned, Fruit Juice was made entirely in quarantine. In terms of releasing music, the shutdown did affect the scheduling of the EP releases a bit. I think the lockdown has affected the way people are consuming content in general. Things don’t seem to have the same sticking power as they previously did and everything seems a little fleeting – music included. The most important thing I’ve learned from lockdown is just to make sure you keep moving forward. Do your best not to get bogged down.
Have you thought about music’s future in the midst of all this?
I think one thing that the global lockdown has shown us is that the love for live music is stronger than ever. I think it’s something that people are really really missing and hopefully it will drive people to see as much live music as possible once things go back to normal.
Outside of Covid, I think everything that’s happened with the Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted how important it is to listen to black and PoC voices and not take black artists and art for granted. Hopefully, in the future, music will act to provide more of a voice to those who historically haven’t been allowed to have one and that voice will be amplified to larger and more “mainstream” audiences.
What are your long term aims with the music?
That’s a tough one. To be honest, I guess my only concrete goal right now is to continue to make music with my friends and grow and progress as an artist. I always talk about getting so good at what you do that you make yourself undeniable. That’s what I want.
I also want to continue to collaborate with as many great artists as possible. I think that’s a great way to improve and challenge yourself. Longterm, as long as I’m making the music I want to make and I’m expressing myself, I think I’ll be happy. If doing that pays the bills and allows me to live a happy life surrounded by the people I love, I’ll feel like I’ve won.