Wednesday 29 November 2017

Interview: Jay Matharu

Guitarist and composer Jay Matharu looks back at the creative process of his debut solo effort "These Clouds Are So Undisciplined!," and album that is a fusion of different styles that are carefully put together, making for a rather natural flow. Matharu collaborated with few guest musicians including guitarists Nili Brosh and Ponch Satrio, trumpetist Andreas Boliden, bassist Oscar Hansson, and pianist Emil Ingmar.
Does releasing music under your own name make it feel more personal? Is it sort of a statement of who you are?
I’m not really sure. This is the first time I’ve ever released music as a solo artist, all I can say is that it was pretty nerve-racking, to stand out there by yourself, naked for everyone to see, especially in todays climate with all the internet trolls (laughs). When deciding on whether or not I would release this album I went through phases of self-doubt, questioning if my music was any good. I had never experienced this before as I’ve always released music as part of a band, even if I wrote the song. You are one person out of four or five, and everyone is positive, boosting your confidence. In this case I was very much alone, the turning point was when I got a reply from Nili Brosh agreeing to play a solo on the track “Breathe In, Breathe Out”. She said she digged the track and my playing which was a real confidence booster.
How do you usually describe your music?
I normally describe it as melodic instrumental rock, with elements of other genres. I think the album has something for everyone. It’s dynamic with catchy melodies, technical passages, bluesy licks, jazzy chords and thematic development. If you listen to the album from start to finish the music really takes you on a journey.
What is your writing process like?
Normally it’s a very organic process, I just turn the lights out and play until I come up with something I like. I’ll then just keep playing over and over again until another idea presents itself. As I had set a time restriction on the writing and recording process on this album I was a little more organized. I was simultaneously working a full time job so I had to schedule all my spare time to fit in writing and recording sessions. Within the first few weeks of the process I came up with a load of ideas, riffs, melodies etc. I recorded them in loops and created a playlist I could listen to when I was out and about. This helped to generate ideas and gave me a sense of where I could take the songs. I then created rough guide tracks/ arrangements before colouring in all the details and melodies.
Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?
Everything and anything inspires me. The theme of the album is from experiences I’ve had in the last few years however the actually inspiration to write an album came from watching a YouTube clip. There was this guy who set himself the task of learning a guitar technique called sweep picking within one hundred days. He recorded ten seconds of his practice every day over the course of one hundred days. In the short clip he went from a complete novice to master of the technique, I found it very inspiring and thought to myself what if I could write and record an album in within one hundred days… and now “These Clouds Are So Undisciplined!” is released.

What is your favourite piece on the “These Clouds are So Undisciplined!” and why?
I don’t really have a favourite song, as I’m so close to the music, although I really do enjoy playing the arpeggio bridge riff in “Breathe In Breathe Out”. In my eyes/ ears the songs are all equally as good. They all tell a story and take the listener on a journey.
What makes “These Clouds are So Undisciplined!” different?
I suppose what’s unique about the album is the fusion of many different music styles. Also where have you ever heard a midi trumpet solo on a prog fusion track before? I suppose it’s very natural to try to compare everything new we hear to something that we’ve heard before. I think the best way to listen to my album is from start to finish in its entirety. That way the listener can judge the whole experience instead of just one or two songs.
What should music lovers expect from “These Clouds are So Undisciplined!”?
They can expect an emotional rollercoaster ride. An instrumental prog-rock album with many twist and turns,
What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?
I think how we hear music is very different and very personal, I know what I feel when I listen to this album is going to be different to others, but as long as the music invokes some sort of an emotional reaction from the listener I’ve done my job well.

Which do you like most, life in the studio or on tour?
I love both but touring is my favourite!  Life in the studio is great, you get to be very creative, but after a while it can be tiring. We’ve all been there, where eight hours have gone by and all you’ve done is move a fader up and down to find the best volume for the glockenspiel. Playing live is amazing, you get to connect with your audience and when touring you get to meet so many new people and experience new cultures.   
Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.
I have hundreds of favourite albums so this is really difficult. 

I would need music to keep me calm so Brian Eno’s – Music for airports. Something upbeat, Brute Force by The Algorithm and an album to sing along to, Superunknown by Soundgarden.
Get "These Clouds Are So Undisciplined!" from Bandcamp.

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