Going Gold in the suburbs of Chicago
When a band member reaches for a solo career, the first question is always, well, “why?”
As a member of FERRIS, Matt Loewenstein’s eccentric pop songwriting played a key role in the band’s success, particularly in their two releases Warapada and Baron Breeze, the former, which I reviewed nearly a year ago, and the latter, which was a live album.
Following is my full interview with Matt Loewy as we discuss his decision to do music on his own, plans to move to Los Angeles, his songwriting influences, thoughts on Hip-Hop, Chicago, future tours in Alaska, a cruise, and comments on G O L D.
Why go solo and why now? Where do you see your sound heading?
Our last tour (with FERRIS) was the longest and most intense tour we have ever done. Three to five shows a day, seven days a week, four months straight. It really gave us all an insight to the life of professional music.
Once the tour was over I was ready to hit the ground running, make another record, do more touring, etc. but the other members, for different reasons, did not have the same goals or ambitions. I think they were not in any hurry to keep pushing forward. So I decided to keep going the only way I knew how. On my own.
Is it difficult to produce music on on your own? Are you playing all of the instruments on your new solo projects?
It’s difficult to produce the music on my own. I mean I’m making my tracks currently in my parents basement on equipment I am unfamiliar with. I’m using drum machines, and programming, and synthesizers on all of my new music. All things I used to be directly against.
So it’s definitely difficult to adjust to the new tools I’m using to make music, given my background of rock n roll with a band. But yes I am playing all of the instruments and I am responsible for all of the production.
You often make references to the Midwest. On FERRIS you featured a song on Broad Ripple. On G O L D you mention the suburbs of Chicago. Why is this?
I think it’s important to take pride in where you come from. Being a Chicagoan, there is so much to be proud of. I mean, look at how Chance and Kanye are putting Chicago on the map right now. But they are from a different Chicago than me.
Even though me and lil chano from 79th (Chance the Rapper) are only about 45 minutes apart, we are from two different worlds. I want to represent the Chicago I am from, just like they rep the Chicago they are from, and hopefully we can all rep Chicago together.
It seems as though rap lyrics influence your sound. I heard references to bazookas and even the drums seem like a slower version of a Hip-Hop break beat. Can you comment on that?
About halfway through our last tour I had a major revelation. I realized that right now there just isn’t a market for rock music. Bands aren’t really making it the way they used to. It’s just not what today’s young adults are listening to.
High school kids, college kids, it’s all Hip-Hop, EDM, and Pop. So I’m thinkin’ like, “man, if I really want to make a career at this, and really be successful, I am going to have to change my sound. And FAST!”
Favorite bands and influences?
Well if you asked me that a year ago I would say, Beatles, Chili Peppers, Sam Cooke, Motown. Things like that. And those artists will never leave my heart. They are a part of my foundation as an individual. But since I’ve been making this music I’ve almost exclusively been listening to top 40.
I love The Weeknd, Kanye, Chance, Drake. I listen to “Panda” by Desiigner like every day too (he says this with a laugh). I’m really broadening my horizons with what I listen to. And I think it pays off. I have taken leaps as a songwriter these last few months.
How important are videos to your music? What’s your overall message with G O L D and what inspired the themes?
With FERRIS, our “Empress of Tunka” video was so much more than a music video. It was an elaborate story that took us weeks to create before filming.
I sent G O L D to the same director and we were both like, “yeah let’s just figure out when the next sunny day is and go for a nice summer vibe.” True greatness is simple. Perfection is simple. I went for that vibe with the song. And we went for that vibe with the video.
I may be doing a Midwest tour in July depending on when I move to L.A., but I am going on a six week tour in Alaska August/September on the Island Princess cruise ship.
For more on Matt Loewy, visit his social media pages.