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Blog: Suffering for our art – 1/3/19

I can’t remember when it happened exactly but at some point in my life, I decided that I didn’t want to make music that was just about being angry and sad anymore.

All the cliches – the artist torturing themselves over their work – the black dog never far from it all became old quite fast for me. Now before I go too much further and shoot myself in the proverbial foot, I must clarify that this is not intended as a loud calling out of art that tries and does these things. This is more of a wakeup call for me in realising their inherent limitations for myself – creatively and personally. Also, this is not to say that I now found myself brimming with happiness and jumping around with joy on the regular. I do not find myself today, a person completely cured of all my personal anxieties.

So why move beyond something that clearly works? Well it wasn’t working for me. It became clear that what I was outputting musically was affecting my inner – seemingly fragile world. However, at the time I was not ready to throw out my minor chords and slow tempo chord progressions in favour of something upbeat and funky. That seemed too easy and even insincere. I was more interested in examining my intention behind my music and perhaps throwing out those pesky binaries in the process.

It’s very easy to justify anger or sadness – just look at the world, the political spectrum of fake news and palaver can rouse the softest hearts at times. But there must be more than just reacting and protesting – life can’t be just a vacuum of sound and fury but a complicated, nuanced and transitory world. Do things happen for a reason? Are we even asking the right questions? It became clear after a while that it didn’t seem necessary to make music that was purposefully sad or angry – why do I need to do that when so many of those things exist in the world already?

So from a practical point of view – what happens when we want to shed an identity that we have previously clung to – what does it feel like to make music that is not about a break up, that is not about being angry about the world, that is not about feeling existential angst? It feels different. It feels like there is less of a persona going on. It feels more ordinary. It doesn’t feel like it needs to make people wake up and act about a cause or a thing and yet it feels like it could do all those things if needed be. I feel that most importantly, there is this overall awareness that the world will manage to go on just fine without me and my music. Which is damn liberating.

Finally, it feels like by making music that is not intentionally political – my music is more political than ever. As artists we can take a stand by staying true to who we have always been and who we are born to be, not shifting or yielding to the tide.

New projects for 2019

Excited to announce some new musical projects to kick off the new year.

JOYING is a new jazz band by myself that is dedicated to playing original jazz that is hard swinging, energetic and positive. Formed after a Soft Power tour to Tasmania, this band is made up of old musical friends Tom Flenady (double bass) and Liam O’Leary (drums). Full band bio is available to read on the portfolio section of my website and don’t forget to check out my upcoming shows page to catch us live in action.

joying fb
Joying – Design by Matthew Roche

Also, after a surprise burst of gigs late last year including one at the Northcote Social Club, it has been a pleasure playing guitar in Hydra Fashion Week – a cyber punk jazz band led by Charlie Teitelbaum (Huntly) This promises to be one of my more interesting projects of the year as it is my first time ever contributing backing vocals to a band.

hydra fashion week giana
Hydra Fashion Week – Photo by Giana Patel 2018

Also excited about my regular projects which so far involves: recording a Shayan album with an extended 7-piece band, more Biscotti gigs and of course some big things planned for Soft Power this year.

Hope to see you at a gig sometime!

Matthew

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Soft Power’s new album ‘Easy Listening’ out now on Newmarket Music!

Soft Power announces Melbourne / Sydney tour this July / August!

Soft Power Sydney Tour poster

Celebrating the launch of their second album ‘Easy Listening’, Soft Power will be playing 7 shows in Melbourne and Sydney this July / August.

Full dates below:

Fri 20/7. Wesley Anne – Melbourne, Northcote 6pm
Fri 3/8. Wesley Anne – Melbourne, Northcote 6pm
Fri 10/8. The Edinburgh Castle – Melbourne, Brunswick 6pm
Tues 14/8. The Toff in Town – Melbourne, CBD 10pm
Fri 17/8. Halfback Books & Records – Sydney, Dee Why 7pm
Sat 18/8. Golden Age Cinema & Bar – Sydney, Surrey Hills 10pm
Sunday 19/8. Gasoline Pony – Sydney, Marrickville 3pm

Shows with Gena Rose Bruce!

Pleased to be filling in with Gena Rose Bruce’s band for a few shows this July and August. Full dates available in my calendar.