New Release – Self-Portrait (EP) by Matte Martin

New Release – Self-Portrait (EP) by Matte Martin

Matte Martin is a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter obsessed with the dark and complex edges of rock and pop music. He channels the disparate influences of punk rock, classical music, the avant-garde, horror films, and the great English poets into deep, dark, dramatic, and sophisticated rock-infused pop songs. 

Matte spent many years playing in bands in the San Francisco Bay Area, notably in the virtuosic The Bikini Complex, and the short, sweet and catchy The Zap Guns. His recent work has embraced pop music more than ever, but it’s the adult-oriented pop music of the 1950s and 60s, the huge arrangements backing Frank Sinatra and his hero Scott Walker, that are channeled most clearly. Still, the music pushes at every conceivable boundary and is unmistakably modern and unique.

On 10th March his new EP ‘Self Portrait’ is out.

“The EP is unique for me in that it contains two cover songs, the opening track by the amazing Chip Whitson and a Christmas song that I released late last year. I guess I drew the cover art and liked the irony of calling the album ‘Self-Portrait’, even though it contained only half of my own songs, one of them being an instrumental. Having said that, the music and arrangements came from a very honest and emotional place, and I think I did much less hiding on this album than I have in my previous work.”

“Chip’s song just inspired me. I knew I wanted to record a cover the second I heard it and knew that it would match this new style that I had been planning perfectly. He is also a good friend of mine and I really wanted to make sure he wasn’t embarrassed by my interpretation. And if I could bring more attention to his genius, the better.”

“All of the songs are of the same style, pulling from traditional pop (namely, Frank Sinatra and his frequent arranger Nelson Riddle), a little bit of romantic classical music, and of course I can’t drop rock ‘n’ roll completely. I’ve started to think of it as kind of like a mix of Sinatra and Tears for Fears. Even though it pulls inspiration from some very old music, it is somehow, by far, my most accessible work. I felt like the production needed to be top notch, so I took the time to get it right.”

“Lyrically, I’m always worried about revealing my emotions too much, but ‘A Ghost of a Chance’ is kind of a funny combination of old-timey love song lyrics crashing into the depiction of a frigid, frozen emotional tundra that’s more in line with existential desperation than longing for love. It was written very shortly after my dad died. I was up at my childhood house and it was a pretty harsh winter. And I just sat at the piano and hoped to capture the complexity of my emotions in a simple way. The lyrics went in a different direction, probably because I wasn’t yet ready to write about the subject that inspired the music. I also think it’s one of the best songs I’ve written, but it ends with this very chromatic, busy section that might alienate people. But that’s what I like.”

“I hope that the songs make people feel a lot of emotions, that they create a real aesthetic experience. Perhaps relatedly, I hope that very sensitive people will hear the sound of this and my other music as sort of triumphing over the hard times.”

“What movie should feature my music? Probably the melancholic parts of Phantom Thread. Jonny Greenwood’s score very much inspired me to attempt this direction in my own music. But the precision of that film, the precision of the dressmaking in that film, the perfectionism in every craft represented on and off screen, that’s sort of what I’ve always aimed for. It’s no surprise to me that the film is also interested in expressing the troubling things inside that are difficult to put into words.”


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