To commemorate a special occasion back in 2006, Taylor Swift sent a handwritten letter to one of her idols, country singer Jack Ingram, whom she would later play shows and co-headline meet and greets with. The letter congratulated him on the birth of his new baby, named Hudson.
17 years later, Hudson Ingram is a singer-songwriter on the rise, cutting his teeth in the diverse music city of Austin, TX, where he resides, and navigating the new normal of music creation, promotion, and consumption on social media. The young man, inspired by the likes of Swift herself, Harry Styles, and The 1975, is making music completely outside the realm of what his father is known for but inherited his dad’s pure, natural tone. A true storyteller’s tone.
Ingram’s debut EP Peace, Love & Paranoia is out now. The project is self-written, self-sung, and self-produced, and features the definitive standout “If You’ll Be Mine.” In what was his first professional interview, Ingram maturely and concisely discussed his musical intentions, process, and goals.
Beginnings & Artistic Process
“I kind of grew up around this with my dad being a musician,” he said, on his musical beginnings. “One of the first things I remember is being at a Taylor Swift show… experiencing live music that way. Experiencing it firsthand with the guitar players in front of you… you feel the bass in your chest. That’s what I first remember about it, and that’s why I make music too.” While the love of the craft is the same from generation to generation, the discovery method of finding the people who love the craft has drastically shifted from then till now.
“He has the idea that you build a career in bar shows for your first five years,” he said. “From 100 capacity rooms to a room of 10,000. I think a lot of what I’m doing now merges the new way of getting discovered with TikTok and social media, and blending it with playing my own music live. That’s where I find joy in music, and I think that’s where you really experience the true meaning of the art. I don’t think you get that from a 15-second video on TikTok, but I think that original method is still true, and will always be true.” Actively putting his theory into practice, he recently opened for Austin-based band West 22nd at their sold-out show at Austin’s The Ballroom @ Spiderhouse.
“Sometimes my process varies, but, a majority of the time, it’s just me sitting at a guitar or piano,” he said, on his organic, and so far, solo, approach to writing. “In my song ‘Perfect Pretender,’ the song starts with the actual voice memo of me sitting here with the guitar mumbling words, with my sister in the background. I was like, ‘Just don’t listen… I’m recording a voice memo.’ It just stems from sitting with an instrument and feeling what you need to feel to write a song.”
“If You’ll Be Mine”
The kind of textural element he spoke of for “Perfect Pretender” can be found in other tracks on this project, including “If You’ll Be Mine.” A faint but noticeable buzzing, like the sound of a buggy summer night in the backyard, is the first audible aspect of the track, and muffled voices, including a flirtatious bit of male laughter, are heard just before the bridge. Outside of, perhaps, the bridge lacking any melodic build, this track is outstanding.
A prime example of an artist carefully choosing moments to maximize their potential, “If You’ll Be Mine,” a well-constructed and emotionally-layered power pop ballad about chasing temptation but ultimately realizing there is only one love, hits the mark from start to finish: “Wake up/ Smile for the camera/ I saw a girl in a dress and a white picket fence/ Could’ve sworn it was you.” “It all kind of happened in one sitting,” he said, on the development of the track. “I was so entranced by that melody… by the breaks in it.”
At just 17, Ingram’s sparkling tenor tone appears to be fully developed as he hits and sustains, with a delightful (and seemingly healthy) amount of self-induced distortion, notes well up into his second passage in the final chorus: “Now I don’t see nobody else in this room/ So, I’ll be yours if you’ll be mine/ If you… stay, baby/ Oh, won’t you… stay?” “That just kind of worked in the moment,” he said, on nailing the arduous climax. “I was listening to it, thinking of the progression and where I wanted it to go. I felt it and sang it… it was lightning in a bottle.” He keeps it extremely contemporary, opting for “chu” in lieu of “you” and “true” towards the end of the song, but those details only add to the youthful experience of the moment.
“If You’ll Be Mine,” his latest release, compared to that of “Play The Part,” also included on this record but released almost a year ago, is a staggering improvement. The latter is perfectly passable, but Ingram has continued to chip away at his craft. “The way I learned how to produce, and all of this, is through YouTube tutorials,” he said. “Trial and error. Finneas, Billie Eilish’s brother, always talks about 10,000 hours. I wrote the words, ’10,000 hours,’ down, ripped it up and put it on my bathroom mirror. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about sitting here and writing a million songs and having one good one.”
Other songs on the project display his ability to take bits of his influences and apply them to his own work. He lit up with a smile when presented with the idea that “Good As Gone,” his most-streamed song to this point, bears resemblance to the vibe of The 1975’s A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. “Song About A Vampire,” one of the two new tracks on this project along with the folky closer “Change Your Mind”, was made with elements of Chris Stapleton, Fleetwood Mac, Harry Styles, and others in mind: “She told me ‘Meet me down the hallway at a quarter to three’/ I got an angel on my arm and baby, I can’t breathe.” “What I envision in my career is building worlds that aren’t necessarily completely drawn from one person,” he said. “I want to merge different influences together to create what sounds like me.”
On His Terms
Ingram has surrounded himself with people who care and who are passionate about seeing him succeed, but he himself is steering the ship. “I find a lot of joy in the minute details,” he said. “Doing all of this and spending all of my hours working on it… I’m OBSESSED with music.” He began a statement equating obsession with handwriting his lyrics, as if to establish the importance of physically tracing his own words, but trailed off for another thought. At 17, he is disciplined, but uninhibited. He is excitable but ruminative. He was born with music in his blood, but he wants to make that 10,000-hour mantra from Finneas mean something on his terms.