Down to earth Australian singer-songwriter, Matt Corby, is a much-needed breath of fresh air, creating mind-bending melodies that continually reimagine the world.
Following a brief hiatus from the public eye, Matt is finally back with the release of his latest album Rainbow Valley. Taking a significant creative role, playing all the instruments and singing all the vocals, Matt took inspiration from his new home in Australia and the birth of his now 9-month old son. The album is lyrically uplifting and demonstrates Matt’s new view of the world, speaking volume about his personal journey.
We were lucky enough to have Matt in session, performing ‘Miracle Love’ and ‘Get With The Times’. We chatted everything from finding his sound to the birth of his baby boy and what life on the road has taught him.
So, I’m interested in your journey into music, how did you find your ‘sound’ or your ‘genre’?
Good question! I don’t really know, there’s been a lot of guessing really. I obviously started out as a singer and guitarist, and I was interested in expanding my influences and what I was capable of doing physically. I think what I’ve been inspired by, musically, has shifted so much over the years, and I don’t think I’ve made an intentional effort to sound a certain way.
On the Spindle Sessions shoot day you’d just done a huge vinyl haul, where did your passion for vinyl come from and what is it about vinyl that you love?
I think as music became more digitalised, the people who really cared about music a lot, wanted a physical thing. To have the artwork in all its glory is just amazing.
Vinyl is the original way that music was shared, and it was amazing technology back then, I just really love having something that references the actual history and the thing itself, which is really rare these days with everything being so digitalised.
I started with a few albums on vinyl, and I ended up going absolutely bananas when I went on tour, it was the only thing that I spent money on! A couple of years ago I used to come home to my housemate and he’d just be so excited for what I brought back! Between both of us, we had a massive vinyl collection of four shelves – they’re just my favourite thing to find!
And what’s your favourite vinyl within your collection?
It’s really obscure – there were these two Hammond organ players called Jimmy McGriff and Groove Holmes, the vinyl is a live recording from a crew of soul-funky organists with this sick band – it’s so intense. We ended up slowing it right down and it ended up sounding really gangster! When we had a bad day, it was just an instant cheer up, it was a happy record at home!
You’ve not released music in a while, how does it feel to be back?
I think given the nature in which I record, in my head I’m never really not focusing on music. Releasing music is always a bit weird, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel really intense bouts of anxiety leading up to the release of tracks, but I’m really excited for people to hear it! I’m excited to see who gets really into it and if it does something for them.
I’m definitely at a point now where I’m less pressured, but it’s still scary, but in a good healthy way!
The album name and artwork were inspired by your home in Australia – can you tell me about anything else that inspired the album?
Other than where we were, and a few of the records that I was listening to, like from the Dirty Art Club, I was trying to capture soul music but in the most modern way I could find. I mean having a baby was pretty inspirational too!
Yes! Congrats on the birth of your song, how do you think having a child has affected your music?
I think it’s just kicked me into gear a little bit and has helped me focus. I’ve had separation from music because it’s not been the most important thing in my life, which it was for years. He’s been really good for redirecting my focus and being able to place importance on things in a relative manner, so I suppose it’s given me some clarity in my headspace.
I actually spoke to him on the phone last night, and he said “bye dada”… I’ve been gone for five days!!
You’ve done a string of album playback events recently – how does it feel to perform songs from the new album for the first time to a room full of people?
Pretty daunting! I like to be really prepared before I play things for people, but I really wasn’t! It was quite emotional performing, there’s been a lot of build up for me, Matt and Dan, who also helped make the record. For it to be finally out-ish, is a bit of a release. I’m still very much in weird headspace with it all, but it was the first little glimmer of faith!
Talking about performing live, what thing do you like the least about it?
I think playing live and touring is 95% waiting, just constantly waiting around, which is the only thing that is really difficult because it does get the better of you sometimes! You put yourself through this weird anxious day over and over again while you’re on the road.
I mean it’s nice for me because I get to do it with my friends, all the guys in the band are my really close mates, so that does definitely soften the blow. After a little while it does waste in on you though, and you don’t eat super well… except when you’re in Europe you rock up to venues and there are chefs on hand to make you whatever you want!
But, when it comes to actually playing, it’s awesome, I love it and always have. When the crowd is truly affected by things that you do, that’s a big win!
How does the crowd in Europe differ to on home soil?
There are minor differences, sometimes it’s hard to know if it’s me/the band or them. There are different characteristics of different countries as far as the crowd perception. Playing in Norway and Sweden is very interesting, the people there are very polite and into it! And then you play a show in London and it’s really hit or miss, they’ll either be super into it or they’ll just treat it as nice background music to catch up to, in those shows you think “ah no one gives a f**k, but it doesn’t matter!”
Playing in Australia is a whole other beast! People get very excited for shows, sometimes you’ll have to look out for coconuts flying at your head, not in a mean way but it is just how people show their appreciation.
How did you form your band?
I pieced them together over a long period of time. My original band was one of my best mates Jarryd, who has his own project called Jarryd James. My bass player is my good friend who I’ve known since I was 12 and then my guitarist I’ve known since I was 6/7.
As I’ve needed more band members I’ve just called my friends. I don’t think I’d be close to playing live if I didn’t have them with me and vice versa – we can all pull each other out of our weird funky moods and weird moments of despair that we have!
What has touring and life on the road taught you?
It’s taught me to have patience. It’s also taught me to value even the smallest moments of interaction with people because they’re crucial – you can be a f**k head, or you can ask someone a question and be interested for 5 minutes. I think it’s nicer to leave somewhere slightly better than when you arrived, if you can! I hear stories all the time of bands/artists f***ing stuff up, but we’re so the opposite of that, we just want to respect everyone and learn people’s name.
What is your favourite song on your forthcoming album?
It’s hard to pinpoint! The one I’ve always really liked is ‘All That I See’, it’s really easy to listen to and is just really groovy. When everything was done, and I heard it back I just felt really happy and I had zero reservations, which is rare, I usually nit-pick at everything!
Finally, if you were on a desert island, which album would you want with you?
That’s a good question! You’d have to consider whether the record was too depressing because it would just f**k with you even more, but then if it was the Beach Boys I’d go insane!
It would probably be one of Charles Bradley’s first records, or maybe Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, something really calming and intricate and fun! You’d definitely be able to whistle by the time someone came and rescued you with that one.