Last week, when we premiered The Astral Plane Parade’s new EP Strutting Through The Stars, we knew we were onto something good. The solo project of Melbourne-based Hugo Costin, The Astral Plane Parade crafts stunning pieces of indie-folk that are both powerful and delicate.
So, fresh off the EP’s release, we caught up with Costin to chat all about the EP, how his past informs his current music, and using joy as an act of defiance.
Hugo Costin, aka The Astral Plane Parade, is one of our favourite artists currently kicking around. So we caught up with the man himself to chat about his brilliant new EP.
HAPPY: Hey, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?
HUGO: Hey! I was just reading about a film called Performance starring Mick Jagger. It looks freaked out, I’m really keen to see it.
HAPPY: Strutting Through The Stars is your debut EP, and with it, you’ve emerged with this really fully-formed sound. How long had this release been in the works for?
HUGO: Thanks a lot! It’s been in the works (along with other songs) since my last band broke up around 2014. A lot of trial and error. I didn’t have a band and produced/recorded/ played all the parts myself. This lead to exploring different sounds/production techniques and instruments, out of necessity. It’s a real mosaic of my life for that time. Because it took five years to make, it gathered a whole lot of influences and attitudes that it wouldn’t have had if I had made it in a shorter period. I experimented a lot and got outside of my comfort zone. I took the things that stayed with me and put them into the music. It took a lot of patience. I want my works to stand the test of time. I’d rather hold on to them until they’re authentic than put them out half-formed. In fifty years, I want people to be able to listen to the songs and feel what I felt.
HAPPY: You spent a fair bit of time playing in hardcore and punk bands when you were younger, right? Do you think your time doing this still influences your current music in any way?
HUGO: Definitely. Even though this music is divorced in sound from those styles, the people I met through playing in those bands and the experiences I had all shaped my tastes. The attitude of pursuing what you love, regardless of monetary success, and risking a lot for your work is really, for better or worse, a part of me now. Bands like American Nightmare and their singer, Wes Eisold’s publishing house, Heartworm Press, turned me onto some of my first literary obsessions. I’ve found out about most things I’m into now along the spider web spun in those days.
HAPPY: When you were younger, you also moved around a lot, living between different locations. Do you think growing up with this lifestyle impacted the way you write at all?
HUGO: I do. It can be good for inspiration, being exposed to different places and ways of life. It forces you to rethink what you believe in and to see your experience as part of a milieu. It can make a person less judgmental too, and more open, which is good for creativity. Lately, I’ve been longing for somewhere to put my roots down, to become a real part of a community. I love people and it’s hard to be leaving so often. It’d be great, one day, to buy a farm with everyone I love and pick oranges in the sun.
HAPPY: A description that I really loved for the new EP is “a battle cry against the void.” To me, it paints joy and tenderness as an act of defiance. Is that how you viewed this EP? Or did that phrase mean something else to you?
HUGO: Yeah, absolutely! There’s a line in I Know it’s Over where Morrissey sings “It’s so easy to laugh, it’s so easy to hate, it takes strength to be gentle and kind.” That really struck me when I heard it because it’s so true. In the last few years, I felt my kindness was being taken for weakness. I felt like I was being taken advantage of, constantly. It lead me to become colder and colder. It got to the point where I couldn’t feel anything. That really hurt the people around me. I should have removed the situations that were making me act that way instead of shutting in on myself. It took a long time to realise that. When I finally mustered the strength to do so, I felt the colour returning to life. The void to me is that state of nothingness – the windowless room that anger and resentment takes a person to. It’s a dull and boring place, really, and I don’t think it should be romanticised as much as it is. There’s a lot of beauty in the world and though, sometimes, it can be near impossible to find, it’s always worth seeking out. My hope is that Strutting Through the Stars can move people, and in doing so, help them to defy the void. I made it to give them, (and myself), a little strength to keep finding beauty. To not stay in that windowless room for longer than we have to.
HAPPY: How do you think this new EP differs from the singles you released last year? If at all…
HUGO: Strutting Through the Stars really shows The Astral Plane Parade as it has lived in my head for the past few years. I’m really proud of it and I’m so happy that it is in the world now.
HAPPY: Are there any particular that you cite as influences for The Astral Plane Parade?
HUGO: Some musicians I always come back to are Nina Simone, Jonathan Richman, Frank Ocean and Lou Reed. I’m really influenced as well by Jean-Luc Godard and Richard Brautigan.
HAPPY: What’s next? Any other exciting plans in the works?
HUGO: My release show! It’s on the fifteenth of Feb at The Grace Darling Hotel, Melbourne. You can find more details on my FB or Insta. Enola Gay and Drama are also playing, I’m really excited for it.
HAPPY: Cheers for the chat!
HUGO: Thanks heaps!
Strutting Through The Stars is available now. Listen above.