WE LOVE YOUR SONGS BLOG
New Interview: Matthew Meyer
Matthew Meyer: ‘I promised myself that I would always play music for the pleasure of it regardless of whether I was the only one who was listening ‘
Cristina Torres. London
Born in North Carolina to a teacher and a university professor, raised in Connecticut and now an adopted Brooklinite, Matthew Meyer is a simple and easy approach guy. As many artist he has a secret life, one that allows him to make a living and another one dedicated to his major passion, music. Although simple for him the way he creates music remains, somehow, a mystery for us. Nevertheless, his songs have managed to reach the weloveyoursongs.com users. Here we present you an interview to Meyer so you can get to know better this synasthesic artist.
What was “the soundtrack” of your childhood, the music you remember when you think about your early years?
The soundtrack of my early childhood was, without question, ABBA and Neil Diamond, as they were the two cassette tapes my parents had in the car. We would go on these incredibly long car trips for vacations where we would drive 12 hours to get somewhere and those would be the tapes we listened to over and over again. When I hear “Forever in Blue Jeans” I can still feel the hot vinyl seat in our 1979 VW Bug sticking to my skin.
Later on, when I first started to buy music of my own, it tended to be bands like The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, Psychedelic Furs.
When did you start writing? Was your first song a heartbroken song or a love song?
When I was nine I began taking trumpet lessons and played in the school concert and jazz bands. Three years later, a friend and I wanted to start a band so I started to learn bass guitar by borrowing a neighbor’s ancient acoustic guitar and learning scales. That Christmas I got my first electric bass guitar and we started to play both in the jazz band and on our own. Our first songs were typically long and instrumental as I was too self-conscious to sing.
What is music/songwriter for you, the love of your life or the mistress with whom you have a love/hate relationship?
The love of my life, without question - playing and writing music is cathartic and something that I always look forward to doing. Several friends of mine tried pursuing music professionally and approached it like a DIY book. They focused so much on following a formula to become popular that they completely lost sight of what inspired them to play music in the first place. Not surprisingly, they no longer play. I promised myself early on that I would always play music for the pleasure of it regardless of whether I was the only one who was listening. This has meant that it continues to be something that I run to do when I wake up in the morning and it is usually the last thing I do before I going to bed.
What In your personal page you describe your creating process as part of a whole image/music/word experience. You say that you often know how you want a song to look before knowing how u wanted it to sound. So what does start your creation process? An image? A feeling?
There is no single approach I have to writing music. It could be a reaction to a particular experience, a feeling I have, or even just come out of playing around on an instrument. Sometimes I write a song around a title that struck me as interesting, such as with ‘Finding Infinity,’ and at other times it’s based on a completely fleshed out idea, such as ‘The Test Results’.
With regard to the syneasthesia, when I hear a sound it produces a very distinct image in my head – if the sound is the same it will always be the same image. So I’ll often know with individual parts how I want them to ‘look’ before I’ve recorded them. For example, I recently wanted to record an acoustic song and had a good rough sketch of how it would look in my head before I had written it. A big part of the experience is the shape of the sound of each instrument and their distance from each other in the picture in my head. So while its not that I am able to trace a melody beforehand simply by what something looks like, I will have a really good idea of what I want the song to look (ie sound) like.
For example, if I want to make a song where the acoustic guitar is a series of gold lines book ended by green lines very isolated from the other instrument images, I will work the recording as best I can to match that picture. Sometimes the equipment I have doesn’t allow me to get there, but I can usually get pretty close. It does make it frustrating working with other people since I can’t simply say ‘could you make the bass drum have more of an opaque center with square edges and significant distance from the other instruments.’
Sometimes, when people describe their “trips” with drugs like LSD they make reference to synaesthesic experiences, for those ones who are not familiar with acids or with creation process, how would you describe the experience? How does it make you feel?
The experience is really no different than someone with normal sight or hearing seeing an image or listening to a sound - I’ve always had it, so it doesn’t seem odd or novel except when people ask me about it. So with regard to how it feels, it really doesn’t produce any particular feeling any different than the regular five senses.
