Review: Scott Matthew, Unlearned

Scott Matthew
Image Courtesy of Scott Matthew

Review by Sheridan Morley

How difficult is it to unlearn something?

If you’ve ever attempted to teach yourself to hold a pen differently, or if you still haven’t come to terms with the fact that Pluto was never a planet, you’ll understand the struggle of unlearning – of reconsidering what was previously fact in your mind, or of un-perfecting a skill you had worked so hard to perfect in the first place.

Listening to music, after all, is a skill. In its purest form, it is the reception of sound by our ears, combined with the ability to use our brains to interpret and convert said sound into understanding. It is in this interpretation, though, that listening becomes a polygamous marriage of physicality to experience and emotion – in a split second, we, as unique individuals, apply layers of our own differing experiences to the same sound, and decide to like it (or not) accordingly. From our peers who decide to like those songs we reject as affronts to our very being, we demand reformation: “How can you even STAND Justin Bieber?! Get thee to the JB Hi-fi rock aisle at once!” For those songs we accept as our favourites, however, we act as aggressive defenders: “Bohemian Rhapsody is SO the best song of all time!” It is these songs that become hits; and that we want to explore and share and hear performed again, and again, and again.

If you think I’ve just taken the most roundabout route possible to overhype a covers album, you’re dead wrong. Scott Matthew’s fourth full-length release, Unlearned, is more than a covers album – it is a creative reimagining of the favourite songs of three generations of music listeners. Like a renewal of wedding vows after decades, Matthew challenges you to reaffirm your love for those very songs that you learned to love so long ago, regardless of their genre. This time, though, he wants you to do it his way.

The tracks Matthew showcases on Unlearned are deliberately eclectic. Iconic songwriters ranging from Whitney Houston to Neil Young are featured, and all rebroadcast in his signature rich, resounding tones. The album opens with what could be mistaken for a Birds of Tokyo keyboard arrangement partnered with a Boards of Canada soundscape. When Scott’s smooth, low vocals enter, it is a surprise and a delight to realise he’s crooning his way through the first lines of the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody”. A pretty, nylon-string guitar introduces the second half of the first verse, and ever so gradually, the track builds through layers of keyboard to present a beautiful, yet restrained, tribute to a classic love song.

From here, we melt into a gently strummed ukulele to introduce an unlikely version of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, joined by a beautiful piano progression – a perfect nod to the ballads of Whitney’s era. The track features one of the album’s only percussive elements, a brushed snare in the chorus, which ends almost too abruptly leading into the second verse, losing a little momentum. We’re quickly distracted, though, by a dazzling three-part harmony in the second chorus, and a decidedly modern, un-cheesy take on the “Don’t You Wanna Dance” bridge to finish. Scott’s voice is surprisingly good in this range, though it’s one more native to a female vocalist – the intensity of such a naturally low voice singing up high really drives an emotional impact that couldn’t have been achieved by a female if they tried.

The sure stand-out track of Unlearned is Joy Division’s classic “Love Will Tear Us Apart” – probably the closest fit to Scott’s vocals which, in the right (or wrong) context, could sound deliciously creepy. The same piano, drowned in sustain, is an excellent substitute for the original instrumentation and effects, while an electric bass references that iconic bass line, but subtly enough to remain cheeky. At just 4:04, Scott rejects the 80s tendency to milk a good groove for all it’s worth, instead including all that needs to be there for maximum impact. It’s easy to see he’s grown up listening to this song. He demonstrates a devastating intensity and phenomenal clarity of tone up high that hasn’t yet emerged on this album. The worst thing is that it’s buried all the way down at number 9 on the track listing.

The more soft rock-inclined of you will be chuffed to note that Radiohead’s “No Surprises” managed to feature on this album, transformed into a ukulele masterpiece. The addition of a female backing vocal separates the texture of this track nicely from the others. While a beautiful track in its own right, those who have been known to throw their support behind the original version will be endlessly frustrated by the omission of that minor turnaround at the end of the main riff – probably the most interesting feature of the original – which instead lands flat with a standard major turnaround. When it finally appears, though, no earlier than the second last chord of the song, you can almost hear the echo of relieved groans from Radiohead devotees worldwide.

