Those free CDs artists hand out at shows prove the promotion budget sometimes pays back. It was a copy of Shine, Hudson K's self-produced full-length album from 2010, that led internationally recognized producer Jason Rubal to Knoxville singer/songwriter Christina Horn.
The story goes that someone who knew of Rubal's interests in the eclectic and avant-garde passed Shine along to the producer. Rubal soon wrote Horn to express his interest in working with her, and Horn visited his Seventh Wave Studios in Harrisburg, Penn. Now a reciprocal pre-production visit to Knoxville is set for Rubal in a couple of weeks, with recording set to begin in November.
Rubal, who has recorded Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls, among many other artists, has a decidedly Euro-centric clientele, which seems compatible for the duo of Horn and percussionist Nate Barrett, who have one of the most urbane aesthetics of any band in town. (Barrett also performs with Rentfro in the Apocalypso Quartet. —Ed.)
At her well-kept yet appropriately bohemian bungalow in Fourth and Gill, which doubles as a rehearsal space, Horn took time out between teaching piano lessons to talk about the auspicious project.
The crucial thing right now, Horn will tell you, is the financing. Fans can help through the latest development in music funding—pledging sales via the Internet. Pre-purchasing the record at Indiegogo's fund-raising site will keep Hudson K in the studio and out of the red.
Horn and Barrett have been playing together since 2005, when they met in a band called Telescope with Matt Urmy. Horn has been developing Hudson K since 2007. For live shows, she programs everything but the drums on her Abelton Live music processor. Decisions about additional players and the content of the upcoming recording project won't be finalized until Rubal and Hudson K collude in the studio next month. As "Fade" proved on Shine, the lead track might be written at the studio door.
Hudson K's dense rhythms and dark romances—somehow retaining a brimful of affirmation—may be ready to go nationwide. The band hopes working with Rubal will be that event horizon; Horn takes the origins of the relationship as a good omen.
"You usually hear about it the other way around—musicians seeking out producers," she says. "Not the producer coming to you."
Money raised also will go to pay for Matt Cikovic at Aperture Arts for videos—both past and future. Horn sees video as an essential future component of her music, much like her collaborations with Cikovic to create the startling, beautiful "Fade" and "The Knife" videos now on YouTube. Videographers are part of the wider community of dancers, aerialists, costume designers, graphic designers, photographers, and assorted "street team" helpers she refers to as "the tribe."
The Chattanooga native has a master's degree from the University of Tennessee in piano pedagogy, which enables her to teach. While she never wanted to follow up her classical training by becoming a concert pianist—"I always want to be a rock 'n' roller," she says—the training enables her to give lessons out of her home. And that's what pays the bills.
"Pre-order today and I will invite you to my house and make you tacos and cake," she says.
Pre-orders can be made at indiegogo.com/hudsonk.