A seaside adventure with Dumb Buoys Fishing Club, the dynamic new alternative pop duo
DrBartlett has his eye on the prize. As the boat sails across the English Channel, a few miles from Eastbourne Harbour, the songwriter and producer slowly lifts his fishing rod up, pointing it skyward. He exhales loudly, letting out an anxious sigh as the reel begins to move rapidly backwards; Four mackerel put some major pressure on the tip. “I can feel a little tug from under the sea…” he shouted as he pulled his catch out of the water.
It was an hour into a deep-sea fishing trip, something Bartlett and his collaborator Havelock Hudson — who perform together as the Dumb Buoys Fishing Club — have never experienced until today, despite the name of their band. This unconventional interview setup may be a little funny, but it’s not completely meaningless. In their music videos, the duo embody the characters of “two decadent fishermen”, and can be seen playing around the beaches of Hastings wearing waterproof clothing and cargo jackets. Their debut album “Wrecked” (due out September 15) is an intoxicating dash of bass kicks and dizzying rap chops – frenetic, fast, loose alternative pop that oscillates between the hyperactive energy of JPEGMAFIA and the measured cool of Jamiroquai.
As we circle Royal Sovereign Lighthouse, now 11 kilometers offshore, Bartlett and Hudson continue to adhere strictly to this order: they wear matching Bass Pro Shops parody hats, share Fisherman’s Friend lozenges and keep a log of how many fish they catch. During the afternoon. They affectionately amplify each other easily, too. “There was an almost instant creative spark here. “We knew we had hit on something unique right away with this project,” says Bartlett, who will continue to refer to his friend as “Hal.” In the meantime, Hudson is keen to show off his logo tattoo. Dumb Buoys Fishing Club on his upper arm, which he got in Los Angeles on a recent songwriting trip.
If Barlett and Hudson appear to be in particularly exciting shape, it’s at least in part because they’ve waited years for this moment to arrive. Having started their solo careers as DanDLion and Havelock respectively, they both achieved moderate success in the UK alternative space. Bartlett finished his BBC Theater Presentation at the 2022 Reading Festival, where he was joined by Griff; Hudson gained traction via TikTok with 2020’s “Scrambled.” As “Wrecked,” “Life Jacket,” and “Fortune Teller” demonstrate, they’ve always had bigger ambitions as producers — and Dumb Buoys Fishing Club proved to be a unique opportunity to unleash their imaginations.
“We stayed confident in the music we were making, and made sure to keep the album close to ourselves and not let anyone else hear it for a while,” Hudson says, explaining how he and Bartlett began working on “Wrecked” in 2008. Late 2020, after they met a year ago in a studio session. “When we played ‘Wrecked’ in front of people, everyone’s reaction was the same. They were like, ‘Wow, what is this?'” says Bartlett. “It made us think: ‘Okay, we’re really proud of what we’ve made.’
HAfter moving to a picnic table located on the main promenade, Bartlett and Hudson explain how a string of recent live performances – including dates at Boardmasters and Glastonbury Festival – encouraged them to “fully surrender” to the project, devoting extra time to developing a striking visual identity. “We had to completely let our guard down,” Hudson says over a cup of ice cream. “We’ve found a way to be more open to ourselves, there’s an element of escape in music. Often our goal in our social circles is to be the clown of the group, but here we can turn that energy into something substantial.”
“I think we represent a youth culture of being as expressive as you want to be,” Bartlett adds. Here, in the middle of the conversation, is where you can really see the uncompromising determination that separates the couple from their peers; Bartlett says they want to be “the best ever,” and they do everything they can to achieve that. As an independent business, they are financially responsible for all of the animation that makes up their videos, from concept to execution. A quick scroll through their TikTok account will show them filming the clips themselves, using a wide range of camera effects and angles, across the Southeast Coast.
The gradual but remarkably enthusiastic response Bartlett and Hudson are seeing to their content across their social media is “proof,” they say, that moving forward without a big team behind them was the right choice all along — as well as abandoning the need to For commercial success. “We really wanted to shake things up and give people a slap in the face with the whole visual music world,” Bartlett adds.
“It can sometimes feel like we’re screaming into a void, having to meet every week and post our videos,” he continues. “But we had been sitting on this music for a while, and it became a blind-faith situation: we had to trust the process and understand that the album would see the light of day when the time was right, which is now.” As he spoke, Bartlett was thoughtful and thoughtful in his answers — even if there was often a self-deprecating aside near the surface. “I’m surprised we haven’t gotten sick of each other yet,” he adds. “But there’s a real synergy between us. It’s special.”
Then, cooler bags in hand, they set off towards the train station to take their daily catch back to their home in London. You get the impression that this – a day at sea, cracking each other’s jokes, picking up where they left off in the studio – is exactly where Bartlett and Hudson want to be. Their goal with the Dumb Buoys Fishing Club is simply to honor that friendship.
Dumb Buoys Fishing Club’s debut album, Wrecked, will be released on September 15