The chance to join Scott on this journey through his musical memories is a privilege, and along the way, we start to get a sense of unity in that these favourites of ours were once someone else’s favourites, too. And not just Scott’s – other selections, namely “Help Me Make It Through The Night” and “Jesse”, have been covered extensively throughout the ages by such greats as Elvis Presley, Joan Baez, Janis Ian, Bryan Ferry and more. Hours of fascination could surely be had by considering how each arrangement came to be, but if you don’t have the time, Scott’s stunning homages are enough. Just quietly, I’d love to hear Scott’s rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” on his next release.

Scott Matthew is touring for Timber and Steel in May. The full dates are below:

Sunday 11th May – Brew, Brisbane, QLD
Monday 12th May – Mandala Organic Arts Cafe, Gold Coast, QLD
Tuesday 13th May – Pure Pop Records, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 14th May – The Toff In Town, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 18th May -The Vanguard, Sydney, NSW

Interview: Tom Lee-Richards (Catch Release)

Tom Lee-Richards
Image Courtesy of Catch Release

With the Timber and Steel presented Scott Matthew tour kicking off next month we thought it was time to chat with the support, Tom Lee-Richards, about his Catch Release project.

Janine Estoesta: So, Catch Release has to really stand out to me mainly for your beat-boxing – how did that even begin?

Tom Lee-Richards: Hi there! Thanks. Beat boxing or Catch Release? I’ll start with beat boxing. I can’t remember. I know I was experimenting, making weird and kinda gross noises when I was six years old-entertaining myself I guess and I didn’t stop. Fast forward to being 13 and I’m humming the Rocky theme song whilst doing drum roles with a back beat with other parts of my mouth. Don’t know how I got there. Now I’m experimenting, making weird and kinda gross noises. Feels right as another texture in the band.

Catch Release started a few years ago. At first it was about exploring a lot of sounds that influenced all of the players probably with more of a lean towards a world music kinda space vibe. Then it changed.

JE: How did you come to have a violin and french horn in Catch Release’s sound?

TL-R: As songs started to develop a cohesive style we recorded a few songs. French horn and violin felt right for one of the more nostalgic, hopeful songs along with clarinet and cello. We put on a big gig (if we’re talking the amount of players in the band) and realised how grand the sound could be. The most essential instruments seemed to be the odd pairing of Violin and French horn and we got in contact with Tim Hannah (french horn) and Navin Gulavita (bass). Never looked

JE: What is the story behind Asleep Is A Friend Of Mine? Any standout muses?

TL-R: The EP is a journey. Some songs are hopeful, some are idealistic. Some bare honesty in there too and darkness. Asleep is a Friend of Mine is part of a lyric from the song “Chasing Ideas” referring to getting lost in your own thoughts, anxieties and searching for things you don’t need. Is that giving too much away? Muses, hmm now that would be telling. Yes. Short answer no. Ha!

JE: What is cooking for Catch Release as a collective and you as a solo this year?

TL-R: Catch Release will definitely be getting back in the studio later this year. I’m really happy with how the whole sound comes together and the guys are some lovely dudes.

As for me, I’m currently in the studio with the guitar and rhythm base laid down for my favourite new track. It’s for a solo project. I’m very excited to be launching a number of singles and actually creating a place you can find me on the interwebs this year. I’m going to be busy. And then there’s this Scott Matthew tour! What a unique artist. Humbled to be part of the tour and looking forward to meeting him.

JE: Any collaborations in the horizon?

TL-R: That’s one of the things I’m most excited about this year. I’m collaborating with Countbounce, a phenomenal producer right now. He has a really fresh sound and has worked with some of my favourite Australian acts. Having fun throwing ideas up!

Also just had a taste of collaboration, singing duets with Philemon. She has a beautiful sound. I’m always singing with Monique Shelford. Watch out for her too. We have a lot of fun together on stage acting like dicks.

JE: Is your solo project more of a stripped version of Catch Release or are you wanting to head in a different direction with it?

TL-R: The solo songs I have written lately are different. Simpler, with more of a vocal focus perhaps but influenced by Catch Release for sure. The instrumentation involved is wide open right now though. That’s the coolest part. I am just looking to match the mood of the songs and add what seems like it’s got to be there. I’ll let you know Janine!

JE: Can we expect an Australian tour from Catch Release soon?

TL-R: Soon, I dunno but when I’m up in Sydney and Brisbane to support Scott Matthew I will be booking some more gigs. That could be the start of touring one way or the other.

JE: What is your take on chocolate milkshakes?

TL-R: Shit. Not shit. Really good. Can I pretend I’m Vegan and say some soy shakes are also amazing. I could live on an Island with only juice-Banana and Mango. For a bit.

