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Hugo Hamlet/Don Juan AnOther Magazine 2022
Hugo is wearing coat JORDAN DALAH, shirt DIOR, skirt and shoes MAISON MARGIELA, tights stylist’s own, choker PHILOSOPHY DI LORENZO SERAFINI, crown THE NATIONAL THEATRE COSTUME HIRE, jewellery his ownPhotography by Inès Manai, Styling by Mirko Pedone

Hugo Hamlet on His “Ecstatic” New Single Don Juan and the Power of Pleasure

Inès Manai and Mirko Pedone capture musician Hugo Hamlet in a number of looks by Balenciaga, Chopova Lowena, Craig Green and more – here, he talks about meditation, seduction, and finding inner peace

Lead ImageHugo is wearing coat JORDAN DALAH, shirt DIOR, skirt and shoes MAISON MARGIELA, tights stylist’s own, choker PHILOSOPHY DI LORENZO SERAFINI, crown THE NATIONAL THEATRE COSTUME HIRE, jewellery his ownPhotography by Inès Manai, Styling by Mirko Pedone

Multi-disciplinary artistic chameleon Hugo Hamlet is back with new music, which is a pure disco-fuelled ode to joy. Dedicated to his late friend Chris, Don Juan is Hugo’s latest work released with the performer, actor and It’s A Sin star Omari Douglas. The duo’s world is one of playfulness, magnetism, and communion with nature; a fairytale of pure positivity.

We meet on a crisp Monday morning in September – in the decadent yet majestic abandoned Twyford Abbey in north London – to talk about the new single. Wrapped in a flamboyant Louis XIV-inspired outfit, Hugo gives me that sparkling look of someone who has the secret to finding pleasure in life, and introduces me to his latest alter-ego, Don Juan.

Valeria Della Valle: Tell me about Don Juan? Who is he? 

Hugo Hamlet: I was in Wales all by myself in this old barn vale … and it just came into my head like an epiphany: I am Don Juan! He is The Dancer – he gives me a pirouette. Because, you know, you dance when you’re alive, when your whole body is engaged.

VDV: And how does Don Juan pass on this vibrance to everyone around him?  

HH: It’s about bringing the feminine into the alpha, bringing it on the outside. Taking that sensitivity and putting it outside for everyone to receive it and you can see the transformation of the boy coming through, you know? Don Juan is strong but not in a hurting way because his straightness comes from the perception of humanity around him. Like when you go to the club and the DJ plays Michael Jackson and something happens to your body and you feel it in the space, connected, driven.

VDV: You said you have found joy in a pure form. How did you get there? Is it like an orgasm – a moment of intensity?

HH: I think it happened when I went inside rather than looking outside. See, what we do is look outside and buy – a holiday, a beautiful dress, a new haircut, thinking that those things would bring us joy. And it works for a moment because that affects the inside, but the problem is we always want more and more of that kind of joy, it’s addictive and we never reach the ultimate point, because there is always something more to buy, to upgrade to. I can’t remember what the moment was, I was alone a lot, and I went inside and meditated intensively. It became clear to me that our mind is full of patterns, of repeating habits or addictions – whatever you want to call them – so if we become aware of ourselves and meditate, we enter into the spirit inside us and we find joy – which is where I go and I write my music.

VDV: By breaking those patterns? 

HH: Exactly. Just because you’re in a habit, it doesn’t mean that that action is serving your soul. By breaking the patterns, I come to this place of joy which is probably more ecstatic than orgasmic. It’s a connection to everything and exists within the present. A lovely way to put it is by saying that if your cup is full, you can fill other people’s cups too. I think it’s important to feel full, you know. Joy is a resonance inside. We’re going up and we have to go down, we are the mountain, you know. 

VDV: It’s about appreciating and being content with what you have.

HH: Yeah, that’s amazing because when you have satisfaction and gratitude, you’re basically telling the universe: I don’t need anything, and that’s a delightful feeling. That defines a good relationship to me, you know. We are not together because we are both lacking something but because we are both full. This is beautiful: we can help each other as a community. Gratitude is definitely the best place to be.

VDV: Don Juan is known as the ultimate seducer and I think it is really important today to talk about the healthy side of seduction. 

HH: It’s like when we look at a beautiful cat sleeping. The cat is not asking for you to look at him, but it’s beautiful and it’s full of love and it resonates very high within you because the energy is beautiful. That’s the good side of seduction. Don Juan is not about going out there and taking everything he wants, it’s [about] an inner pleasure. I spent a lot of time dancing by myself. I’m dancing through life. When you put that song on, something happens within you and you suddenly stand straight and walk better. 

VDV: I think a misconception about seduction is that it is something that is received passively, although the action of seduction is very active. If you accept it, you are invited into something very vital.

HH: Exactly, that’s fantastic. It’s a really great experience to be getting the energy from someone and then giving something back. That makes us humans, it’s about compassion and connecting.

VDV: How does the persona of Don Juan and his attitude towards life translate into the music?

HH: Well, that’s quite interesting. I sang it all in one go. I think it’s a good question because that’s a style question. Like with clothes, every day we feel different and wear a different outfit. You might wear a long dress, then move on to leather. Sometimes we just want to stay in bed and wear pyjamas or nothing at all, which is my case. I love being naked, I can feel really deep. I think that’s the same with music, too. I’m always making different versions. When I play live, I can do it differently. I can have it stronger or deeper. I guess the point is that it’s never finished for me. Don Juan is not finished. It’s always changing, morphing. So that’s quite difficult for me, you know, to define the ultimate Don Juan because he is not finished until we’re there with the audience and we engage with it.

VDV: Do you listen to a lot of music as an act of therapy? I picture you listening to something like Bach but I might be wrong ...

HH: I grew up with classical music and Opera so that’s part of me. So intense, romantic, very deep. Harmonic music is very interesting. I've tried to stay away from it for a little while because it is too emotional. Recently I've been wanting to listen to things that made me feel good, makes me feel like I want to live. I think that's the most important thing. Music has the power to shift your mood, change your perspective, the energy within you in a particular moment. 

VDV: The healing power of music. 

HH: Indeed. I listen to a lot of African music. Highlife, lots of beautiful, uplifting, rich, deep music. I’ve got a lot of sad music which I’ve made but never released because it feels too emotional and I am not sure that’s the right thing for me to put out there. I wonder whether it’s a matter of style, you know. If you listen to Abba, for instance. Those are very sad songs but the music is very uplifting. I think I want to find that kinetic match sonically in the cyber world and explore that. I love playing the piano because it’s like getting connected to reality via the fingers.

VDV: When music appears to you, that’s fucking amazing. 

HH: It’s true. It’s interesting, I don’t spend that much time making music though. I spend more time painting. 

VDV: Really?

HH: Yeah, I paint all the time. It’s a different energy because it’s more permanent. You can’t just change it, you have to stay there in it. It’s really important to surround yourself with the right energies. I’m very lucky to have a place where I can just be pure because I’m very sensitive and I become like the things around me. 

VDV: What’s your favourite poetry line? 

HH: ‘Everything changes, everything change is everything’ by Lily Ashley.

Don Juan by Hugo Hamlet is out now.

Creative direction: Valeria Della Valle. Photography: Inès Manai. Styling: Mirko Pedone. Hair: Shunsuke Meguro at Future rep using Oribe. Make-up: Josh Bart. Talent: Hugo Hamlet. Stylist assistants: Emily Gleeson, Katie Dulieu. Video: Lily Ashley. Production: Bianca De Ritis. Special thanks: Will Wentworth-Stanley and Ben Andersen. Featuring original music & words by Hugo Hamlet