Previously one half of F— Buttons alongside Benjamin John Power, Andrew Hung has more recently been releasing material under his own name and gigging – including an appearance at Dunfermline’s at Outwith Festival back in September, where an email interview was arranged…
• 1. Tell us about the new record ‘Deliverance’ – have you taken a different approach and what has changed since the previous solo record? BM can certainly detect a change in mood and style from Devastations…
Ha… I’d be very interested to know what you think. My approach hasn’t changed although my process has become more refined. I think ‘Deliverance’ is closer to the bone. It is more vulnerable, it’s more bare.
I think ‘Deliverance’ is the aftermath of a shock perhaps, when I was questioning my identity. I think coming out of the covid times was a shock for me and I might still be processing it, in fact. I think I hoped that something would remind us as humans that we are all interconnected and if a global airborne pandemic didn’t do that then my hope was severely dented for it. To have it so glaringly laid out like it was during covid could only make me question what actually is possible? It’s really hard to maintain hope in these times but as Andy Dufresne said, hope is a good thing, sometimes the best of things. lol, I’ve been quoting that since my teens.
• 1. Looking at your discography BM realises that you were actually releasing solo material as far back as 2014 when you were still in your previous band, albeit instrumentals and soundtracks. How did that work at the time?
I’d been trying to make music that was as far removed my previous band as possible; I didn’t want to make music like my other outfit because I didn’t see a point. Now that that band doesn’t exist any more, I feel a lot more comfortable reincorporating those experiences into my music. For example I was unwilling to use distortion in my music as a direct result of being in a distortion-heavy band but now (and you can hear it) distortion is becoming more prominent in my work and my interest in it has only grown. It’s like rediscovery.
• 3. BM recently saw you live at Outwith Festival in Dunfermline. Will you be playing any further Scottish dates to promote this record?
Yes! I am supporting Blonde Redhead on the UK leg of their tour in December, playing in Leeds, Bristol and London. And I’m hoping to get my own show sorted in Liverpool around that time too!
• 4. How do you approach songwriting and has it changed over the years?
To be honest with you, it’s still a mystery to me but one I’m comfortable allowing to be so. I think it is a mystery or it’s mystical or something ethereal like that. It just happens like a conversation. I’m really enamoured with the act of songwriting and at the same time I’m in awe of it. I think everyone should write songs. I’m both scared of it and in awe of it if I’m honest with you.
• 5. How do you feel about collaborations these days, whether writing, recording or playing?
Collaboration is really interesting with music. Music is like a language and there are syntaxes that allow groups to converse.
I think where I’m landing with music is that all those disciplines you’ve mentioned; writing, recording and playing are the same thing. There’s a sensation that I’m coming to be versed in which I need to be in when making music in all its forms and stages, from writing up to mixing. It’s all a performance, or a participation. A committed participation would be more accurate I think. It’s the same sensation as riding a bike, or playing video games or driving. This sensation of putting yourself forward. That’s how I feel.
• 6. Your previous outfit (let’s just call them “Flip Buttons”) were the only act which had more than one track on the “Official London Olympics Soundtrack” – how did that make you feel at the time, and now, looking back almost 10 years?
At the time, it felt surreal but everything was at that point. I think a thread that runs through my thoughts is that I’ve done a lot lot more than I thought I would ever do in my life already. When Fuck Buttons first started, I was working in a call centre in Bristol with what I thought was a useless art degree. I was sharing a room above a pub, working there on weekends and then shuffling off to a soulless office with a headset tethering me to a desk. And then the very next moment, i was touring around the world and finding myself on the biggest stages it had to offer. It was all really surreal and I still can’t quite believe it all happened.
• 7. What are the best and worst gigs that you have ever played?
The best gig… I’d have to say when we played the Primavera main stage and there were 18,000 people in the audience. I mean, it’s not about numbers but that was cray cray. The worst gig… there was one in Birmingham when we were playing and a guy in the back of the audience motioned a slicing of his throat to me.
• 8. BM is aware that things are quite a bit tougher for musicians these days in terms of the costs of touring etc. Has this affected you in terms for example of touring or releasing material abroad?
Probably… I think there is still a scrum for shows and the established acts are wolfing up all the live spaces. It’s really hard to book shows now. For me at least. In terms of releasing material I’m really lucky to have a supportive label behind me; Lex have been behind me from the start and I’m forever grateful for them. Shoutout to the boys and girls there!
• 9. What other things have you noticed regarding changes since you started in the music industry (streaming being one thing presumably…)
Oh god… where do we start; the landscape is changing every few years. I guess there’s been three key points in my career so far so I can talk about what the landscape was like at those junctures. When I first started in Fuck Buttons, it was right at the end of the CD boom, so people were still buying CDs but they were being phased out at that point. So there was still a bit of money going round to musicians. Then at the end of Fuck Buttons, streaming had gotten a hold, so there was no revenue from recorded music, or at least hardly any. Touring was the most viable way to make a living at that point. Now, since social media has changed who the gatekeepers are, the traditional publications like radio, print etc have been rendered limp and we’re at the mercy of only music that has well-defined marketable assets getting through. It’s all one movement really; capitalism eating itself. I’m kinda glad I got to experience life before the incessant self-branding that defines our current age.
• 10. Do you have remaining ambitions you’d like to achieve, either with music or in general?
I’d love to reach as many people as Fuck Buttons did, but that’s about it. Whether I get there or not isn’t important.