Multimedia artist Richie Culver has recently published his new album, Hostile Environments. Seven tracks of commentary on challenging segments of life, darker vignettes that capture unease, paranoia, and dissatisfaction. The track Slow Car is a reimagining of the scenario described in Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car—being unable to drive away from a life, or a state of mind, that is disappointing, or perhaps hostile.
Culver’s work crosses conventional boundaries, layering raw emotion over deeply human themes. Born in the industrial town of Hull in the United Kingdom, his journey into the art world is as unusual as his creations. From the gritty streets of his hometown to the vibrant art scenes of London and beyond, his experiences have always shaped his vision. Known for evocative paintings, mixed-media pieces, and multiple musical albums, Culver’s latest record explores aimlessness, painful but sometimes precious memories, and the complexities of an antagonistic internal world.
Hi Richie, how are you feeling today and where are you answering from?
I’m okay. Currently in Berlin. Playing Tresor tonight as Quiet Husband.
Congratulations on the new album! How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never listened to it before?
Thank you. I’m really happy with it. This is spoken word set against kinda morbid springtime landscapes that talks about a longing to leave somewhere, but you stay.
The album is called Hostile Environments. Does that describe a personal environment, or is it a commentary on broader domains?
For me it’s about the environment in my head—that can be an extremely hostile environment at the best of times. It then bleeds into various surroundings and places I’ve lived. I guess like most titles it takes on multiple meanings and I’m okay with that also.
There’s a contemplative, empathetic nature to a lot of your tracks. Where do you prefer to write your music, if you have a favorite spot?
There’s definitely no specific spot where I write and I don’t write all the time. Driving is a good one, or anytime I’ve not been around my phone. It’s just a case of when I get inspiration or ideas and striking when that happens and working fast to keep the flow. I can’t stretch things out or I lose them. The record is very contemplative. The older I get, the less I manage to find this state of thought.
You created this album yourself, all the way through. Did that ever get lonely? And do you plan to collaborate more in the future?
It was important for me to do this one alone. As someone who sees themself as a loner, I’ve collaborated on so much recently musically. Billy Woods and Moor Mother were on my last record; then there were my collaborations with Blackhaine, and then one with Pavel Milyakov, and also my remix record of I Was Born by the Sea. So for this, it was important to do it all. Fully produced and written. Every week I’d say, oh, I have to get a remix of this track, or I might ask ‘whoever’ to do a verse on this. But I managed to go all the way without asking anyone. I’m running out of people I wanna work with now, also.
Hostile Environments, and especially the track Slow Car, are in some ways reflections on what it feels like to be stuck in circumstances that seem hopeless. How have you moved out of those places personally, and is creating music like this part of that for you?
Yes. This record is me talking from a much younger version of myself. My relationship with my hometown has changed so many times over the years and continues to change. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a strong physical and mental reaction to something as I do with my hometown. It can be overwhelming. Hopefully this comes across in the record.
Bells of Hope has no vocals. How was your process different when creating that track?
This is an important component to the record. It acts as a bridge to the final song; a palate cleanser before the end. It has a kind of wind chime feel throughout. My mum had one in the back porch growing up and I remember summer days. Behind our house was a caravan site and people would always climb into our garden. I remember once someone climbing in and me chasing them away (I was really young), so the likelihood of that happening is slim. So I wonder if that actually happened—it was just me and my mother at the time as my dad had passed away. I remember feeling like some kind of protector. So Bells of Hope was made with all of this in mind.
Were there any new inspirations for this album that you hadn't yet encountered while doing your previous work?
Just the overall sound and making it lighter and to tackle a concept of surrendering to find some kind of peace.
What does it mean to you to call this a “a trapped album”?
Trap music. I see most of my projects as a conversation or reply from someone who is going to a trap house—as the underlying theme is addiction in most of my music.
I know it’s like choosing between your children, but I’ll try: do you have a favorite song on the album?
Slow Car probably. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. Then Mary Ann Hobbs played it and then played Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car straight after on BBC 6 music. It then became some kind of conceptual artwork as the piece originated from a painting I made.