We had the chance to interview RM Hubbert (or Hubby as he is known). Hubby won the Scottish Album of the year 2013 for his album ‘Thirteen Lost and Found’ which is a series of collaborations between himself and a number of his friends from the Scottish Music scene. The tracklist boasts Luke Sutherland, Aidan Moffat, Alex Kapranos (Lead singer of Franz Ferdinand), Emma Pollock & Alasdair Roberts to name but a few. It is a gem of an album that has sucked me in over the last few weeks and if you haven’t heard it, it comes heavily recommended.
On your album ‘Thirteen lost and found’ What was it like to work with such a wide variety of musicians?
Really there were all old friends of mine which is the reason I made the album. After the death of my parents and my diagnosis of clinical depression, I used the first album as a form of therapy. I found after that, I became quite isolated from a lot of my friends and there were some people I hadn’t seen for about ten years with everything that was going on, so I had this idea that it might be easier to reconnect with them, that I would go and write a song with them rather than have an awkward meal or lunch. I thought it might be more fun to go into a studio with them and write a song and reconnect that way.
Were you actually in the room together, or was it via the internet?
No, the only rule was that no one was able to prepare anything in advance, so we would literally go into a rehearsal room for six hours and what we had at the end of the day was the bulk of the song. It was basically what we ended up recording later on.
Was it completely from scratch each day?
Yes, that was more down to the quality of the collaborators than me. I wanted to try and capture the moment of reconnecting, when you write music together it kind of inevitable sounds a bit shite, and then it gets better. That moment where the music starts to work also works in a relationship kind of way, where you contribute more. That was the idea and I extended it with Alex (Kapranos) producing it. Alex and I were friends and I hadn’t seen him in a long time. Everyone involved with the record was an old friend of mine that I’d lost touch with and it was an excuse to become friends again.
Did some songs take long than other?
Most of them were pretty much formed by the end of the first day with each person, but it took two and a half years to produce the record.
Was that logistics as much as anything?
Yes, it was about 90% logistic, the process of getting everyone in the same room together was quite challenging. Pretty much everyone involved with the record was a touring musician, so it took a long time to get it together. We recorded quite a lot of it in Alex’s house which is right in the middle of Scotland and getting people there was quite difficult.
There was one weekend where we recorded about half the album and it was basically about four hour slots where people would turn up at his house and we’d record their song.
I’m a fan of Aidan Moffat, what is he like to work with?
He’s a fucking nightmare (laughs), no he’s brilliant, I love Aidan to bits. We’ve worked quite a lot together. He’s an absolute joy.
I’d say it’s a job to control him?
You don’t even try (laughs). You just give him a bowl of cider and let him go. I wouldn’t dream of trying to control him.
Was it a surprise to win the Scottish album of the year?
It was a huge surprise. My acceptance speech basically consisted of me swearing (laughs). There’s about three hours of national press with me swearing.
I was absolutely steaming by the time they announced it because I really wasn’t expecting to win it, so I was just taking advantage of the free whiskey that night. I was barely able to stand up by the time they announced it.
How did it affect your career?
Apart from the money, I mean there was a £20,000 prize for that, which meant I could actually pay all the collaborators. We all play on each other’s records, and you very rarely actually receive any money for it. It was nice to be able to split that money with those that helped on the record.
And did many doors open?
That was more important, that was the big thing, it made it a lot easier to book tours in the UK especially. Also it meant ‘Breaks and Bones’, the album that was finished and ready to go right before the awards, it got much wider reviewed than it might have done which was great. That was the big thing for me. The difficult thing as a musician is not necessarily getting people to buy your albums, it’s to get people to listen to them in the first place. It’s getting it reviewed and getting it on the radio. The awards gave me a massive leg up with regards to people listening to my music.