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Interview: Matthew Young Talks About Debut Album 'It's A Feeling'

Interview: Matthew Young Talks About Debut Album 'It's A Feeling'

Chris Cudby / Photo credit: Rose Hope / Friday 15th July, 2022 8:39AM

Created on the road and off the grid while Matthew Young traversed the entire length of Aotearoa, the singer and producer today shares his long-awaited debut album It's a Feeling. Making a significant splash locally and overseas with 2015's debut Dive EP and sophomore 2018 follow up Fruit, Young has already achieved enviable success, having racked up more than 10 million streams and collaborated with such superstar figures as Cosmo's Midnight. Teased via winkingly titled prelude collection Good Things, Young's everyday experiences of living with bipolar disorder are threaded throughout his new long player — an eleven track sonic prism of crisp, club-friendly soul / pop / RnB, with more than a dash of emotive pop-punk. Young kindly answered our questions about the journey to his record's release, listen up and scroll downwards for his personal reflections on It's A Feeling...

Chris Cudby: Your debut album It’s a Feeling articulates your own experiences of living with bipolar disorder over the past five years — a complex and highly personal topic to tackle. Did you feel there were any breakthrough moments for you in writing the record?

Matthew Young: It’s so hard to know when something is ‘breakthrough’ for me. It’s not until I really look back and see all the little moments that added up over time, that I feel like I’ve broken through. The main take away from making this album was that, despite all of the ups and downs, and curve balls, I managed to still get it done. That might not seem like that big of deal to some, but this season of my life has been spent mostly working on myself and focusing on learning to function better. Feeling like I have my shit together finally, after so many years is the big breakthrough. All the little moments have finally added up.

Have you drawn inspiration or motivation from any artists who've addressed mental health issues in their own works?

Not really, to be completely honest. I love honest pop songs, and moving forward that’s the domain I’m heading toward, but this album was mostly inspired by artists like Joni Mitchell and Peter Gabriel. They write honestly, which I appreciate. Mental health issues are just part of life, like anything else. I think this album ended up the way it did, because it was written during a part of my life that required a lot of introspection. It’s completely self-absorbed, but sometimes that’s the medicine.

I'm told much of the record was originally written on the road and "off-the-grid" as you travelled throughout Aotearoa. Whereabouts did you travel to? Were there any specific places you visited that resonated with you?

I travelled the entire length of country basically, west coast the whole way. The places that most resonated were Opononi and Martinborough. I think it’s because they felt the most serene, they both fed my soul the most during the trip. They’re so relaxed and were two of the more isolated places I stayed. Also I hate the rain, and they were the sunniest places I visited, so easy choices tbh.

You've name-checked such late '90s icons as Sugar Ray and Third Eye Blind as inspiration for songs on the new record, and tracks such as 'Like Falling' certainly have more than a touch of nu metal / pop-punk flair. Are those groups / sounds you have nostalgic feelings for?

Kind of, tbh I think that music feels so nostalgic for mostly, because their hits are so heavily synced with movies. They feel really sunny, which I really like. That late '90s / early '00s Los Angeles sound. Most songs of that era feel super angry, which is not my vibe. I like music that feels pretty relaxed most of the time.

How do you feel your own musical and lyrical approach has changed over time? It looks like you were ahead of the pack with your Kate Bush cover!

Haha thanks! 4 years ahead of the trend is too far ahead probably, but I love her music. She’s one of my all time favies. I feel like, with this album, it was the most difficult writing exercise I’ve ever been through. Trying to write honestly and testing my comfort level, with how much I was willing to share was hard. I think, these days, I’m a lot more comfortable with myself, and getting better at letting go of the perfectionist strangle hold I have on everything. I definitely learnt a lot about how I don’t want to do things, moving forward, but had to learn the hard way, as always.

Did you work with any collaborators in completing It's a Feeling, and what roles did they play on the album?

Only one 3 of the 11 tracks, ‘Who Am I To You?’ and ‘Belong’ were made with a production duo named Trackside in LA and ‘Missing’ is one I started working on with my friend A.C. Freazy, who leant some production chops to the song. Other than that, everything else was written and produced by me. I loooooved working with the collaborators I worked with on this album, few as they may be. I’m definitely going to work collaboratively in the future, with the next songs. I’m done with working solo.

Your music has achieved notable success in the streaming realm — is it a challenge to also maintain a live performance profile as an artist? Do you feel one necessarily requires the other in our contemporary music environment?

I never really think about any of that to be honest. I think, at the end of the day, playing live is what connects your music to people who truly love it, and makes the job really worth doing. Now that this album is finally here, I’m ready to make playing live one of the top priorities. I hope the album translates well in a live setting, but either way, there are plenty more songs to write and a lot more opportunities to play live.

Do you have live shows or any tour plans on the horizon?

Hopefully all of the above. Really what I want now is to travel and make music with as many people as I can, and live wherever it’s warm and doesn’t rain.

'It's a Feeling' is out today via Sony Music New Zealand.


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