Hoodie Allen plays London’s Brixton Electric

Hoodie Allen is an up-and-coming hip-hop artist. Born Steven Markowitz, he grew up in Long Island. However, Steven has achieved a lot more than just a catchy stage name. I caught up with him before his recent show at Brixton Electric, which marked the end of his European tour. His new album People Keep Talking has since been released in the UK.

The show itself was mad. The audience was full of die-hard Hoodie fans and everyone around me was loudly, and proudly, singing along at the top of their lungs. After the show, a DJ stepped up and the mosh pits became a more communal dance off. It resembled the shenanigans of the Reading festival Dance tent, but slightly tamer.

Hoodie Allen

Like many contemporary artists, Steven found his fame through the web. He claimed it was a mixture of “a little bit of luck and music that ended up resonating with people over the web.” However, with many artists putting their work online, it takes talent and a niche and Steven has both. Describing his music as “catchy, upbeat hip-hop with pop sensibilities and soul,” he is setting the pace for a completely new genre.

As well as having found a new area of music to dabble in, Steven also followed a unique path in. Despite having written his first recorded song aged 14, he followed a linear path before having a proper crack at being a musician. While his college education may not have helped him directly with his music, he admits that it “helped him be a better person” and how it is a “good place to be creative and learn.” After college, Steven took a job at Google. While he speaks about his time there fondly, he is a fan of being a musician in that he gets to be his own boss and set his own hours.

But his passion has always been strong. After school he remembers coming home to write stories in the form of songs. While he wasn’t sure what was inspiring him, he believes it was an intrinsic love of music.

Today he writes more about personal experience, trying to “write in the now” more than he used to. With this recent album, he found himself trying to decide what his mission statement is. He decided that “it stems from the idea of leaving a job and leaving a life that was set on something drastically different. Because it [music] is your passion”. He hopes that this album will impact people in a positive way to do what they want to.

The new album features All About It which Steven views as his favourite single to date. For an up-and-coming artist, it seems a big deal that Steven collaborated with Ed Sheeran on the track. But he seemed surprisingly casual about it explaining how “it was cool” and how “he [Ed] is just a friend of mine so it wasn’t a business thing”. He claims that they didn’t know what they were making until they made it and that it was just two friends hanging out. Certainly trumps my idea of a social arrangement.

Surprisingly, Manchester was Steven’s favourite city on the tour. This both completely intrigued and confused me. As a Londoner, I took slight personal offense. He explained how the audience there were “incredible and went crazy mosh pitting. Every show has been good but Manchester was crazy.” Steven got back in my good books by revealing that his favourite show ever was in London. While he has had the chance to explore London, his preferred activity is playing shows. Thankfully, he had a 2000 strong sold out audience to play for after the interview.

His advice to young musicians is to “make music you love first and foremost – if you don’t follow a trend to find an audience, you’ll find your audience naturally.”

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