Posted On 09 Sep 2016
The former bassist of the successful indie rock group The Rapture recently released his solo debut, “All We Are.” The 5-song EP features honest songwriting about love and spiritual growth pairing Mattie’s smooth vocals with stripped-down r&b production.
The EP is a product of Safer’s time on Wolf Tone Records and his recent move to Los Angeles last summer to embark on his new career as an independent artist, songwriter and producer.
Learn more about Mattie in the following All Access interview here:
Now that we are more than half-way through 2016, what are some words you would use to describe it? What were some of the highlights of 2015 for you and your music?
2016 has been a breakthrough! I finally got my music out for people to hear. I played my first show in LA, I’ve been able to go back and forth between NY and LA to perform several times and that was the dream when I relocated. Just to be surrounded with good creative people in all aspects of my career. I feel like I’m in charge of my career for the first time after a difficult few years and that is really empowering.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
The first time that I experimented with performing was when I was 11, I had a rap group with my friends and we performed an original song at a talent show. After that I started playing piano and I was singing some, but I really knew that I wanted to do it full-time when I started playing bass. It clicked in a way that the other things didn’t, I knew it would be my gateway to professional life. I kept up with the singing and piano playing, played in bands, backed up lots of different artists all through high school, the bass was the gateway.
You recently released your debut solo album called “All We Are.” Where did the inspiration for this album come from? How long did it take to put together?
“All We Are” is a collection of songs I wrote at a time in my life that was full of transition. Coming off my last full tour with the band in 2007, the personality clashes were exhausting and the musical connection wasn’t there. I had been dealing with my dissatisfaction in unhealthy ways; not taking care of myself, being bitter and sarcastic. I decided to take a breath and listen.
I had “Songs in the Key of Life” by Stevie Wonder and “The Blueprint” by Jay-Z on repeat for weeks. It felt like home and songs started pouring out of me. I slowly started to take care of myself, get my voice back in shape, wake-up early to write every day. Music lifted me out of my depression and gave me my life back.
Eventually, I knew that I had to pursue a solo career and couldn’t do that in the context of the band. I kept writing and growing over the next several years, pushing my creativity further until I began tracking this EP in 2013. I finished the EP in early 2014. Finally, after dealing with a lot of politics with my label, I’ve been able to put it out into the world and the feedback has been phenomenal.
How do you think the songs on “All We Are” compare with the music that you’ve put out with The Rapture? Where did this transition into r&b/soul come from exactly?
I grew up listening to hip-hop, soul and jazz as much as I was listened to punk. It’s never been about trying to make one kind of genre or another, but to be true to the music that is coming out of me and the situation that I am in.
When I first left the band the music I was making was electronic, more inspired by The Neptunes, Trackmasters, Kanye West; bringing in soul elements to a very electronic landscape. But I missed working with musicians and the music was kind of naturally drifting that way anyway as I kept on bringing in more pianos and strings, etc. Paul Epworth was very encouraging in that direction. I was performing with a bunch of musicians that I liked and I liked the sound we had. Everything in the environment was very electronic, and I wanted a sound that felt more natural and free. Like an Erykah Badu record; that live hip-hop, r&b band vibe.
What experiences with The Rapture really prepared you for a life as a solo artist? What do you miss the most about that world? What do you not miss at all?
Being in a band with multiple songwriters has pushed me to become a better songwriter. I always stayed very involved in the production, so I was able to learn from some of the great folks we worked with like Timbaland, Dangermouse, Paul Epworth, Ewan Pearson and Tim Goldsworthy. It’s easier being in a band when things are clicking because you have people to bounce ideas off of and share the burden some of the decision making with, but when it’s all about arguments and people are getting precious and protective of their creative zone instead of trying to make the best record possible, that I don’t miss AT ALL.
How would you say that your move to Los Angeles last summer has influenced you as a musician and your music?
I’ve found it easier to connect with other musicians in LA. People are more giving with their time because the struggle to maintain a living isn’t the same as New York. Los Angeles has a really cool community of artists and people that are pushing the music in cool and creative ways. Artists like K.I.N.G, The Internet, Gavin Turek, JMSN, Anderson .Paak., Terrace Martin; it’s a really exciting place to be and has made me want to up my game as a performer. Outside those big names there are lots of cool things happening at places like the Bootleg Theater, Supersoul Monday in Hollywood, I’m starting a residency at a place called The Springs in the art’s district; there are just so many stages.
Who are some of your favorite artists and what bands continue to inspire you and your music? Who would you love to work with in the future?
All the artists I mentioned and some New York-based artists I love: Adesuwa, Tangina Stone, Leaf, a singer named Najah Lewis. I’ve been listening to Phonte, Avery Sunshine, Lianne La Havas, Tom Misch, Schoolboy Q, and a lot of Marvin Gaye. There’s so much good music out there. I try to switch it up and check out new artists as much as I can.
I would love to work with Lianne La Havas. She’s got such a cool voice and is a great writer. Anderson .Paak. is on a real great creative wave. Would love to sing on a record produced by K.I.NG.
These records are about growing up, learning how to love others, love myself, be inspired to push myself, live a full life and not just going through the motions. Find whatever you love and go after it 100 mph. That’s my message.
What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
A big smile and a melody in their ear they can’t forget.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
Come out and see the live shows! The music is great on record but live is where it really comes to life, but it can’t happen without you, the audience!