Hidden Gentlemen is father/son songwriting/production duo Mark Anthony and Kyle Cullen who work out of their custom-built recording studio in Glastonbury. They don’t tour, they broadcast they live stream their process of writing music on Twitch. Ahead of the release of new single ‘Epitaph’, we speak to the pair to find out more about their recording process and latest music.
Unusually-rockish, acoustic, singer-songwriter, anthemic-pop of the digital age.
First up, tell us bit about yourselves - what led you all to forming Hidden Gentlemen?
Mark: We are Hidden Gentlemen we came together as we wanted to write and record songs. We love the creative experience of studio work starting with a small idea and developing it through melody, harmony and rhythm.
Kyle: Hidden Gentlemen started as a project for Mark to put songs together. Originally as a four-piece, eventually we became more of a ‘band’ so decided we needed a band name. We also lost the other two members along the way.
Who do your take inspiration from?
Kyle: This changes all the time. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Chvrches, Twenty One Pilots as well as relistening to some of the music I grew up listening to Incubus and Pearl Jam.
Mark: We take our influences from varied artists from David Bowie and the Beatles to The Police and Japan.
Why the name ‘Hidden Gentlemen’?
Kyle: Funny story (hopefully), I was at a gig (Wyvern Lingo, Islington London) and while in the toilet which was hidden round the corner, someone came in and said “So this is when the Hidden Gentlemen’s is”. It sounded like a good name for a band and up till then we were struggling to find a name so it stuck.
How would you describe your musical style?
Mark: Unusually-rockish, acoustic, singer-songwriter, anthemic-pop of the digital age.
Kyle: That’s always a hard thing to say. We are definitely Singer/Songwriter based but then the songs get jammed up and turned into something else. That may be a rock song, chilled acoustic track or more eletronic based song. We try to let the song guide us rather than force ourselves into one box.
If you could collaborate with any living artist or band, who would you choose?
Kyle: I’d love it if we got the chance to producer/write for some of my favorite acts. Either Taylor Swift of Ed Sheeran would be cool. Maybe they could do a duo album with us producing.
Mark: James Morrison.
You don’t tour anymore, but you live steam the proces of writing and recording monthly single. Why did you make that choice?
Kyle: I had been watching a few musicians on Twitch (Deadmau5 and Mr Bill) and it looked like a cool way to let people into the process. I’ve always preferred the writing/recording side of things so it seemed like something worth giving a go.
Mark: We are in our studio doing the work so to stream live is not that difficult (it does have some technical challenges). The live interaction is fun for us and has a value in self-promotion.
What kind of feedback do you get from fans?
Mark: We do get direct input on our songs; opinions as to how things sound, what we are actually doing with the process of recording. We also get questions about what the songs origin is, or the meaning of the lyrics.
Kyle: People seem to enjoy what we’re doing. Even if they sometimes don’t get how things can end up sounding so different from the way songs first start out in our live jams.
Do you miss playing live shows?
Kyle: Not yet, I haven’t played a gig in over a year and don’t think I’ll be booking one soon. That being said if enough people were asking for Hidden Gentlemen to play I’d consider it.
Mark: I miss the immediacy of audience reactions to our music and the extra dynamic of loud instruments. I don’t miss traveling, fast food, being tired, and arguing with a sat nav.
Hidden Gentlemen are a father/son songwriting/production team Mark and Kyle who work out of their custom-built recording studio in Glastonbury.
Tell us about your new single ‘Epitaph’. What’s it about?
Mark: ‘Epitaph’ came from a live jam between Kyle and myself when I sometimes sing melodies and words as a form of improvisation. The main refrain stuck in my mind “If I had my life I would do it all again”. Which is a popular mantra and possible ‘Epitaph’.
The rest of the lyrics soon evolved as be built the track around the insistent electronic beat. It does appear to be a literal lyric but it is open to interpretation by the listener.
Kyle: For me the song is all about the vibe. The working title for a long time was ‘Viby’ though it’s morphed a lot from that I think it’s still a viby chilled track.
How did the writing and recording process work for this one? Any input from fans along the way that really impacted on the finish single?
Kyle: This started as a jam on electronic drum pads and electric guitar. I think I was just playing with some sounds and Mark had a guitar riff that fitted and we built it from there.
I can’t think of any fan input on this. Though we did recently send it to one who was interested in remixing it. It’ll be interesting to see what comes back from that.
Mark: The writing was a little different from some of our songs as it came from a jam. The recording process is built on top of a basic live outline that we embellish till we our happy with the sound. There wasn’t any input fan input on this song, but we do have input from industry professionals.
How does ‘Epitaph’ represent your style?
Kyle: This is quite a departure in sound as we typically use live drums and rock-sounding guitars. This does have an interesting guitar part which helps link it into previous songs.
Mark: ‘Epitaph’ is only a part of our style of music and as such it is more electronic than some other songs.
What are your hopes for ‘Epitaph’?
Mark: As with all our songs, they are like our little children venturing out into the world we hope they do well.
Kyle: We’d love for as many people as possible to hear it obviously but if it helps lead new people into our twitch chat then even better. We’re always happy to be distracted from recording when people are chatting on the livestream.
How’s the rest of 2019 shaping up for you?
Kyle: We have our next few singles in the bag and plenty more in various stages of the recording process. We’ll be keeping up with multiple livestreams each week and maybe we’ll get that Taylor/Ed colab sorted.
Mark: We are finding more ways to get our music to listeners and slowly build our fan base of people that share our musical idealism.
Finally, if you could go back in time and give yourselves one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
Kyle: Maybe go back to when I started learning drums and say to start learning piano at the same time (I’m learning at the moment and it’s a slow hard process). That being said, if I split my time between both, I’d probably be a worse drummer, so maybe I’m happy as things are.
Mark: I would go back to when I first started writing songs and say you won’t believe this but in many years’ time, you’re going to write a song called ‘Epitaph’.