The end of the year is nigh, and tis the season of lists - looking back on what's been, and getting excited about what 2016 may hold. So many promising predictions are being made about what music will give us next year, if you want to bank one dead cert - it's that Matt Corby will become a household name.
We sat down with Corby in London, where he told us about his the highs and lows of his musical journey thus far.
He began his musical career at the age of 16 on Australian Idol, where he finished runner up. Since then, he’s developed his own musical style that's so human and universal, releasing EPs. After two years of silence, Corby has announced that his debut album, Telluric, which will be released in March 2016. Until then, he has been touring internationally, teasing his new material as well as performing songs from his older EPs.
Here are 14 things we learned from talking with the future star of 2016:
1. He has only just mastered his instruments
“I just spent the last two years figuring out how to play a bunch of instruments. Now I feel that I’ve finally got to a point where I can complete a composition from start to finish just completely independently.”
2. He sees us all as ‘Tellurians’
“Telluric is a word to describe precious metals but as a bigger overreaching metaphor, it’s about the terrestrial of the earth. We’re all tellurians, we’re all things that have grown out of the earth’s intelligence over time and the biological evolution of things. We’re nothing more than the plant life or animal that’s on this earth. We just think that we’re more intelligent.”
Listen to 'Sooth Lady Wine' from Telluric, below.
3. He takes around one month to complete a song
“Most of these songs were written within a month. Most of the time it starts with a rhythm or chord progression.”
4. The biggest inspiration for his music is his friends
“I’m inspired by a lot of people I know. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by a lot of people with a lot of time on their hands. Being from a country like Australia, you have a shit load of time on your hands. Everyone is trying to do something musically good in my friendship circle. There’s a band that was called the Middle East who were fucking cool. They were a nine-piece band with three lead singers and I ended up living with one of them for a while. We had a lot of similar ideas and music tastes. About a year and a half ago we really pushed each other to a place where we were happy to produce what we’d call a song.”
5. It’s his dream for Lauren Hill to swear at him.
“I really love people like Charles Bradley and Lauren Hill, who’s a beast. You can’t fuck about with that chick, she’s a total badass. It’d be my dream for her to swear at me.”
6. He listens to contemporary music analytically
"I listen to contemporary music now analytically to have a rough idea about how the industry is presenting music. People are hedging bets and trying to make money off some sort of formula. The public are outsmarting the industry by going 'that’s boring, I recognise that formula, I know that’s trying to make money'. I try to tailor my music to avoid that. My songs have their own thing going on individually. I need people to understand my songs but I need to push my boundaries of what I think is acceptable in order to push theirs.”
7. He’s finally overcome his Australian Idol stigma.
“The negative energy surround my Australian idol days has dispersed. There are still hints of it but now its something I can laugh at. It was definitely a battle for a few years, more so in Australia though. If people really want to find that out, they’ll find it out. In Australia I was ‘that dude from the TV’. People were like 'why the fuck should I give him the time of day'. I’ve released enough music to counteract that stigma. For a while I had to keep reminding people that I was super young and I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. Anyone else that age would’ve done the same as me. I took it with a grain of salt, but no one else understood that. The show is edited in such a way that it’s not ‘you’. It’s a rough approximation of who you are, but a more marketable version of your personality. It’s all for ratings, it’s not reality TV at all.”
Check out a very young Matt Corby singing Coldplay's 'The Scientist' on Australian Idol below:
9. He doesn’t give a f*** if his music goes to no.1
“I’m always having second thoughts about continuing with music. I mainly do it because it’s the only thing I can do. I just want to make good music at the end of the day. I couldn’t give a fuck if it went to number one, that’s all pointless. There’s so much music nowadays that people just want to hear something honest. Look at Father John Misty, that motherfucker is so honest. He’s almost sarcastic in his honesty and it’s really resonating with people because finally they’re not being spoken down to. They aren’t as dumb as everyone assumes them to be. It’s liberating. I want to be part of that. I want to help people understand themselves and to get in touch with what they are fundamentally.”
10. He despises the way the music industry works
“There’s a lot of shit that’s weird about being a musician in this day and age. The whole marketing side of it is obscure. I think it’s ostentatious because it’s so ego driven. I struggle with ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ when the cooks have never had a cooking lesson. I had a hard day today with people trying to revise the track listing with this record. I spent all day in my hotel room listening to the songs that I put to bed that I don’t need to listen to again because I’ve already made all of these decisions. It just so happens that you have to indulge whoever and their little suggestions and the way they want things to be.”
“I find it really difficult. I’ve come this far and done it all on my own. I’ve got it to the point where it’s mixed and mastered but still there are things that are being questioned about the things I am making. Now I have to go and revise stuff and then things will get pushed back a week or a month. It makes my blood boil. It sounds bad but its really hard not to feel personally attacked. Even by your team and the people who care about what you’re doing, when they question you, I don’t know what their incentives are.”
“I sent the record label my album and the first thing they said was ‘oh there aren’t any singles on it’.”
11. He likes Brighton, but is a bit intimidated by London
“Brighton is pretty cool. People are chill there. I always get a bit nervous playing in London. I moved here when was 18, made a lot of mistakes and the more serious part of my musical journey began here. I was at the same time under threat here. There are so many talented people here and so many people trying to do good shit, it just becomes a bit overwhelming when I come back here. I feel the weight of this city, which is heavy. I don’t know how to describe it. It gets the better of me.”
“I’m Australian. I live in a tiny community of a few thousand people and everyone knows everyone. No one does anything quickly and you come here and everyone’s like “fuck off, fuck off, you’re a cunt, you’re a cunt” it’s crazy!”
12. He doesn’t like big venues
“If you have a bigger venue that is still capable of creating an intimate setting, that’s awesome. But a big venue that seems massive, there’s a level of detachment there that I find hard to deal with. If I wound up on the pyramid stage on Glastonbury, I would eat shit. The more people ther are, the less emotional connection you have. A lot of my music is emotionally based. It’s harder to communicate that.”
13. He’s big mates with the man who created Neil Young’s artwork
“My management sent Gary Burden an interview of mine. We ended up having this conversation on the phone. He is a legend. We had a huge conversation about the state of the world and creativity. He’s on such a similar level to me in so many ways. When he asked what to make for this album, he said do you have any direction for the artwork, I just said ‘telluric’, I know you’ll be inspired. He said that he had a transcending experience when listening to Monday.”
Listen to 'Monday' below:
14. He’s excited to visit Canada
“I’m excited to go to Canada but I don’t know why. I feel like all the Canadians I met are similar to Australians: chill and sarcastic. The Hoser Canadian mentality is similar to the Australian larrikin mentality.”
15. He reckons there’s brain tissue in your gut.
“If you have a feeling in your gut, go with it. There’s brain tissue there that may defy the logic centres in your brain but it may be the right decision. If you trust yourself through the process, you won’t have anyone else to blame. You don’t want to be pointing fingers at people. The more honest you can be, the better.”
Corby's UK upcoming tour dates are below. Tickets for the new tour will be available for pre-sale on Tuesday 15th December at 9am, and on general sale on Wednesday 16th at 9am. For tickets and information, visit here.
2 March - Glasgow, O2 ABC 1
4 March - Leeds, Stylus
5 March - Manchester, Albert Hall
7 March - Liverpool, Arts Club
8 March - Birmingham, O2 Institute
9 March - Bristol, Anson Rooms
12 March - Southampton, Engine Rooms
14 March - Worthing, Pavilion Theatre
15 March - London, Roundhouse
2 April - Belfast, Limelight 2
3 April - Dublin, Academy