Mat Kearney recently spoke with the University of Southern California's student paper "The Daily Trojan" and answered a few questions about various topics.
About his new album:
“Sometimes it’s fun to write a simple love song,” Kearney said. “Heartbeat” came as a surprise to the artist, written sleepily after he had just played a show. The last song written for the upcoming record, ”Heartbeat” is a personal favorite of Kearney’s and a good indication of what’s to come.
“Textures of the ’80s and ’90s are at the core of the record, and a lot of it is beat-driven with a hip hop influence,” he said.
Kearney felt he segued in this new direction with his previous work as well. His 2011 hit single ”Ships in the Night” pulls a strong beat and spoken word sound from hip-hop influences. Kearney describes the overall sound of Just Kids as what it might sound like if Paul Simon and Kanye West made a record together.
“Every album is a gateway into the next one. ‘Ships in the Night’ was a really special song. Creatively, it really spoke to me and continued to speak to me,” he said.
Regarding Taylor Swift and Spotify:
Jokingly, Kearney posted an photo on Instagram a week ago with the caption: “Hanging at @spotify today! #feelingthelove #nyc #sorrytaylor #sorrynotsorry.”
He is quick to clear the record as to his thoughts on Swift as an artist and friend.
“I love Taylor [Swift], and she’s been super supportive of me,” he said. “For me, it’s different than if you’re the biggest artist in the world.”
Kearney lists Spotify as a huge aid in his career by helping get the word out about his music and build a loyal fanbase that follows his work and attends his shows. He attributes his financial stability to writing and touring rather than pure record sales, and Spotify has helped build his reputation.
Regarding Hip Hop:
“Hip-hop is people talking about today. This is happening right now, and that’s super inspiring to me,” he said. “Hip-hop today is the modern day folk.”
Incorporating a spoken word style of delivery into his music has allowed Kearney to combine storytelling from his songwriting background with the vibe of modern songs, citing Kendrick Lamar and Drake as inspirations.
This mashup mentality is also present in his latest music video for the song “Heartbeat,” which has been getting buzz for its technique: it’s filmed in a single take by a drone over the L.A. River. Though viewers wouldn’t expect Grease-style dancing and pastel happiness from a traditionally acoustic and mellow artist, both are present in the pleasant video.
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