- Words Darcy Culverhouse
Kicking off a new era, Matt Terry talks his latest single ‘You don’t know nothing’, his journey to self-discovery and finding light at the end of the tunnel.
Redefining your sound as an artist can be a daunting task, especially when it means changing the familiar landscapes of your music. Despite the burning desire of many artists to reshape their sound, the uncertainty of reactions from fans and others—whether positive or negative—often makes them refute the idea. However, amidst the swarms of apprehension, there are artists like Matt Terry, who are trailblazing the way for other artists to fearlessly pursue their changing musical wants. He is putting himself first, doing what he has always yearned to do, as he treads the starting of his new musical era.
Matt Terry is far from a newcomer to the scene; he is a seasoned professional, with years of experience under his belt – from winning The X Factor in 2016, to achieving over 130 million streams on his debut single ‘Sucker For You’. Although he has garnered ample international plaudits, his biggest plaudit is arguably his sangfroid composure to reshape his well-renowned sound.
Taking a five-year hiatus from his craft, Terry’s novel sound is a natural progression in his eyes. Discovering that his previous work was woven with making a sound that reflected the “somebody” that he believed “everyone around me wanted me to be”, he placed that as spirited zest to drive his motivation to tell his truths through his music. The outcome? A soundscape that allows the wunderkind to speak his mind, in a bid to forge an impact on the world around him.
Serving as a baptism into his new musical landscape is his latest single, ‘You don’t know nothing’—a fitting introduction to his newly mature sound. Sullen piano and punchy hip-hop beats fill the void, working in synchronicity to inaugurate his staggering production. We witness a sound bed of a dark-pop undercurrent—a stark contrast to his previous sugar-sweet whimsical pop infused melodies—which suits the raspy soul-meets-rock tone of Terry’s voice.
If the single has taught us anything, it’s to banish your previous conceptions of Matt Terry, and to start rethinking your expectations. With noteworthy applause for his hit release ‘You don’t know nothing’, this is only a glimpse of what’s next for Terry. As we patiently wait to witness his next ventures, we sit down with the artist and discuss everything and more about his new music era.
‘You don’t know nothing’ introduces a more mature sound compared to your previous work. What inspired this change in direction, and how would you describe the new sound to your fans?
To be completely honest, it all happened very naturally. My previous work (which I am extremely proud of today) was definitely influenced by a lot of people. And I got caught up in being somebody that I thought everyone around me wanted me to be. And that’s on me. This was about starting from 0. Sitting around a piano with producers I’d handpicked who truly know me and seeing what came out. I’ve grown up so much these last five years. A lot has been lived and a lot had changed, so I guess it’s only natural that my music is gonna sound different. Because, well, I’m different.
You’ve mentioned that this song comes from the deepest parts of you. What personal experiences or emotions influenced the creation of ‘You don’t know nothing’?
I feel like with my first record I didn’t show my fans and listeners who I truly am. I was very guarded. I look back now and I was a deer in headlights. Today I’m very much in control of every aspect. It all comes from growth. I feel like I know exactly who I am today and I’m ready to show the world. So ‘You don’t know nothing’ is quite literally that. As fas as anybody else is concerned I just some guy that won a talent show. But that’s just a tiny part of my very full story, that I can’t wait to share with what’s to come.
After spending time writing for other artists and touring internationally, what specifically made you decide that now is the right time to return to your solo artist career?
It gave me the confidence that I needed to know that I was good enough. Seeing other artists record and release songs that I had written was all I needed to rewire my brain that I was made for this.
Could you tell us more about your upcoming music projects and how they reflect your personal and artistic growth over the past few years?
Love to! Like I said before I went back to the drawing board, and I know exactly what I want to say and how I want to make an impact in this mad world we live in. I have found a way of telling my truths through my new sound. I’m finally myself, and I have been for the past few years. I’m very comfortable with who I am and my next lot of music talks all about it. So get ready!
You’ve been a prolific songwriter, contributing to pop hits on a global level. Are there any specific collaborations that stand out to you as particularly memorable or rewarding?
The two that stand out for me are ‘Rock With You’ by Seventeen. Which has had major success. Seventeen sent over signed copies of everything and personally thanked me for helping to write one of their biggest hits! It means the world to be part of someone else’s success. I love to see fellow artists thrive. And secondly I actually recorded and arranged BVs for ‘Heartbreak Anthem’ by David Guetta, Galantis and Little Mix, which was so much fun to do.
You’ve had quite the journey in your career with some really varied experiences – can you tell us what you’ve learned from working within the music industry, and who’s had the biggest influence on you?
This industry is tough! But it’s one of the loves of my life and I have to keep moving forward. I have learnt to embrace the hustle of it. I’ve been a fan of RAYE since the early days – ‘Cigarette’, was and still is one of my fave tunes of hers. She’s ballsy and goes for it. Seeing her released independently helped me see that I can also be an independent artist and thrive. I’ve worked hard enough over the last five years to be my own label and I’m loving every minute of it.
‘Sucker For You’ and ‘The Thing About Love’ were part of your debut album, ‘Trouble’. How has your songwriting and music evolved since then, and what can we expect from your future releases?
I definitely feel like I have the ability to dig way way deeper now. Writing ‘Sucker For You’ and ‘The Thing About Love’ was much easier than what I’ve been writing this year. They’re a little more surface and I guess more fun. This next project saved me. It was my therapy, its pushed me to talk about my fears and feelings and really process what I was going through. And if it can help me it can help others, so I cant wait to do just that.
Can you provide some insight into your creative process when working with other artists or writing your own music? Do you have any rituals or inspirations that fuel your songwriting?
I always write depending on how I’m feeling that day. Writing when you’re currently going through that exact emotion is only gonna make the process easier for you to find it. I also find that they’re the quickest sessions. ‘You don’t know nothing’, for example, was a super quick process. I walked into the studio that day thinking about other peoples perspective of me – “Man, people really have no idea how much work I’ve done these past five years, especially in the music industry. I’ve had my head down and worked my ass off for years, and I now want to show that.” We wrote ‘You don’t know nothing’ in under two hours I’d say. It flew out. We started with the piano riff and it honestly rolled off the tongue from there.
You’ve also ventured into acting with roles in productions like Rock of Ages The Musical. How do you balance your music and acting careers, and do you see these two creative outlets influencing each other?
That’s right! It’s refreshing to be on stage and play a character totally opposite to you. To be someone else on stage sometimes is just what you need when life gets on stop of you. My acting career is such an escape and I feel so very lucky to have that. I find that jumping between the two worlds is really fortunate. By the time I’m all burnt out from the studio I know it’s probably a good shout to jump into a role of some sort, if there’s something available. And vice versa, I find when I’m finished up a UK Tour I’m pumped to get back in that booth.
With your new music on the horizon, what message or emotions do you hope your fans will take away from your upcoming songs, especially ‘You don’t know nothing’?
Like any artist, I want them to relate and connect with my music on a deeper level. I want to help people. If this song can get you from one day to next, then my job is done. I wanna do more than just put out a “bop”. I’m a songwriter I know how to make fun up beat songs, and of course there will be some of those coming… but the ones that can really get to your core, are the ones that I love most. So I hope this new era of music can help you see the light at the end of the tunnel, like it did for me.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans as you embark on this new chapter in your music career?
I love them, I appreciate them and they have already exceeded any expectation I had with the response of this first record back. I’m ready to show them exactly who I am, and we will all be there for each other. Here’s to a new era.