A Journey of Discovery in Music

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Matt Giles is a thoughtful songwriter because of the collected stories from his childhood memories and also forming new stories from his struggles in life, and the joys and hard aches he has experienced in love.

In Giles’s journey as a musician he has learned about the power of music and songwriting, and in his debut solo album, Year of the Dog, he has created a collection of ten songs which have the feel of American southern roots music. In this emailed interview, Giles talks about his songwriting and his musical plans for the future.

Jupiter Index: Was there anything musically you were exposed to as a youngster that helped you become an artist? Can you say what influenced you the most?
Matt Giles: I think just being exposed to art and music, in general, led me to becoming an artist and musician. It’s something that spoke to me right off. My parents exposed me to these things and more when I was growing up. My mom tells me that when I was really little I would strum air guitar in the back seat while the car radio was on. I guess guitar spoke to me early on. When I discovered Blues music I jumped all in. I was about 12 years old, or so. I thought, “Here we go. More of this.” I loved going back in time and hearing the progression of American music; what led to what. I listened to old jazz, from the turn of the century up until now. Same with blues, R&B, Doo Wop, Soul, Funk, Rock and Roll, Country, Cajun, Zydeco, British Invasion, etc. It’s like audio archeology. Soak it all up!

JI: What was the writing process like for Year of the Dog? Did the lyrics come first, or was it the music?
MG: I usually, but not always, come up with a rhythmic or musical idea first. I might randomly pluck at the guitar and something will happen. That musical idea may lead to a phrase or melody that puts me in a place to allow a story to unfold. After that point they’re hand in hand. Sometimes, an idea or a line comes to me that I sing in my head, maybe while driving around or doing laundry. Even then, though, the music for that is usually accompanying it in my head, as well.

JI: Tell us if there was a song you really enjoyed writing? (And why?)
MG: I enjoyed writing all of them, but Year of the Dog stands out as just being really fun. There’s an element of silliness mixed with dark-ish sounding music. Starting with nothing, or a tiny idea, and then having it spill out into fruition, is the most fun part of the artistic process. It was more like I was watching it happen.

JI: Your Facebook page says that you want to “forward your music” at Pateon.com - the creative website - talk about this site and if you have found it helpful?
MG: I used to shy away from song deadline situations, like song games with other writers or “write a song a day” type groups. I just let it hit when it hit. However, a few years ago I did join a writing group that meets only in January and February every year. I really enjoyed it and I’ve written a few songs that I like in that group. I felt like because of that experience I might could sign up for Pateon and offer up a new song every month. It keeps me writing and gives me a chance to really focus on the final recording. One of my favorite things to do in this world is record music at my home studio. Endless fun.

JI: Can you say what are your future goals for your next music project?
MG: I feel that I have enough material for the next record. I’d like to start recording it sooner, than later. I could record a lot of it here in my home studio, but I’d like to record some of it back at Mixorama, where YOTD was recorded and produced by Eldridge Goins. Getting back to playing live would be nice, too. Record, release, play out. Rinse, wash, and repeat.

JI: What would you like people to know about you and your music?
MG: I guess that I try to write, sing, and play with heart. Always. Hopefully, that speaks to someone out there. Really, I’d just like for people to enjoy the songs and the sounds that I make.

by G.M. Burns