More Songs About Hardwood Floors

Pop culture with Henry Mowgli

Spike Gillespie & Henry Mowgli
Spike Gillespie & Henry Mowgli
photo by Michael McCarthy

Henry Mowgli is Popular Culture. I caught up with the native Austinite when he passed through town on tour, playing Hotel Vegas. Mowgli’s the son of author Spike Gillespie, who for years wrote about being a mother in this publication. Hanging out with his outgoing mom exposed Mowgli to music at a young age.

“When I was a kid, my mom would take me to shows all the time,” he recounts. “That’s how I got interested in music. Then I got a guitar when I was 12. From there, I got into the Velvet Underground and New Order and experimented.

“I made my record with Kyle Ellison. I met him at a show I’d played and he mentioned he had a studio that we could record at. He has all of this amazing equipment.

“Making the record went on for a while. We would meet up at random times and have sessions. Sometimes I would go over to his place at 3am and record an acoustic idea that I might have. The 10 songs that ended up on the record, Episode, came together from that experience.

Episode was released on Sparrowsongs Music, which is Ellison’s label. I make songs for survival. It’s my therapy.”

Mowgli, who played regularly as a teen in local duo Max & Henry, now performs solo as Popular Culture. He describes his live shows as “minimal and dynamic.”

“I usually run one or two mics through different pedals. There’s a backing track going. And a lot of times I close out the set with an acoustic song. The live show is different from the record in that it’s very present.

“The name Popular Culture came from the fact that these songs are a reflection of everything that happens in my life. My music is now most influenced by nature, human beings, and actions more than other artists.”

Last summer, he traveled through Europe after releasing his album and has been touring on and off ever since.

“Sometimes people think it’s harder to do than it is,” offers Mowgli on his road adventures. “For instance, I left for this last tour on December 29 and just ended it this week. I had shows booked, but nowhere to stay, and still I only slept on hardwood floors once.”

Mowgli returns to Austin to make the rounds during South by Southwest.

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