The other day, we had a conversation on a skanky white phone with a man and musician who’s known by many as Mr Hudson, and by a few as Benjamin Hudson Mclldowie. He’s released two albums, A Tale Of Two Cities and Straight No Chaser, and has recently worked with a chap called Jay-Z, and this other chap called Kanye West. But that was then, and this is now. It’s about midday, and Mr Hudson is sleepy.
Do you get to have loads of lie-ins? Pop stars never seem to get out of bed before 12pm.
I think we just tend to be on a later timetable, you know. I had a show the night before last, we went on stage at 12.30pm and, you know, you come off stage, you’re buzzing, you don’t really get to bed until, say, 4am and it’s kind of hard to get up at a civilised time.
Do you like the lifestyle?
I love it yeah, I’ve had worst jobs.
I’ve had some stressful jobs. Being a white van man in London wasn’t cool. I was getting stressed in traffic.
You did English Literature at Oxford. How come you wanted to do music rather than be a writer or something?
There wasn’t a big creative element to the course. It was more like studying what other people had written. I just got quite good at music I started writing these songs and my brother was like: “Let’s form a band, this is going to be really cool.” And I just drifted into it. By the time I left university, the people there were like: “What are you going to do next?” And I was like: “Erm I’d quite like to be a musician,” and they were like: “Cool, thank God someone is going to do something interesting.”
How come you collaborate with people so much?
I guess I’m just quite a sociable guy and, yeah, the last year has been crazy, working with Kanye, Jay Z and N-Dubz. I’ve got, you know, a couple of irons in the fire.
Do you find it easier collaborating than doing your own stuff?
Well it’s more fun. I’m always up for the more the merrier, you know.
When someone like Jay Z comes knocking, you must start thinking you’ve made it.
It’s kind of hard to process when you’re in the eye of the storm. I see it through other people’s eyes when they’re like: “Oh my God, you’re on the TV with Jay Z.” Or Jay Zed as everyone seems to be calling him at the minute.
Well, I suppose we do pronounce the letter zed. I don’t know who started calling him Jay Zed. Probably Peter Kay or something.
Probably some sort of ‘funny’ gag at the Brit awards. Do you think there’s a risk with collaborating with loads of artists that people will ignore your own material?
I think if I didn’t have two albums that I’m really proud of and I just did those collaborations it might be a bit flimsy. I suppose it all depends how the next two years go. If I’m still doing well in two years people will be like: “Oh, you know that was really clever how he worked with loads of people then went on to do his own stuff”. If I don’t they’ll just be like: “Oh, that guy who worked with Jay Z back in the day.” The winners write the history books. If I’m still riding high in two years it’ll all seem like some cunning plan.
Do you think even if you’re not riding high in two years, you won’t care, because you worked with Jay Z?
I have some big boxes ticked. I always said I wanted to work with hip hop artists and those two. It’s pretty much getting to the top of the game and I want to move on and do other things and not just be a guy who sings with hip hop stars. A lot of people, if you told them they’re going to be on Jay Z’s and Kanye’s album, they’d be like: “Yeah, that’s fine, that’ll do me, I’ll retire after that.” But for me, as an artist, I think anyone who’s serious about their music would be like: “What’s next?”
Do you have a good work ethic?
I vary. When I’m cooking with gas I won’t do anything else and then I’ll go for days when I haven’t got any ideas. The best thing to do is to just go in the studio, turn the kettle on, turn some instruments on, plug some things in and just see what happens.
Have you been surprised by how quickly it’s got good for you?
Yeah. But it’s felt like a long road and, you know, I’ve been taking my music seriously for quite a while. But I suppose from a public perception it’s suddenly blown up in the last six to nine months. I suppose since Supernova came out. It’s been an amazing year. It’s been nuts. But, you know, it’s like a kettle. It takes a while to boil, but then you notice it’s kind of bubbling.
Do you like being famous?
I’m in denial. I don’t think I am famous. I’m pretending I’m not.
Would you like to be humongously famous?
It’s not on the list of things to do. If it happens I’ll deal with it, but for me it’s all about the music. It’s interesting because Lady Gaga is one of the biggest pop stars in the world at the moment, and you wouldn’t know if she walked past you in the street without all the bits and bobs on. If she was just in a trouser suit, on a mobile, walking past without her wigs and stuff. I just think fair play to her. Maybe I should do that, maybe I should dress as Lady Gaga.
You should collaborate with her.
I met her briefly but we haven’t worked together.
What’s she like?
She was kind of preoccupied wrapping a motorcycle in red leather and I didn’t want to interrupt. I didn’t want to accidentally become part of her stage set and be a half man half Vespa wrapped in red leather.
Have you met any really horrible famous people?
I think that woman [Sarah Jessica Parker] from Sex and the City blanked me when I tried to shake her hand, but maybe she didn’t see that I was trying to shake her hand. I thought she was being introduced to me but she was being introduced to the person next to me. And I’m not even sure it was her because she had straight hair and I’m pretty sure she’s got a wet-look perm in the programme.
Finally, if you were a Mr Man, what would your name be?
I’d be Mr Mr Hudson.
Does your Mum call you Mr Hudson?
No. Can you imagine that. My Mum shouting “Mr Hudson your tea’s ready!”
Does your Mum make your tea?
Well, she certainly did back in the day.
Mr Hudson uses the Nokia E72 to stay connected – submit questions for his exclusive Twitter chat on Thursday April 1, 12-1pm at: www.Nokia.co.uk/e72inaction