An Interview With The Nashville-Based Singer-Producer MATTHEW NOTH About His Newest Music As MOODSMITH!
Posted On 16 Aug 2018
Moodsmith is singer, producer, and pianist Matthew Noth’s R & B leaning electronic project. The name ‘Moodsmith’ comes from his mission: crafting moods by welding together intricate rhythms and layers of expertly designed melodic synths. This Chicago raised, Nashville based songwriter-musician uses his abundant talent behind the keys and a passion for synthesis as the foundation for his singularly recognizable vocal melodies and lyrics.
He received a BA in English from Belmont University and has performed at a number of Nashville venues. Matt has composed and released several albums & singles, including Wasted Time & Currents in 2018, Far From You (2017), Through The Wormhole (2016) and Mantara (2015). His 2015 track “Loud” with Megan Davies was featured on the popular music publication Earmilk.
Matthew is releasing a single track featuring EDM top liner Notelle in September, as well as some videos of a live piano set. Another Noth vocal-fueled moodsmith track drops next Friday, August 24th.
Learn more about Notelle here: http://www.notellemusic.com/
Here’s a track she top-lined on: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2QH237xSFhmfZJHrRulT7U
Learn more about Matthew Noth aka Moodsmith in the following All Access interview:
Where does this interview find you now? What’s on tap for the rest of your day?
I’ve been working on one of my freelance writing jobs today, Monday the 9th. I write curriculum for a non-profit after school program called “Every Monday Matters” that focuses on Social Emotional Learning and personal empowerment… this week’s curriculum is ‘Be A Problem Solver’… So i’m actually learning some stuff too, haha… its never been my strong suit.
Overall, how do you think 2018 has been treating you and your music career? What has been one goal that you have had this year and how close are you to reaching it?
2018 has been good so far… I’ve already started and failed a romance, so I got a few good songs out of that. Really though, its been tough. I’ve been considering to releasing an EP this year but I keep going back and forth between the idea of dropping single individual songs vs. a whole project. When you produce, write, mix and master all your own material, it’s very easy to get burnt out on the music. Thankfully I was able to drop two singles and a cover between now and April, and I plan on keeping the music releases coming. I’ve been getting back to my roots for a “creating it for the love of the music” mindset. I also had a great live show in April, probably my best yet and using equipment I’m only just starting to master (Ableton and Push 2). My goal for this year is to play more shows and to keep releasing music.
Growing up, was music always a big part of your life? Can you recall your first ever musical experience?
Music was always a huge part of my life ever since I can remember. My mom was big on making me and my three older siblings participate in music to some degree, probably because my Grandma on her side was a Jazz singer for many years. I think my first memory of music was sitting with her on the piano bench watching / listening to her play, discounting baby lullabies.
How do you think you and your music have been influenced by your hometown of Chicago and where you live today in Nashville? If you don’t think that it has affected you at all, why is that?
I’m of the opinion that every experience, encounter, and environment you find yourself in influences the art that you create—in my case, the music that I write. The biggest factor in Nashville has been the encounters—the sheer number of musically talented folks around here is astounding. There’s a great joke around here that you could make several bands using the past week’s worth of Uber drivers. I went from writing solely piano / acoustic pop folk when I moved here in 2009 to producing electronic, hip / hop, and learning synthesizers, mostly because of the people I’ve met and all the things I’ve learned from them.
I find it interesting that sometimes musicians choose to go by something other than their own name so how did you come up with Moodsmith and why not just go by your own real name?
Moodsmith was coined by one of my production “sensei’s”… really just one of my best friends, Roger Rafael, and it basically represents the idea of creating a sonic mood, turning nothing into something. He knows I’m a huge fantasy geek too so using the concept of a blacksmith made sense for me. I met him my Freshman year in college and he had already been making beats under the moniker “The Insurgency” for years. He isn’t really involved in music much these days, but I recommend checking his material out if you’re into hip hop. He has a track on Lloyd Bank’s Cold Corner 2 that kills me. He taught me a ton about production, drum programming, and that turned into several collaborations. I’m toying with the idea of bringing Matt Noth back into the fold, as the name for my singer songwriter material, mostly piano r&b and pop focused material. The piano only Moodsmith releases will be re released under Matt Noth in that scenario.
How would you say that you have grown as a musician over the years and since your 2015 debut collection “Mantara”? What about your sound continues to develop and change over time? What has remained the same about it?
In a word, better. Much, much better, but I think that’s the struggle every artist has, looking back on older works and noticing how they could be improved upon. If you keep up the work, you really do get better, year by year. My sound has gotten much more refined, my mixing has gotten better and so has my production, but the core thematic movements in the songwriting has remained relatively constant. I hope that I can continue to release better “debut” albums.
