Hugh Coltman
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Hugh Coltman

Paris, Île-de-France, France | MAJOR

Paris, Île-de-France, France | MAJOR
Band Folk Acoustic


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stories from the safe house (Mercury/universal)
October 2008



In terms of biographies, two great categories stand on opposite sides of the divide: official biographies and unofficial ones.
Ours is only “tolerated” with the benevolent eye of one who knows he has to play the game.
Hugh Coltman is not trying to make his life into a mystery; he simply doubts whether it would interest you.
In principle, he is not opposed to the idea that he is reputed to have had a relationship with Audrey Hepburn if this will further his cause but he tends to hope that fame and respect will come from his music and certain responses will come from his lyrics instead.
So we began by asking him about his origins. He comes from Devizes, a relatively modest little town in the Bristol countryside in England. We are still at the beginning of the ‘nineties: Hugh had finished digesting his mother’s mammoth collection of jazz discs and was ready for something more serious, even though at the time nothing really was.
They had no clichéd pop couplet at the ready; the four boys that formed The Hoax opted for a musical style that, like jazz, was thought to be only for a select few: the Blues. Totally unexpectedly, the project overflowed the confines of the Bristol region, emerging from the shadows as the only British Blues project for 20 years to have won a major touring contract. So finally, here is the expected cliché: four young guys appearing from nowhere and touring the world with the incredible luck of being able to open concerts for legends such as BB King and Buddy Guy.
The adventure lasted seven years and produced three albums marking their passage to the age of reason.
When it was time to start planning for the future, Hugh Coltman could not really see himself returning to his native town; he was afraid of backsliding. But he was also loath to take the easy way out by going to London. So he opted for a more radical solution and went to a city he did not know and where he knew no one: Paris.
Back to a sort of virginal state, the language barrier protected him from, well, we’re not sure what. But he felt free like someone starting again from scratch, without the standard social or cultural references of his native land.
He found happiness and satisfaction, evolving with the contacts and friendships he made along the way, onto the open stages of the capital, whether at the Flèche d’Or or the platforms of metro stations where he offered a wealth of happiness and satisfaction to others too.
It was at one of these performances that he met two young Parisians, also bursting with talent and who, at their very first meeting, made him a proposition, so sure were they of having discovered the rare pearl, the voice that they needed.
Ben Molinaro, Spleen and Hugh Coltman formed the group HeezBus and had soon created their little buzz. But they had to face up to the fact that, before launching themselves into a great collective adventure, they needed to take care of some very personal projects first. This was the end of Heezbus; it was transformed into an artists’ collective that is still performing under the name of Le Black & White Skins. Which brings us up to the present.
A present that began in 2004 for Hugh, the year he wrote his first songs for his first album, the year when he finally acted on the idea of making his way solo.
He experienced all the hardships of creating his music on his own in his room, without immediately being able to test his ideas on other people.
Four years is the time it took him to write his songs, a vast number of songs, only keeping the best of them. He even had time to record a first version that evaporated into thin air, a victim to the capriciousness of new technology. He then started writing again.
These years also enabled him to meet the people who would support him, breaking the solitary nature of his adventure: first there were two young and talented musicians, Thomas Naim and Aurélien Calvel, then, later, the well-known Marlon B who became his co-producer.
And “Stories from the Safe House” was born, twelve numbers that Hugh agreed to allow outside his room. Unless you are invited to join him inside....