Harry Hudson, the Rising Musician with an Undeniable Presence

Harry Hudson, the Rising Musician with an Undeniable Presence

The emerging singer-songwriter opens up about overcoming cancer and pursuing his deep-rooted love for music.

The emerging singer-songwriter opens up about overcoming cancer and pursuing his deep-rooted love for music.

Photography: Alana O'Herlihy

Text: Raf Tillis

Harry Hudson, a name worth knowing, has proven to be an irrefutable rarity of love and compassion for people of all walks of life. At only 24 years old, Harry has seemingly become the face of hope, inspiration and endless optimism for millenials today. With a second chance at life, the burgeoning musician sets his sights on the release of his first album and short film, defying odds and showcasing his strengths as an undeniable force in the music industry. Here, the “Yellow Lights” singer-songwriter divulges on the meaning behind his music, battling cancer, and his beautiful lust for life.

So Harry, congratulations. Two amazing singles. What propelled you to make music?

Do you actually like them?

I actually really do. They have been on repeat. What made you fall in love with music and decided to pursue a career in the industry?

I think I always grew up enjoying melody. I would always remember songs. I remember watching Eminem music videos, like “The Way I Am”, where he was like falling, jumping off a cliff or a skyscraper. Iconic.

After I saw that — I remember exactly where I was. I was sitting in front of the TV, and I saw this video, and I was obsessed. I heard Eminem when I was like in first grade. That’s when I was like, ‘I’m obsessed with this.’ I started really getting into that and pop music and pop culture. My dad is very folky, so as a kid, that’s when I really was kind of attracted to it.

High school came around, I would write all the time -- just raps. Like poetry and stuff. Never really did anything, then I started a little rap group in high school with my best friends called Nasty Boys. We would all stay at Chris’ house. His name was Chris Nassif, and his nickname ever since he was a little kid was Nasty. So we were like, ‘Oh, we’re Nasty Boys because we all stay here and use his computer to record on.’ I remember -- I was writing funny raps. They weren’t serious. But then Chris was like, "Yo, dude, what if you actually take it serious?" He told me, "Dude, you should really try to take it serious." We had this conversation, I remember, he got me a studio session a week later. I recorded my first song.

That’s amazing. You have previous memories, like Nasty Boys, and then fast forward today, and now you’re in this moment. You have an album about to release and a short film. How did those nostalgic moments prepare you for this moment?

It’s just wild. The come up. Because I was making music with no intention. It was just fun. I was the worst rapper of all time. I was terrible. But just being expressive. I wasn’t afraid, really. I was insecure as a kid, but I wasn’t afraid to do anything. I was very out there. Like, you tell me to do something [and] I’ll probably do it. I wasn’t afraid to put music online. I wasn’t afraid to be at parties and freestyle and rap. It’s like, it’s a form of expression. I didn’t really know how to express myself without music. You know? And so, it’s just cool. You put in the work. It’s like if you really want to do something and be great at something, you just gotta really put in the work. You gotta focus, really learn your craft. I write everything. I’m a part of all the production. It’s very serious to know that. So it took all those years to really understand who I am as a person, who I am as an artist, you know?

Take me to your second single, “Yellow Lights.” The First time I heard it, it took me through a range of emotions. It’s such an incredible song, what is “Yellow Lights” and what does it mean to you?

Man, it’s a relationship. It could be with a girl, with yourself or just anybody in your life. This relationship of understanding that life is very short, and it’s this whole thing where the ending is, ‘What would you do if I died before you?’ That’s kind of this true feeling about people you have in your life. If you’re dating somebody, if you have a best friend, if something happened to me, would you actually care? Would you actually show emotion or would it be like, ‘Aw damn, that sucks.’ You know? It’s a serious thing. It’s like, you know, I’m battling this disease or whatever, and if something happened to me, would you actually care? ‘Yellow Lights’ is just this in-between stage. That’s one part of the song -- ‘What would you do if I died before you.’