Tom Lee-Richards’ Catch Release project will be supporting Scott Matthew’s upcoming Timber and Steel presented tour. The full list of dates are below:

Sunday 11th May – Brew, Brisbane, QLD
Monday 12th May – Mandala Organic Arts Cafe, Gold Coast, QLD
Tuesday 13th May – Pure Pop Records, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 14th May – The Toff In Town, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 18th May – The Vanguard, Sydney, NSW

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 28th March


This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– A new regular country music night, Fun Shootin’ Thursdies, kicked off in Sydney last night. Details here

– NSW based singer-songwriter Daniel Lee Kendall has made a welcome return to the scene with his new single “Angelique”. Details here

– As well as announcing a new album Wagons also have a national tour on the way this May and June. Details here

Passenger announced plans to release his new album Whispers this year with the release of cover art and a making of video. Details here

– And just after the album was announced Passenger also released the video for its title track “Whispers” as well as the release date of the 6th June. Details here

– Irish singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow has announced plans to return to Australia this May including a performance at Vivid Sydney. Details here

Timber and Steel are very proud to be presenting the upcoming tour from singer-songwriter Scott Matthew. Details here

– UK five-piece Eliza and the Bear have released “Brother’s Boat”, their brand new single and video. Details here

– The wonderful Hayden Calnin has announced a couple of intimate EP launch shows in May. Details here

Little Features hits Sydney this Saturday with a lineup that includes Tom Stephens, Lily So and the Bellows, Direwolf and Maia Jelavic. Details here

– Watch “Shake It”, the new video for Sydney roots singer-songwriter Steve Smyth. Details here

– The new album from Paul Greene and the Other Colours drops today (see below) and so does the first date of their NSW tour. Details here

– US nu-folk legends Midlake will be making their way to Australia this May. Details here

The Paper Kites have released their new video “Tenenbaum” ahead of their national tour. Details here

– UK singer-songwriter Gibson Bull has released his brand new video “Where Are You Now”. Details here

John Flanagan is raising money to head over to Nashville to record with a tour that kicks off tonight. Details here

– Sydney seven-piece Little Bastard have released their brand new video “High For You”. Details here


“We’re actually not fans of real gentle folk music anyway. We’re like Led Zeppelin fans and Nick Cave fans. We don’t just sit around listening to ponderous acoustic folk music all day. It sort of makes me a little bit angry and bored [laughs]. So we like things a little grittier than that. We haven’t always reflected that in our records I don’t think and it’s probably partly been my fault, reigning Tristan in thinking my voice is too blah blah blah for that. But this time we just came up with all these rock riffs and just went with it. It was a fun record to make” – Taasha Coates from The Audreys chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“For us we love the sound of American music but we’re not Americans, it’s stupid for us to write about American things. It’s not because we’re just writing about Australian songs – that’s just because we’re in Australia. If you were a Scandinavian bluegrass band you should be writing about Scandinavian things. It’s about writing from your own experience, what you know and what you’re influenced by. Otherwise it comes a across as really disingenuous I think” – James Daley from The Morrisons chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“It’s a bit of a tester I guess. The issue for us is that we’ve got these lives that are scattered around the country. And having young children it’s quite hard to do things like go on the road. So at the moment we’re not really in the position to play together full time or to really take the band on the road or take it overseas like we were doing before. So I guess this is a bit of a starter – we want to just ease into it a bit and see how we’re placed over the next couple of years” – Kate Burke from Trouble in the Kitchen chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“The first gig we’re doing on the Friday night is on the Budawang stage which is the big one. Something Jess said was the very first time she went to The National 14 years ago or whatever she saw bands on the Budawang, this is way before Crooked Fiddle, and she said “I want to be playing on that stage”. And finally we’re playing on that stage at quite a good time on the Friday night so we’re very excited” – Gordon Wallace from The Crooked Fiddle Band chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“I think you learn so much from the players that you get to stand next to. When I made my first solo album I probably didn’t understand that as much and you try to keep track of it all for yourself. It was quite liberating on this album to basically hand things over and say “whatever you hear I know it’s going to be stellar and I’m grateful for you for taking that and making something amazing with it”. The players on this album certainly brought that”Kate Fagan chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

Releases This Week

Johnny Cash
Out Among The StarsJohnny Cash

Sweet Rain Falling
Sweet Rain FallingLittle Wise

Nickel Creek
A Dotted LineNickel Creek

Paul Greene
One Lap Of The SunPaul Greene and the Other Colours

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

John Flanagan

John Flanagan

Melbourne Americana artist John Flanagan is about to head over to Nashville to record his new album. But before he does he needs to head out on the road to raise a bit of cash for things like plane tickets and recording studios. His tour kicks off tonight with a full band show in Melbourne before heading up and down the east coast.

