[Q&A] Hugo Brijs chats “Creeper”, his creative process and early memories in music

Trailblazing UK-based artist Hugo Brijs makes a powerful return from film scoring and composition work with his latest single “Creeper,” a bold psychedelic indie rock chill-anthem that kicks off a solid new era in musical journey.Taken from his upcoming second album, the track manages evoke an unsettling and eerie vibe, framed by a blend of intricate instrumentals and soothing vocals.

In conversation with Earmilk, Brijis takes us creative process, his composition work, his earliest memory in connection with music and more.

“What does a typical day in the studio look like for you?

I am an early starter! I get up at 7, do housework, have breakfast and am usually in the studio by 8:30 am. I start with a tidy-up and a reset – put gear back from the day before, clean the mugs, do the recycling, maybe a hoover etc. I am a big believer in the “tidy space, tidy mind” philosophy. Next is admin, emails and social media. As well as releasing music as an artist, I also compose for film and TV and run a music production company called Thunderdrum with two friends. There’s a lot to do! I try to get the non-creative stuff completely out of the way so I can start making music with a clear head. Once that’s done I’ll try to put my phone away, close WhatsApp, Instagram etc and settle in. Lunch is quite often at my desk because I’ll be so engrossed after a couple of hours that I won’t want to break the flow. I work with all my favourite gear and instruments at arms-reach with everything mic’d up and ready to go. Workflow is hugely important. I love having as many things as possible set up to record so I can track ideas easily and quickly. I usually finish around 6 or 7, leave everything where it is and lock up. I am lucky enough to live 5 mins drive from my flat so I am usually cooking dinner within half an hour of leaving.

“How do you like to unwind?

I’m not good at it haha. My partner has been a good influence on me in that respect and encourages complete switch-off from work for us after 7 pm in the week and all weekend. I’m a bit basic – my number one wind-down activity in the week is watching series and especially films. I watch A LOT of films! I have an Odeon Unlimited membership – it’s one of my favourite luxuries. At the weekend I will try and get out into nature as I am a country bumpkin at heart or do some sort of DIY… A life goal for me and my partner is to build a house so we have to make do with continually improving our flat until we can afford to do it for real.

“What’s your earliest memory of making music or performing?

My parents say they knew I had a connection to making music from around 10/11 because I used to steal my little sister’s karaoke / tape recorder machine into the cupboard where my parent’s stereo lived, closed the door and spent hours recording layers of acoustic guitar. I had to record onto one cassette on the karaoke machine, take it out and play it from the stereo, and then play a new guitar part whilst recording to a second tape on the karaoke machine. Rinse and repeat. It was convoluted but it worked. The first recording I remember doing was a very basic cover of Limp Bizkit’s Mission Impossible II theme.

“We love the stunning visuals you accompany your music with, who did you collaborate with for the visualisers for this album?

I have an old friend called Ian Henry who runs a film production company. I met him in my early twenties when a mutual friend recommended me to compose a score for a Mandarin Oriental film he was making. Ian is essentially the godfather of a big filmmaking family / mafia – through him, I met a director called Ted Clarke and a cinematographer called Michael Lloyd. When I was thinking about making content last year, I knew I wanted to work with that team. It was an amazing process – both Ted and Michael are incredibly talented and the rest of the production company team nailed it too.

I also have to give a shout-out to my partner Armelinda here as well. Not only has she created the artwork, graphics and titles for the project, but she also volunteered to be the ghost and spent 3 days of the shoot under that red sheet in various locations and weather.

“Tell us more about the mysterious red ghost who keeps appearing throughout your new body of work.

This was an idea that came from Ted originally – we were both looking for a strong visual hook that captured the spirit of the album. He responded with a mood board of images which depicted a classic white ghost following a doomsday prepper on a journey through a post-apocalyptic landscape. It immediately made sense to me – if there was a main theme to this album, it’s about the process of exorcising inner demons through introspection and isolation. Developing on from that first idea, we both felt the white ghost was missing something… Eventually, inspired by a red-faced self-portrait shot I had created for the album very early on, we decided to make the ghost red too.

“Though you’re known for your composition work, is it refreshing to get back to Hugo Brijs the artist? How much of this is an alter-ego and how much is the real you?

It’s 100% the real me. I think that’s been my main pursuit with my own music – to truly express myself as much as possible. When composing for film and TV, you’re always in service to another creative’s vision. That’s a massively exciting challenge and I’ve always loved it. However, I also think it’s super important for us composers to find who we are outside of the context of other people’s art. I was lucky enough to have a round table conversation with the lovely Michael Price (Sherlock, Unforgotten) and a handful of other composers working in film and TV – one of his main bits of advice to further our artistry and careers was to write and release our own music. I have always remembered that. Of all the music I’ve released as an artist, I think “Creeper”  is the truest expression of my outlook, my personality and my musical tastes.

Connect with Hugo Brijis : Instagram