Eric Hutchinson Looks to Bring Back Soul

Amy Julian

Eric Hutchinson is an up-and-coming artist who has already captivated audiences around the world with his latest self-released CD, “Sounds Like This,” and he is taking no prisoners on his way to the top. Hutchinson, who was originally signed to Maverick Records before the label folded mid-production, created his own label, Let’s Break Records, and released his latest mix of old soul and new age tunes.

Perhaps he was on to something in naming his label, as Sounds Like This quickly became iTunes’ highest-charting album by an unsigned artist ever. The album, which combines an eclectic mix of soul, funk, jazz, rock, and contemporary sounds, peaked at No.5, behind the likes of Kanye West and the Dave Matthews Band.

Hutchinson burst onto the scene practically overnight. From his hometown of Washington, D.C., to his four-year stint at Boston’s own Emerson University, to the urban musical meccaMecca that is New York City, where he currently resides, Hutchinson has made a name for himself both in the industry and all throughout the nation. He is currently on tour with the hit band OneRepublic, and took time out of his busy schedule to talk to The Mass Media about his music, touring, and a crazy landlord.

MM: Your CD, “Sounds Like This,” is great! How would you describe your sound?

EH: I would say acoustic-soul; you know, like a mix of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel. It has that type of feel, a soul-feel.

MM: that’s That’s a pretty eclectic mix. So, who are some of your favorite artists?

EH: I really like Billy Joel, The Beatles-older generation stuff-, soul. These days, I’m really liking Kanye West. I actually LOVE Kanye West., hHe’s great.

MM: Your songs tend to tell relatable stories; people can often put themselves into a lot of the situations you sing about. Where do you find inspiration for your songs?

EH: Mostly, I just draw from real life situations, things I see or hear. The song “You’ve Got You,”, ([the last track on Sounds Like This) ] is actually about a person who’s angry at their friend. I’m not actually writing from personal experience, but just from watching the fight between them unfold and backing out of friendships, from their point of view. Also, I’m working on this new song about a crazy landlord who falls in love with one of his tenants, and, get this, he actually murders her. So pretty much a happy, pleasant, situation. [lLaughs.].

MM: You went through a very difficult time with Maverick Records-was there ever a point where you just wanted to throw in the towel?

EH: Oh, definitely! I was on Maverick making another album, then the company folded and I was left with a bunch of stuff I couldn’t use. I thought about quitting and doing something else. I sort of lost direction. The biggest problem with that was that I didn’t know what I could possibly do. I had so much in me and I needed to make up my new album to prove to myself I could do it.

MM: What was it like to see Sounds Like This on the iTunes’ Top 10 Albums chart, alongside Kanye and Dave Matthews?

EH: But see, I could never get above them. They were always #3 and #4, and I was always there at #5-I could never beat Kanye! No, but really, it was cool. It was very unexpected. I was mentioned on Perez Hilton then started being on iTunes, the Top 50, Top 30, then #9, #7 and finally #5! I got kind of obsessed with it, checking iTunes constantly, like every few hours, to watch it climb more and more. It started to fall a little, so I stopped being so obsessed, but hopefully it’ll start climbing again.

MM: You’re touring with OneRepublic now. How’d you get involved with them?

EH: Actually, we have the same booking agent, so it worked out well. Also, the lead singer of OneRepublic heard about me and listened to my stuff online and mentioned to his people he was interested. It’s been so great. We’ve been playing to sold out crowds every night. I think all or most of the shows have been sell outs. It’s great just getting in front of the audience and playing-it’s great.

MM: What can we expect from you in the future?

EH: You know, I’m always writing, working on new things, trying to one-up myself. Pretty much the rest of 2008 will be spent touring, promoting the new album, then just go from there with some new stuff.

MM: Anything else you think the UMB community should know about Eric Hutchinson?

EH: I’m trying to do something new. My goal is to bring that soul-vibe back. I want to do something new, something good and different. You know, the best way to understand it and hear what I’m trying to do is to buy the album or come out and see me live.

Look for Eric Hutchinson’s latest CD Sounds Like This on iTunes now!