After leaving the electronic sound of Third Eye Foundation (3EF) and embracing acoustic composition, Matt Elliott entered a new phase, with new challenges. On all these subjects the British artistic refugee talks on the following lines.
Chain D.L.K.: After producing the “Failing Songs” album, what have you been involved in?
Matt Elliott: I’ve finished the third part of my “Songs” trilogy, entitled “Howling Songs”, which was recently released. I’m also slowly working on a 3EF album, but mainly for fun. This, when I have the time, as well as on another project, which I’d rather not mention until it is closer to completion.
Chain D.L.K.: How would you describe “Howling Songs”, and how does it fit in your musical evolution?
Matt Elliott: Well, in fairness it’s not my job to describe it, and I can’t because I’m too close to it. It is the final part of the trilogy in which I’ve been working on for the last five years.
Chain D.L.K.: This question is probably inevitable: What led you to start making acoustic music? Were you just fed up with the electronic sound? Was it directly connected with you moving out from England?
Matt Elliott: There were many reasons. A growing dissatisfaction and boredom with the way I was working. Obviously, teaching myself to play the guitar properly, because although I called myself a musician I couldn’t play an instrument to any real level. In learning the guitar, I learnt many things I could have never learned only using programming. Also, the move from a city in England to the countryside in France changed my working method as well and gave me more time to study guitar.
Chain D.L.K.: You still use electronic resources to treat the guitar sound, so you haven’t completely cut yourself off from electronics. Were you just looking for a more “human” touch?
Matt Elliott: Electronic processing has its uses, and some wonderful uses, but I prefer to use it now more as a tool than the process itself.
Chain D.L.K.: To what degree are you being influenced by the folk heritage, whether British or from any other origin?
Matt Elliott: I’ve always had a profound interest in folk music from all over the world (although not really British folk music) because it is not so simplistic as modern western music. It is a direct human communication about the eternal human questions – love, loss, etc.
Chain D.L.K.: Does your “conversion” to acoustics mean that you’ve become increasingly interested in the composition process?
Matt Elliott: Of course, because without that component there is no music. It made me think about music and its composition in a completely different way.
Chain D.L.K.: There is this melancholic side about your work, but also lots of humour, which is probably clearer in the “You Guys Kill Me” album, by 3EF. Are these elements two sides of the same “coin”?
Matt Elliott: Well, it’s not hard to be melancholic these days – I think we’ve gone badly wrong. Our system has been so corrupted to the point that we are all slaves. Democratic choice is part of history these days. Private wealth has become far more important than quality of life and it’s getting worse. And even worse, very few people seem to even care where we are going as a species, so soon we will pay the price. There are two reactions to this situation: to laugh or to cry, so…
Chain D.L.K.: Do you think that melancholy somehow marked the 3EF aesthetic, giving a wrong image of what you wanted to convey to the public?
Matt Elliott: With 3EF there were no lyrics, so I could only try to get my thoughts across in the form of the titles, but at the same time – because it was instrumental – it was easier for the listener to infer their own meaning from the music.
Chain D.L.K.: Talking of “You Guys Kill Me”, there were some peculiar circumstances surrounding the use of the evangelical images displayed on it. What can you say about that?
Matt Elliott: Well, one morning I was woken up by some ignorant Christians with their bullshit propaganda. Some of the images made me laugh so I thought I’d incorporate it into my artwork, more for fun than anything else. It stopped being fun when my record company (along with Half Man Half Biscuit) received legal warnings to cease and desist, which I had no choice but to comply with.
Chain D.L.K.: During the 3EF period, you collaborated with and remixed other projects. Do you still make that kind of work?
Matt Elliott: Less and less these days, because I really don’t have the time or the inclination, but every so often something comes at the right time.
Visit Matt Elliott on the web at:
[interviewed by Nuno Loureiro] [proofreading by Marco Pustianaz]