Friday 28th March – Lomond Hotel, Brunswick, VIC
Friday 4th April – Tanswell’s Commercial Hotel, Beechworth, VIC

Gigs Next Week

Ash Grunwald
Friday 28th March – Tanks Art Centre, Cairns, QLD
Saturday 29th March – Base Backpackers, Magnetic Island, QLD

Caitlin Park
Thursday 3rd April – The Toff In Town, Melbourne, VIC

Christopher Coleman Collective
Friday 28th March – Royal Exchange, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 29th March – The Newsagency, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 3rd April – Grand Junction, Maitland, NSW
Friday 4th April – The Pier, Port Macquarie, NSW

Claude Hay
Friday 28th March – The Old Manly Boatshed, Manly, NSW
Saturday 29th March – The Katoomba RSL Club, Katoomba, NSW
Friday 4th April – The Grand Junction Hotel, Maitland, NSW

Eleanor McEvoy
Friday 28th March – Illawarra Folk Club, Wollongong, NSW
Saturday 29th March – Petersham Bowling Club, Petersham, NSW
Sunday 30th March – St David’s Church, Dee Why, NSW
Thursday 3rd April – South Coast Folk Club, Port Noarlunga, SA
Friday 4th April – HATS-Courthouse Cultural Centre, Auburn, SA

Ella Hooper
Saturday 29th March – The Vanguard, Sydney, NSW
Friday 4th April – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

John Butler Trio
Friday 28th March – Belvoir Amphitheatre, Swan Valley, WA
Saturday 29th March – Old Broadwater Farm, Busselton, WA
Tuesday 1st April – Palais Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 3rd April – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide, SA

John Flanagan
Friday 28th March – Lomond Hotel, Brunswick, VIC
Friday 4th April – Tanswell’s Commercial Hotel, Beechworth, VIC

Jordan Millar
Friday 28th March – The Loft, Gold Coast, QLD
Saturday 29th March – Cafe Le Monde, Noosa Heads, QLD
Sunday 30th March – Dowse Bar, Brisbane, QLD

Julia and the Deep Sea Sirens
Friday 28th March – The Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 4th April – Polish White Eagle Club, Canberra, ACT

Friday 28th March – Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Little Wise and Megan Bernard
Sunday 30th March – Matians Cafe, Deans Marsh, VIC
Wednesday 2nd April – Grace Emily Hotel, Adelaide, SA
Thursday 3rd April – “E” For Ethel, Adelaide, SA
Friday 4th April – Café Troppo, Adelaide, SA

Mark Wilkinson
Friday 28th March – The Sound Lounge, Gold Coast, QLD
Saturday 29th March – Visy Theatre, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 30th March – Pig House Flicks, Byron Bay, NSW
Wednesday 2nd April – The Promethean, Adelaide, SA
Friday 4th April – The Studio Underground, Perth, WA

Paul Greene and the Other Colours
Friday 28th March – The Fig, Manly, NSW
Sunday 30th March – The Waterhouse, Huskisson, NSW

Sally Seltmann w/ Wintercoats
Thursday 3rd April – Lizottes, Kincumber, NSW
Friday 4th April – The Vanguard, Sydney, NSW

Steve Smyth
Saturday 29th March – Baha, Rye, VIC
Thursday 3rd April – Easy Tiger, Paddington, NSW

The Beez
Friday 28th March – Taste Canowindra, NSW
Sunday 30th March – Tamworth, NSW (house concert)

The Good Ship
Friday 28th March – Small Ballroom, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 29th March – FBi Social, Sydney, NSW

The Little Stevies
Friday 28th March – Caravan Music Club, Melbourne, VIC

The Perch Creek Family Jugband
Friday 28th March – Republic Bar, Hobart, TAS
Saturday 29th March – Devonport Regional Gallery, Devonport, TAS
Sunday 30th March – Live At The Wharf, Ulverstone, TAS
Friday 4th April – The Star Court Theatre, Lismore, NSW

