Perth singer-songwriter Matthew Garrod reached the semi-finals of Australia’s J Music Awards as frontman of city band Oak Tree Suite, but now he’s gone solo. He’s since been a finalist in the 2018 International Songwriting Competition, and has released debut solo EP, Canyons. We caught up with Matthew to find out more.
I think I would sit in the middle of a Venn Diagram that consisted of Mumford and Sons, Death Cab for Cutie and Coldplay.
First up, tell us a bit about yourself - what first got you into music?
I’m from Perth, Western Australia and am currently living in London with my wife Olivia. Before moving I was in a band back in Australia called Oak Tree Suite – very much indie pop or indie rock vibes.
Music is just something that has been in our family for as long as I can remember. It sounds cheesy but I think memories of the laughter and joy that my Grandad brought to the family whilst sitting by the keyboard playing his renditions of ridiculously old songs also played a role in making me want to pursue music.
Were there any particular bands or artists you took inspiration from?
My biggest influence right now is without a doubt Henry Jamison. His writing is next level and I have probably contributed to 80% of his Spotify streams. Other than that, my Dad constantly played Queen at home. Whilst you won’t hear any Freddie Mercury influences in Canyons, his constant drive to push his abilities and creativity has had a huge impact in my own perseverance musically.
How would you describe your style?
My music falls somewhere between pop and neo (electronic) folk. I think I would sit in the middle of a Venn Diagram that consisted of Mumford and Sons, Death Cab for Cutie and Coldplay.
If you could collaborate with any living artist who would you choose?
I would absolutely love to collaborate with Arcade Fire and write a track that would comfortably fit the grand orchestral vibe of their Neon Bible album.
Tell us about your new EP Canyons. What’s it about, what are its themes?
Canyons revolves around the concept of taking risk and making the most out of both the good times and the hard times. April poses the question of ‘where will you run when there’s nowhere else to hide’ whilst as the name suggests, London talks about the constant fear and stress of moving to a new city.
When did you write it and where did you record it?
This Town, my key single was written over the period of about five years. I had written the verses back in 2014, but had shelved the song due to not being able to find a suitable chorus. The rest of the tracks were written over the last two years and recorded in rural Western Australia with producer James Newhouse.
How does Canyons represent your style?
As the first EP under the name Matthew Garrod I feel Canyons is a great showcase of where I see myself stylistically. It’s certainly different to previous works with Oak Tree Suite and my 2014 single ‘Bad Memory Blaze’, but I don’t think I’ll be steering away from the ambience and shimmery guitar parts.
Can you talk us through each track?
‘Lonely Ghos’t is a small two-verse introduction with the same shimmering sound as the very end of the EP. It’s about that one person who is all you think about and it likens the hopeless love to the anticipation and excitement of a lonely ghost when the people it haunts get home.
‘April’ was initially written as a song about the name ‘April’ as being a nice potential daughter’s name. It then progressed into a song about knowing where you’ll run when things aren’t going well.
As I mentioned earlier, ‘London’ is about the fear, excitement and anticipation of moving to London and a bunch of chance encounters that helped us know it was a good move.
As an artist, the pressure to fit into a very specific mould (or these days ‘playlist algorithm’) is huge and in some cases can stunt the creative process. ‘This Town’ is, for me, a reflection and statement that whilst it can be the more difficult path to take, I will write for the sake of creativity and my love for the art.
‘We’re on a Ship’ was born out of a fear that an environment or institution can get so caught up in unnecessary things that they lose sight of their initial direction. It’s definitely the most cynical track on the EP.
Finally, ‘Older Brother’ is about the moment of reconciliation. I tried to describe the exact moment two people forgive each other.
What are your hopes for Canyons?
I can’t ask for anything more than that Canyons is a well-received debut EP. I think it’s a great stepping stone for my next release.
Where can we see you on tour this year?
I am playing at the Finsbury in London on Monday, May 20th and am working on London dates throughout the next few months, as well as back in Australia later in the year.
Finally, if you could wish for one thing to happen for you this year, what would it be?
I have been fortunate to have the support of a lot of great people as is, however I am hoping to moving on from the life of being a self-managed, self-promoted, independent artist.
Listen to Canyons on Spotify below. For news and tour dates go to matthewgarrodmusic.com.