My best friend Teo produced that and my other best friend nash helped produce it. I wrote it with my best friend, Cole. It was just this really natural song that came about. For me, “Yellow Lights”—it’s just a feeling of truth. This feeling of emotion. That’s what I want to bring. For me, I’m so inspired by film. You feel more, it could bring you to a nostalgic place. That’s what I want to do with all my music.

That’s exactly where it took me. So, I think you did a good job of that.

Thank you. For me, I can cry every time I sing it because it’s a journal of mine, a diary of mine. You’re in a place where you actually are experiencing death. So it’s not this hazy line. It’s really serious, like, ‘do you actually care about me because I just want to be loved in life.’ That was at a point of me not loving myself. So I’m at this yellow light because of my fear and ego, and it’s like, ah, I got to let go of fear. So I wrote this song in a place where I was fearful of life. I was fearful of myself. I was insecure. I was afraid to be alone. It’s about overcoming that. All you really need is yourself in life. If you have people to balance that out, people you genuinely love and genuinely love you back, life becomes way better. You’ve got to be happy alone first, and that’s something I didn’t really understand. So, this album, Yellow Lights, I think it’s the blueprint for you to find happiness because it’s like now I’m happy.

The first single, “Cry For Love” when you say "We don’t cry for love," that also conveys so much emotion. Where is that coming from?

Just a numbing relationship—where it’s like now the only thing you’re holding onto is sex. So it’s like you know it’s nothing serious anymore. Having that experience where we don’t cry for love. I don’t want to fall in love anymore—that’s where I was when I wrote that song. Just this numbing feeling of not wanting love because it always hurts me. I was sick of being hurt.

With the album, what can we expect? Is there a ‘holy shit’ moment for this album?

Yeah. I wouldn’t know what it is because any moment in the album can be a holy shit for somebody. I just know there’s nothing like it, I know I went through a lot of fucked up shit in my life. For what I’m seeing, I’m just trying to inspire. I’m not saying love my music. I’m trying to say love yourself. That’s what I always say. Love yourself. See that I’m doing something [and] go get inspired and do something for yourself. This shit is true to me. Everything is live. Everything is full band, full instruments, live recorded. It’s something that’s very special. I got a film coming with it. The film inspired the album, so I would be doing myself an injustice if I didn’t make a film.

What musicians do you look up to? Or do you not even see it that way?

I get more inspired by my friends and other kids in the MSFTS squad. Jaden, Willow, Teo, Moises. There’s a squad of MSFTS that we have, and each one of them inspires the fuck out of me every day. These kids who want to just help people. All these kids, everyone is so talented. Being around people and everyday experiences are my inspiration.

Four years later, you’re completely cancer free, which is incredible, can you take me back to the first day you were diagnosed?

It was crazy because I was supposed to get this record deal, like, that week. I was working on a pop album before — super pop. But it wasn’t me. Not knowing it wasn’t me at the time. But first day -- I woke up at like 3 a.m. My mom woke me up from an asthma attack. She heard me in my sleep and took me to the ER. They gave me an asthma treatment. The head of the hospital came back to work, he wasn’t working, but he saw me and was like, ‘Why are you here?’ I was like, ‘Asthma.’ He was like, ‘Cough for me. That doesn’t sound like asthma.’ So he put me in a CT scan. He came back -- he was like not supposed to work. He was like, ‘Come with me.’ So we do this whole scan. He was sitting down, he walked me to the room, and I just knew exactly what he was about to say.

His face was just white as fuck. I was just like, ‘Oh, dude, I have cancer.’ I knew it. Put the scans on the wall and just tumors all over my body. My mom’s just hysterically crying, so I’m like, ‘OK, I need to be cool.’ I’m like, ‘Ah, Mom, it’s gonna be OK.’ My mom is my life. I’m not crying. I’m just more in shock. ‘Mom, it’s all good.’ Like, I’m trying to make a funny joke, you know? She said, ‘Did we catch it early?’ He was like, ‘We got it late. He’s been living with this for almost two years. It’s spread throughout his whole body.’ And I’m just like, ‘Aw, fuck.’

