photography // Matt Holubowski by William Arcand
By Matt Holubowski
A couple of months ago, prior to the release of Matt Holubowski’s single “Two Paper Moons” Peachy Magazine talked to the Canadian artist about his – at that time – forthcoming album Weird Ones. Now months after, the album has arrived, and has already caught the attention of music critics and love of music fans. Peachy Magazine, introduced Holubowski with the following words back then; “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.”
Matt Holubowski does not settle for less on his awaited album, “Weird Ones.” So, press play, sit comfortably, and let the artist himself guide you through the masterpiece of an album – Weird Ones.
There is a significant portion of the words and ideas from this record that came from a parc bench two blocks from where I live. Parc du Portugal is situated in Montreal at the corner of Marie-Anne and St-Laurent. There are a handful of trees sheltering from hot summer sun, a few parc benches to sit on, a small drinking fountain, and a gazebo atop some stone steps. Across the street is my local caffeine fix (which turns into my local beer fix by mid-afternoon).
I sat there time and again people-watching, ruminating, and writing, and one day a friend I was meeting mentioned that the house I often absent-mindedly stared at was Leonard Cohen’s house. How I didn’t know that already will always remain a mystery to me.
That parc has now become somewhat of a symbol of a renaissance of wonder in my life. After years of touring, and being bombarded by the realities of the music industry, I had come to lose a bit of my childish sense of curiosity. Art had started to become more of a means to an end than an end in and of itself, and that made me pretty unhappy. And so, somehow, that parc, and maybe by some otherworldly proxy, Leonard, helped me reconnect with all that.
I’m grateful the weird couple of years I’ve had, and though a lot of it was challenging, still I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Two Paper Moons
Connor Seidel, who produced all my records thus far, and I have always followed a simple golden rule when it came to making music: tell the truth, and try to be timeless. In other words, be authentic, and pay no mind to what’s cool this very minute.
But being honest and raw can sometimes be difficult when you’re exposing yourself. TPM was a first attempt at divulging way too much information about my personal life, while keeping it cryptic and general enough that any listener can make up their own interpretation.
In addition to that, I also was in a place where I desperately needed a place to escape to. So I thought, wouldn’t it be great if you could make up a world where everything is exactly the same, except a few choice things? If you could curate your own little parallel universe to live in, what would it look like? Mine would look something like this record, and TPM was the starting point.
A dreamlike flowery passageway flowing through time in a slow motion slow dance. What is revealed as she turns, however, isn’t carefree bliss, as you first imagined, but something uncertain bringing her down. You never quite figure out what that is, though you never stop trying, and it takes you down a spiral pattern, until you lose track of everything.
When you wake up from the dream, you begin searching for it, whatever it is, everywhere. For some reason, you keep looking for it at parties. Maybe people are gathered there to find it too. But it isn’t there, and neither is she.
A sanctuary, a moment of respite, the freest place you know. You know you will return from it at peace, having successfully untied the knots in your mind. You go there with a friend, and he/she helps you get to where you want to be, and maybe you help them a little bit to. Your mind keeps going back to what you went to escape, but this place brings comfort, or at the very least acceptance.
A placed that is untouched, and unperturbed. You take it all in for a minute, and then you head back again.
Down the Rabbit Hole
This one starts with a lyric recycled from a song called ‘’Leap’’, written sometime around 2013. It describes the feeling of alienation that comes from experiencing something exciting, intense, and life-changing, but then returning to the same old humdrum of your prior life. At the time, I had written the song about a student exchange I had done in Paris through my university. The return from it had me feeling quite lonely, even when reunited with old friends.
Years later, I would experience the same feeling from touring. The contrast between the love and connection felt with people and then returning home alone to your apartment can be somewhat of a mindfuck.
A first draft of the made up world I wanted to make for myself. It stemmed from seeing so many people over the years talk about wanting to go on an adventure, and then never following through. We all love the idea of living an exciting and unique life, but few have the courage to take the plunge.
So The Highlands is about literally sitting in the mouth of the Loch Ness monster, and having to make the choice to jump out into the lake to safety and normalcy, or to be swallowed whole and to be pulled into the myth.
Weird Ones II
A gentle reminder to myself for when things get weird. I chose this, and it’s what I want, no matter how tough it gets sometimes.
Written with the desire of being able to let go more. I take everything way too seriously, and find it difficult to just let loose and make things easy for myself. So this one is another gentle reminder not to be so hard on myself. It’s a simple, catchy, feel good tune, and doesn’t try pretend to be anything else than what it is. Fun to play, fun to vibe to, so why not? Why overthink it? Not everything has to be deep and meaningful. We all need to let go sometimes.
We all have our dark secrets we keep to ourselves. And it’s usually in the least expected places that you find the most disturbing things. This song is about hoarding that secret and constantly combatting the urge to tell the unsuspecting people who have a distorted idea of who you really are.
On a more positive note, it’s about getting on with life, accepting that which you can’t change, and making the move to change that which you can. And of course being wise enough to know the difference.
This is a song about frustration. Frustration at trying to make changes, but failing time and time again to do it. It’s about trying to transform yourself to better fit with a partner, but feeling like the whole effort is a masquerade, feeling like a fraud, and feeling like you are going against your instincts. But it’s also about feeling helpless and weak, and despising having to accept something you think you should be able to change.
Like trying to match an early bird with a night owl.
The struggle with the self. The most difficult song I’ve ever written, but also the most liberating. This song is to me the definition of using art for catharsis or therapy.
It’s the culminating point of years of struggle and worry and disappointment. The end point is, surprisingly, calm, at ease, colourful, happy, gleeful, and full of optimism and excitement.
More straightforwardly, it’s about accepting that sadness is a natural counterpart to happiness, and once you’ve accepted that you cannot control it, you feel lighter and better equipped to deal with it next time it inevitably comes back around.
Love, the Impossible Ghost
A song that was struggling to be optimistic at a time when I was feeling defeated. Love seemed like a faraway place that may or may not have really existed in the first place, and may or may no exist again. The uncertainty had me trying to convince myself that I could live without it, and that it was better to be unperturbed by love than to deal with its consequences.