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How horticulture helped Hodge flourish inside and outside the studio

The green-fingered producer's debut album is out now on Houndstooth

  • Interview: Sean Griffiths | Photo: Khris Cowley/Here & Now
  • 19 May 2020

Gardening really helped me with making my new album. I was writing it at the same time as I first got into gardening. I’m not really the kind of producer who can sit in my studio for 10 hours straight, I’m so hyperactive that often I’ll go in, bang out an idea in an hour and then have a break before coming back to it. With gardening, it’s something I can go and do for a while, completely focus on and then come back and listen to the tune afresh. Gardening really helps me reset my brain.

I first got interested in it through helping my dad out. Our next door neighbours in Kent always had a crazily good garden when I was growing up, but as they’ve got older they’ve struggled to tend to it. So my dad started to help them out and originally I was like, ‘Oh God, dad’s getting old.’ But then I went and helped him with something and was like, ‘This feels really good.’ He cooked a few meals with the food he’d grown, as well, and I was really impressed with that from a sustainability point of view.

Then when we moved into our new house there was a garden with old, rotting decking, so I cleared that out and built myself a green house and some beds for growing vegetables.

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Initially, I just turned the earth over and threw a load of seeds down quite haphazardly, but it turned out amazingly well. The garden has been used to grow food before, so the soil is really nutrient rich. I had to actually go through and weed out some plants to give others space to grow. Peverelist used to have an allotment and when I was starting out with my garden I was texting him and his partner for tips all the time. I must have been a nightmare as I get quite obsessive about things and had a million questions.

For someone who lives quite a vague and unstructured lifestyle with a lack of routine, having the garden structures me. Horticultural therapy is a really big thing now, and I can see why because being in the garden is just so calming. Right now is just the start of the season, so I’m planning the garden out for the year and have loads of seed trays at the back of my house where the light comes in, as you can’t plant them outside until the final frost has been. I’m growing coriander, as I use loads of that, and basil, tomatoes and aubergines too. I’ve got this idea to have sunflowers at the back, and a load of squashes with chives around them on a raised bed in front. I’ve been looking into ‘companion planting’ and the sunflowers will keep certain bugs away from the squashes and chives. I’m also looking into doing some vertical planting on fences and cages so things can climb upwards rather than lay on the floor. Things like courgettes will rot much quicker when they’re sat on the earth.

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My favourite time of year in the garden is probably May, as that’s when you first start to see the results. I love coming back from gigs and seeing how much the garden has grown.

I’ve got loads of house plants inside too and whenever I’m away I’ll go and check out botanical gardens where I am. I went to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens in New York and always go to The Barbican when I’m in London.

With making music, sometimes you go into the studio and nothing happens, but if you keep making the effort day after day you know eventually you’ll see some results. And gardening’s kind of the same. If you keep watering and tending to your plants, eventually things will grow.

Hodge’s debut album ’Shadows In Blue’ is out now on Houndstooth

Sean Griffiths is Mixmag's Deputy Editor, follow him on Twitter

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