British songwriter and producer, Matthew Montgomery Taylor has recently worked with a lot of upcoming musicians such as Katie Sky, Natalie Holmes and Orla Gartland.
I caught up with this extremely talented guy to find out how it all kicked of for him and what’s next in his very positive looking career.
Matt, as a songwriter and a producer, there’s no questioning your huge interest in music. Do you have any early music memories? Any specific moments that sort of sparked your love for music?
I’ve got so many! I remember when I was seven desperately begging my parents to let me have trumpet lessons, I guess that was an early sign of that passion and desire that music inflicts on people.
A few years later when I picked up playing the guitar I remember watching the old footage of Live Aid with my parents. It’s funny because most people think of Queen playing ‘We Will Rock You’ but, as much as I love Queen and that song, I remember being absolutely enthralled and captivated by Dire Straits.
Mark Knopfler’s voice and guitar tone just did it for me so much that I went and got a cheap version of the Les Paul he played in ‘Money for Nothing’.
Which would you say interested you first song-writing or producing? Did you ever have any other career aspirations outside the music industry?
So firstly, I grew up not only playing music but drawing, and drawing a lot. I have my granddad and my mum to thank for that.
I had this dream of becoming an animator for Pixar, but then I joined a band and it all changed. I still draw and enjoy it, but song-writing with my band took over. I was probably better at drawing than song-writing back then, but I’m hoping after all these years it might have reversed.
The whole production side was a later addition, as I wanted to attempt being as flexible as possible. I want to be able to offer as much I can to people in the industry.
As a songwriter, you obviously co-write with a lot of artists; do you find it difficult to write lyrics for someone else’s experiences and from the view of someone else?
I probably couldn’t say yes or no really; it’s a little bit of both. I’ve had sessions where it’s just clicked because the other writer or artist has been able to open up emotionally, without any fear or embarrassment. I’ve also had the opposite. Having said all that, every session is different and sometimes I’ll take a back seat on the lyrics because the artist genuinely is coming out with inspired stuff and I’ll just help consolidate it all.
In your opinion, does your writing have a specific style or theme? Are there any songwriters, producers or musicians that you feel extremely influenced by?
There’s not really a specific style, I just try to be me and be honest with all that I write and hopefully my natural style will come through all of that. I’ve so many inspirations in song-writing, Diane Warren is probably my biggest inspiration because she is an absolute writing machine. Something I aspire to be.
For pop production, I’ve always been a huge fan of Dr. Luke; his sound is perfect for what he does and always compliments the song and similarly Brian Eno for all he’s done with U2 and, more recently, Coldplay. I love far too many musicians to pick a favourite, maybe someone like Sting or the Edge.
I know a lot of songwriters say they never know how a song is going to sound when they set out writing – do you have any method to your writing? Do you ever sit down and know where a song is going from the start or do you mess around with a melody etc.?
I do often hear how I would produce something as I’m writing, but my approach to write is always developing, changing and keeping me on my toes. There are so many ways of approaching song-writing that have worked for me and so many that really haven’t. I love to keep it varied because it can stop you from getting in a rut and means you’re not relying on inspiration.
A few important things I have learnt over the years is regular breaks keeps the mind fresh and can prevent you from becoming distracted during your session. Rewriting can be more important than the initial write, it can take an average song to a great song and a great song to a hit.
Lastly, being prepared before a session is something people often forget. Coming into a session with ideas really helps the creativity. Oh, and, I almost forgot positivity is unbelievably key.
So you’ve worked with Irish singer-songwriter Orla Gartland, quite a bit, for her début single – ‘Devil On My Shoulder’; how did it feel to be a part of that? Was that an enjoyable song to work on?
Working with Orla has been a highlight for me, she’s so enjoyable to write with because she sees and hears stuff from a different perspective to me, which can add a new dimension to a song. It was a lot of fun working on ‘Devil On My Shoulder’ because that song just came out, it just happened and she took it away and re-wrote some of the lyrics and the rest is history. I even fell off my chair in that session, but it didn’t stop us; maybe it acted as an ice breaker.
I know you’ve worked with Orla on other songs such as ‘Ripping At The Seams’, but you’ve also worked with people such as Natalie Holmes and Katie Sky. Is there anyone you’d love to work with in the future?
I’d love to keep working with some of the people I’ve already written with; I’ve had some great sessions with some upcoming artists, but I’ve also had some where we didn’t quite finish a song or it just didn’t happen that day for whatever reason. So, it’d be good to work with them again and give it another go.
There’s a few exciting people I’m trying to book sessions with at the moment, but it can be difficult with schedules. Hopefully, that’ll work out.
I’m loving Gabrielle Aplin’s material that she’s written with Nick Atkinson. I’d love to write with those guys or if there’s a Busted reunion, then maybe those boys [laughs].
Are there any people you’ve worked with that you think deserve more recognition for their music?
Lots of people really, not just songwriters or singers, but musicians too. People often forget how many hours these guys put in behind the scenes, learning their trade, and getting little income or recognition for it. I worked with a girl Lucy Mason, she has a fantastic voice, Tom Crouch too; he’s a talent and a half.
As a producer, you obviously know a lot about the technical side of music, but also the industry itself. These digital advances in music and the closing of HMV, and just the recent evolution of music- how do you think that will affect the industry? What are your thoughts on it all?
It’s already had huge implications on the industry; it’s making labels and artists want production for cheaper, which means us producers are looking for ways to cut corners to keep the costs low, whilst trying to earn a living – it’s a hard balance to find. Whilst the industry is like that, you’re never going to get the next Bohemian Rhapsody. Maybe I’m wrong, I don’t know.
Finally, what’s next for you as a songwriter and producer? Any collaborations planned? What are your highest hopes and goals for this year?
This year I’m looking to remain positive about where I’m headed, I just want to keep writing and improving and see where it leads me.
I’ve got some dates in already with Natalie Holmes, Cordelia Gartside, and Carelle, which are keeping me excited.
Next week I’m working with producer Alex Bakker, but hopefully at some point I’ll get dates with Katie Sky (again), Ebony Day and hopefully Orla too. I’m currently working on putting together a song-writing team, with some other writers I know, to write songs for whoever’s looking, as well as a team to join me in co-writing with artists; so it will be interesting to see how that pans out.
In amongst all that; I’m moving to London in June, which will be hectic!
Having already worked with many successful musicians, and with even greater things looking possible for Matt this year, I have high hopes and expectations for this musical talent.
You can find out more about Matt by visiting his website: http://www.montytaylor.co.uk.