Auckland-based producer Matthew Young has released his emotive, authentic and seamlessly produced Fruit EP. The seven-track release incorporates the recent success of Young’s single “Fix Me Up” as premiered via triple j and DIY magazine, as well as acclaimed 2017 tracks “Hey” and “Collect”, which were both swiftly added to rotation on triple j as two of the station’s most played. We chat to Matthew about his boundary-pushing, emotion-laden new EP.
Hey Matthew, thanks for chatting to Forte. First up, can you give our readers a quick intro to you and your music?
My name is Matthew Young, I pretty much do nothing but make music, except for when I play 2D platformers on PS4 to give my brain some down time. I’m a sucker for things that smell like peaches and I love cinnamon flavoured anything. I probably got into music because it was the only thing I could concentrate on and that’s still pretty much the case now. I love Prince and Joni Mitchell just as much as I love Young Thug and Amber Mark, so I guess music-wise I might blend in all those influences together or something? I love guitars, so I try to make sure there are guitar parts in the songs. I like slow jams, which seem to come more naturally to me but I’d also like to write more tracks to party to. Most people describe my music as Pop/R&B and I think that suits just fine for now.
You’ve just released your emotive, authentic and seamlessly produced Fruit EP. What was the recording and creative process like on this one?
Thank you, I’m so happy you like it. It all kinda kicked off at the end of 2015 when I decided to start producing the bulk of my music on my own, during a time when I really didn’t have the capacity to put a lot of energy into making music at any level. ‘For You – Low Life’ was the only song I had finished from between mid 2015 thru to about mid 2016, so the output was almost non-existent at that point, though I did get some time here and there to write demos and learn how to actually use Pro Tools (the app I make music on), so not all was wasted.
Instead I chose to focus my energy on my mental health, which I’d taken for grated for years, having swept a lot of shit under the rug. From mid 2016 to mid 2017 I wrote and recorded a lot of songs, and some of those ended up on this EP. My creative process changes often, but I guess my most regular method is: Step 1 – make a beat on Pro Tools, Step 2 – write lyrics in the car, on the way to and from whatever I have to do on any given day, Step 3 – get back to the studio and obsess over every tiny detail that I’m sure goes completely unnoticed to anyone else, until I get to the point where I exhaust my brain to the point where it’s time to take it to someone else to get that last 5% done.
We must say congrats on the release! How have you found the response so far?
It’s been nice – I guess it’s hard to gauge and I don’t often feel like I have the time to really check on how it’s all going, but I love getting the comments / DMs on my Instagram from people who dig the music. It’s so good to hear that the music has added value to someone else’s day, and that out of all the amazing shit coming out on Spotify every Friday, someone connected to something I made, that keeps this whole music thing worth it for me.
And the story behind the EP, what were some of your main influences?
Most of what influences me is on a playlist called ‘peach’ that I update every couple weeks on Spotify, and it’s pretty varied. I try to listen to as much as I can of what comes out every week, as well as dig through the billions of hours of rare gems they have on Spotify and Apple Music. My greatest influences are Prince, Joni Mitchell and Peter Gabriel. Lately I’ve been thrashing a lot of that late 70s ‘yacht rock’ or prog shit, like Yes, or Tony Banks’ album ‘A Curious Feeling’. I’m mostly interested in how a song is gonna make me feel more than anything, so I’m not really into one genre over another these days.
The seven-track release follow an 18-month hiatus, how did that time away impact the creation of this EP? Was it hard to get back into music following such a long time away?
I’d been tinkering away with writing off and on, but not at the same level as before shit really hit the fan for me in mid 2015. I got steadily back into it toward the later part of 2016, and spent all of 2017 writing new music and refining a lot of stuff I’d had locked in the vault for a while. Getting back into full-time wasn’t easy and felt more like a reward for putting my mental health first for a while and changing my focus, but making music has often been the best therapy for me – I can get pretty weird if I haven’t written anything in a couple weeks.
You had your first live performance supporting Lorde on her Melodrama Tour in New Zealand. How was that whole experience? What there anything you took away from Lorde that you will apply to future performances?
The best part of opening for Lorde was proving to myself that I could actually do the whole ‘live’ thing and how it can actually be fun. That’s not to say I had any doubts re: my technical ability to sing and play live, I’m all good with that. It was more that I’d never really felt anything pulling me toward performing live before. I love the creation process so much, it was hard for me to want to leave the studio, or wherever I was recording. It’s super nice to see people physically respond to the music you make and to see people’s faces, and be within arms reach of other humans.
You just finished your own debut headline tour, how did it go? Any special highlights?
I generally try not to have any expectations going into anything new, I’d never toured this music before. I was obviously aware of the play we’d had on triple j and all that, but didn’t have much of an idea of how that would translate into getting people to the shows, and even more so, here in New Zealand, I was pretty sure no one knew my music at all, but I guess I was mistaken, cause the NZ show sold out in about a day and then we had to upgrade the venue, which also sold out.
The Australian shows were sick – the crowds in Aus are super fun and down for a good time. My biggest highlight was hearing people sing along to the songs – even the songs that weren’t singles. Making music that people wanna sing along to has always been one of the driving factors in making music for me.
Obviously, I wasn’t playing arenas or massive venues, and even if I could do that, I think I would prefer playing smaller venues for as long as I can – I like being able to see people up close and then hang out after the shows.
Looking back just for a moment, how did you originally get into music?
My family has always been super into music, my Dad started playing drums in his teen years, then started playing the guitar and a few other instruments and my Ma studied classical guitar. Also, my brother and older cousins would often show me new shit to listen to as a kid. I started on the drums age 11 or 12 and then started playing guitar at 13 and started trying to write songs pretty soon after that.
Music is the only thing I’ve been able to stick at long term. I’ve a lot of other fleeting obsessions over the years, but music has been the only constant obsession.
Now looking forward, what comes next for you after this tour?
I’m currently planning out how I’m gonna write and record an album and so far the plan is to travel from the top, to the very bottom of New Zealand, recording everything in secluded little houses. I’ve realized recently that I do better recording in places with natural light and studios don’t often have windows. If you haven’t ever visited New Zealand, trust me, this place is paradise.
Thanks so much for chatting!
The pleasure is all mine.