IT is not often I get to feature Australian talent…
on these pages (something I lament) but Matt Gresham (A.K.A. Gresham) is a young artist with a serious following behind him. His latest single, Survive on Love, is out now (released on his own Trigger Records label). Rolling Stone have claimed the single is equal parts anthemic and reflective. No doubt Matt’s soulful vocal and the minimal basslines help: the electronic flourishes and soul-speaking compositional notes go a long way to causing shivers. Recorded in London with Scott Horscroft (Birds of Tokyo; Silverchair) and co-written by Jaymes Young (London Grammar; David Guetta) there is a lot of excitement and spotlight on the young master. Having graduated and evolved from his appearance on 2013’s X Factor (in Australia): a string of shows at SXSW and award wins are just the tip of the iceberg. I got time to question Matt Gresham on his rise and highlights; an insight into Survive on Love and his musical plans for the future.
Hey Matt Gresham. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey hey! Very well thank you. It's been incredible. Just spent three days on a songwriters’ camp creating music with people from all over the world; played an acoustic show unplugged in a super-old Hamburg museum - it had the best acoustic ever.
For those new to your music: can you introduce yourself, please?
My name is Matt Gresham: I'm a singer-songwriter from Perth, Western Australia. I'm currently living in Berlin after recently signing with Warner Germany.
I'm a huge fan of storytelling through music: I grew up in a house where words were very important; my mother being a poet and my brother an acoustic guitar player, I naturally inherited the gift of sound.
Your first real exposure in music was Australian X Factor in 2013. You left to pursue your own music. Was it a hard decision leaving the show and what was the moment you released you had to leave and go it alone?
The decision was very hard. The show really helped me develop confidence and a strong work ethic but, in the end, it just wasn’t the direction I wanted to go.
But I don't regret it at all: it was a great experience and I learnt a lot.
Your track Whiskey followed in 2014. What inspired the song and how did it feel when it won Song of the Year at Western Australian Music Awards?
Yes, wow that was an honour.
The song is a reflection of a very dark time in my life.
My partner had recently left me - we were married actually - and I was having trouble accepting that it was over - so the song, for me, was a healing song; getting out all the heavy emotions that come along with a break-up.
Having been born and raised in Australia; what is the music scene like there? Being based in Berlin, I am curious which Australian acts you would recommend to the readers?
Well, Western Australia is a very isolated place so the music that comes from there can be a little less influenced by the rest of the mainstream world (which I feel is great).
There are tonnes of amazing artists you should check out: Jaryd Jaymes and Guy Sebastian for sure.
Small Voices was the previous single on the label. Can you tell us about the song and what the inspiration was for writing it?
Small Voices is a song I wrote with an amazing writer/producer from L.A., Jaymes Young.
The original concept for the song was about my mother being forced to live a city life and how she missed Mother Nature - which was When Jaymes and I got together. The song evolved into a story about a man missing his daughter from a prison cell - and all the emotions that come from losing someone. It’s funny how songs evolve and the same emotion thread, though a song can work with so many concepts.
Small Voices was recorded by Scott Horscroft and co-written by James Young. What was it like working with those guys?
Scott Horscroft is an amazing human. We got along really well sharing a lot of interests musically (and also) outside of music.
When he gets in the zone he has amazing ideas, which I loved instantly. The same goes for Jaymes - it was like a natural brotherhood.
Tell us about your new single.
My new track, Survive on Love, in my opinion, is the most important song I have created. It's simple but beautiful message can resonate with all people instantly and I really feel the track can help people smile and break down walls in society.
We filmed the clip here in Berlin it really shows the culture and art throughout berlin. I love this city.
Many critics, in Australia and worldwide, have complimented your voice and highlighted the balance of emotions and layers that go into it. Which singers have been most important to you with regards your own voice?
That's very nice to hear. I’m flattered.
I grew up listening to my mother sing, so she was the first voice I heard - my favourite and forever will be.
She also played a lot of Cat Stevens and Paul Simon in the house when I was growing up and I was constantly singing along. I think my biggest inspiration - not necessarily someone I sound like but for the amount of emotion and soul in his vocal - would have to be Ben Harper.
You’ve relocated to Berlin and signed with Warner Germany. How does Berlin differ to Australia and are you excited by this new venture?
From what I have seen so far I think Berlin as a city is a lot more open and accepting of all kinds of people. It's beautiful. You see crews of people all dressed totally different; hanging out and getting along. To me, that says a lot. The music scene here is very open and you feel more self-expressive and not afraid to truly be yourself. The downside is there's no surf so I have to fly to France every now and then.
Being located in Germany will give you a chance to tour Europe more easily. Are there any new dates coming up and how is the rest of the year shaping up?
Yeah. I'm playing a show in Austria in a few days and have a few writing sessions set up in Norway with some pretty cool cats.
Just played my first show in Berlin at this really great music night - some amazing writers and performers on the bill. Was a great night.
Can we expect new material before the end of this year?
I’m looking more at the beginning of next year. Really only just put Survive on Love out into the world and I’m enjoying watching it spread like wildfire. It seems to really be connecting with people across the globe which is exciting.
Looking back at 2016: which moments have stood in your mind?
I had the opportunity to work with my favourite Hip-Hop artist, Talib Kwelli. That was my dream as a young kid growing up watching 411 skate videos on tape; hearing D.J. Premier and Talib on some of the skate sections was rad. Was honestly a dream come true and can’t wait to share the track.
A lot of singers and musicians will be inspired to follow you into music. What advice would you offer them?
Always speak up if something doesn't feel right; don't rush; be yourself; spread love.
And trust the universe: there always a bigger picture than what you can see right now. Finally, and for being a good egg, you can name any song you like; I’ll play it here…
Pharoahe Monch - Let My People Go.
Follow Matt Gresham