INTRODUCING: HUMBLE THE GREAT


WORDS RACHEL EDWARDS - PHOTOGRAPHY SAMI WELLER - FASHION MATILDA OLVIER - GROOMING LAURA MARSH - PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT ROSS ZILLWOOD



In a world of fake news and conspiracy theories it has become increasingly soothing to have a slice of something that feels real. Today’s fix is Humble the Great. The Kent born musician, producer and creative director has basically built his brand around being raw (although he might tell you he prefers ‘funky’). Working with his high school best friend on his videos, writing about his personal battle with smoking weed in his latest single ‘Burn me Alive’ and recording largely from his living room - or, occasionally, from under his duvet - the singer is determined to stay grounded.



One glance at Humble’s Instagram and you’ll see that most of his pictures are blurred or out of focus. To the 21 year old artist, perfection appears to be boring. And perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned. The more we strive for to be perfect, the further we get from the imperfection that makes us who we are. Humble’s energy, along with his experimental approach to making music is certainly that of someone who knows how to live - his unpredictability (he recently learned to make his own rugs after being inspired by a video he watched and he talks about his plan to pick up acting again one day) means that he’s constantly growing both personally and professionally.



At the moment, his next challenge is tackling LA, something he’s doing with a ‘rough plan’, along with a quest for some sun and serotonin… and a hope of bumping into his biggest influence, Anderson Paak. With gigs lined up and a new project ready for release, we are pretty sure both Humble and his fans will have a lot of serotonin this year.



R.E: First of all, how did you come up with the name Humble the Great? It’s a good name!

HTG: Well I actually can’t take credit for it. I went to my friend Tim whose artist’s name is AKA Block. He’s a really sick artist. I was going by my normal name at the time and he had a massive list on his phone notes of band names he’d come up with. Immediately I read ‘Humble the Great’ on the list and I loved the oxymoron of it! I wish I had come up with it but I unfortunately didn't.



R.E: But it came to you! And you were drawn to it… So you sort of knew immediately it was right! It could also be Great the Humble… okay no that doesn’t work…

HTG: (Laughs) No it’s the oxymoron of it! It means you can be two versions of yourself as well and incorporate that side of it into it as well.



R.E: Yeah like your alter ego?!

HTG: Super arrogant but super modest!



R.E: Yeah I wanted to ask, would you say you’re humble?

HTG: The thing is if I say I am humble all of a sudden I’m not humble! But that’s kind of the point so yeah I am the most humble person I know.



Humble the Great wears vest & jeans GOLDSMITH VINTAGE; shirt ADAM JONES; jewellery BLEUE BURNHAM



R.E: (Laughs) Okay so tell me about your new track ‘Burn me Alive’!

HTG: So this is a song that I made in my bed at 4 in the morning. In regards to my whole project it’s very much about the story of me quitting smoking weed. And ‘Burn me Alive’ is a metaphorical representation of this woman which embodies this feeling of craving weed every night. She’s trying to get into my bed each night and then the sun comes up and she goes and I’ve resisted it. She is weed basically. I got my friend Kwaye who’s an amazing artist who came in and helped me write the verse and put some backing vocals in as well. It’s proper DIY, made under my duvet.



R.E: I think you have the best thoughts at 3am. It’s the time that your subconscious comes out and you have the thoughts that in the day you don’t allow yourself to access. Have you managed to quit smoking weed?

HTG: I have yeah, it’s been a year and a half now and throughout my project it’s very much a recurring theme of this internal dialogue to myself saying ‘don't let me down’.



R.E: It’s interesting because I think a lot of creative people use weed as a crutch or as an excuse that they need to smoke in order to be creative. Have you found that since you quit you’ve been more creative?

HTG: So much more creative and so much more productive as well. You feel like you’re inspired but then you just sit down and eat some crisps and don’t do anything, you know? It’s the best decision I ever made in my life to stop! I got some good tunes out of it too (laughs).



R.E: Exactly, you managed to have a whole album come out of this! And really congratulations, it’s not easy to give up anything. So back to ‘Burn Me Alive’. I have an important question…when was the last time someone burned you? Not literally but as in ‘oooh burn’!

