–by: Aaron Mandel
We want success to be predictable. Linear. We know there is a component of hard work and training. What Malcolm Gladwell devotees refer to as the 10,000 hours.
People are looking for a game plan, a play book. However, as Gladwell recognizes, there are also circumstances and the confluence of events.
He did the hard work. His undergrad is from USC. He’s earned his chops.
I’ll get there.
But if you were going to tell his story like a Quentin Tarratino movie from the middle outward, the crux would be a Kamasi Washington concert put on by The Art of Cool at MotorCo in 2015. Huber was on walkabout with his best friend from high school, Pat Anderson.
They’d started in Memphis, Huber’s Mom had taken him to Graceland as a child, he’d seen the Heartbreak Hotel and it held a particular nostalgia. From there following Phish, they found themselves on Savannah’s Tybee Island on a hot July day.
On their list for where they could catch Kamasi Washington; Durham, Charlotte, and Richmond. Charlotte seemed like it would be a fancy jazz club. Richmond looked like lawn chairs at a jazz festival.
In Durham, The Art of Cool was on its way to selling out MotorCo for the dynamic Washington, a show Huber recalls as awesome. He loved the Durham vibe. He felt like MotorCo was a real rock venue. And helpfully, his high school buddy, Pat, founder of the YouTube food show, “Pat Approved” liked the Durham food.
Huber aka Hubbble was looking for a new spot.
He knew his time in St. Louis was up after The Bishop went insane.
The epic road trip continued on to Indiana, then to New York for a Phish festival called Manga Ball, from there Huber went to Canada to visit family, and back down the left coast, hitting Vancouver and Seattle, before he found himself camping in Big Sur.
Pat was ready to head back to St. Louis. Huber tried it, but he couldn’t stay in the Midwest. In some ways he found St. Louis click-y and loathed its frequently self-selecting racial segregation.
Ready and willing to seek any opportunity, Huber signed on with yogurt start-up in New York City. He found himself couch surfing in a multimillion dollar apartment of Columbia University graduate students from Kazakhstan. The yogurt made from a buttermilk culture was popular in their homeland.
Huber ate it for three months straight because he couldn’t afford anything else in New York City on start-up wages. Huber compares it farmer’s cheese, it is high in protein, and a Kazakh breakfast staple. But despite angling for the “Bro-gurt” market, it didn’t blow up in America.
Huber was broke, job seeking, and thinking back to his Summer experiences, where he had the best time. The answer was Durham.
He found Myriad Media, where he worked until recently, doing for video SEO and social media marketing.
He accepted the position as a route back to Durham.
Confluence of events than brought him to another fortuitous crossroads.
He moved into an Air-BnB blocks from MotorCo with none other than Eli McDuffie. McDuffie, the front man of LiLa and a long-time fixture on the Durham music scene, was the perfect connector. Huber gives him credit. After what was a month long Air-BnB contract originally, he moved into the bustling North Street crib.
Huber says McDuffie introduced him to Nick Wallhauser, a Raund Haus co-founder.(2) Huber aka Hubbble credits McDuffie with introducing him to all of the people necessary to do what he wanted to do: throw great parties, play music, and do production.
And if you haven’t noticed Raund Haus and Hubbble (Huber) having been kicking ass and throwing down hard for Durham. Did you see their multipage spread in the Indy Week?
That’s the short back half of the story.
So how did a modest looking kid from St. Louis show up in Durham (the hippest city in the South according to some) start working for Moogfest (oh, I didn’t mention that yet?) and co-found the beatmaking collective everybody wants to hear? (with Randy Maples aka Trandle, Blaine Carteaux aka CoolBoy36, Kathryn Liang aka AwayMsg, Daniel del Rosario aka Drozy, and the aforementioned Nick Wallhausser aka Gappa Mighty.)
Where did he come from?
He was raised in the St. Louis area. Hubbble’s Dad was a theater teacher at his high school, as well as a set designer for a local theater company. Huber aka Hubbble caught the family entertainment bug early. He says he grew up in a theater doing production and logistics. But he knew by high school, it wasn’t his thing. He knew, even then, as he puts, “Music is where I get off.”
He had high school bands, bass guitar was his weapon of choice. One of the highlights was collaborating with his Dad and others on a post 9/11 production of Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” with a Middle Eastern take. Hubbble’s garage band provided the featured music.
When he left for the University of Southern California as a music lover, he thought he wanted to be strictly in the music business, the industry side of the game. He arrived in Los Angeles at a moment when the music industry was undergoing seismic shifts in both its production and revenue models.
In our conversations Hubbble told me probably the coolest thing for him at USC was private lessons with his bass instructor, Alfonso Johnson. Huber describes him as an OG who has played with Santana, Bob Weir, and Phil Collins among others.
