Friday, June 17, 2011

Matt Walters

Carla, Miranda and I first saw Matt play at the Metro in 2009 when he was the support for Jenny Lewis. We've been hooked ever since. Who was this singer who threw off his harmonica in frustration, sang such delicate narratives and worked the guitar with such talent? Two years later now, after many more support acts, Matt has brought out his first album since, and after living off the four songs on his 'Echo On' EP and past albums, it can be said that it was well worth the wait. Carla, Miranda and I interviewed him after his first headline show, at the Vanguard, for the release of his new album, 'Farewell Youth.'

How does it feel having your first headline show? 
Very overwhelming. It's just been a beautiful journey. You do what you love and what you're passionate about and good things come; good people come into your life. I'm really interested in doing a career so the way I'm going about it is exactly how I want to go about it. Put music out and play the shows, put another album out and just keep going. 

You mentioned [during the performance] having difficulty with recording albums. (Matt has already made two: 'Like Therapy' (2001) and 'The Moon, the Stars, the People')
Well, 'Like Therapy' - I was fifteen when I made that. It was terrible. Then I quit for a while and went to uni and then I couldn't take it anymore. 

What did you study at uni?
Film, at RMIT in Melbourne. I wanted to be a filmmaker.

How has your album making journey been? How many have you made, or tried to make? 
Well, when I got signed back in '08, we tried to make it in London. That didn't work out. I just wasn't happy with it. Then, in Sydney we gave it a shot, and then Melbourne, and then I headed back to Sydney and made it - and that was that record. It felt right and good... I wanted to be happy with it and it took me a while to get to that point. 

Where does the title 'Farewell Youth' come from? 
For me, I feel completely different about where I'm at and who I am now. So at twenty-five, I feel very comfortable, feel very happy to be doing what I'm doing, don't really care what other people think as much. Younger years are filled with a lot of anxiety... so it's about all that stuff - anxiety, self consciousness. But now I feel really happy to be alive and really loving what I do, and I love music. So it's all the stuff that came out of that time. Also, it's a really pop-y record, for me. 

What do you think about when you're on stage? What does it feel like?
It's f**king weird. I feel like a bit of a clown. But I've gotten better at trying to enjoy playing the song. 

Do you have a favourite song to play? St Peter's Gate

What are your inspirations? Books, a lot. Other music, definitely. 

What was the last book you read? A music biography about a band called the Blue Nile. I love music biographies, I really like non-fiction. 

What's your songwriting process? Painful. I get an idea - so that as well is part of the Farewell Youth thing - an idea would circulate in my mind for a while. And I'm not a very proactive person with creativity. In every other aspect of my life - I have a really clean room, I'm not an all-over-the-shop person. But with creativity I'm completely all over the shop. So, I'll get an idea, think about it, then I'll doubt it, and I'll think 'Oh, it's actually pretty good,' well maybe that theory could work. So it's slow. I'm trying to get a little quicker at it. So those songs [on Farewell Youth] are over of couple years.

Is it like being a perfectionist? Maybe. You just feel right when it's cooked. It's like being a chef, I guess - you know when it's right and ready to do something. There's nothing worse than having something that's undercooked.  

Where's your favourite place in the world? New York City

Who've you enjoyed working with the most? 
Meg Washington was pretty cool, she's very talented. Kim Richey, on the album. Pete Karpin, who signed me at Universal, he's amazing. 

Where do you hope to be in five years time? I move to the States next year. So I guess, I'll be there.

Where abouts? I'm going to be based in Austin, TX for a while - there's a really cool music scene there. Also, I just did a publishing deal, so I'll be writing a lot of songs for other people as well as myself. 

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