We caught up with Brighton-based singer-songwriter and YouTube sensation Hobbie Stuart who, after racking up more than 24 million views on the video upload site for his spectacular pop covers, is now set to unveil some original material with his debut album.
Having matured creatively with his music, he is on the verge of releasing his first official single 'Still Here' ahead of the new album which represents himself as he looks to put the years of cover songs behind him and bring his own sound to the stages and festivals.
Contactmusic.com: Hi Hobbie, how are you?
Hobbie Stuart: Yeah, I'm all good thanks. I'm currently in Brighton heading up to London very soon to do some stuff. I'm quite busy.
CM: Your new single 'Still Here' is set for release next month, can you tell us about that?
HS: It's a song I wrote last year. I went into the studio one day and I just thought, 'Do you know what? I'm not going to write about girls today.' Instead, it was going to be something that meant something to me and is worthy of putting into a song. So I thought back to a time when I wasn't really doing much with my life and when I thought it was too late to actually do anything with. I had got kicked out of college and I had no qualifications and I thought that was it; which ultimately isn't the case at all, as I soon found out when I started putting a lot of effort into music. So I thought I'd put that into a song somehow. With college, I just wasn't interested; I just wanted to have fun really and college was loads of work.
CM: You worked with Ghetts on the single/album, how was that experience?
HS: Oh, that was great, Ghetts was a great guy. I've been a fan of his for a long time so it was really cool having him on the song. I had met him a few years back, and I realised that 'Still Here' needed a rapper so I hit him up and then literally that week we were in the studio together. It all happened quite quickly.
CM: You have the album coming out early summer, how is that going?
HS: It's going well. I'm not quite happy with it yet, but it's going well. I have been working on it for a long time and because of that I have changed as an artist; what I might have been happy with a year and a half ago, I'm not so happy with anymore. The process is helping me to learn as an artist. I recorded it in LA and London and, going to LA, I've been there quite a few times since I've been signed and it's been great.
CM: Am I right in thinking you play the piano as well? Are there any piano tracks on the album?
HS: A few people have said that, I don't know where that's come from. I hardly play piano and I mainly play guitar.
CM: Your career was started by doing covers; do you feel like there's pressure on your own material now?
HS: There is but I don't really feel it. I'm confident with my songs and I'm very happy with them. So I don't really feel any pressure; I'm more excited! Making music was always something that I wanted to do and I didn't think it was possible until a couple of years ago.
CM: Which song did you enjoy covering the most?
HS: 'Hold On We're Going Home' by Drake. That's my favourite cover I've done, but it's something that I'm looking forward to moving on from.
CM: The video for 'Still Here' is very different to your live videos. What was that process like?
HS: The director, Greg Francis, is a good man. I would work with him again 100%. That was the first official music video I have ever done and it was great; it was mad going from doing a video with my friend with our not very good camera, to doing a video with a massive film crew and stuff. It was great though, I loved it and I felt very comfortable.
CM: You were in a band before you started doing your solo stuff, what was it that made you move into the solo career?
HS: I didn't want to rely on anyone else, I wanted to make all the decisions myself and I didn't want to be held back by anyone.
CM: You are very interactive with fans on social media, is this important to you? Have you had any backlash from growing your fan base in such a manner?
HS: I am really grateful and appreciative of the fans. I had a stalker, and he tracked me down a few times at the station and then followed me onto the train, that was a bit weird. I had to have a few stern words. Fans have found out where I lived and left me peanut butter Kit Kats outside my house, which was sweet. I loved that!
CM: You said that your dad was the one who complimented your voice and it started from there, do you think he ever expected for you to look at music as a career?
HS: Yeah, I think he did because he's a dreamer as well.
CM: Your original interest in music was Oasis, then it moved to more R&B and Garage and, what are you listening to now?
HS: Yeah, I love Oasis. I love the latest Arctic Monkeys album. I have got into Broken Bells; they are really cool. I have been listening to Kendrick Lamar, and I think just the new sort of artists coming out. I really like MNEK, Raleigh Ritchie and just random songs here and there.
CM: If music had never become a career option, what profession do you think you would be doing.
HS: I wanted to be a teacher!
CM: You have an upcoming tour of the UK. What's your experience of playing live?
HS: I feel really comfortable with it, I have a great time and I love it. I don't really get nervous beforehand.
CM: 2014 looks to be a busy year for you, is there anything else we should be looking forward to?
HS: My album, my tour and I'm playing some festivals this summer apparently. And that's about it!
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