In this edition of #CREATORTALK, we speak to Matt Clark of Caaw. #CREATORTALK is a series of articles and interviews, with a focus on the creative industries and the the talent working within them.
PW- Hey Matt! How’s it going?
Hey! It’s going very well, thanks. It seems I’m in a big creative phase at the moment, writing a lot of new songs and promoting the band.
PW- So, first thing’s first. For those who don’t know yet, how would you sum up who you are and what you do?
I’m an experimental guitarist/composer from Brighton. My career has spanned 30 years, encompassing genres as broad as punk, blues, psychedelic rock and electronic dance music. I’m currently the singer/guitarist and main songwriter for Brighton band Caaw.
PW- You released your debut EP, “The Emperor Of San Francisco” back in July. How would you describe it in three words?
Dark, sleazy, seductive…
PW- When we spoke, you mentioned how Caaw is a new band, and the project came about as a culmination of years of solo work in your home studio. What are the main differences you are finding now you have a live band to bring the work to life in a new way?
Well, when I was writing and recording in my home studio I was using samples to fill in what I couldn’t play myself, which created some interesting results, but I wasn’t really getting the sound I wanted. With the band there are three other creative brains working with me, so the music is starting to move to another level – the arrangements are becoming more complex, and we’re challenging ourselves more musically.
I’d always wanted to create something with the same kind of feel as Nighthawks At The Diner by Tom Waits – that sleazy, dive bar jazz thing, which was difficult with samples, but with the band we’re getting somewhere close to that, which means we can focus more on the writing and the arranging.
PW- Talking about live events, where can we next find you playing a gig?
We’re playing at The Exchange in Hove (on Goldstone Street) on the 15th September, then the 28th September at The Con Club in Lewes.
PW- This blog focuses heavily on creativity and the real people behind the art. How does creativity affect you on a day to day basis? Do you get super inspired out and about, or is it more of a focused effort, where you can shut off from the world and just think?
I’ve tried doing the shutting myself away method, but actually I just get inspired randomly. Usually at around 3 in the morning! I carry a notebook around with me all the time because I don’t like jotting ideas down on my phone.
I wrote a song about some of the odder elements of Brighton’s bar culture recently – the idea came to me with a line that just popped up in my head when I was walking into town about a mannequin sitting on the bar in The Bees Mouth (on Western Road). I’m also influenced by literature – I’ll be reading a passage from, say, a Charles Bukowski novel, have a flash of inspiration and write a story around it.
PW- In this kind of economy and industry, it can be tough to feel like you’re moving forwards sometimes. How do you battle these feelings when they come up, and do you have any advice to other people who might be struggling in a similar way?
I think to survive as any kind of creative person you have to have absolute self-belief in what you’re doing. That’s not to say you should be arrogant, but you need to accept that not everyone’s going to like what you do and be fine with that. I don’t tend to beat myself up when I go through creative lows. I can’t force myself to create, it has to happen when I get the inspiration. So the best thing I can do is to focus on something else for a while, and then I’ll be surprised by another idea when I’m least expecting it.
One thing that stuck with me from a band I was in years ago was the bassist saying “nothing is sacred”. He meant don’t be afraid to re-invent. If a song doesn’t come out right, re-write the lyrics or the music, or write a new arrangement. But if the idea is there, and you believe in what you’re doing, it’ll come eventually.
8. And final question! It’s more of an invitation actually. Use the next few sentences to self-promote the hell out of what you’re up to, what we can see etc, no judgement!
Thanks! Firstly, a bit more about Caaw:
“A Brighton based band with a sound that might have come about if New York No Wave had spent a lost weekend in New Orleans. Add to that hints of dive bar jazz, delta blues, East European folk and the dark lure of cabaret, and you have the seductive circus fanfare that is Caaw!”
We like to put on a show, so if you get the chance, come see us live!
You can listen on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/
You can follow us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/
And our new website will be live soon at http://caaw.co.uk