INTERVIEW: Singer/songwriter/survivor Matt Lovell

Hi Matt, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Thank you for having me! I’ve been good, quarantined at home for the most part and connecting digitally with friends and family as much as I can.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Trouble”?

Yes! “Trouble” is a bouncy little anthem that I wrote when I was going through an era that was both difficult and a lot of fun. The song and the video explore the idea that while “trouble” can be a nuisance, it can also teach us unexpected lessons and lead us to all kinds of adventures.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I wrote it in a time when I was feeling very out of sorts. I was in the throes of typical mid-20s stuff. I was broke. I was going out on dates. I was going out with friends and staying out late into the night. I was facing myself, too. I’ve found in life that you can survive just about any era if you can find a way to keep a light heart, and that’s what this song is about.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

We recorded the video days after Nashville was hit by a tornado, and about a week before the pandemic and social distancing realities set in. I worked with my dear friends Jason Lee Denton and Aliegh Shields Denton, who also made the videos for my songs “90 Proof” and “Alligator Lilly.” My friend Kelly Eberle played the Trouble Monster in the video, and her sparkly costume was designed by Mackenzie Moore. Kelly and I researched how we wanted the choreography to feel – like iconic Hollywood dance combos such as Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire – something that felt classic and infused it with humor. The quote at the end of the video, “The only real elegance is in the mind; if you’ve got that, the rest really comes from it,” is from Diana Vreeland, whose visual aesthetic and general attitude towards life has always been an inspiration to me.

The single comes off your new album Nobody Cries Today – what’s the story behind the title?

I wrote the album’s title track with friends the day that Prince died. It was derived from the feeling we felt in light of the news of his passing. That year—2016—was a tiring and tense one in our country.  It was an election year, and there was so much bickering and tension leading up to that November. There was the Pulse shooting in Orlando.  There was Brexit.  There was continued news of the threat of ISIS and the Syrian refugee crisis. There was Standing Rock.

The things that we were all navigating collectively were so heavy on my heart, as I was also facing personal quandaries of my own. “Nobody Cries Today”is a way of addressing this.  It is a way of stating my hope for us all, and my wish that in some way I can hold space in some capacity for anyone else out there who is feeling small and sometimes scared.

I’ve chosen this song as the title track for my album because it, plainly and simply, communicates my view of life and my understanding of it—at lease my understanding of it this far.  Life is a strange thing; we live it and the whole time we have no idea what it is.  The most valuable and meaningful work I believe we can do is in holding each other up as we all live out our time on this planet.  

How was the recording and writing process?

I write mostly alone, but I do enjoy co-writing with my circle of friends. My album was produced by Matt Odmark, and tracked lived a Sputnik Sound in Nashville. We ate Baja Burrito sometimes more than once a day. The audio was tracked live in the studio, conveniently located right around the corner from Baja Burrito. We tracked the songs to tape, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. We did the overdubs at Matt’s studio, Gray Matter.

What role does Nashville play in your music?

I grew up in Nashville, and I have a romance for old Nashville. I still remember what Nashville was like when I was a little boy; I loved growing up here. I like the new version of it too, with all the changes it’s experienced. The creative community is just as collaborative, inclusive, and accessible as ever. I can’t tell if my relationship to my hometown is informed by my old memories or my new experiences.

How did the tragedy that you went through the recording and writing process serve as a source of inspiration for this record?

All but one of these songs were recorded in 2016—just months before I nearly lost my life in a shooting. On January 20, 2017, I was shot in the chest by a sixteen-year-old who was attempting to steal my car. Miraculously, I lived. In turn, these songs have taken on new meaning – they’re still the same songs, but my perspective on everything has changed. 

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

I started writing this record in 2012. The story told in these songs has had several endings and several beginnings, which is normal since they span many years of life experiences – they say it takes your whole life to write your first album. In all that time, I gathered what I call “a wild palette of paints.” These songs have taught me so much, and have gotten me from one day to the next. They came during tumultuous years when I was trying to find acceptance for myself and the world. They have also allowed me to explore my passion for life with all its ups and downs, the discontent, hunger, truth, and ultimately, hope.  

Any plans to hit the road?

I hope so! I’d love to get out there and connect with folks; in the meantime, I’m writing and plan to record again soon! 

What else is happening next in Matt Lovell’s world?

I’m gearing up for the release of Nobody Cries Today on June 19th, I’m so excited to get it out there! I’m also planning to celebrate social distance-style with a bike parade through Nashville, stopping along the way to say hello to old friends and new ones. I’m going to have a speaker attached to my handlebars to play the album as we go. It’s going to be so hot and humid, please send good vibes and prayers my way!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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