HTG: That’s a really good question. I like to think that I keep on top of it. I like to think that I’m the one doing the burning…or something…



Hunter the Great wears shirt NOMA T.D at MR.PORTER; trousers MANASTASH at MR.PORTER; shoes GRENSON



R.E: (Laughs) I like that. When was the last time you burnt something you were cooking?

HTG: Every time I cook! I’m fucking awful. But yeah my dad is amazing and my sister’s pretty good, my mum’s pretty good… I’m not. The thing is it’s just long… But I can cook if I have to, I just get super stressed out… and time management!



R.E: And then it burns!

HTG: Yeah that’s what ‘Burn Me Alive’ is really about.



R.E: I cracked the real meaning! When I listen to your music I hear a lot of different influences and styles. Who do you listen to? Or who inspired you to go into music?

HTG: It’s always Anderson .Paak! I listened to one of his songs when I was 15 and then when I was at Reading Festival I saw that he was on at 12pm on an alternative stage. None of my friends wanted to go so I went by myself thinking that maybe he’ll play this one song I like and I ended up totally mesmerised by him. Because I’m a drummer, watching him drum was incredibly inspiring. I don’t try to emulate his sound too much but very much the way he throws his words at the ends of sentences, I’ve incorporated that. And just the way that he doesn't traditionally structure his songs and everything's a bit all over the place. I’d also say Kendrick Lamar but obviously we have different styles. With him I really like the way he rhymes, I really try hard to do that and find pockets of rhyming that aren't so traditional.



R.E: Is there structure to the way you make music or do you make music based on instinct and experimentation?

HTG: It’s instinct yeah. I’ll always start with drums because being a drummer you can find a pocket… Something I do is I tend to write album track-lists out of songs that don't exist. I’ll write titles and then I’ll write based on that title. There’s a song on my project called ‘For Once’ and when I had Covid I wanted to have a three track Soundcloud EP so by making ‘For Once’ the first title I honed in on this topic of what does ‘for once’ mean?



R.E: It’s a bit like word association isn’t it?

HTG: Exactly, it really helps with topic and subject matter. I don’t like to write too specifically, I like to write broadly.



Humble the Great wears jacket GOLDSMITH VINTAGE; glasses HOT FUTURES



R.E: And you’re super involved in all of the creative process. The direction side too! Are you a perfectionist in that way?

HTG: For sure, but you can drive yourself crazy with that! I don’t want my music or visuals to seem too crisp. I want it to be obvious I made this in my living room, it’s my style.



R.E: You do have a rough and raw style through your artwork as well as your music.

HTG: It’s not an intentional thing either, it’s just how I am. All my friends usually shoot me, my friend Lucas Wilson does all my videos and he’s my best friend who I went to school with! And I think you can feel that in the process.



R.E: That’s really nice, were your family surprised when you said you wanted to be a musician?

HTG: I always did music but I was always trying to be an actor. I did a BA in acting but I dropped out because I didn't like the process and my love for music was creeping in. So in 2019 I taught myself how to produce and I became obsessed with it from then. But I’d love to get into acting again. Maybe music will be my foot in the door.



R.E: And you’re going to LA soon, what have you got planned for while you’re there? Or what are you not going to do?

HTG: Yeah that’s the better question! To be honest I was born in the states, I was born in California!



R.E: You do have a bit of a surfer look actually!

HTG: (Laughs) Yeah I think I want to go there and throw myself in the deep end! Being a British artist I think my music will translate to American audiences and getting myself out there, doing sessions, meeting people and trying to play is what I want to do. But I'm not going with a huge set plan, I have a couple of things in the diary but I just want to do it! I need some sun and serotonin!



Humble the Great wears knitwear J.W ANDERSON at MR.PORTER; trousers STAN RAY; shoes GRENSON; jewellery BLEUE BURNHAM


R.E: If you were walking down Hollywood Boulevard and you bump into one person… Who do you want that to be?

HTG: Anderson .Paak!



R.E: (Laughs) Of course! Okay I hope he reads this interview. We should send it to his press…

HTG: I just feel myself creeping towards him.



