Mary Local, whose show focuses on South Carolina artists, had the chance to interview local artist Caleb Hudgens. Check it out to learn more about Caleb's inspirations and journey.
Be on the lookout for Caleb's upcoming album:
Watch the full video or read the transcript below.
Edited for length and clarity.
Q: So just go ahead and introduce yourself for me, like your name, artist name.
A: Yeah alright, so my name is Caleb Hudgens. Artist name is Caleb. I like to make all kinds of music. I'll make hip-hop, R&B, you know, whatever I can get my hands on to be honest.
Q: I noticed in some of your songs you go by NE Coty.
A: It's my old name, and I switched it over, but on Apple Music it'll still say that. But Any New Era is me and some of my friends. It's our music group. So, it's Coty yeah and it sort of sounds like Kid Cudi. I sort of like the way that he makes music for himself and it's less about him trying to appeal to other people and him trying to make what he wants to make so it was sort of a cool energy that I like to capture in my music.
Q: Cool! Where did you get the idea to just start making music? How did it all start for you?
A: Yeah, so actually me and my friends we made one song a long time ago. We were in Greenville and it was me and two of my friends in a hotel room and we just made a super jokey song. It wasn't anything special, but we were sort of just like doing it. It was super fun and that's really where it started. I started making more and more because it actually sounded pretty good, and it just got better and better. Then in high school there was like a group of kids that actually like made fun of me for my music and they would post about it, and so it actually it actually drove me to be better. It made me want to get good, and then I got pretty good. Now they have nothing to say anymore so it's cool.
Q: What's the songwriting and recording process for you? How do you get to where you're creating these songs and what's your process you would say?
A: Yeah, so usually oftentimes like I'll just be in a mood to make music and sometimes, most of the time, I'll be with some of my friends in New Era and we'll listen to some music, and we'll get inspired. I'll find a beat, typically it's a lot of free beats, and we'll find something that really speaks to us. Then personally I go in there and I just go line for line like I want. Most of the time I won't even write it out in the beginning you know, I'll just try and find what speaks to me and I think that makes it the most organic.
Q: How do you come up with your lyrics? Or do you just do what speaks to you?
A: It really is what speaks to me. I like to try and pick things that sound good. You know there's a lot of times where there's some people that wouldn't even get this, but when they're writing lyrics, they'll just write something, but they won't think of how it sounds with the music. And I'm not sure what the adjective is for that but yeah, it's like what words just flow best because there's a lot of people that'll write out a line and I'll look at that and I'm like it just it doesn't quite fit. Like it fits everything except for how it how it sounds. So that's mainly my biggest reason for picking the lyrics that I do is just the way that it sounds.
Q: It's almost like you're making like a poetry type of music.
A: Yeah, it's more careful than just trying to jot down words on a paper or anything yeah.
Q: What goes through your head when you're about to record your songs?
A: Yeah, so typically I'm trying to have a certain energy that I want to capture when I'm trying to make music, that's really the whole point of each song. I know specifically the energy that I want to capture in the song. Then it's the execution that will take some 45 minutes because I'll probably take about 45 minutes on a song.
Q: Just to make sure that you're capturing that energy.
A: Yeah, exactly.
Q: I noticed also sometimes you play more hip-hop songs and then you play more alternative songs. How would you describe your music genre? Or would you say you're all into all different genres?
A: That's a good question. I would say it's a bunch of different genres and to be honest I try and capture a specific genre in each work that I've put out. Each album or single or even an EP I try and keep the same energy throughout. So instead of putting myself in a box you can put my each of my works in a box that you can say okay this is more R&B or this is more alternative or this is slower and this is more fast paced and stuff. I try to challenge myself all the time with making different types of music, but each album or EP will have to try and keep the same energy.
Q: With your new album THE VILLIAN it's more of like a hip-hop vibe, and then Waves is way more like a chill vibe.
A: Yeah, Waves is a lot more chill. You can tell how different the energy is, but I feel like there's always a similar style that goes in whenever I'm making the music. It seems to be like not the same energy, but I feel like you can almost tell that it's from me each time. Which is it's cool because it's a brand that I want to create, but I want that brand to be able to encapsulate like a bunch of different types of music.
Q: I like that that you're not putting yourself in a box, you're trying to branch out and do different types of things. You said that Kid Cudi, he's one of your Inspirations, is there anybody else that you draw inspiration? Some of your favorite artists that you listen to?
A: There's obviously Drake. I'm coming out with the new album soon, it's called Lost in my Thoughts and that has, if you've heard Honestly, Nevermind by Drake, that has a lot of the same themes and a lot of the same energy from that. Whenever I'm making an album or whatever and there's like a certain energy that I want to capture I will typically listen to songs that have that same energy. I'll just go hard on those songs just listening to those a ton and try to get that same vibe and then be able to put that out into my own music. There's Drake there's actually another local rapper from Summerville that I really like: Joe Kenji. He's super good. I think he just got signed by Internet Money. I sort of like those artists that you know try and do different things. There are always super good artists that are good at what they do, but whenever they try other things like that that's what really draws me to them. Like obviously Drake will be a hip-hop artist and R&B, but he'll do a bunch of different things like Tyler the Creator. I mean you can click on one song of his and click onto another and it won't sound you know like that at all, but it will have that same energy of “oh this is a Tyler the Creator song." That's sort of the kind of brand that I want to do. What I want to be is if someone can listen to it and say “oh yeah that's a Caleb song” then I know that I've at least built a brand for that person to recognize.
