BIGkids’ Kool-Aid

Fusing manipulated big-band sounds, forlorn disco beats, and delightfully sentimental lyrics, BIGkids’ debut album, Never Grow Up, is a full-on happy fest. The UK duo is comprised of Rosie Oddie, the the daughter of English comedian Bill Oddie, and Ben Hudson (aka Mr. Hudson), who is also part of Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label. Before meeting Ben, Rosie was part of a noise-rock outfit called Bones. Hudson, on the other hand, released his first album as Mr. Hudson and the Library and has taken up with hip-hop stars Dizzee Rascal, KiD CuDi, Tinie Tempah, and Jay-Z.

It’s this contrary pairing of hip-hop and punk rock that creates BIGkids’ magical sound, from the brass groove of  “Heart Sing” to the touchingly melodic vibe of “You Don’t Have to Choose.” Oddie’s raspy vocals, carefully layered over Hudson’s showtune beats, are a soundtrack fit for a rebellious fairy tale—the sort in which the kids have taken over the orphanage, locked-out the adults, and are ODing on high-fructose pop music.

PAISLEY DALTON: Are you guys a couple?


DALTON: So, how do you explain the massive chemistry you have with each other in your songs?

HUDSON: When we’re writing a song, we can be singing at each other, but we can be thinking about someone else. You get absorbed into the song. You become an alter ego. In this age of having an online profile—Twitter, Facebook—I like to think people can relate to that imagining. People have relationships online and never meet!

DALTON: How did you two meet?

ROSIE ODDIE: A year ago, I was playing a gig at The Wheelbarrow in Camden, London, and Ben stumbled across me while I was playing with my little grungy three-piece called Bones. He came up to me and said, “I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we’re going to do it.” We got in his car and went to the studio that night and started writing the BIGkids stuff.

DALTON: What did you see in her, Ben?

HUDSON: I just saw dollar signs! [laughs] She has this voice that reminds me of classic rock and ’70s stuff. I compare her to Rod Stewart. She’s got this lovely, gravelly, soulful voice. I wanted to hear that without the distortion guitars of the rock band she was in. I wanted to do something a bit more classic, a bit more Dolly Parton.

DALTON: Sonny and Cher or Kurt and Courtney?

HUDSON: We’re more Kermit and Miss Piggy!

DALTON: Ben, now and in your former band, Mr. Hudson & The Library, your music is a bit schmaltzy. What does love have to do with it?

HUDSON: The first album with The Library, I was tapping into my background with musical theater, and my love of the American Songbook—Cole Porter and Chet Baker. The kind of music you want to sip tea and smoke cigarettes to, and enjoy feeling forlorn. My background is in torch ballads. All those songs are about love. I’m not sure I’ve got anything interesting to talk about other than love. I can’t talk to you about being a drug dealer in Brooklyn, or how hard my life has been. If I’m going to talk about anything, it’s going to be more metaphysical.

ODDIE: I fall in love every minute of every day with someone else. I don’t believe you find love with one person. I believe you find love in many different things, many different relationships that can be sexual or not. I never go looking for it. It always comes and finds me.

DALTON: Do you “choose” between the lies and the truth in a relationship?

HUDSON: “Choose” is a song that wishes it would be that easy to forgive. I’ve learned you have to let shit go. You have to build a bridge and get over it. If you’re meant to be with someone, water under the bridge is just that. You’ve got to let it flow away.

DALTON: Is Never Grow Up your arrested development period?

HUDSON: It’s music to trash your bedroom to. We don’t really have a manifesto. Rosie and I mesh together. We’re not trying to change the world. It’s an album to listen to on a road trip to the beauty pageant… like in the film Little Miss Sunshine! When you’ve got that dysfunctional family, we hope they’re going to enjoy listening to this in their people-carrier. I think I’m at an interesting point now; young enough to still want to try new things, but old and wise enough to know how to get things done.

DALTON: Where’s your head at?

HUDSON: I’ve enjoyed blurring the lines between electronic productions, sampling, programming, and recording a band. We do everything at the same time. I’ll be making a beat and we write over it as we go. My studio’s full of old instruments—saxophones, trombones and violins. I’m terrible at everything, but if you play enough on one record, it starts to take shape like papier-mâché. The stuff I’ve done on previous albums and my work with Kanye West has all been quite produced. BIGkids is the sound of us having a laugh and drinking too much Sunny Delight! Not that we really drink Sunny D., because it’s been made illegal here. It’s categorized as a chemical… the kind of thing you clean your toilet with.

DALTON: What is “Good For You?”

ODDIE: You have so many relationships that aren’t good for you, and they make you feel like shit! We both bonded over the idea of something being good for each other.

HUDSON: I’ve heard this phrase recently, “first-world problems.” It’s like when people are complaining that they can’t get good espresso, or that their sushi wasn’t delivered fast enough… shit like that! We keep getting told that food is bad for you, your clothes are unethical and the car you get in is unethical. We’re told everything is bad! The song “Good For You” is about fuck all that! At least you know I’m good for you—eat, smoke, play some sport, get on with your life! These are first world problems. We look at the crowds at our shows and see people smiling… that’s a good drug. BIGkids are going to do the job that disco did in the ’70s.