The Pierce Brothers
Saturday 29th March – Upstairs Beresford, Surry Hills, NSW
Sunday 30th March – The Small Ballroom, Newcastle, NSW

The Stray Sisters
Friday 28th March – Belvoir Amphitheatre, Swan Valley, WA (with John Butler Trio)
Saturday 29th March – Old Broadwater Farm, Busselton, WA (with John Butler Trio)
Monday 31st March – Albany Entertainment Centre, Albany, WA

Thursday 3rd April – The Vanguard, Sydney, NSW
Friday 4th April – The Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“There Once Was Love”/”Innstück” – Fairport Convention

I love the way these tracks play with conventional folk time signatures to create music that has a a sense of urgency and complexity that you don’t often find in the tradition. “Innstück” itself is one of my favourite modern folk tunes.

Timber and Steel Presents Scott Matthew’s Australian Tour

Scott Matthew
Image Courtesy of Scott Matthew

Timber and Steel are very happy to be presenting the upcoming tour of American based singer-songwriter Scott Matthew. Matthew, who is originally from Australia, will be visiting this May with shows in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Sydney.

To read our interview with Scott Matthew check out this piece here. The full dates for the Timber and Steel presented tour are below:

Sunday 11th May – Brew, Brisbane, QLD
Monday 12th May – Mandala Organic Arts Cafe, Gold Coast, QLD
Tuesday 13th May – Pure Pop Records, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 14th May – The Toff In Town, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 18th May -The Vanguard, Sydney, NSW

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 4th October


This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

Nick Mulvey debuted his brand new video for the track “Nitrous”. Details here

– The new video from Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, “Life Is Hard”, shows the band doing what they do best – playing live. Details here

– Singer-songwriter Cass McCombs, who will be in the country next year for Laneway, has released his new single “Brighter” featuring Karen Black on vocals. Details here

– To celebrate the release of his new album Country Mile this week Johnny Flynn has released the title track as his new video. Details here

– Two of Timber and Steel’s favourites, Sam Buckingham and Buffalo Tales, are heading out on tour together. Details here

– Melbourne’s Kate Martin has released her new single “Awaken” and will be touring this November. Details here

Arbori have released their new single “Flannelette and Feather Beds” ahead of their tour for Timber and Steel. Details here

Mark Moldre has a new video, “Four Winds”, and a free NSW south coast tour with Sarah Humphreys. Details here

Tomas Strode and The Tour Guides are streaming their new album Graceful Mistake online before the official launch in Melbourne this Wednesday. Details here

Mia Dyson, Liz Stringer and Jen Cloher are teaming up to tour as Dyson Stringer Cloher this October, November and December and are streaming a stunning tour EP to get you in the mood. Details here

– The Illawarra Folk Festival revealed the first artists for 2014 including Andy Irvine, The Beez, Dom Flemons, Whitetop Mountaineers, The Miss Chiefs, The Timbers and many many more. Details here

– This month’s MoFo at The Gaelic in Sydney will feature All Our Exes Live in Texas and Oh Pep! Details here

– We exclusively debuted “Feet In The Sand”, the new video from Rose Wintergreen. Details here

– The new single from The Head and the Heart, “Another Story”, is just stunning. Details here

– Two of the Falls Festival’s more folky acts, James Vincent McMorrow and Tom Odell, have announced sideshows. Details here


“I do feel joy in my life. I don’t live in that place of my music all the time. Even though, it’s totally always just under the surface. It’s just here (touches chest under vest) and it can come out very easily”Scott Matthew spends an evening with Janine Estoesta. Interview here

“I stopped listening to the album a little while ago. Occasionally I’ll see it there and spin one or two tracks but I want to start again with everyone else. When it [comes out] I’ll start listening with everyone else to feel like it’s new for me as well” – Thomas Busby of Busby Marou chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“The first reason why I started to do the house concert tours is because I just wanted to be able to play more and I felt like I was exhausting all my options around the country. The size of venue that I was playing at at the time and how I was doing things meant I couldn’t necessarily go to Melbourne and play three or four gigs and actually make that work for me. I thought what if I did one gig in Melbourne and a couple of gigs in people’s homes around Melbourne so that I could spend three or four days there, I could play to more people and potentially not lose money by doing that”Sam Buckingham chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

