Tell us about yourself?
I go by just plain old ‘Matthew Frederick’. I always intended to come up with something a bit more exciting, but never quite got around to it. Although with my new backing band – which I put together and started rehearsing with earlier this year – it’ll be ‘Matthew Frederick & The Hindsights’, if I/we are ever allowed to perform live again…
Where are you based?
I’m from the Rhondda Valley in South Wales, a musical and mountainous part of the world, although I’m now just outside of the Rhondda in a place called Pontypridd, which, musically at least, is probably most famous for being the hometown of Sir Tom Jones. Who I’m yet to cross paths with.
What genre would you describe yourself as?
I always struggle with this question, as I don’t think my music fits neatly into a particular genre. Not that I’m implying that I’m a groundbreaking, genre-defying GOD OF MUSIC, by any means – there are elements of folk, singer-songwriter, country, blues, indie, but I wouldn’t say my music is exclusively any of the above. A recent review described it as ‘porch music’, which I quite liked, so I’m happy to go with that.
Who is your main inspiration?
I think I tend to be inspired by songs or albums rather than individuals. I love the early albums of Elton John (‘Tumbleweed Connection’ in particular) and Billy Joel (‘Songs In The Attic’ is a favourite), whereas I could take or leave some of their later work. To give more recent examples, the first couple of Bon Iver albums connected in a way that the third and fourth didn’t quite. Ben Howard’s second album ‘I Forget Where We Were’ had a big effect on me, whereas I’ve not listened to the records he released either side of that anywhere near as often. I think it’s sometimes a little easier to identify with somebody’s work rather than the person themselves, although I do appreciate that I’ve dodged the question somewhat!
What is your songwriting process?
I tend to be a lot more productive at night. There’s something about the solitude and the lack of distraction that fuels creativity, and although I can’t say how many for certain, I imagine the vast majority of my songs were conceived in the small hours. I still find the music comes a lot more naturally than the lyrics, which is probably why instrumentals play an integral role in my albums, both solo and with my band, Climbing Trees.
What made you want to start in music?
I vividly remember being sat cross-legged in the school hall during morning assembly at the age of around four or five, and as we sang to the piano I would play along with my fingers on the wooden floor. Whether this was spotted by a teacher who then recommended my parents get me a keyboard, or whether I asked for one, I’m not sure, but either way a keyboard turned up for Christmas that year, before an upright piano a couple of years later (both of which I still own). Music’s been an ever-present in my life since then, really!
What is on the horizon for you?
I released my debut solo studio album ‘Fragments’ on CD, tape and digital earlier this year, and will be releasing the fifth and final single ‘Leave The Light On’ on October 30th, following on from previous singles ‘Tell Me’, ‘Hay-on-Wye’, ‘Pink Blossom Snow’ and ‘Laura Jones’. It’s the opening track on the album, and one I’ve been playing live in various forms for a few years, so it’ll be nice to finally put it out there in single form.
Who would you most like to collaborate with (alive or dead)?
Climbing Trees were lucky enough to perform with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales for a Christmas TV special a few years back. There’s nothing quite like being accompanied by a 64 piece symphony orchestra, especially when it’s one of your own songs, so I’d love an opportunity like that again. A live album with an orchestra is definitely on the bucket list!
What is your ultimate goal?
I tend to have lots of smaller (and hopefully achievable) goals, rather than an ‘ultimate’ goal that’s perhaps unattainable. I suppose the simple answer is that I want to make sure each album I release is better than the last. That, and live in a remote cabin in northern Iceland for a while. Oh, and play football for Wales. Although I fear I may have missed the boat on that one…
If you could cover any song, what would it be?
I’ve covered dozens (maybe hundreds) of songs in my time, but, as a piano player, the one I’ve probably played most is Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’. It always goes down well, whether I’m on a pub piano or playing to a festival crowd, and is definitely one of those timeless ‘I wish I’d written that’ kinda songs.
Tea making: milk first or last?
I’m one of those strange people that doesn’t really like hot drinks. Well, other people find it strange, at least. I think it’s perfectly normal. I’ll occasionally dabble in a herbal or fruit tea, but we’re talking a couple of times a year at most. So in answer to your question: not at all.
Tell us your funniest joke!
What’s E.T. short for?
Because he’s got little legs.