Q: What is one song that never gets old for you? One of your favorite songs that you've created a song that just never gets old for you, and I know that's you probably have a lot out there.
A: I would say Waves for sure. There's one called A New Heart in one of my EPs, it's sort of the slower ones that I enjoy. Funny you asked that, because Hypnotized I can't stand listening to.
Q: Oh, that's one of my favorites.
A: Everyone says that! I think then I didn't figure out the voice that I wanted to use but I think it sounded good for what the purpose was. But every time I hear the intro it's a little bit of a cringe for me. I know there's a lot of artists that'll have that. Where they have that one song that you know a lot of people like but then they just can't stand it.
Q: You were still trying to figure out who you were and what you wanted to do.
A: Yeah, and honestly the point of Hypnotized at first was I was just trying to figure out what voice to use in the future, and then I did that, and it ended up being pretty good. A lot of people would like it and then I put it out. Then I started to develop my voice a lot right after that, so I made you know huge strides huge strides. Now looking back on it it's like you know super early times before I even knew much of what I was doing. It was really good for where I was at
Q: What are you currently listening to like what's your favorite song to listen to right now? They could be local they could be big artists. I know you said Drake is one of yours.
A: Drake obviously, but I'm super hung up right now on Anniversary by Bryson Tiller. I mean I know the words to that whole album. Actually, the new song No Better sounds a lot like it. I've heard people tell me that it sounds a lot like some Bryson Tiller stuff and that wasn't even really on purpose, but it sort of like goes back to the way I make music. I overload my mind I guess with some music that I'm listening to recently so that I can capture that. Then sometimes it'll happen without me doing it on purpose. It's cool to listen back to it and be like they're kind of right it does kind of sound like Bryson Tiller and it's fun you know like looking back on it and being like oh wow that does take inspiration from somebody that I didn't even try to. Especially when the way I make music is just trying to feel the music and like whatever speaks to me. It's not like me planning out what it's going to sound like, but whatever whenever it just comes straight from my mind from what I've been listening to and what I'm feeling so it's pretty easy for things to sneak in there for inspiration.
Q: What concert or festival has been the most memorable for you? I know you haven't really been performing as much in the local scene, which we would love to have you do, but what was your favorite just like concert or festival to go to as an attendee?
Q: There was actually a Pitbull concert over here and that was that was awesome. I think him and Iggy Azalea were here, and I remember that it was just the just the energy and everyone just bought into it, and I was like oh that's what I need to get. I'm looking into performing at some places. There's one place at the end of the summer that there's a couple people that I know that would want me to perform there, so I'll try and see where that goes but I'm definitely open to performing.
Q: Have you looked into the Columbia area or are you more into the Charleston area? I know you're from Charleston but we both go to USC. Have you looked into the Columbia area at all to perform?
A: Yeah, actually that I think that'd be super cool to do that but the place in the summer that the people that want me to perform actually are here.
Q: That's amazing, so get in the Columbia local music scene. That'll be amazing.
A: It'd be fun to try and grow here and back in Charleston.
Q: Yeah, be able to have it in two places at once to where you could be able to grow in South Carolina. Is there song you'd love to remix or that you'd love to take inspiration from that you're working on? I know you're working on that new album, is there a song that you're listening to right now that you absolutely love to remix or to take inspiration from?
A: I wouldn't say a single song, but I would definitely say like just the albums. I think in a certain song if you look at just a single song for inspiration, I think you can get caught up on like the exact things that happened in that song. If you look at a whole piece of music like Anniversary by Bryson Tiller or Honestly, Nevermind by Drake, I think it always goes back to it. It's just more about the energy and not specific things that happen within the album or song but it's just what it means.
Q: What it does to you and what it makes you feel like.
A: Yeah, exactly.
Q: Is there anything else that you would like to promote while you are here? I know you are working on that new album; do you know it's going to be released?
A: Don't have released it yet. I actually just got an album cover for it yesterday. Although I do have the single No Better, it dropped last Friday. It's very good, it's clean. You guys should definitely go listen to it, but that album is coming soon. It's one of my favorite pieces that I've made. I think everyone can sort of get down to it. You can dance to this one, it's great. I'd love to hear it in the club or something, I think that's where it belongs to be honest.
Q: Okay! Well, thank you for coming Caleb. I really appreciate it, and we will keep it locked Columbia.
This is CaroLine-Up with your favorite South Carolinian Mary Local! I play exclusively bands and singers from the South Carolina area. This includes some major music centers like Columbia, Greenville, and my hometown Charleston. I will be discussing sometimes also local shows that are happening, as well as some local news within South Carolina!