It's not often that you get a second chance at life, but Harry Hudson knows this all too well. At just 20-years-old, the longtime friend of Kylie Jenner, who has been working on music for much of his life, was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2013, only to beat it just a year later. But that only meant that half of the battle was fought for the folk/pop singer. Given a renewed chance at life brought Hudson into a place of depression and uncertainty. Thankfully, he turned to good friends like Jayden Smith and a metropolitan like New York City to learn how to deal with the trauma, heal from his wounds and discover a new outlook on life.
Now, with the release of his debut album, Yesterday's Tomorrow Night, as well as a mini-modern Western film, Hudson is as optimistic as he can be, but pays mind to how his health, emotional recovery, and love for music led to his current path. After launching the projects, Hudson took to iHeartRadio HQ to talk about his journey, admitting that even after all is said and done, he's ready for his older years to be upon him.
iHeartRadio: I feel like I should say, 'Welcome back to New York!'
Harry Hudson: Yeah, I love New York like all the time
You came here for a week and that ended up turning into a year. How was your time here?
Honestly, it was just life-changing. I was going through a really crazy depression at that point and then to just really figure out what I wanted to do in life and who I was as a person, let alone an artist, I wanted to figure out that person first before I became the artist.
New York just really built my mental [mind] at that time cause I'd just beat cancer at that point and then I moved to New York, so I was going through a depression after the fact. Coming to New York was very just fast-moving. It was a new schedule. It was a new feel. It was a new energy that I needed to uplift and really just punch me in the neck [and] get my head and all my life together and what I actually wanted to do in life.
I created the whole album concept out here. The whole album concept that I have out right now. I just released my album, but it's this whole journey from this dark to this light place. And that, for my head, was from New York to LA. It was this dark, kind of city vibe to the beach in the west coast. How do I get back to the west coast with a positive attitude? How do I go back with actually loving myself? 'Cause I never loved myself until I came to New York
It sounds kind of like you're finding yourself again.
Was there anything in the city that really aligned with you at the time?
I went to a lot of museums. The American Museum of Natural History ... they have the star rooms. It's the dopest thing ever. But like The Whitney that was just opened, I have a lot of friends in Red Hook and I do love art, so it was just for me watching films, eating a lot of Italian food, going to a lot of museums 'cause that's how I picked up all the girls at the time. I didn't know anything. It was just cool to talk to people who are really into the arts. I think that was really important for me.
When it comes to your inspirations, I know that there are a lot of people that are under that umbrella, but I read Eminem was the artist that first interested you in making music.
Absolutely, I remember watching 'The Way I Am' music video and it was him falling. I think he jumped off a cliff, and he was just falling and I remember I was this little kid sitting down in front of the TV this far away from it 'cause when you're a kid you just sit close. I remember I was just being this kid who had so much to say and had so much feelings inside. I didn't know how to express. I was such an angry kid but I didn't know how to express that. Eminem was definitely that person 'cause I was going through a lot of sh*t as a child and it was like first grade.
Your album is essentially made of journal entries. Were you nervous about being so candid with the songwriting?
No, I think that's what I wanted to be. I was writing songs since I was 15 but [I'd] just like to write raps and poems and just get the artistry out of my chest and get the creativity out of my chest. It wasn't fully who I was 'cause I didn't know who I was. How am I gonna write a song to be transparent? How am I gonna write a song that's vulnerable or actually me because I wasn't being me? Until I got cancer and I was told, 'Oh, you have a couple months to live.' Then I was like, 'If I make it out alive then I'm gonna live a life true to myself.' So, therefore, I'm gonna write songs true to myself and then if that helps somebody, then it helps somebody, but that's why I make music.
You've been through so much that your story only inspires others. Going through the trauma and healing, what is the most important part of that process?
I think it was being present, being in the moment, just doing the little things, little things every day that make you happy, like waking up. I wake up early now and I will go on a walk and catch the sunrise every morning. I try. Just little things, eat the right breakfast that you want to eat, you know what I'm saying? Talk to the right person that's not negative. It's all these littlest things to make your life actually just move better and make you present and be in what's going on right now. 'Cause we're all so f**king frantic in this world and we just want to get to the next thing.
It's a super positive mentality, too.
Absolutely. 'Cause we're gonna die, so if I'm gonna die tonight that would suck if I was an a**hole all day. You know what I'm saying? 'Cause you're gonna remember, 'Oh that dude was an ass.' Or I can just be full out who I am and be that person leaving energy behind. That's all I wanna do. Leave an energy behind, so when I'm gone, somebody can be like, 'Oh, he left this behind and I'm gonna move forward with that energy.'
Speaking of moving forward, next month you will celebrate your birthday. Are birthdays different now?
I don't celebrate birthdays. I never really did as a kid. It was very much just like a day. It always felt like, 'Why are you saying Happy Birthday. We don't talk?' I hate that.
Like on Facebook?
Yeah, like don't talk to me. Not in a bad way. Just you don't talk to me so don't talk to me. You know what I'm saying? Your 'Happy Birthday' doesn't matter. It's a normal day. I'm just older. I'm like Prince, I don't need to talk about age. The age doesn't exist. You gotta be in the moment. That's what I'm saying. Like Prince, you don't know what age he is. He could be anything.
Exactly. It's like if you think about what age you are, you're gonna start acting like that age. I really just grow up but it's just more mature. For me, I love getting older. You get to leave that mark. I want to be that old guy, too. That'd be so dope. Quicker to get off the Earth, too. I want to be that grandad with all the grandchildren. I want 15 grandchildren. I want to have 15 children, first off. Maybe like 30 grandchildren.
I want to be that guy sitting around a campfire with all my grandkids, in the wilderness, at a ranch I own at that time and just be that guy like, "Hey kid, let me tell you about my life story."
You can play the album and tell the stories.
Yeah, play all the albums I have at that point. Give them all something to leave behind, and be like, 'Yo, guys. We had a good run.' Then I'll have all the 30 kids to take over.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Photo: Getty Images