With that said, I will sometimes focus on the visual part of my hearing at times if I really like or dislike what I’m seeing/hearing. Certain sounds are incredibly distracting and irritating to me - repetitious electronic beeps, coffee brewing in a drip machine, computer keyboards being typed on, the clicky noise some Blackberrys make when you scroll all drive me bananas. The images they produce overtake all the other sounds and are a bit like having a light flashed in your face each time the sound is produced. On the other hand, some sounds are absolutely wonderful to look at – certain peoples voices, thunder showers, the snare drum in U2’s ‘Zoo Station’. I could spend ages just watching them. When I lived in Hawaii and used to drive I realized I had to be careful about what I was listening to in the car. If I heard something that caught my attention while driving I would sometimes find myself focusing on that instead of the road – very dangerous. Fortunately nothing ever happened other than a couple of dramatic swerves.
You specifically point in your twitter profile that you create your music in Brooklyn. Does it makes a difference where the song is born? What is like to live and create in a city like New York?
I firmly believe that environment has a huge influence on the music one writes. I lived in Hawaii for about five years and the music I was wrote then, for the most part, was quite different than the music I’m writing now. Most of this comes down to climate. By that I don’t just mean meteorological climate; I also mean the musical/artistic climate of a place. Hawaii is obviously incredibly beautiful, but the seasons don’t vary much and it’s pretty much always nice outside. Moreover, because of it’s isolation, which happens to be one of its greatest assets, the music/art scene was fairly small. New York on the other hand is, well, New York. It is constantly changing both in terms of the arts and city, as well as the actual weather. This constant change is incredibly invigorating and reminds me that time is actually passing. Without the change it can feel a little bit like limbo, albeit a pleasant limbo, but a limbo nonetheless.
What would you list as your major influences?
Without question, my first favorite band was The Cure. I followed them with the intensity that only teenagers have, wondering what Robert Smith was doing at any moment, whether he would approve I what I thought about any given topic, religiously listening to studio and live recordings and collecting every poster and t-shirt I could get my hands on.
After that, when I began learning how to play bass as a teenage, I was really into the punk/ska scene and started listening to bands like Primus, Fugazi, Janes Addiction, The Pixies, and Mr. Bungle. The University of Connecticut, near where I lived, had a really vibrant live music scene when I was growing up, and my friends and I would often go to shows on weekends where we got to see some amazing bands, both well-known and never to be discovered. I think that they taught me how much joy music can bring.
Once I got past the ‘I can play a lot of notes really fast’ phase that I think everyone has to go through when they learn guitar, I began to listen to a lot of old REM. Particularly with their earlier records, there is something so quintessentially American about their music, it was a great mix of southern rock with what they were defining as ‘alternative music’ at the time, which I deeply appreciate. Later, in terms of big names, U2, Coldplay and Radiohead certainly had big impacts on me.
Name a guilty pleasure (musically speaking).
I don’t really ever feel guilty about listening to music I like, but I suppose Lady Gaga could fall into that category since she’s so popular. On the other hand, if you listen to interviews with, it’s pretty clear that she’s incredibly bright and thoughtful. She also has a remarkable voice. I just recently heard her duet with Tony Bennett and was impressed.
Do you think indie/rock is necessarily opposite to commercial music?
I’m not really sure what ‘indie rock’ means anymore – it seems to be moving away from actual ‘independent’ artists and/or labels (ie not signed to big name labels) and more toward a style of music and even fashion. Similarly, I’m also not sure what ‘commercial music’ means – is that simply when someone is paid for their art? I would argue that traditionally, yes, indie rock is antithetical to commercial music, but today, as both are understood, absolutely not. I see no issue with making money on the art you create, though for me that is not the driving impetus.
What do social networks and webs like weloveyoursongs.com represent for independent artist like you? Is iTunes like a godfather for artists or an unfair trader?
They are incredible gifts, especially for somebody like myself. First, it allows me to reach an enormous audience spread over the entire earth. I recently checked my song blog demographics on Google Analytics and saw that there were visits from more than a dozen different countries on three continents. Amazing! Social networks, although often abused and vacuous, when used well can be an effective way to introduce people with similar interests to each other, even when they may be introverted and you would have never met them at a party. I think iTunes, in particular, has had a very interesting affect on music, which has been to make the single, rather than the album, king. For me, personally, that is fantastic since I write a lot of different types of music and am less interested in being locked into one style.
blog comments powered by Disqus