H8R: His Intimate heart and soul
H8R’s performance at this year’s Yellingham was packed and his EP has been well-received. The allure of H8R, the solo act of Cody Madison, is puzzling since his music pertains heavily to the bedroom-pop genre, combining lush backdrops for his sharp-tongued lyrics and occasional samples, which are elements of music that Bellingham should absolutely adore.
Madison used to front the band A Cozy Kitchen, which garnered success from appearing in EMP’s Soundoff! in 2010. “Soundoff really helped us get some hype but we broke up after the rest of the band moved away,” said Madison. “H8R just came from that as a little project of my own.”
Both groups share a specific lo-fi sound that purveys a sense of quiet fragility, though Madison says his latest project is heavily influenced by R&B. “I’m really into Mariah Carey and R. Kelly,” he added. “It’s all part of this gross-ass club scene but I’m turning it into a lo-fi dreamscape.”
His past with A Cozy Kitchen has helped him grow as an artist by performing with bands like A Locket and the now-defunct Bluebird. “Patrick [Bronson] from Bluebird taught me a lot about composition,” Madison said. “He also helped me figure out how to use loop pedals, which are a big part of my show now.”
Madison cites Bronson as being a major help in broadening his ability to produce music.
H8R’s Intimate EP dropped in February and has recently been among the most played albums on 89.3 KUGS, leading to the inevitable demand for more music.
“There’s all these plans for the next release,” said Madison. “But I put so much work into the EP that I feel like the bar is set really high.”
The Intimate EP took him about six months to write and much longer to finally record and release because he was searching for the right producer. “Whatever I put out next has to be better than the EP, right?” he added. “That’s going to be tough, I put a lot of heart into that thing. I performed every part of it except for the drums.”
In terms of performing, Madison said that he’s wanted to put together a live band for some time. “The problem is that it’s hard to find musicians who are submissive to the process,” he clarified. “Right now it’s just my guitar and loop station.”
The issue with adding more band members is that Madison wants H8R to remain his own solo project. “I’m pretty proud of the recognition H8R’s been getting since I released the EP,” he added. “Especially because I made it to reach cute indie girls across campus.”
Regardless of when new H8R music comes out, Madison doesn’t want his sound to change. “I still want to keep it sexy as hell,” he said. “It’ll probably start turning into this weird, drunken club scene.”
Madison also hopes to release music videos for each track on the Intimate EP, using the opportunity to showcase his film-editing skills. “I’m actually working for a marketing company now and I’ve done a few videos for them,” he said. “I kind of want to just make a few vignettes for the EP.”
Madison adds that he also needs to get the word out on his EP. “I just really need to start marketing the EP more,” he said. “And I want to find someone to release it officially.That is one of my main goals.”
As of now, the EP is exclusively digital but Madison wants to release physical copies as well. “The next release just might be another EP,” said Madison, “Who knows?”
Though H8R is rooted in Bellingham, Madison is frustrated with Bellingham’s music scene as a whole, specifically the cyclical nature of it coming from a college town. “It just seems like the same people over and over again,” he said. “It just never really gets outside of Bellingham and there’s no sustaining system so a lot of bands just break up. The circles of musicians are funny, though.” Although, Madison is quick to compliment the talented musicians he’s seen in Bellingham. “I’ve seen some kids that really push it and write great music,” he added, “I’m just not sure that new punk bands every two weeks is great way to solidify a music scene.”
In a time when new bands can record and release music in short periods of time, Madison’s approach is more thoughtful and indicative of artistic growth. “There are just circles of people who just keep playing in bands together and then leaving it at that,” said Madison. “I’m 22 and I’m just not really into going to house shows and drinking with minors anymore.”