THEAUSSIEWORD.COM catches up with Matt Boylan-Smith.
How and where did it all begin for you? What drew your interest to the music industry?
Golly gosh Brian there are a few moments that kicked it all off but I think it all began when I used to wake up early before the family and watch Rage with the volume on the lowest possible setting so I didn’t wake anyone up. I loved the music and the visuals that went along with it and I reckon from there, I was hooked.
What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?
I’m influenced by professionals in any field to be honest. Just people that are doing original or creative things inspires me – obviously, this includes other musicians. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and am trying to balance this out with letting things go and not over work my projects.
What are some of your biggest goals you hope to accomplish?
I’d love to be performing and touring in Australia like I have in Europe, to reach a larger and more consistent audience. I’d love to have more time to create and collaborate with other musicians and tour with an international act.
What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?
Yes! I have a couple more songs to release in this project and then I am moving on to the next project that I’ve been working on that is all very top secret and quite surreal. I’m very excited and will release tour details on my socials over the coming months.
Tell us a bit about your latest release and how would you best describe your music?
My latest release ‘Gloria’ is a rock track that I wrote whilst I was on tour in Europe. I’ll be honest with ya’ – I’d completely forgotten about the song such was the amount that I was writing over there and rediscovered the track on a voice meme on my phone whilst in studio with Dan Frizza. I had a bit of a strange (I guess) non-interaction in Salzburg and must have had my guitar when I got back to my hotel as I wrote the majority of the track there and then. I nutted out some of the finer details with Lon LeMaster, who is on the credits as the engineer for Toto IV, so I do tend to listen to some of his advice!
The track furthers my current desire to be more ambitious with layering sounds and creating a bigger sound sonically and has meant that my music is heading more into the rock genre to reflect what is happening with my live band show. Or maybe my band show is heading more rock to fit the music? Or it’s a mix of both.
Give us an insight into your creative process. What gets you writing songs?
I think when I’m fully present and not distracted by life around me is when I am most productive. I do tend to do the majority of my writing when I’m on tour as there’s a fair bit of emotion tied up with going out every day to bare a part of yourself and entertain people. I tend to either write quarter or half songs and leave them behind (literally, I have hundreds) or I can knock out a song in ten minutes. I sometimes come back and finish those half written songs, which is what happened with Break Your Hands and to an extent, Gloria.
I’m also inspired when I listen to other singers that I admire, where a sentence or a thought can kick me in to writing an entire song or two.
Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music?
I do have some hidden meanings in my music. Mostly behind phrasing and structure to keep things PG rated. There is absolutely hidden meaning in the top secret track that I am releasing next year (ohhh la la).
Success, what is the secret to it?
Knowing that success is subjective.
What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
I think touring Europe was a highlight for me. I had a surreal moment playing a show on a rooftop in Athens and I think that was more to do with the fact that I couldn’t have been further from home in both a geographical and musical sense.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
I’m inspired by so many artists! Dermot Kennedy inspires me in that he humbly acknowledges his success whilst acknowledging the hustle it took to get him there, even after his relative perceived success. I’m inspired by my friend Gabby Bolt and have watched her turn all of her experiences into a wonderful comedy show that has taken her around Australia and even to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Are there any new projects in the pipeline?
Always! I have a song or two left in this project and am collaborating with a. couple of other artist and producers at the moment to release some music that might be a litttttle bit different.
The music industry is constantly changing, where do you see yourself a few years?
In all honesty I don’t know, which sounds a little indeterminate. The lockdowns were awful but also allowed me to reset and understand nothing can be taken for granted. I’m not saying this in some fatalistic way to say something else is on the horizon, more that I’ve had to learn to adapt and think that I can do again. I’d love to be doing only shows that set my heart on fire.
What is your favourite and least favourite part about this line of work and why?
I love that moment when you have an audience and it’s pin drop quiet between breaths as they anticipate the next part of my song or reflect on a lyric. I love that connection and when it happens it means I’m in the moment and on top of my game.
My least favourite part would be the long hours driving. It’s a bit of a weird one as I love driving and collecting new towns and memories but life on the road can get a bit full on and geez it feels good to drop your bags at home.
Name a few of your favourite Australian artists.
I mentioned Gabby Bolt before. I did the Bluesfest Busking Comp this year with a duo called Saije and they make beautiful music. I also love Andy Nelson, Manning Patston and have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with all of them.
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
I think the change has been a bit of a double edged sword. In one way you have artists being able to get their music in front of a huge audience without needing record labels and publishing but in the same breath this has meant that there are so many artists and songs coming out that it can feel sometimes like you’re a little bit lost in all of the (albeit) wonderful noise.
I think as I’ve grown as an artist there is less need for me to get it in the public eye for my own satisfaction and it’s more based on the fact that the more people are listening to my music, the less time I have to be grinding so that I can create more art.
How will you continue appealing to the international market?
I think I’ll continue to collaborate with European artists and do plan to tour Europe again next European Summer.
Do you collaborate with others? Who is on your wish-list?
I do and I truly love it. Some of my more successful releases have come through collaborations. I’d love to collaborate with the Lumineers. Mainly to learn what reverb they use in their recordings and soak up the knowledge in how they get people to move when they sing their sad songs.
What advice do you give for other artists wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Be deliberate and prepare to work hard. I don’t mean to sound like your year ten careers councillor here it’s more that you need to be prepared to work hard. Reach out to people and acts you admire, network authentically and don’t be afraid to rest if the passion takes a nap.
A message for your fans. How do you best interact and respond with your followers and fans?
I’m pretty good on Instagram and have also started sending a very intermittent newsletter with news and some backstories on my tracks, which you can find on my website. I’m approachable at shows as well once I’ve gotten over the post show buzz.