Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Raw Diamond Ring”?
It was actually a song that I wrote for someone, but when it didn’t work out, it was too good to throw away. I considered throwing it on the chopping block, but thankfully Paul [Moak] (the producer) talked me out of it. I’m really proud of the sounds we got and the vibe we captured on tape. I had a great supporting cast of some of my best friends, so that made it a lot lighter than some of the other tunes on the record.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
I was gonna pull the trigger on a raw diamond ring, but now I’m glad I didn’t waste my money. (smiles).
How was the film experience?
It was incredible. Kyra and Willan House (the production crew) did most of the hard work; I was just there to do my small bit. I wanted the focus to be on her and the story inside the ring. We shot it in Camelback, a little town outside of Phoenix…one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. And the villa we shot it in was absolutely incredible. You can’t see it all in the video, but if it’s good enough for Jay-Z and Beyoncé to vacation in, it’s plenty luxurious. [smiles]
What was it like to work with Kyra Santoro and how did she come on board?
Kyra was perfect. She was super kind, a great hang, and really funny. Most girls that have had that much success in modeling/acting at such a young age can come off as divas. She was a total pro and was a blast to work with. My managers and I were looking for the right fit for the song and as soon as I saw her face, I knew she was perfect for it. She’s a classic beauty and super elegant. I was really stoked that she agreed to be a part of it when we asked. And putting up with 12 dudes all day isn’t that easy for most gals… but she handled it effortlessly.
The single comes off your new album Recoil – what’s the story behind the title?
Well if there’s a running theme throughout the record, it’s grief. The good, the bad, and the ugly parts of it. I wrote the entire album in about a month, which is really abnormal for me. The world “recoil” makes me think of the kick back of a shotgun when you fire a round. It hurts. And if you’re not careful, it can knock you over. I definitely fell, but I’m thankful to be back up on my feet again. Grief, in my opinion, is the most difficult and complex emotion we experience in this world. But it unites us. It requires us to learn to carry one another through the swamps.
How was the recording and writing process?
This was by far the furthest I’ve ever had to dig to find the songs. I had my first case of writer’s block at the end of 2015. It scared me to death. But once they started flowing, it was wild fire. I couldn’t stop pouring them out. I knew that Paul [Moak] was the guy for these songs. He knows how precious they are to me and how to respect and serve each one. That’s why I love making records with him. Not to mention, he owns the most killer studio in all of Nashville. It’s magical in there and the space encourages you to be creative and give yourself away to deliver the most passionate, convicted performances. That’s what gets people’s attention. I think we succeeded with this one.
What aspect of love did you get to explore on this material?
I got to go to every corner of that particular space in my heart. There are love songs like “Raw Diamond Ring” and “Merry-go-round,” which are more on the euphoric side. But in the other corners there was a lot of pain. “TURNCOAT” and “God’s Fault” are two of the most brutal songs I’ve ever written, but it had to be done. Someone can take everything from you if you let them. But they can’t take your art.
Any plans to hit the road?
Absolutely. I’ll be doing a hometown show in Birmingham on February 11th and then I’ll be Europe for the first time. I’m super excited to play outside of North America and see what the crowds are like over there. I’ve had a lot of friends go over there to tour and they all swear by it. It’s gonna be a blast.
What else is happening next in Matthew Mayfield’s world?
I’m just taking it one step at a time for now. If I’ve learned one thing over the last 12 years of doing this full time, it’s that you can’t get too far ahead of yourself. I hope to make another record later on this year, but “RECOIL” still has a lot of gas in its tank. This album has truly changed my life and judging by what I’ve heard from the fans, it’s changed some of theirs as well. That’s the reason I make art. It changed my life as a kid and as a fan, I’d like to pay it forward to others who enjoy listening and singing along.
Hi Alana, welcome to VENTS! How have you been? I’ve been great! It’s been somewhat …