You had cancer for two years and didn’t know?

I didn’t know. Then I had a vision of my grandmother, who passed away before I was born. She passed away from cancer. She just told me, ‘You gotta fight.’ After that, they’re like, ‘You’re gonna be cured. You’re gonna be fine.’ Doctor was like, ‘You’re gonna be good.’ So I just fought my ass off every day for a whole year. Then, beat it.

Then I was like, "Yo, my whole purpose is way bigger." I was supposed to die until I saw that vision. I was like, ‘Oh shit, I’m supposed to do something. I’m supposed to be a role model, supposed to be an advocate for people who are going through shit, especially cancer.’ If I can beat this, if I can get out of this, hopefully I can inspire someone else to get out of it as well. That’s the reason I do this shit for. People are dying every day, people are sad, people are insecure. Music heals people. It healed me. For me, I want to make music because I truly love it. I genuinely love it. I want to travel. I want to help people. That’s what life’s about. It’s about giving. It’s not about living for yourself. It’s about giving.

Is there a particular song on the album that touches on cancer?

One song. I wrote it to my mom when I was dying. It was a letter to my mom when I was dying. Pretty much this song of like thank you for everything, pretty much. That might be the ‘what the fuck’ moment on the album. But that’s something no one in my family can really listen to. At the time, I took it from my journal. That’s the only time I really touched on the subject because it’s not really about that. It’s pretty much about the journey after the fact of cancer. It’s like me battling depression after cancer.

World Cancer Day just passed. You posted a photo on your Instagram from your last chemo session, and in the caption, you wrote, ‘If you or anyone you know with cancer needs someone to talk to, please DM me. Remember your are not alone. I’m right here with you.’ That’s you inviting half a million people to connect with you so easily.

I have a lot of DM’s. I haven’t DM’ed anybody back yet, but I take it super serious. But I’m gonna DM every single person. It’s gonna take a while, but 100 percent, I will. The people who are reaching out who are going through it because there are some reaching out like, "Oh, that’s so nice." But people who are like, "I have cancer. I need to talk to you." Obviously it’s hard to keep a relationship with so many people, but if I can give one sentence of advice, that’s all that matters.

As much as I can. I want to be there for everybody as much as I can. But it’s to show people, like, people feel alone. Everyone feels alone when you go through cancer. For me, I had a kid who told me he had the same cancer, he was like, "Yo, the hardest thing for me is being so alone in the process." I was like I’m gonna make sure I don’t feel like that, so I invited all my friends during chemo.

You have to feel the impact that you’re also inspiring people and doing so much good, which is a heavy weight to have on your shoulders. You are someone’s Superman, someone’s super hero. Did you have someone to look up to or get you through chemo when you had cancer?

My mom. My family. They’re all superheroes. They all really came together and show so much love. Fucked up family, but the one thing they did teach me is love. We don’t come from much, and I think it’s the coolest thing to see people work so hard. I think my mom is the one who holds it all together. Seeing that growing up was like, damn, so powerful. That really was my Superman. But, no, I didn’t really have one because I didn’t know enough. But it’s like you have to do that to come to a point where I’m 24 and I understand life. I understand who I’m going to be when I’m 50, and it is what it is. It sucks because I know people who are 70 and don’t know who they are. Told myself I’m not going to be that person. I look at everybody as the same age. Unless you’re young, then you need a guide. I wish I had somebody -- I have hella mentors now. I have pastors, monks, yogis, artists. I have people who are just like, "Yeah, this is what life is." People who are homeless and help me out. I’ll go into their block they live on and talk to people. So, for me, I think life is a beautiful movie. We project what we want to see. So if you want to be love, live and love. Be a happy guy and see what happens.

HAT LYNN PAIK TOP ALEXANDER DIGENOVA JEANS THE BREAK BELT COLLECTIONS BK
Credits: stylist dean dicriscio photo assistant yasmin jansen

UP NEXT

Melissa Rivers On Her Mother's Feminist Legacy