After USC was when Hubbble’s real Los Angeles musical education began. Path traveled. He spent a couple years interning at Alpha Pup Records and attending their “Low End” parties at the peak of their popularity. They are described in Eric Tullis’s Indy Week article as, “fertile ground for any number of J Dilla aspirants, bass obsessives, jazz heads, and EDM eccentrics… [and] instrumental in cultivating a globally respected L.A. beat scene.” Huber told me it was “my church” and that he attended every Wednesday.
He noted that the rapidly expanding Eagle Rock Music Festival was an important part of his development and experience, too. From a street carnival that blocked off Colorado Boulevard in L.A., Hubbble was on hand as it ballooned into a 50,000 person showcase with stages at the Center for the Arts at the Carnegie Library. Huber was able to work on Low End Theory’s stage at the festival and get his feet wet doing production and assistant stage management for Eagle Rock.
Huber recalled seeing Peanut Butter Wolf, the founder of Stone’s Throw records, there in 2012. The same Peanut Butter Wolf who will be at Moogfest 2017 in Durham.
Now the work Hubbble has put in and the confluence of events that have aligned begin to make more sense.
Last year Huber was second in command for Moogfest’s production team in Durham.
He is working for Moogfest in a similar capacity this year.
Raund Haus had a triple header weekend of events this past weekend. They were at the Mothership, 9th Street Bakery, and Arcana. On Friday night Cool Boy 36 released his new Spring line of looks with musical sets by Trandle, Gappa Mighty, and Mir at the Mothership in the MotorCo complex. Saturday they held a rollicking day party at 9th Street Bakery featuring OG Senpaiii, Tony G, Hush Hush, Sticks, Bricks, and Jack. Late night Saturday, the capper was an event at the underground club, Arcana.
Personally, Huber has expanded beyond Raudhaus, too, hosting his own Hubbble DJ nights at Surf Club. (You’ve seen the fire truck nee DJ Booth out back??)
He also has his own weekly radio show on WHUP out of Hillsborough. He was kind enough to take me along so I could sit in the studio. The Hubbble catalog he says, “includes anything that will make you nod your head.” From beats to jazz to funk, he attributes his broad breadth and preferences to his background as a bass player.
Every Monday from 10pm to midnight Hubbble takes to the air. The show before him is robotically programmed, so he has the second floor Hillsborough WHUP studio entirely to himself. He flicked on lights as we traipsed in one evening a few weeks back.
He told me that he not only gets to pick his own beats, but WHUP encourages him to pick his own guests. He had Trandle from the Raund Haus collective on. He had San Francisco Trip Hop guru, Nym on. The informality means the shows aren’t archived for long. Most listeners catch WHUP streaming.
DJ’ing, Hubbble is the consummate professional, cracking his wrists, extending his fingers, leaning over his boards. His voice on air is smooth and well-modulated, “My name is Hubbble. This is Cultivation Sessions. Broadcasting live from Hillsborough, North Carolina…Shout out to Gappa Mighty for putting me on to that record…”
Like his Surf Club sets, Hubbble does very little on-air talking, preferring instead to focus on the music, a continuous stream of smooth beats that range from acid jazz to Spanish language stuff to trip hop and more. Because he is live, he says you could call in and make requests or even talk to him on air. But no one ever does.
I dared him to give me the number for your dialing pleasure. It is #919.296.1169 if you want to dial up some beats or have an on-air chat.
Huber is a fount of knowledge in an unassuming package. He shows me a tiny box that, besides his computer, is all he carries to the WHUP studio. It is a Traktor Control Z that has the DJ Mixer, a USB cable to his Mac, and the necessary to software to make the beautiful music happen. The simplicity seems to fit his look and style, think Tom Cruise’s boyish charm in Risky Business.
Huber points out, it’s not just him, that Durham’s explosion is all so recent. Nick Sanborn of Sylvan Esso fame was still working at Geer Street Garden when Hubbble got here. He notes that Sylvan Esso’s parrot meme from their new album cover is a photo shot outside of our own Surf Club.
As part of his continuing efforts to interface with the larger musical kingdom, Hubbble and Raund Haus brought LA’s Astronautica to the Southeast for a recent tour.
Huber says he is looking forward to the 2017 Art of Cool Festival, especially trumpeter Theo Croker.
He is giving up his day job to allocate more time to Moogfest, to production, to making beats, to coordinating for Raund Haus.
Huber aka Hubbble says with music, “You just feel it a certain way.”
I can’t say for sure if he means the sounds, the events, the production, or the moments.
He is in the middle of all of it. In Durham.
Not by luck, but neither exactly by design either.
1 Hubbble, yes with three b’s. As Huber puts it, you can find cool stuff at Hubble with two b’s, but it’s not going to be me.
2 Full disclosure, I was Wallhauser’s roommate during this era.