I actually had the pleasure of interviewing Megan Davies (last summer) for All Access who you worked together with on the track “Loud” so I am curious to know how that collaboration came to be and what that experience was like for you?
Ah, I had no idea you interviewed Megan! We went to College together, she’s my absolute favorite. When she’s not busy being famous we get together for dinner and things, haha. Working with Megan has been one of the great pleasures of my artistic career; we met in a songwriting class in 2010 and have been friends / collaborators ever since. We wrote that song I think in 2013, if you can believe it. Our work together started largely as her contributing female harmonies (her voice as you know, is incredible, and she also happens to be a melodic / musical genius), until I asked her to sing a whole song on the project so I could showcase my female vocal based pop production. It was a fun time, we wrote it in her apartment at the time which felt like a 70s time warp.. Very “that seventies show” vibe.
What can you tell us about some of the new music that you are currently working on? How is it different or similar to anything else that you have released before? Can you talk about a few specific new tracks and how they were written? Where do you generally get the inspiration for your music? Do you find that you are constantly keeping notes for potential songs?
Not just notes, voice memos. Hundreds and hundreds of voice memos. As I mentioned above, I get inspiration for music everywhere. A lot of times it does come from heartbreak, I’ll admit that. I minored in Political Science so I’m always paying attention to the news, international affairs, and that definitely influences my writing. I think overall I’ve become more mature than I was as a writer than when I released Loud. Always writing down little one liners.
What do you think makes for an ideal show for you? What has been a favorite performance of yours so far? Do you have any upcoming shows in Nashville this summer?
I’m nine times out of ten up there alone, so an ideal show for me is when things go smooth. I’ve got to que the tracks, play keys and sing, it can be a little overwhelming. I take a lot of time on the front end to prepare the different parts of the show. My favorite performance so far was definitely opening for Futexture in April at The Back Corner here in Nashville. The sound at that venue is stellar thanks to the sound guy, who produces under Raga Sutra.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how your own music is reflecting this time period? If you don’t think it is, why is that? Would you say that other musicians are making music that has been influenced by this climate?
There is a big trend in music writing about people coming together. I think it’s hard in this day and age to write politically charged music well, that really digs past easily digestible themes. No one wants to step on any toes. It’s so easy for lyrics to get misconstrued and taken out of context. For me, this means trying to be more creative with metaphors and imagery in an attempt to subtly get across my opinions. I think there is a building sense of anxiety in the collective conscious, which I think can be in part attributed to the generally negative and hostile climate in America these days. Music therefore has gone both ways–further away from being political and instead used as an escape, (which I don’t think is a bad thing) and directly confrontational. Most music listeners are so busy with their day to day that they want music that will help them unwind, that they don’t have to work hard to decipher. Hip Hop music is rightfully so the most political genre right now.
Artists like Kendrick Lamar, Aesop Rock, these are just two examples of writers who really cut to the core in painting a sonic picture of this time period. Father John Misty I think is probably one of the most successful political musicians right now. His songs really capture some of the more negative aspects of our culture, and also provide a light level of optimism and hope. He’s also an incredible performer. One amazing thing about this future of music is that so many more people have the ability to create and release music, which naturally has led to a wide variety of new topics in music, with ranging levels of politicization.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
So many musicians inspire me; its cliché, but John Mayer has been my day one, and outside his foray into acoustic folk I’m still jamming his new material. My style of music has changed dramatically since 2009, when I was mostly listening to artists like Iron & Wine, Ryan Adams, Coldplay, Jeff Buckley, John Mayer, Nick Drake, Elliot Smith, you know, that sort of sad acoustic vibe. Still big into Jazz even though I don’t play kit in a big band anymore. I’m still working through my favorite Pianist’s discography, Keith Jarret. From 2009 onward I started really getting into more electronic, experimental, and even classic artists like James Blake, Talking Heads, Toro Y Moi, Brian Eno, Aphex Twin. Right now one of my favorites is Ryuchi Sakamoto, an ambient electronic producer and huge film composer right now (he did the Revenant). I’d DIE to work with Sakamoto, obviously getting John Mayer or Chris Martin (Coldplay) on a beat would be insane, and I haven’t mentioned Pharrell yet, but getting in the studio with him would be unreal. There’s so many more musicians out there I’d kill to work with.
If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island forever, what musical item would you take with you?
Well if you don’t count the amplifier, I’d bring my Nord Stage Ex. Keyboard and synths, all in one.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music?
I hope they take away a sense of connectedness, comfort; knowing that someone else feels a similar way. Also, I just want them to experience some great vibes from something they haven’t heard before.
Where can our readers connect with you?
Instagram (moodsmith_), my website (www.moodsmith.be) or via email email@example.com are the best places to connect with me.
(All photography provided by Moodsmith)