R.E: You’re basically like a stalker. You’ll end up outside his house one day like ‘oops’.

HTG: He’ll read this and get a restraining order issued! But really I’d just love to tell him how much he’s inspired me for the last six years! I go to every show, even today we listened to him on the shoot!



R.E: Do you ever get blocks in creativity and how do you overcome these?

HTG: Yeah a lot! It goes in bursts of two or three weeks of banging songs out and then two weeks of really struggling. Keeping the studio clean is so important. And if I’m sitting in some trackies and a dirty t-shirt then I’m less likely to produce anything good. Because I’m working from home it’s like ‘why would I get dressed?’ but it’s so important that I feel like I’m going out and doing something. When there's coffee cups and dust you can't really relax!



Humble the Great wears cape ADAM JONES; crown STYLIST'S ARCHIVE


R.E: I realised the same recently actually. I do half as much work if my surroundings are messy because my head is all over the place. I also saw that you have a side rug hustle! How did this start, was it a lockdown thing?

HTG: Okay I have to give a shoutout to Deaton Chris Anthony (DCA). He’s LA based and I don't know him personally, he makes music on an old Windows computer and samples games and things like bowling balls. He’s super creative and he also makes rugs! I just watched his videos of him doing it and I thought his rugs looked so cool. I can spend my whole life doing music but having something else to put my mind to and switch off is great. It’s a hobby for now but I’d love to incorporate it into my brand!



R.E: Yes, there’s a girl called Daisy Tortuga who I’m always inspired by! She does things like making rugs that look like calpol bottles! I think the depth to your music must be amazing to listen to live in terms of connecting with an audience. Is there one particularly memorable time you remember playing live?

HTG: So I hated school but I remember on the last day I performed ‘Purple Rain’ and that was just really cool to do! I played drums and stuff and it felt really special. Recently I played in Brixton Studio Soho House and I really felt this amazing immediate response in a room full of creatives. I could see the reactions, people coming up to me after to collaborate - it really translated. You never get that on social media.



R.E: Yes there’s such a barrier! Do you have a good support system around you?

HTG: I have amazing friends! I work with them, I speak to them every day. I owe everything to them. My friend Hannah does all my photos mainly, my friend Lucas does all my videos, and my friend Tim who came up with my name. He is a veteran producer and he let me sit in and introduced me to Kate Stewart and these amazing artists who are now my best friends. And he gave me a chance when I was starting out and my stuff was really not polished. My managers Sam and Oscar are also so supportive and my good friends!



R.E: What song are you most excited about releasing?

HTG: The new one! At the moment it's called ‘The only Time I ever Thought of You’. I found this super secret saucy technique of vocal production that I wont give away obviously.



R.E: Yeah it sounds top secret and I’m sure it would go completely over my head.

HTG: It’s something I think is really unique and I think that song will be my next one I release! It was produced by LVTHER who’s an amazing producer!





R.E: Does London inspire you?

HTG: It does… My home is in Kent and I think what's most inspiring about London is seeing the sheer amount of people trying to do the same thing as you. It can be difficult because you compare yourself but just the magnitude of people who are interested in what you're interested in. You don't really get that in Kent.



R.E: I know, it’s hard to relate to people who are on such different paths.

HTG: Yes, you need people who can relate to the anxieties of being an artist as well. And to take techniques that people use that you can take to better yourself.



R.E: Yes, and there are so many people who want to build each other up!

HTG: I mean there is definitely competition as well and you can really feel that in certain people.



R.E: Have you experienced it a lot?

HTG: Yeah, before I would compare myself to people because I didn’t feel like I was able to do what they do and I felt envious. And then you work hard enough and you get to a point where you believe in yourself. There's a lot of one-upmanship that goes on…



R.E: OK last question… what’s your favourite F Word?!

HTG: I’m going to say 'freaky!' I used it in ‘Burn me Alive’… I love that word. And I think it sums up my music a little bit. Shoulders moving…



R.E: …Shoulders grooving. Okay on that note, thank you!



Hunter the Great wears jacket GOLDSMITH VINTAGE; cap GUCCI at MR.PORTER; necklace STYLIST'S ARCHIVE