We connected with Los Angeles based pop singer-songwriter Matthew John for an exclusive interview to discuss his new music video “crooked”, as well as his creative process for developing new music, whether we can expect “crooked” on an upcoming EP or album, and much more.
After reading our Q&A with Matthew John, be sure to stream “crooked” on Spotify and iTunes, and connect with him on his social media.
Congratulations on the release of your new video "crooked"; too bad the origin of the song derived from heartache. Why was it important for you to use music as a vehicle of therapy to get through that hard time of finding out about the cheating?
Writing ''crooked" was a great way for me to process what I was feeling. A lot of times it’s easy to get carried away in your thoughts and confuse yourself, and go over different scenarios in your head; writing this song gave me a way to get all the negativity out. Writing songs is always like therapy for me. I get out all the feelings and emotions and it helps stabilize me, and make more sense of the things I sometimes cant understand.
Tell us about how you came together with Andrew Irwin, Brance Souza, Ruben Samuel Cortez and the cast to create "crooked". Did your vision for what you wanted the video to look like come to fruition?
I find myself very drawn and inspired by dance. The way the human body can evoke emotion by facial expression and movement and tell a story is incredible and impressive to me. It was actually after the breakup that led to me writing "crooked'' that I was watching a dance company in Orange County that I first discovered Andrew Irwin. He was one of the few, maybe even the only male in studio and his movement was superb. I contacted him after that to see if he was interested and he was totally down, I really wanted him to take control because I know nothing of dance - I just know it captivates me. He took the reigns and we bounced back ideas, I really just wanted him to take the song and use his vision. He really took control and knew exactly what I was feeling through the lyrics and song and worked it out with his close friend Ruben Samuel Cortez since hes directed some his previous dance videos.
The video is meant for Brance to be my persona where the dancers represent all the mixed emotions the confusion, pain, hurt, sadness and anger all wrapped around me and almost taking control we kind of become one, and learn to carry on with it with me. Brance Souza is a really good friend of mine and my fiances (Blake Coelho). I've seen him perform and his work at his shows in LA before, and have always wanted to collaborate with him as well because of his passion and talent. I knew I wanted him involved - it seemed natural to have him as the main dancer in the video because he was there for me along with my fiance and our tight knit group of friends and knows so much about how that break up affected me and steered me onto a beautiful path in life with love and close friends. It means a lot to me to have everyone involved and be so passionate about it. I could never be more grateful for them and all the dancers involved.
Describe for us your creative process when it comes to developing new music. For example, do you have to be in quiet location to write music? When do you know that a song is finished?
I feel like inspiration can strike at any time, no matter what I’m doing, so I can just stop in the middle and pull out my phone and hum or sing into the recorded so I don’t forget it; maybe it’s lyrics, or just melody…sometimes both. In the case for "crooked", it was originally an acoustic song, with a very alternative rock feel. I sat with my guitar and started writing and the words and melody just flowed out; it probably took me no less than 20 minutes to write.
You never really know when a song is finished, sometimes you just have to trust you gave it the best you could, and be happy and content with it, otherwise you'll drive yourself crazy. Songs can always be edited or worked on but really as long as I'm happy with it. I’d rather leave off on a good note than get frustrated and think it’s "not good enough". That's a bad path to go down because there will always be more songs, and more opportunities to tell my stories.
Can we expect "crooked" to appear on a follow-up EP or album to your last project "Chain Reaction"? If so, what can you tell us about it?
I think that "crooked'' is a very different sound that from other music I've put out previously, and I am always open to trying new things; I’m constantly evolving as a person and as an artist. I don't think at this moment it will be on an EP. But I've always loved working with Christian Fiore (Nashville, TN). We used to live and write together a lot and I think after I get some more songs under my belt it'd be dope to get back out there and work on more songs with him - we'll see where it goes, but I think a new project is a good idea; we will have to see where the songs go, and try out some new sounds. We will see!
What do you enjoy most about being an artist; and on the flip side, what frustrates you the most?
I think what I enjoy the most is the freedom it gives me to explore myself, other people (especially with cowriting), and feeling connected to something bigger than me. Music reaches so many people in different ways and I think without it, most of us would not be able to connect as well, some people have different communication styles and have a hard time communicating these days - but music gives us an opportunity to come together with no borders.
I think what frustrates me the most that sometimes artists like myself can feel pressures that we think are coming from the outside world but really we put them on ourselves. Maybe we think other artists or writers are better than us, or we think were not as successful as we should be. I hate finding myself in those mini-moments of self-defeat... but I always shake out out of it. I just remember it's not always going to be easy when we put ourselves out into the world so vulnerably, it makes me proud to be out there on the front lines with my fellow artists and writers to be a voice for those who may not have the strength to tell their own stories, we get to be the voice of comfort coming back to them.
Finish this sentence - "When someone watches "crooked" for the first time, I want them to..."
FEEL SOMETHING - and be okay with what it stirs up inside - accept whatever emotional baggage it may bring up and know that it's not/or wasn't the end of them.