Devastations finds the more electronic minded half of the Bristol duo F*ck Buttons honing his craft as a singular artist in his own right
Legend has it the Bristol electronic duo Fuck Buttons crafted their distinctive sound because one guy was into Mogwai and the other was a big Aphex Twin fan.
Yet on Devastations, the second proper album from Andrew Hung (the Richard D. James half of F-Buttons), the British producer continues to shake off expectations with a work that sees him furthering his artistry beyond the electronic circuitry of his prior endeavors. As a follow-up to his 2017 solo debut Realisationship, this latest LP finds Hung furthering his exploration into the futuristic vision of the singer-songwriter idiom, veering into the territory he explored working in collaboration with Beth Orton on her underrated 2016 LP Kidsticks with a dash of This Is Hardcore-era Pulp mixed into the glitch.
Created during a tumultuous period in his recent history, Hung reveals himself like never before on Devastations both as a lyricist and a composer, landing at a place where harmony and dissonance walk hand in hand.
“Devastations is a breaking out from the prisms of perceptions into the infinite hope we all hold deep inside,” Hung once said about his new creation. And in this exclusive interview with Rock & Roll Globe, he goes further in depth about this particular moment in a career spanning nearly 20 years.
Devastations is available now on LEX Records.
Calling an album Devastations in 2021 seems so sadly apropos; but I was wondering if there was anything specific in the span of creating these new songs that inspired the title?
I think I’m just about out of the woods when it comes to this stuff but yeah, the years leading up to the pandemic were tumultuous for me. The short story is that my world collapsed. There’s a song called Shadow in my previous album Realisationship about being a shadow without the sun. I had no sun for a period of a few years, I had no guiding star. So this album is about that aftermath, the wandering of vastness, the battle.
How do the singular song titles correlate to the concept of Devastations as a theme?
I think they’re elementary words, like space, light, colour etc. They’re all words that point to abstract concepts for human beings; so they’re words that change according to their context. Like the word Devastations is a word that is both beautiful but destructive too. The last song is called “Goodbye,” which mirrors the first song’s name “Battle,” both are more definable tangible human concepts both pointing to endings of sorts. The outcome of any battle is a goodbye.
VIDEO: Andrew Hung “Goodbye”
Have you always written songs in the more conventional vein, or is this newer territory for you on Devastations?
No, I’ve never written songs before, which I find exciting. I’m in a space to explore that universe now.
What artists inspire you as a songwriter and why? I can imagine working with someone like Beth Orton brought you positive energy.
Yeah Beth was inspiring. Emmy The Great is very inspiring, as is Laura Kidd aka Penfriend. I’ve always been inspired by Caribou, I’ve known Dan a long time and have always looked up to him. I’m very lucky to have seen behind the curtains of how those artists work.
VIDEO: Andrew Hung “Wave”
Who do you feel is the strongest pop songwriter to emerge from electronic music and why?
I think Dan Snaith is pretty good. I’ve seen him progress and he’s brilliant. I think Beth is always honing her craft too. They’re both artists that I admire greatly and am very excited to hear what they’re up to.
I watched a little bit of The Greasy Strangler. Pretty crazy stuff, man. How did you get involved with Jim and what was your approach to soundtracking this film? Were there any soundtrack composers in your mind when you were coming up with the music?
Jim contacted me after hearing the Rave Cave eps I did and asked if I could do the Greasy Strangler soundtrack. It was so fun! I only had three weeks which suited me to a tee. It was a very singular experience a bit like the film really. There weren’t any soundtrack composers no; I was just trying to make something as childish as possible.
What is your favorite gross-out comedy?
Um… I grew up with the Police Academy films… I still have time for the American Pie films… god I’m not sure. I don’t think I really watch gross-out comedies.
VIDEO: The Greasy Strangler official trailer
Who are you listening to these days? Where do your personal tastes lie in 2021?
I am listening to Cowboy Junkies right now and before that I was listening to Faye Webster. My personal tastes these days… you know I listen to a lot of stuff I used to listen to, like Cranberries, Kate Bush, Beth Orton etc. I learnt of Lilith Fair recently lol because Spotify described my music taste as such… which I think is a term of ridicule when directed as a descriptor but a lot of that stuff I like. Like Cowboy Junkies I found from a list of Lilith Fair performers. I’m working my way through those lists. I also found Joan Armatrading through those lists who is very cool. I’ve always loved listening to female vocals.
What has been your thoughts about seeing and hearing of all this racism towards Asian folks in the United States and beyond? What is it like in the UK in that regard?
I’ve inadvertently educated myself on these matters because though I felt the effects of these issues throughout my life, I’ve never had the modern terminology and signifiers. Like I obviously understand acts of prejudice but I was unable to articulate my feelings derived from structural racism.
I think fear is on the rise and that manifests in all sorts of ways including violence based on prejudice.
Devastations is out now on LEX Records, one of my very favorite labels for hip-hop. I’d love to know how you landed at LEX and if you have a favorite album on the label.
I’ve been a fan of Lex records for a long time now so it was a dream come true to be on that label. I loved an album by a group called Hymie’s Basement which was comprised of Why? and Andrew Broder on Lex. There’s no interesting story of how I landed there; I knew someone who worked there who kindly gave me an in.