Huck Releases Playful Collaboration 'Scrimmage' With Sophie Meiers: Premiere & Interview
When Bandcamp announced its fundraising initiative for the ACLU back in February 2017, John Wolfe and his roommate and longtime collaborator Ebban Maeda gave themselves a 24-hour time limit to create a song to contribute, under the name Huck. That’s how the Spotify Viral 50 hit “Without You” was born, which has amassed nearly 300,000 streams across Spotify and SoundCloud to date.
In the year and a half since then, Huck, now Wolfe’s solo project, has been dutifully working on recording his debut self-titled LP. Set to be released in October, Huck the album explores the sound that Huck the artist has been slowly cultivating since his days as a preteen in Brooklyn. In an interview with Billboard, Wolfe reminisced about the time he discovered Little Sound DJs (or LSDjs,) a music editing software that lets users create songs out of Gameboy color noises. “I thought it was the coolest shit ever … That was my first intro into that weird 8-bit electronic sound in music that's super sick.” Wolfe didn’t use the software in the making of “Without You,” opting instead for his Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator which “looks like a calculator,” but he was inspired by the scene. “I made those drum loops and didn't look back. I love sounds like that,” he said. “There's some other songs on the album that have sounds like that. Clearly not all of them. ‘Without You’ is my first ever adventure into a fully electronic song and I was just working with what I had. So, that sound came to me.”
He digs deeper into this electronic sound on “Scrimmage,” a three-minute romp that blends the definitively pop-leaning vocals of 18-year-old Sophie Meiers with Wolfe’s own soulful voice, all laid over an 8-bit-influenced beat. This collaboration is another thing that seemed to just come to Wolfe, who had never spoken with Meiers (whom he later described as “the female counterpart to my voice”) prior to her messaging him on Facebook. “I sent her over some very, very basic loops and ideas that I wanted to work on. She picked what was the basis of ‘Scrimmage,’ which at the time was just a drum loop and that key part that goes out through the song,” he said. “One day, I worked on it and fleshed it out to almost what it is now … wrote that chorus, recorded my vocal of the chorus, sent it to her. By the time I woke up the next day, she had sent me her verse and the chorus.”
While Wolfe has been skeptical about collaborating in the past “because I can be kind of controlling,” he admits that the track with Meiers “helped to open up that collaboration is not like pulling teeth. It can be really fun and liberating.” Meiers and Wolfe have met in person since then, but initially, they relied entirely on technology to create the track -- a consistent theme in Wolfe’s musical journey, which is heavily tied to technology. From the quirky video game sounds influenced by LSDjs, to the lyrics (Meiers and Wolfe harmonize on the line “Let me double-tap this image” in the chorus, a nod to Instagram), to the SoundCloud success, Huck is a project fully shaped by the digital age.
“I do very much like live band stuff too,” he said. “On the album, there are some songs that are no electronics at all. There's this one song in particular that was recorded on a tape machine with just live instruments ... With that being said, these things are a lot of fun and they can help you hit timbres and points in your music that are surprising … When I think about technology too hard I go into this old school mindset, but technology and music is so exciting. There's so much gear coming out and so many smart people thinking about ways of making music that have never been thought of before and that's really enticing.”
“Scrimmage” is just one of many “happy surprises” that Wolfe stumbled across while recording Huck, which he will be releasing independently -- with the help of the marketing, management and press team of local NYC-based label Invertebrate. He has still not laid out any solid plans for what will happen after the release of the full album, but “I would like to [tour.] We're figuring it out one step at a time.” While he creates the songs solo, he plays with a live band of five people that includes himself on vocals and synth, and friends on guitar, drums, bass and trumpet.
Huck will be playing a single release show for “Scrimmage” in New York City at Elsewhere (Zone One) on Saturday. Tickets are available here.
Listen to an exclusive premiere of “Scrimmage” below.