I have been to my fair share of EP launches, but, when I arrived at Matty Rea‘s ‘Paperclip’ launch, I knew this was going to be a special event. It was a beautiful spring evening, dripping in duskiness and the venue was St.
Mary’s Parish Church, Comber; that’s right you read correctly, a Parish Church! Matty was casual and cool when we arrived. Leather jacket in one hand, coffee in the other and a smile that would rival James Dean.
His set was beautifully accompanied by a brilliantly multi-talented band: violin, cello, guitar, piano and harp. The acoustics of the venue made Matty’s vocals MASSIVE! Especially when he performed ‘The Picture‘, a song from Matty’s debut EP ‘2 Souls’ and ‘One’ a fabulous new track from his most recent EP ‘Paperclip.’ (Available on iTunes and all music outlets as of end of May 2017.)
I was lucky enough to have a few minutes with Matty – after his adoring fans, (mostly girls), had finished taking pictures with him!
Matty first got into music through playing the drums and after an encouraging word from a sound technician at The Pavilion in Belfast, he learnt guitar and started playing more ‘front of house’ gigs. Since then he has spent the last 3-4 years honing his music style and ‘finding himself’ while travelling, but, his big welcome into music came when he was a struggling backpacker in New Zealand, looking for work.
‘I picked up a guitar and kind of half-assed it, to be honest, you know ‘oh look at me, I can play Wonderwall’ and then I went travelling for a few years, lived in New Zealand in a little town Queenstown and couldn’t get any work and as a backpacker you will take any work. There were people from dishwashing to managing hotels, whatever was going and I could get nothing! So, my dad called me and said ‘son, I’ve got your bank balance here and you’ve got to start making money or you’ve got to go somewhere cheaper.’ A guy in the hostel had a guitar, I knew like 5 songs, so I went out into the street, busked and within an hour made roughly about 100 bucks and I thought ‘What is going on?!’ and that was it!’
However, it is his most recent EP ‘Paperclip’ that has people talking.
He drew inspiration from a few of his favourite acts while writing this EP and chose St. Mary’s Parish Church for its acoustic qualities and peacefulness.
‘I am a huge Bon Iver fan. I saw a live video of ‘Heavenly Father‘ in The Sydney Opera house and they do an acapella version. I do songs that are similar to his style and vibe and I thought I need to get into a room that is going to excel our voices. I am also a huge ‘Bear’s Den‘ fan…massive! If you don’t know ‘Bear’s Den’, you need to check these guys out. They actually have been a massive influence with a lot of my recent writing. I know every song is a story, you know, something that has happened to somebody, but, their lyrics are genius! You are listening to it for the first time and I was like holy c**p this is actually talking to me, this is insane! So I wanted to write like these guys! I went to see them in The Limelight a few weeks ago and they did the whole ‘sssh, we’re playing acapella’ and oh my goodness, unbelievable!’
When I first heard ‘Paperclip’, I heard a story about loss, but, I find as a song-writer, when I am in a writing session, I don’t want my story to influence the listener too much, what is your process?
‘A bit of both. With ‘Paperclip’ it was all about me. I was 17/18 at the time and I had split up with my girlfriend and I thought ‘Oh no, this is the end of my life!’ best thing to do here is write it down, I knew I could reflect back on it as something I am going to enjoy and that’s how ‘Paperclip’ came about. With songs like ‘One’ and ‘Ghost,’ they are for people to think ‘he is talking to me…’ or ‘that’s about my wedding.’’
You talk about going back to songs there and ‘Paperclip’ was an example of a song you wrote and came back to. What about ‘Free,’ what was your process for axing it from your first EP and deciding to put it onto this one?
‘‘Free’ I took to the studio. It is about the feeling that love gives you, you know when you are free to love? There are lyrics in there like ‘it hits you like a wall’ and ‘before you can walk you gotta learn to crawl.’ Everyone experiences love in a completely different way, people go through their life without having relationships, but, they’ve experienced love from their parents or their families…or their dog! It can be in any form, so with ‘Free’ we totally stripped it back because I wasn’t totally happy with the production afterwards on the first EP. It had kind of turned into an electric pop/80s and I said to myself ‘this is not what I am’ so we changed it.’
Let’s talk about the school kids you had in for ‘Hold On.’ Where did that idea come from?
‘A girl I grew up with recently got a full-time job in a Primary School. I had listened to a song by Kodaline ‘All Comes Down‘ and wrote ‘Hold On’ about a year and a half ago. All over facebook was homelessness in Belfast and Suicide Awareness and my feed for a month or two was grim! If I can be brutally honest, those grim posts were the inspiration for ‘Hold On.’ It kind of reminded me of the song by Kodaline and at the very end of their track a choir come in, it is more of an adult choir and I didn’t want to be too the same in case people were like ‘oh That’s Kodaline.’ I said to my friend could I work with a school choir and she said they had the best small choir. They have been a pleasure to work with, kids are hard to work with at times, but because these kids love music and they were actually getting to do something outside of school music, they were great.’
Are you hoping to do an upcoming tour?
‘Yea that’s right! I am completely self-dependent, I have no labels or managers or agents so everything I do, I do within reason because I am paying for it, but, at the same time, I want to go as far as I can go with the music and last year we ended up going to strange places. Everyone kind of has the same idea, they are jetting off to America and Canada and things and I want to go to Eastern Europe you know? Last year we went to Poland and things and this year we are thinking of doing inter-railing and just taking the guitar man. I build up a lot of my audience through my busking and that’s the plan.’
What’s the most daring thing you have ever done in Music?
‘Taking a few tour dates with a band. I was lucky enough to play some sweet venues that I never thought I’d play, like Mandela Hall in Belfast, which was sold out! I went down to Galway with them, but the entire thing was self-funded, they weren’t paying me a penny, no petrol money. I took it on board and knew that I would be out quite a substantial amount and this was right at the start of doing music. Someone at the Galway suggested I go out and busk on the street and within an hour the entire street was rammed with people. I don’t know how it happened!’
It really was a pleasure listening to Matty’s music for an evening and he certainly has gained himself another fan! His vocals, when he commits, are flawless and his attitude and obvious passion for the music he is singing, is what excites and interests me about him. Watch out Belfast, here comes Matty Rea!