INTERVIEW: PLACES, PEOPLE

Ahead of his album launch show at the Otis Bar on Thursday, Radar spoke to Places People (aka Brian Hugelmeyer) about new beginnings, moving on, poetry… and egg cartons.

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More than anything, Brian Hugelmeyer’s new album was about proving to himself – and only himself – that he COULD make an album on his own.

“I had been burnt,” he tells Radar ahead of the launch of the debut release under his solo moniker, Places People.

“I wanted to work alone. I didn’t really trust anyone.”

After a taxing few years, where a painful break-up from his former band and loneliness as he stayed in Australia when his family moved back to their native America, the U.S-born and Wollongong-residing Hugelmeyer says he spent some time feeling utterly lost. Speaking of a growing discontentment with “life in general,” he says that Places People – a brutally raw, largely DIY, acoustic folk project – was birthed from a catharsic desire to express his feelings of loss, hurt and disappointment.

“In the last few years, I haven’t been happy with myself. I’ve gone through a huge period of depression and hurt and anger,” he says today, two years after starting to write the haunting, powerful ballads of Places People.

“I changed a great deal during recording and I’m happy. This record’s been important to me because it’s taught me to accept and move forward… I don’t want to be that person anymore.”

Ask any artist, and they’ll tell you that the greatest work comes from powerful emotion; love, loss, sadness, joy. Such a statement is no more true than in the case of Places People. Born out of disappointment, and fuelled by a fierce desire to prove one’s own independence, it’s a powerful, honest and astonishingly revealing look into the process of growth and maturity. In that vein, Hugelmeyer says that his initial wish was to record ‘Hid & Hunted,’ his first extended solo release, on his own; but after a while, the project began to take on a life of its own.

“I recorded some songs on a shitty two-channel recorder in a makeshift, egg carton soundproofed studio in my spare room,” he says of the project’s early days.
“But I had bigger ideas; I got in contact with my friend, producer Karl Harris. He was supportive of helping me get back on my musical feet. We started working on a four or five song EP last May, which kept evolving and being added on to; it changed from an EP to an album.”

“It was an amazingly fruitful experience. We both just let it happen and it was a wholly cathartic and fun project in the end. I don’t think I could’ve done it any other way.”

‘Hid & Hunted’ is set for released this Thursday, with an official release show that night at Wollongong’s Otis Bar, but the album won’t be the only creative piece to be debuted that night. Hugelmeyer has also said that ‘Hid & Hunted’ will be accompanied by an eighty-page book of his poems, short stories and lyrics; ‘From The Milton Wood, & Other Nonsense‘. Saying that the contents largely came from “little scribbles on all sorts of different napkins and scraps of papers over the last few years,” Hugelmeyer says that the book and album should be viewed as one, complementary work. It’s not quite the Radiohead ‘newspaper album,’ but it’s another revealing output from a startlingly honest artist.

As for the future? After such a cathartic, purging experience with ‘Hid & Hunted,’ Hugelmeyer says that we might expect some brighter work from him in future.

“Life is good; it’s always good even when it’s fucked up. I just want to appreciate being here, appreciate the good and the bad and acknowledge it all as just part of my journey. I can’t imagine my next record would be so dark as [Hid & Hunted], but I’m on a journey and we’ll just see what happens.”

Places, People will launch ‘Hid & Hunted’ on Thursday night at the Otis Bar. For more info, check out Radar’s gig guide.

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