Listen to Phoebe Bridgers Collaborator Christian Lee Hutson's #TBT Mixtape Dedicated to His High School Self

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Gus Black
Christian Lee Hutson

Welcome to #TBT Mixtape, Billboard's series that showcases artists' very own throwback-themed playlists exclusive to Billboard's Spotify account. The curated set features the artists' favorite tracks from their youth and childhood.

This week's spin comes from Christian Lee Hutson. The Los Angeles-based indie folk singer-songwriter has been in the midst of a whirlwind breakthrough year. Since meeting folk breakout star Phoebe Bridgers in 2018, the pair became close friends and collaborators who spent much of the year "co-writing songs" and “walking the Silverlake Reservoir.” Christian co-penned a track on boygenius’ debut EP (Bridgers’ side-project with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus) as well as two tracks for her Better Oblivion Community Center project with Conor Oberst and even supported the latter on its joint international tour throughout 2019. 

Last July, Bridgers brought him along to Justin Vernon’s Eaux Claires Festival in Wisconsin, where Christian ended up performing his own set for members of Bon Iver on-site. The experience led Bridgers to commit to producing Hutson's entire sophomore record (a first for the burgeoning indie powerhouse). Recorded at Sound City Studios, the forthcoming LP will also feature engineer/mixer Joseph Lorge (Blake Mills, Perfume Genius) and musician Nathaniel Walcott (Bright Eyes).

The first single from the upcoming collaborative LP -- “Northsiders” -- dropped in March. The poignant, cathartic cut leans heavily on Christian’s introspective storytelling and dark humor as he recalls experiences growing up in LA and experimenting with drugs. “I was new in town, kinda goth/ I met you in the science quad/ You asked if I had any pot/ We're going up to Mikey's spot,” he sings over a sparse acoustic guitar-led arrangement. “Covering important ground/ I tried cocaine in my cousin's house/ Yeah I'm probably addicted now/ The things that children lie about.”

The experience allowed Hutson to look back at his friends and their go-to M.O. in high school -- tracking down liquor and a place to drink it nearly every weekend. “Usually we’d end up in some park or out on the beach late at night, joking about what our lives were going to be like," he says. "I remember having this feeling that everything was going to change; like the lives we wanted were right on the other side of this fence we were about to hop.” Adds director Gus Black, who helmed the song's visual: “This is one of those heartbreakingly beautiful songs where the storytelling is filled with so much intelligence, humor and compassion -- it’s intimidating."

Ahead of Hutson's forthcoming LP rollout, the newcomer crafted this week’s #TBT Mixtape as an ode to his high school self and the artists that first inspired him to take the dive into music.

"First semester of sophomore year of high school, right before I got kicked out of SAMOHI (Santa Monica High School), I had to take P.E. but I refused to participate because I was really embarrassed of the way my body looked and people often made fun of how I looked doing any kind of physical activity,” he says. “Instead, I used to sit alone during that period and listen to my little pink iPod Mini while I watched everyone else play basketball.”

The mix -- which includes tracks by Rilo Kiley, Cat Power, Death Cab for Cutie, The Lemonheads and more -- represents the soundtrack to this period in his life. “This is close to probably the exact playlist I had on there. At that age I was going through a 'holy shit, if they can do it, maybe I can' moment with all of the artists I was getting turned onto. All these songs are special to me in that way.”

Give the set a spin and also check out some retro snaps of the newcomer -- the latter of which was taken at “Mikey’s Spot” mentioned in the track “Northsiders” -- below.

 
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