Releases This Week

Busby Marou
Farewell FitzroyBusby Marou

Rosie Catalano
Dreams Are Just MoviesRosie Catalano

Crooked Fiddle Band
Moving Pieces of the SeaThe Crooked Fiddle Band

Little Stevies
Diamonds For Your TeaThe Little Stevies

AfterdustWoody Pitney

Timber and Steel Presents

Friday 4th October – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 5th October – Revolt Studios, Melbourne, VIC
Tuesday 8th October – The Front, Canberra, ACT
Friday 11th October – Triple Menace Studio, Sydney, NSW

Gigs Next Week

Foy Vance
Thursday 10th October – The Basement, Sydney, NSW

Jack Carty
Friday 4th October – The Clarendon, Katoomba, NSW
Saturday 5th October – The Heritage, Bulli, NSW
Sunday 6th October – The Front, Canberra, ACT

Jinja Safari
Friday 4th October – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, WA
Saturday 5th October – The Astor, Perth, WA
Sunday 6th October – Prince Of Wales, Bunbury, WA

Liz Frencham
Friday 4th October – Humph Hall, Nth Sydney, NSW
Sunday 6th October – The Clarendon Guesthouse, Katoomba, NSW

Loren Kate
Thursday 10th October – Kidgo Arthouse, Fremantle, WA
Friday 11th October – Nanga Music Festival, Dwellingup, WA

Mark Moldre and Sarah Humphreys
Thursday 10th October – Bottlerocket Bar & Cafe, Nowra, NSW
Friday 11th October – Shellharbour Workers Club, Shellharbour, NSW

Matt Corby with Bear’s Den
Wednesday 9th October – Wollongong University, Wollongong, NSW
Thursday 10th October – ANU Bar, Canberra, ACT
Friday 11th October – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, NSW

Nigel Wearne
Friday 4th October – Harmonie German Club, Narrabundah, ACT
Saturday 5th October – St Leonards Vineyard, Wahgunyah, VIC
Saturday 5th October – Tanswells Hotel, Beechworth, VIC

Olivers Army
Friday 4th October – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Oscar Lush
Thursday 10th October – Sofar Sounds, Sydney, NSW

Potato Potato
Friday 4th October – Brunswick Hotel, Brunswick Heads, NSW

Roscoe James Irwin
Thursday 10th October – The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA

Rose Wintergreen with Rosie Catalano
Friday 4th October – The Hideaway, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 10th October – The Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney, NSW

Friday 4th October – Paris Cat Jazz Club, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 5th October – Ceres Markets (morning), Brunswick East, VIC
Saturday 5th October – Secret House Concert, Brunswick East, VIC
Sunday 6th October – Popup Gig, Melbourne, VIC

Tanya Batt
Saturday 5th October – FBi Social, Sydney, NSW

The Bon Scotts
Thursday 10th October – The Front Bar, Canberra, ACT
Friday 11th October – Grand Junction, Maitland, NSW

The Lamplights and Buffalo Tales
Friday 4th October – The Soundlounge, Gold Coast, QLD
Saturday 5th October – Greenslopes Bowls Club, Brisbane, QLD

The Stillsons
Friday 4th October – 5 Church St, Bellingen, NSW
Saturday 5th October – The Wickham Park Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 6th October – The Junkyard, Maitland, NSW

Tomas Strode & The Tour Guides with Aluka, Amy Alex
Wednesday 9th October – The Toff in Town, Melbourne, VIC

Friday 11th October – Hotel New York, Launceston, TAS

Xavier Rudd, Donavon Frankenreiter and Nahko and Medicine for the People
Friday 4th October – Big Top, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 6th October – Caloundra Music Festival, Caloundra, QLD
Monday 7th October – YAC Ampitheatre, Byron Bay, NSW
Tuesday 8th October – The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD

Friday Folk Flashback

“October” – Tunng

Can you believe it’s October already? My how the year flies.

Interview: An Evening With Scott Matthew

Scott Matthew
Image Courtesy of Scott Matthew

As a person heavily embedded in the music industry, winding up at far too many gigs than my wallet can handle, in places that my 2012 self could not even fathom, I still find it incredibly difficult to breathe any word to justly describe Scott Matthew and his beautiful music.

Initially receiving critical acclaim for his collective – Elva Snow – in the early 2000‘s, Matthew has since truly become one of the most important artists of our time. Both in the sense of tangible success and the deep and longlasting connection he seems to have with all who listen to his music.

Ladies, gentlemen, Timelords, Countesses, punters, artists and fellow lovers of music – this is an evening with Scott Matthew.

