In Conversation with Hector Who Lived

Image Credit: Ben Dornan Wilson

October brought us a lot in the way of new music, one of those releases being the solo debut of Try Me’s Hector Boogieman, whose new stage name as a solo artist is, ‘Hector Who Lived.’ Though it sounds like it could have been a suitably spooky rebranding for the Halloween season, his new single ‘Monkey’ makes it clear that there’s more to it than meets the eye. Behind the classic, electro-funk sound of the song and the pulsing, shifting analogue visuals of the music video, ‘Monkey’ is an intensely personal meditation on mental health, and making and breaking bad habits. It’s a song that doesn’t shy away from the fact that the national lockdown was a real fright for many people. I was lucky enough to interview him about it; as we spoke, he showed as much candor and honesty as is present on his debut single.

What’s the story behind your stage name, Hector Who Lived? Is there a particular reason you chose it?

My parents were going to call me Hector, but they didn’t, sadly. I feel like everyone as a kid is like, ‘Oh my God, I hate my name,’ and then you kind of grow up and you’re like, ‘Well, this is my chance! I’m gonna make you call me that.’

How did you first get into producing your own music?

I grew up in a tiny village, and when I was 15 I worked in the local Co-op. It was the only store that was really close by, so I saved up and bought a laptop. Once I had a laptop, it was just, ‘What can I do with a laptop?’

So now let’s fast-forward to ‘Monkey,’ which is a song you wrote during the first lockdown. It’s about mental health—and lockdown was really bad for a lot of people's mental health. What was your personal experience of lockdown like? What led you to actually come up with and create ‘Monkey’?

That was my last year of uni. Lockdown started in March, and I was handing in my final dissertation in May. That was one of the only things I had to give me a purpose. Apart from that, there was no purpose to do anything. There was no socialising. Not a lot of reason to get out of bed. Then I got into some bad habits: smoking too much, not doing anything all day, just kind of smoking the day away. At the start it was like, ‘Woo, this is a holiday!’ I was getting smashed all the time, but then that slipped into, ‘Why am I getting smashed all the time? I think I might be really unhappy.’ So I wrote the song just to give myself some purpose, I suppose.

Do you approach a song with the melody and/or production in mind first, or do you start with the lyrics?

The lyrics. I think that’s why I studied music production because I already know what I want to write about and I already know how I want to write them. Putting the music to them was something I didn’t know how to do.