THE fantastic Scott Matthew talks to me about….
his upcoming Ode to Others Tour (three U.K. dates are announced: 20th November, 2018 (London) - The Islington (first night) (tickets); 21st November, 2018 (Liverpool) - Parr St. Studios (tickets); 22nd November, 2018 (London) - The Islington (second night) (tickets) and how he met the band he plays with – I ask whether his recent album, Ode to Others, feels like a rebirth given its shift in subject matter.
Matthew discusses his upcoming recording plans and life in New York; how he pines for a move to the U.K. soon; the advice he would give to artists emerging – the songwriter recommends some musicians worth keeping our eyes out for.
Hi, Scott. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi there. I’m doing very well. Glad about the oncoming autumn after a horridly hot summer. Most of my week has been spent embroidering antique handkerchiefs that we sell as merch. on tour. Total granny time. I love it.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Well, firstly my name is Scott MATTHEW...NOT Scott Matthews - who is a singer-songwriter from the U.K. (that one ‘s’ makes a big difference!). It’s been a little tricky over the years differentiating the both of us in the press etc.
My music is based mostly in the age-old genre of ballads. Though, some have reviewed it as ‘sad’; I prefer not to use that word. It may be melancholy at times but I have always found beauty in that. The aim is to always consider what is honest and beautiful.
Your Ode to Others Tour sees you travel around Europe. Which places are you most looking forward to visiting?
To be honest, I am most looking forward to being in the U.K. We have two shows in London and one in Liverpool. I am a massive Anglophile and truly love being there. I am staying on after the tour to go to Bath and neighbouring towns for a week. I can't wait.
How did you meet the band you play with? What is it like being on the stage with them?
I have a strong rule that I will only make music with friends. I have known and loved these people for many, many years. We all live around the globe: Sam being in London; Marisol who is now living in Mexico and Gary who lives in N.Y.C. (there is also Juergen who lives in Berlin, but sadly won't be joining us this upcoming tour (but he did produce the last album). It sounds like it may be difficult but we rehearse a few days before touring together and we are ready to go. That is how talented they all are.
Your Ode to Others album is already out. It does not focus on your own love splits and woe. Is that a relief? Does this album seem like a rebirth?!
It was a relief. After many songs and albums dealing with the subject matter of love and loss, I decided I was not so inspired to show that with this album. I was tired of it and I was also aware that my audience may be too. The songs on this album could still be called ‘love songs’ but there is not one that deals with romantic love. Instead, they are dedications to friends, family and places I love.
What comes next in terms of material? Are you already looking ahead to other songs?
Yes. The next album will be all covers. What they are yet I do not know but I loved making the last covers album called Unlearned and playing around with other people’s songs and finding a way to make them my own. It will be a similar process.
Give me a sense of the music you grew up around. Was it quite varied?
I mostly listened to English bands - The Smiths, The Cure; The Jam. Then, in the '90s, I was obsessed with Britpop like Suede and Gene. It seems that all through my adolescents and into adulthood I was into British culture. How I ended up living the last twenty years in N.Y.C. is strange but that may change. I would love to try to make the U.K. my home in the near-future.
Being based in New York; how important is the city’s history, present and people to how you write your own music?
When I first moved here in 1997, I found it very inspiring. There was a fun scene and loads of places to play. I started a band called Elva Snow and even recorded an E.P. with Morrissey's ex-drummer Spencer Cobrin for a while before going solo. The city was more free and easy then with great bands coming out of Brooklyn (more so than now). Also, I have grown older and have different needs. A house in the country is the new goal.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
I will be content with how this year went having released an album and done two fairly big tours with it. There will be the reward of my favorite time of year in N.Y.C. which is Christmas. Having grown up in Australia, I still am in awe of the N.Y. Christmas akin to the movies we all know. It has such an air of romance here at that time.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
There have been many but one highlight was in 2009 opening for Anohni (then she was Antony and the Johnsons) at the Montreux Jazz Festival. A beautiful evening where I think we all felt proud being part of it.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Do you mean of my albums or in general? My fave I made I think was the latest one, Ode to Others, because it felt fresh having written songs that had different subject matters than what I usually do. I love the arrangements that Juergen Stark worked on. It’s a fulfilling album to digest in my mind anyway.
Then, probably a close second would be the covers album, Unlearned, we made. I think the best-reviewed album was my second album called There Is an Ocean and I have fond memories of making that with my friends in Brooklyn - particularly my friend Mike, who produced it, who sadly has since passed away. Now, I hope you meant from my albums otherwise I just rambled on all self-obsessed. Ha ha.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I've had some great experiences opening for people over the years. I mentioned Anohni but also SIA in the U.K. and Cat Power in Italy. All people I am huge fans of. I guess, if I could choose now, I would be up for opening for any of them again.
As far as riders go; all we require is red wine. Simple.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
I think the best thing I did was to play out A LOT. I was doing shows all the time before I had the privilege of touring often. It's becoming increasingly hard to earn money through record sales and often touring is where musicians make a living. That and - even though it’s a cliché - be true to who you are as far as what kind of music you make.
IN THIS PHOTO: Kawakawa (Sam Taylor)
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
I have some lovely friends who make music. Sam Taylor, who plays cello with me, has a beautiful musical project called Kawakawa. Also; my good friend in N.Y.C. plays under the name Clint Michigan and he writes lovely, honest songs.
IN THIS PHOTO: Clint Michigan
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I embroider (kinda badly, but I enjoy it). I binge-watch T.V. and learn about history; shop for antiques. (I am a granny).
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Another friend of mine, Simone White, just released a song that I am in love with called Tiny Drop. I would love more people to hear it
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