We chat with songwriter Matthew Frederick about his many musical projects
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF FOR US WHO ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH YOU AND YOUR MUSIC AND TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.
I’m from the Rhondda Valley in South Wales, which is a mountainous and musical part of the world. To date, I’ve released five albums, two EPs and (I think) fifteen singles across various projects, including my band Climbing Trees, with whom I’ve been fortunate enough to play shows across the UK and over in Europe and the US over the last few years, as well as making a load of television, radio and festival appearances, which is always fun!
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR NEW ALBUM OR SINGLE?
‘Leave The Light On’ is out on October 30th, and is the fifth single from my debut solo studio album ‘Fragments’, which came out on CD, tape and digital via Staylittle Music earlier this year. It’s the opening track on the album, one of my favourites, in fact, and follows on from ‘Tell Me’, ‘Hay-on-Wye’, ‘Pink Blossom Snow’ and ‘Laura Jones’, which were the first four singles. It’s a song that means a lot to me, as they all do for different reasons, and one that’s been floating about for a while – it originally appeared in a much earlier form on my 2015 album ‘Live At Long Row’, although I think I prefer the 2020 version!
WHAT INSPIRED THE ALBUM?
After releasing my debut solo EP ‘Venus & Mars’ in 2012, the band pretty much took over for the next five years, and was my main focus during that period. We’ve been ‘hibernating’ since the end of 2017, other than a few acoustic shows and house gigs here and there, which has given each of us a chance to work on our solo material and side projects. A lot of the songs on ‘Fragments’ had been half-written in previous years and, for one reason or another, never quite finished off, so it felt a little like I was piecing things together for this album until suddenly it made sense as a collection of songs on one record.
CAN YOU SUM UP THE ALBUM IN A FEW WORDS?
Delicate. Nostalgic. A moment in time.
WHAT RECORD CHANGED YOUR LIFE AND WHY?
That’s a hard one… There are too many to mention, and I couldn’t possibly pick just one, but I think Bon Iver’s ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ had a big effect on me ten or so years ago when I was coming to the end of my time at University and starting to take songwriting and the idea of being a full-time musician a little more seriously. It was also a big influence on the band as well, and one we listened to quite a bit during the making of our first album, ‘Hebron’. There were plenty of records before that, and plenty afterwards as well – if you asked me the same question tomorrow I’d probably give you a different answer altogether, but I’ll go with that one for now!
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE MUSIC VIDEO FILMED BY YOUR BAND?
My favourite video by Climbing Trees is ‘Graves’, the first single from our most recent album ‘Borders’, which we filmed in and around our hometown of Pontypridd here in South Wales. I think most people can relate to the idea of wanting to escape your hometown but inevitably being drawn back, and this video seems to have resonated with a lot of people as a result.
WHAT WOULD WE FIND YOU DOING WHEN YOU'RE NOT MAKING MUSIC?
I usually play football around three times a week, as well as tennis in the summer months. The Lockdown here in Wales has put a stop to that for the time being, though, unfortunately, so I’ve spent the last few months walking lots, getting to know the mountains around me once again, as well as growing whatever I can in the garden, cooking on the fire, reading, and trying to get back to a slightly more simple way of life.
DO YOU GET NERVOUS PERFORMING LIVE, IF SO HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT?
I don’t really get nervous, although I’m always slightly more apprehensive playing in front of a small, deadly silent crowd where you can see each and every face (particularly if it includes friends and family). I’d much rather play to a larger festival crowd, for example. I’ve been wondering what it’ll be like to play in front of a crowd again – as we speak, I’ve not played live (outside of my living room) for seven months, and the way things are going it could be another seven at least. So maybe the first one back will be a little nerve-wracking…
HOW DID YOU FORM THE BAND?
As of the start of this year, I’ve actually got two bands on the go; Climbing Trees, and The Hindsights, the new backing band I’ve put together for my solo project, although I’m yet to share the stage with them after all of our 2020 live shows were either postponed or cancelled! As for the Trees, we formed from various local open mic and jam nights, primarily at
Globetrotters Bar (our semi-official HQ) and Clwb y Bont here in Pontypridd, and morphed a little over time with a few line-up changes here and there. We played with four different drummers one year, I think!
HOW DO YOU WRITE? - DO YOU HAVE A KEY SONGWRITER, OR DO YOU ALL WORK TOGETHER?
We have three primary songwriters with Climbing Trees, which coincidentally means that we also have three different lead vocalists, depending on the songs. Often one band member will bring the bare bones of a song to rest of the group, and we’ll then develop it together, sometimes changing the structure slightly, fleshing it out with instrumentation, harmonies etc. until it becomes distinctly a Climbing Trees song. On the flipside to that, I wrote and played everything on my latest solo album, so it’s nice to have that balance of control and compromise between the two projects.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Seeing other artists live is always inspiring – although if they’re really good, it can also be a little deflating! Aside from music, I always find walking an inspiration – solitude in general, actually, whether I’m hiking, or driving, for example. It always seems to result in an idea for a song, a little snippet of a chorus, an opening line or intro. The nighttime, as well – I always feel more inspired (and more creative) after midnight, for some reason.
WHAT IS NEXT?
I think ‘Leave The Light On’ will be the final single from the album. It’s a little strange, because it was meant to round off a year filled with gigs, festival appearances and who-knows-what-else to coincide with the promotion of the record, but I now feel like I’m in between records even though I’ve been unable to perform ‘Fragments’ as planned. That’ll have to wait until 2021, I suppose, but I’ll be spending the winter writing and demoing the next album at home before hopefully heading back into the studio at some point next year to make a start on that. I’m also planning to record an EP with my new duo, Hazel & Grey, and there should be some more Climbing Trees material a little further down the line as well, so there’s plenty of work to do, and plenty to look forward to!
PLEASE TELL US ANY SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS SO WE CAN SHARE.
Website • https://www.matthewfrederick.co.uk
Mailing List • http://eepurl.com/dnaH1X
Bandcamp • https://matthewfrederick.bandcamp.com
Facebook • https://facebook.com/matthewfrederickmusic
Soundcloud • https://soundcloud.com/matthewfrederick
Twitter • https://twitter.com/MattJFrederick
Instagram • https://instagram.com/mattjfrederick
YouTube • https://www.youtube.com/matthewfredericktv
Spotify • http://open.spotify.com/artist/6dlxAbwqhm5i1yiIDVvQEG
Apple Music / iTunes • https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/matthew-frederick/id946498357
Amazon Music • https://music.amazon.com/artists/B0021HRM8S
Google Play • https://play.google.com/store/music/artist?id=Afa6amtqbleo2ulpyhfbuxcspta
Songkick • https://www.songkick.com/artists/7681324-matthew-frederick
BBC Music • https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/9caef0a9-612a-4545-87ec-1235a54d11b4
Climbing Trees • http://www.ilikeclimbingtrees.com
Hazel & Grey • https://www.hazelandgrey.co.uk
Staylittle Music • http://www.staylittlemusic.com
https://matthewfrederick.bandcamp.com/track/leave-the-light-on-2 https://matthewfrederick.bandcamp.com/album/fragments https://matthewfrederick.bandcamp.com/track/tell-me-2 https://matthewfrederick.bandcamp.com/track/hay-on-wye https://matthewfrederick.bandcamp.com/track/pink-blossom-snow-2 https://matthewfrederick.bandcamp.com/track/laura-jones-2 https://matthewfrederick.bandcamp.com/album/live-at-long-row
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