Artist Name: Matt Astles
Release title: Same Old Things
Release Genre: Americana | Alt-country
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Matt Astles music on Spotify. Enjoy while reading the interview.
Watch “if Only”
About the Artist
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I didn’t start learning to play an instrument until I was about 19 and it wasn’t until years later that I began writing songs. However my love affair with music started when I was eight years old. They had these Beatles cartoons on television when I was a kid, in every episode they would play a Beatles song. There was something so magical about it, it blew my eight year old mind. I became obsessed, saved my pocket money and brought a box set of their records. When I started playing and ever since my biggest passion and influence has been The Black Crowes, The Rolling Stones and lots of music from the late 60’s early 70’s.
What would you say are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
I’m not really a musician, I haven’t spent time in bands playing countless gigs, so I don’t have the experience and skills you get from doing that. So I just try and do the best I can with what I’ve got by focusing on the feel. The music that I love all has a certain “feel” about it. You can play something simple but it’s how you play it that makes the difference.
Could you describe what part of the creative process is particularly dear to you?
I really like the recording process. Locking down the arrangement and making those choices about what goes where. Trying things out and finding those unexpected things that takes the song up a notch. That’s the really fun and creative part for me.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Do you have a preference?
I’ve always created music privately for the most part, especially now with family and work commitments, I just work on things here and there when I get a couple of spare hours. However most of the music I love is made by bands, musicians playing together, bouncing off each other and making something greater than the sum of its parts, that would be my preference.
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way has music – either your own or that of others – contributed to your understanding of these questions?
Music to me is essential in dealing with those things. Pain, sorrow, heartache, depression, joy, happiness, hope, beauty, all these things are expressed through music, it touches us and reminds us that we are not alone. The music that I love is sacred to me in that sense. Sometimes I think “ why do I bother spending all this time making my own music?” But it’s like they say if you’re inclined to write songs then you do it anyway, even if no one ever hears it. You do it because it’s part of who you are and how you relate to the world.
About the EP
Tell us about your new EP “Same old things”. Is there a story behind it? What were the influences or inspirations to write it?
My new EP was going to be single but while I was working on it a couple of new songs popped up so I just decided to do the three of them at once. The first song was written years ago just after I started getting into Americana and Alt-country especially Gram Parsons, so that was a big influence on it.
Could you describe your creative process behind the album? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into a finished song?
I started all these songs just on an acoustic guitar. I usually record lots of demo’s on my phone or iPad. So often I’m playing thinking “I like how that sounds” then I hear it back and realise it’s not really working. That’s how I start refining it. When it comes to recording I start with the drum track because I use midi drums, then I do a scratch vocal and guitar track and start building it up from there. I have an idea in my mind of how I want it to sound and what instruments I want to use but once I start adding layers other ideas come up, so I spend a bit of time trying things out to see what works.
What’s your view of lyrics with “messages”? Is there a main message you want to be delivered within the EP?
I like lyrics where the message is kind of beneath the surface. The message or what I think the song is about might not even be what the writer was thinking about when they wrote it but it doesn’t matter because something about it resonates within me, makes me feel a certain way or reminds of something or someone and so that song has its own special meaning to me.
Releasing music is such a mammoth effort. What are the biggest challenges? What things did you learn in the process?
My two biggest challenges are firstly time, because we are a busy family with four young kids so getting things done takes a while and the second is the fact that I don’t really know what I’m doing. It’s an ongoing learning process for me and a frustrating one at times but ultimately a lot of fun.
How did you go about choosing your recording/mixing/mastering engineer? Any advice for anyone else currently going through the process?
I just did a google search for online mastering services. I haven’t been doing this long but to someone starting I couldn’t stress enough how worthwhile it is to at least send your music to a professional mastering engineer, one such as yourself Cefe that is willing to take the time to work with you and help fix any issues in the mix before mastering, the first online mastering service I used didn’t do that. I don’t have a sound treated room and more importantly I don’t have ears that are tuned in to hear a lot of these issues until they a brought to my attention by a professional engineer. That’s why finding one that will work with you is so important.
What formats will be the release available on? What is the best place for people to find and support your music?
My release will be available from the 14/10/22 to stream on Spotify, Apple music etc.
What’s next for Matt Astles?
I’ll just keep recording and releasing songs when I can.
Anything else you would like to say/add?
Thanks so much Cefe for all your help and for what you’re doing to help independent artists with things such as this.