Huxley Sun, the one-man-band created by Argentina-born, Warsaw, Poland-based multi-instrumentalist Federico Carpi, captured the victory in last week’s Glassetonbury, Vol. 6 Championship Round, defeating North Carolina indie-rock band Self Help to become our sixth champion. His song “Waves and Walls” provides an excellent bit of indie-folk that demonstrates the cinematic, elegant musicality of artists like Novo Amor or Bon Iver.
We caught up with our winner to discuss his musical influences, his relocation from Argentina to Poland, the creation of “Waves and Walls,” and more. You can read our full interview below.
Glasse Factory: How long have you been playing music? I know you’re a multi-instrumentalist; what instrument did you start with, and how did that grow into learning other instruments?
Huxley Sun: I have been playing music since I was a kid. When I was around 9 or 10, my parents bought me an electric guitar, and I had a few lessons back then, but nothing really developed from that. After a couple of months, we moved to a different city, and all my music interest died off, really. A few years later, perhaps I was 12 or 13, I had this kind of need to learn piano, and I did to such an extent that I ended up getting a diploma from a university. Basically, all my teenage years were spent sitting in front of a piano on a daily basis. To be fair though, that allowed me to develop technical and theoretical skills that I can apply on my music now. The other instruments that I play, mainly I have to play them out of necessity. If I feel a guitar riff or drumbeat might fit in a song, then I’ll learn what is needed. It’s easier for me to record and produce everything in one go than looking for someone to record a specific track. Besides, it’s always a challenge.
Who were some of your influences early in your career, and how did those change as your sound grew?
My earlier influences were more or less dictated by what was listened to at home. My dad introduced me to ‘70s and ‘80s music, mainly rock bands. I clearly remember him showing me this CD he once bought, you know, when CDs were massively replacing cassettes, “Queen Jazz.” I became a fan immediately. Later on, when I started with piano, I learned a lot about classical music — from baroque to contemporary — and discovered some new bands myself.
I think that the bands I tend to consider as influential are not related precisely with the style of music I make but more to the way they use harmony, instrumentation and rhythms. Also, thanks to my background, I can incorporate sounds from classical music and understand bands such as Pink Floyd or Radiohead when comparing them to Debussy or Penderecki. I think the result of that is what drives me to write in this way.
When did you relocate to Warsaw, and what motivated that move?
I moved in 2009. I was into piano back then, and I came to Warsaw to enter its Music University. I was in contact with a pianist who recommended this university to me, so I decided to have a go. I took the entrance examination and I failed… But then I tried again and got in. I only did the Bachelor’s degree there and decided not to go through the Master’s program. After all this, I decided to stay in Warsaw, and slowly I began to put in order all the material I had so I could eventually release it.
How would you compare the similarities and differences of being an artist in Argentina versus being one in Poland? How are the music scenes different, and what do you think you’ve taken from each?
That’s a very difficult question for me to answer. Honestly, I have no idea. Back in my country I had auditions and concerts, but they were all related to the style and genres I was playing on piano — meaning classical music — so it was a very lonely routine. Here in Warsaw, this particular project started in the middle of the pandemic, so if it’s not through social media, I have no way to show my music. I do already have some places that would like me to play once everything goes a bit back to normal. We’ll see what it brings.
Your music has an intimacy, honesty, and warmth to it that made “Waves and Walls” a favorite of mine from the beginning of Glassetonbury, Vol. 6. What is your writing process like, and how do you think you’re able to deliver something that comes off as so authentic?
Thank you! It’s a bit complicated to know how I develop an idea into a full song. Sometimes the process is straightforward, and sometimes it’s painful and slow. I try to keep track with a recorder, or I write down whatever I find interesting. I suppose this works for most musicians. Normally, I make a demo of a song and then work my way up from there. If the song is good then great; if it’s not, then I keep working on other ideas. The most difficult thing to achieve is to convince myself that what is sounding in front of me is good. That is not just some random pointless cadence or a dull melodic line but that it has a meaning to me first, then to whoever wants to listen to it. In that case, I need to know when something will work or not, and that’s a big problem for me because I’m very strict with it, and most of the songs end up shelved.
Have you always thought of yourself in this ambient, cinematic indie folk range, or is that somewhere you happened to land?
That is something I’m asking myself constantly. How did it happen that I’m into this genre or style? I actually consider Huxley Sun to be a sort of one-member band, not when playing live though, but that would have the ability to create its own path and with that its own way of expressing itself. I think the kind of music I’m making right now is just a small sample of what I actually intend to show. I love bands from the psychedelic genre from Australia like Tame Impala, Pond, Gum and other bands like Parcels and Leisure that have this array of sounds that are so catchy, but they don’t lose intellectual quality, if that makes any sense. On the other hand, I love bands like James Blake or Radiohead, to name the most popular ones that try to create a state of mind that is somewhat deeper. I hope I can land in between those two groups.
How did you get the inspiration for “Waves And Walls,” and how did it come together in the studio?
I was listening to this song called “Sister, I” by Jesse Marchant and I was playing it on a guitar. I think the picking pattern came from it. Perhaps even it’s in the same key, I don’t remember. It was very easy to develop from it. Sometimes you can hear in your head how it should keep going and you just try to figure it out fast before it vanishes. Originally though, it had a completely different second section that was just horrible, so I had to change it. You can listen to the change of mood with the piano having a more dynamic role. For that, I tried to imitate a sort of counterpoint and accents sometimes heard in minimalistic music, and I also used more effects on string to give a worn-out effect. I think I’m satisfied with the overall result, especially since this song was fully produced by me. There are a couple of funny details that I added just to have some fun, since the process was endless. You can hear a synth after the chorus that hits the same high note as in “Echoes” and also the end tries to imitate those final noises heard in Radiohead’s “Daydreaming.”
What messages do you hope fans take away from your music?
I don’t think I’m expecting a certain response to my music from listeners. I think that music — in this case, songs — can have different meanings or transmit different messages at the different stages of someone’s life. I don’t think, at the moment, that imposing a view or trying to go beyond music itself is something I’m interested in. I do hope that, if anything, they can use my songs to make things easier or meaningful in their lives.
Do you have any new projects on the horizon? Any touring plans now that COVID is starting to ease up?
I have a lot of songs to finish. I haven’t decided yet if they are worthy of a full-length album or not. Since streaming platforms, there’s this marketing strategy of single releases every 4 to 6 weeks, but at the moment I need more material to increase my catalog, so it wouldn’t be crazy to think of releasing an EP very soon. Nothing is clear yet about live performances. As I said before, there might be some possibilities in the near future, but we have to hope for things to get better.
What else should our readers know about you?
I think everything has been said so far, but perhaps I could use this question to thank everyone who voted for me and to let them know that I appreciate the time they put into making this an opportunity to know me a bit closer and knowing what’s to come.
Where can readers go to learn more?
Well, I do have my own domain http://www.huxleysun.com but there you will find general information. To be up to date I think social media is the best way, either IG or FB, both @huxleysun. I’m not all the time active but for sure I do read messages.
You can stream “Waves and Walls” on Spotify below.