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What I Learned at Bandcamp: Matthew Fowler

Matthew Fowler, Bandcamp, Interview, Beginning

Matthew Fowler, a 19-year-old musician from Orlando, Fla., released his debut album Beginning in June 2013. He began writing at the age of 14 without realizing the songs he created would turn into his debut five years later.

Although he’s young and the songs were developed during an age when most kids are consumed by the latest tech gadget and filled with angst, Fowler managed to produce an album that’s mature in both lyrics and musicianship.

The album was recorded in his parent’s kitchen, “With no experience in recording or mixing, we learned as we went, spent nothing, and emerged with a set of songs we were proud of, a set of songs that felt organic, a set of songs that felt like home.”

Beginning is available for name-your-price download on Bandcamp. Fowler says songs “Leaving Home/Open Road” and “Leaving Home/Telephone Calls” were inspired by a trip to the Grand Canyon his junior year of high school. “Everyone else went to the beach; we went to the Grand Canyon, so you can already tell what kind of people we are,” he says. “But it was the first road trip I ever went on and it really awoke something inside me.”

The Spec interviewed Matthew Fowler about Beginning and his inspiration as a musician, read what he had to say below…

How long have you been making music?
I started playing guitar and writing songs at the age of 14. I remember getting my first guitar (the guitar I still use live) on my 14th birthday and not knowing how to play a single chord.

How did you meet and form the band?
Well, the people who played with on my album are all people that I knew in Orlando from playing live. Friends, people I knew who played instruments, and basically people in my area I knew from high school.

Who/what are your influences?
As a singer/songwriter, there are the obvious influences like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison. But for whatever reason, I’ve always seemed to really identify with Irish musicians. Glen Hansard being my favorite, but also Damien Rice, and even the band Villagers. That Irish passion and style of songwriting has always really inspired me.

What is your favorite song off the new album and why?
It’s tough to pick a favorite from my own songs! I will say that lyrically, I’m quite proud of the song “Blankets.” It’s the most recent of the songs on the album, only being written a few weeks before the album was released. Musically and just sentimentally, I would say my favorite is the song “Don’t Change.” It’s the first song I ever wrote at 14 years old and I’m just so proud of what it has turned into. I’ve been carrying around for five years so I’m glad it finally got to be heard in the way it always should have been.

Upcoming projects, where do you want to go from here?
Well, since the last album was just released, I don’t plan on recording anything for a bit. But right now there’s just a focus on touring, playing shows, and getting the word out there. Sites like this are a perfect way to spread the album to a group of people who would enjoy it, so I’m really grateful to be mentioned on here.

What inspires your music?
My music is inspired mainly by very personal experiences. The songs are very open and essentially chronicle my own insights and afflictions with my life thus far. I’ve never been one to write about fictional stories or from other people’s points of view. However, the songs do end up relating to everybody’s individual experiences with themes like heartbreak and even self-realization.

What musicians or bands do you look up to?
I mentioned before Glen Hansard. He’s definitely the musician I look up to the most. He plays the way he feels and always gives 110 percent to every performance. I have huge respect for artists that play exactly what they want to play, such as Laura Marling, whose songs have beautifully evolved over the last couple albums. Even the band Dawes who was always associated with sounding like Jackson Browne, or something that of that nature, but their new album is fantastic and has really set them aside as making music sounds like nobody but themselves.

Why do you make music?
I make music because I love music. I feel like there are certain feelings and emotions that I can only get through with song. I love music for the way it makes me feel when I play it, and the way it makes others feel. I’ve always felt that if you love something, you should go for it. So I am.

Anything else you’d like readers to know that we haven’t asked you about?
The album itself was recorded in my parent’s kitchen, which I think gives it that “homey” feel. Also, most of it was recorded live. I tried to keep the album as close to the live performance as possible. I had a real problem with “perfect” studio albums that could never sound nearly as good at a show. Also, I think there’s just something natural about a live recording. I think you get more out of it, and you can feel the emotions of the songs a lot better.

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