INTERVIEW: Matt Holubowski

Peachy Magazine had the pleasure of speaking with canadian artist Matt Holubowski about his new single Two Paper Moons, turning points and his musical process and inspirations. The single “Two Paper Moons” released January 28th is taken from his forthcoming third album, Weird Ones; set for release February 21.

Matt Holubowski is the type of artist you don’t come across very often. Although you might think you do. Holubowski lives and breaths musicality and showcases this talent and sense of balance between sensitivity and strength in his material. Lyrical imagery and grand atmospheres are a few of his many powers as an artist. Matt Holubowski is a singer-songwriter you don’t want to miss out on having as a regular part of your playlists. Please enjoy the interview.

PM: What’s the story on how you got in to making music and trying to make a name for yourself in the industry? 

Same as everyone I guess. I love music and don’t know how to do anything else.

In a nutshell though the story goes that I studied Political Science and wanted to be an English teacher. Ended up getting a job in Taiwan after backpacking through Asia a few months after uni. Hated it. I decided to come home and write and record my first record – Ogen, Old Man. After maybe a year of crap shows and open mics and hanging around bars, I felt I should call it quits and move on. I got a call from this French Canadian music TV show. I wasn’t a fan of the concept, but I lost a bar bet and ended up doing it. What ensued was a bizarre spiral of attention that led me to getting a very awesome local notoriety. I was able to pay my rent for the first time ever with music. And I was able to make the kind of music I wanted. And I had amazing support suddenly from really caring and talented people. And the Quebec music industry embraced and elevated me in a way I’m very grateful for. And so I started touring a lot. Really a lot, like 200 something shows on the last record. And at some point, I guess I just accepted that this is what I’m doing now, and the whole teacher thing went down the drain. 

Fast forward a few years and now I’m releasing my third record. I think it’s really good. I’m really proud of it. 

Have a listen to his new single Two Paper Moons while reading:

…[It] taught me not to take things (and myself) so seriously. It’s only music after all. We sometimes get caught up in ‘’making a name for ourselves’’ that we forget these are just songs, and expressions of our feelings.

– Matt Holubowski

What experience during your career so far have you’ve learned the most from? 

Probably burning out. I burned out real hard. Early on. Maybe did 2/3 of the last tour in survival mode. Was not a fun end to it. But it taught me a lot about self-preservation, managing your energy and knowing how to work your ass off without burning the candle at both ends. Also taught me not to take things (and myself) so seriously. It’s only music after all. We sometimes get caught up in ‘’making a name for ourselves’’ that we forget these are just songs, and expressions of our feelings. Music is a beautiful thing, and burning out taught me to appreciate it for what it is. And whatever happens to my ‘’career’ is all good by me. (That’s not to say that I’m not endlessly ambitious, because that’s just something that can’t be helped, fortunately for me!)

Which artists have inspired you in terms of shaping your personal sound and lyrical universe, and how’d you describe it? Where do you seek inspiration from when writing a song? 

So, so many. Sufjan Stevens, Elliiott Smith, Radiohead, Bon Iver, Ben Howard, Alt-J, Andrew Bird, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Nils Frahm, Phoebe Bridgers, James Blake, Future Islands, etc etc etc. Mac Miller and Anderson Paak also in recent times. 

I think I try to make things that are dream inducing, thought provoking, soft and intense, emotionally honest, timeless with a modern twist, engaging, and liberating. That’s what I shoot for, and that’s what all the aforementioned artists do for me. Not sure which of those things I truly achieve, but I know for sure these are things I think of when making music.

You’ve recently said that “Two Paper Moons” is arguably the most important song on your upcoming record, could you elaborate on that? 

TPM basically spawned my desire to create a more surrealist world for this record. All the visuals, soundscapes and the live show as well are meant to convey a little bit of magical surrealism. It’s like an exact replica of the world we’re in, only ever so slightly different. Like a world with two paper moons.

I think my life is pretty good, but there are definitely a handful of things I’d like to change if I could, and so TPM is like my way of making up a world where those tweaks are possible. An alternate reality for myself if you will. I find it immensely helpful in my everyday life to believe in that. Try as I might, no religion ever stuck with me, but I always wanted to believe in something great, and I guess the alternate reality that is TPM provides me with that. 

How’d you describe the musical direction for your upcoming record? In what ways does it differ from your other albums? What did you look for in the musicians involved with the project, and what did they bring to the process? 

The musical direction was so different. I had previously harboured this desire to keep the folkiness in my music pure. Modern elements seemed to disturb me and disrupt the meaning of the songs. I realized in recent years we’re just weaving together sounds to make us feel things. It’s all vibrations.

For a time, I had a reticence to utilize things like synths, bass synths, or any amount of digital production, because I felt like it was cheating. It’s easy to make people feel something with a bass synth or an enormous kick/snare because it literally shakes you to the core. So I let go of that and set no limits on myself. We tried a lot of stuff. Some of it worked amazingly. A lot of it didn’t. The final result isn’t as far out as I expected, but it’s definitely a departure from the earlier stuff. I connect with it a lot more. I like it a LOT more. It’s a much closer reflection of what I want to project. 

Overall the whole process was way more experimental and way more clinical. I wrote the songs, we arranged them as a band in a live setting (same band as day one!), and then Connor Seidel (Producer) and I nit-picked until the cows came home. It was far more collaborative, and the musicians had much more space to stamp in their signature sounds. But I also had a better vision and a better idea of what I wanted, so I was also better able to send us in the right direction. With Solitudes I had no ****ing idea what I was doing. This time, I had a surface idea. Next time, I’ll be even more lucid.

What do you wish for an audience to get from listening to your music?

To just forget about everything for a second and get lost in it.

Tour dates and more Matt Holubowski here

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