Phono Pop Festival. European Summer. Incredible Line-up. Russelsheim: smallest and kitsch-est town I have ever seen. Matthew was one of the headline acts for this rather underrated festival, held in what seemed like the space between four abandoned warehouses from the fifties. Most people that we had met had Matthew as one of their “must-see” acts, with most of the patrons coming from Frankfurt. Though at first the audience seemed quite small for a festival, it had grown substantially by the second and final day, filling most spaces, but still having enough room to move. Around the hour before Matthew was due to play, we had heard news that he had just landed in Frankfurt and was en route. In front of the smaller and more intimate stage, what was just space was soon filled with long and iridescent benches in anticipation for Matthew’s set.

|| Janine Estoesta: The tour. So, you’re doing a lot of festivals?

Scott Matthew: We’re doing some festivals, not a lot. I mean, this tour is very kind of minimal. My record just came out and then the real tour will start at the end of October. So, this is just kind of like an interim tour. We’re doing some shows in Portugal, some shows in Italy and now doing some in Germany and Austria. But, only for like three and a half weeks.||

Coming from a country where good festivals are scarce and attendees are sometimes ruthless, I was perplexed at first. Though, as the crowd inevitably began to occupy the benches and the cold bitumen, I must admit this incited some intense “warm fuzzies” and respect for German punters and music lovers. Observing them every now and then during sets, they were either singing along to these artists as though the songs were theirs, or just listening. Only a euphoric smile adorning their face and and a tall pint of beer in their hand. Ah, bliss.

|| JE: That’s crazy. And then, selling out Berlin-

SM: We did!

JE: How do you feel about that?

SM: I feel pretty good about it actually, thank you very much! (laughs)

JE: (Laughs) Yes, cultural epicentre. You’re huge here in Europe, is it a huge contrast to New York?

SM: Yeah, pretty much. I mean, it’s a little bit Jekyll and Hyde in the way that things are really lovely here and in New York it’s like it’s pretty much nothing, actually (laughs). It’s a little bit of a mind fuck when I need to kind of have self worth and this stuff validates me and I really love to do it, it’s kind of my life path. When I live in New York and I’m kind of like struggling to know who I am, or whatever. It’s a bit tough, but then you know, I leave so often, I’m kind of in Europe for half the year. So, it kind of makes me, you know, go ‘OK, got myself and I get to do this.’

JE: Did that kind of contribute to the whole concept that you had for “Unlearned”, with the covers?

SM: Not necessarily, I feel like, you know we kind of, like- on tour we would always perform covers and I’ve always liked singing other peoples’ songs and it just felt like a natural thing to do. And, I felt like, above that I proved myself with three records in Europe and I thought I could be allowed to make a covers record because, I proved myself as a singer-songwriter already. ||

Matthew arrives at Phono Pop not very long before his set. Red wine in hand, cigarette in the other and trying to advise the sound engineers that he does not need much of a sound check. Beside him is his glass and bottle of wine, beside those is guitarist Jürgen Stark. Stage complete. The crowd gives a resounding applause of welcome and what felt like a collective feel of comfort. Even with a slight technical faux pas with his first song, Matthew laughs it off, makes a sarcastic joke and continues…

|| “I do feel joy in my life. I don’t live in that place of my music all the time. Even though, it’s totally always just under the surface. It’s just here (touches chest under vest) and it can come out very easily (laughs).” ||

This was my first time seeing Scott Matthew play live. Every YouTube video that I kept on an endless stream through the years, every scene the he appeared in in Shortbus, all those overplayed CD’s, every glimmer of his voice resonating in the darkest corners of my dreams did not even compare to this moment.

|| JE: And then, I guess stemming from that with Short Bus and Cowboy Bebop and all the soundtracks working with Yoko Kanno. Was doing soundtracks something you were always interested in – because they were from a long time ago?

SM: Yeah, it’s strange, with Yoko Kanno, the Japanese stuff, I was basically just a session singer. And, the first job that I was offered to write songs for a film was Shortbus. And, since then I’ve done a little bit of licensing but, I haven’t really done- I’m not really a musician that composes. You know, I couldn’t do a film score. So, it’s not really on my radar for things to do, but if I get the opportunity, then I’ll try.

JE: So, were you approached with Shortbus by John Cameron Mitchell?

