Irish brothers Alfie and Harry Hudson-Taylor, sons of a musician father and a dancer mother, started busking on the streets of Dublin while still in their teens, performing covers of Beatles and Beach Boys songs and their own original material under the name Harry & Alfie. After posting videos on YouTube which garnered a positive response, they self-released the Battles EP in 2012, which topped the Irish iTunes chart and went to number 14 on the British. Its success persuaded them to move to London and make a go of pursuing music as a career; barely a year later, aged just 18 and 20 respectively, they had a deal with Polydor.
Their acoustic, folky sound with close vocal harmonies and a heavy '60s influence made some of their songs reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel or Bob Dylan, but their equal love for contemporary pop meant others had a more modern feel, and their clever, mature, and sometimes dark lyrics helped to separate them from the pack. After their move to London, the brothers lived for a time with then-unsigned English folk-pop starlet Gabrielle Aplin, with whom they collaborated on a number of songs. Later, she and Alfie began dating. The EPs Cinematic Lifestyle, Osea, and Weapons further increased Hudson Taylor's visibility. After signing with Polydor, which re-released Battles, they supported Kodaline and Jake Bugg, played Glastonbury, and had their biggest triumph to date when they supported the Rolling Stones in front of 50,000 people in Hyde Park. Their major debut single proper, the catchy and insistent "Chasing Rubies," was issued in October 2014, charting modestly in the U.K.; their debut album, provisionally titled Singing for Strangers, was set for release in March 2015.