SM: John Cameron Mitchell approached me and asked me to write songs for him and, I didn’t know who he was (laughs). He was literally at a party and I said, ‘yes.’ And, it was very organic, you know, it wasn’t like networking or managers or anything. It was just like, you know, it just kind of happened and I was very thankful for that.

JE: Brilliant film.

SM: Yeah- right?! [He] did such a great job – with no money.

JE: Do you perform at a lot of venues like that?

SM: Not really, I mean Shortbus was slightly fictional. I think there was a stage in New York when that existed but, not so much anymore. So, no. I perform occassionally in New York, and when I do that, it’s really good. If I did perform more often it wouldn’t be so good, but when I perform like once every two months, it’s great.

JE: So, the collaboration with Sia – how was that working with her?

SM: How was it working with her? Oh, it was amazing! She’s gorgeous. Oh, my God, she’s incredible. She’s like one of the most, you know, the few famous, really successful musicians that are selfless, you know? And, she was so generous to me and I felt so thankful. I’ve asked a lot of people to collaborate with me, because I admire them, not because they’re famous. And, she was one of the first that said, ‘yes’. Just immediately – like, ‘yeah, of course! I‘ll do it’. Straight up at the little crappy studio that I have in Brooklyn and you know, I didn’t have to pay her, it was all very easy. Yeah, she’s a great singer – Jesus Christ. (laughs)

JE: Is there anyone in the horizon that you would want to collaborate with – everything aside, who would be number one?

SM: Not even everything aside. I’ve been collaborating with a Portuguese composer called Rodrigo Leão and on my latest record there’s a singer called Neil Hannon and he’s from Divine Comedy, a band that I loved from the nineties. And also, another person that collaborated with him was a woman named Beth Gibbons from Portishead and we all got to do a show together in Lisbon and I met them and that’s how I got to work with Neil. But, then Beth had said that she’d do it as well, and so for my latest record I tried to get her to sing on it and obviously not through any fault of her own, she couldn’t do. She was having a baby and she was touring and she was moving house, so she’s my latest, kind of, obsession. And, you know, I’ve been obsessed with her since the early days of Portishead and I think she’s incredible. Beyond that, I think she’s a really lovely person. I think she’s nice.

JE: Are there any unsigned or underground musicians that you’re interested in at the minute?

SM: Well, I’ve got my friends in New York. My friends make music in New York and they’re amazing. And there’s a woman – Holly Miranda – I don’t know if you know her, well yeah, she’s been around for a while and she’s signed to- what’s her label? I can’t remember her label, but one of the most famous labels in Australia. [They] released her album, she didn’t do too well and got dropped, now she’s coming back with a new record and it’s incredible. So, Holly Miranda! And, there’s also Clint Michigan, who’s an amazing sort of singer-songwriter outfit based in folk and incredibly sentimental, about family and drug addiction and really beautiful subjects that are just pure. They’re the most- they’re my favourites. ||

|| “Do you know that my Mum and Dad came on tour with me? It was totally mental. So, Jameson Whisky had this project they were trying to get off the ground. Their project was, “it’s a family business”. And, they’d asked my friend in Berlin to kind of, like, direct this project and it was about photographing fathers and sons. And just, it kind of being like, you know, a documentation of fathers and sons and their relationship and their interaction. My friend Mario said like, ‘well, I want to do that with Scott Matthew and can we fly his father in to do this here in Berlin? Because, he’s on tour and he’s gonna be here?’ And, they’re like, ‘yeah, sure’. And, I asked my Dad and he was like, ‘yeah, I’d to do that, but I won’t go without your mother.’ So then what happened was Mario went back to Jameson Whisky and went, ‘well, we might need two tickets, will you do that?’ And, they said, ‘yeah, it’s kind of expensive but, we’ll do that.’ So, my Mum came as well! And, so my Mum and Dad- I was on tour – so, my Mum and Dad came to Europe and then toured with me for like two weeks. This is crazy.

(Did they love it though?)

They LOVED it. I mean, they’re from the bush in fucking Australia. And, this is like ridiculous for me too, because it was kind of the first time my parents had seen me doing my thing, you know? Usually, when we meet or connect it’s in their world. Or, my old world, and this was a chance for them to see me doing my thing as an adult and as a man that’s, you know, not connected to anything they know. And, it was really special. And then, of course, that lead to my Dad being on my record. My Dad sang with me.” ||

And thus ends, this particular evening with Scott Matthew.

Australian tour coming in 2014 – presented by Galloping Sheep and Ling Ang Film.

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