An interview with Matt Shockley

Posted on March 26, 2009

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If you had to describe your artistry in one word, what would it be?
Tough question…Producer or Music Producer or even Performer. Not to be confused or labeled or boxed in as that…But that’s how I see myself; As a creative producer who produces or creates musical ideas that usually take shape of songs, melodies, riffs, and what we think of as music. But not always. 🙂 In the public eye.. I might also be labeled as a Performing Artist. 

How did you develop a love for your art?
I first thought at 13 that it was cool to play an instrument, especially guitar. My neighbor, Aaron got one for Christmas, and I thought to myself, it would be sort of cool to start learning now and then we could both take lessons together. About 2 months later, I got one after saving up to buy one. – My first Electric. 🙂 The journey would now begin at 13.  Then, I started really falling in love with music that just moved my soul. My father and some of his friends would also get together on weekends and play music. This was very inspiring too. I sort of wanted to learn really bad so I would listen to anything I could and try to play it on the guitar. It was pretty terrible to hear me play as I was attempting to get better. I can remember many occasions, really annoying my parents but they did their best to cope with the obnoxious wailing and wrong notes resounding from my bedroom as I struggled to learn new songs. -But I loved it and always was very hopeful that one day.. I would be able to perform in front of people.

What inspires you?
I’m inspired by many things. First, God the ultimate Creator. I recognize that all this art and talent is really His gift to us. This inspires me to make use of it in a positive, inspiring, and passionate way. I’m also inspired by others who use their talents and gifts (musical or non musical) to do the same. Seeing passion in action is very inspiring to me. I love watching people do what they love to do. It fuels me!

Describe your ‘creative process’.
The creative process for me of writing and or producing a song is always different from song to song. Here’s what one scenario might look like:

I get an email from a friend or maybe a mass email with a link in it to a YOUTUBE video. I click on it and check it out. Say to myself… hmm what is this?? Is it worth my time? Alrighty… who knows.. I’ve got a few minutes why not. I’ll watch it. 5 minutes later and I’m deeply moved to tears, as I’ve been touched (emotionally) in that I have life so good here in the US and especially Orange County. Why am I reflecting on this? Well, it was a video about children in Uganda who are dying every day because of poverty and because they are being turned into soldiers. -little kids. The creative wheels are now turning and I ask myself, what can I do about this? What can I do to help? So I say.. I’m gonna write a song. 

I open LOGIC Studio (apple’s version of Pro Tools) and quickly come up with a drum beat that fits the direction I want the song to take. Next I come up with a guitar progression. -This would be the chords or the melodic chord structure for the song. Once this is done.. I’ll record it even though i don’t really know exactly what I want to say yet lyrically. Next I might record a couple different guitar tracks and then a bass line and then record some vocal ideas and phrases that have been in the back of my mind since the song started forming. Once I have all this down into the program, then I loop it so I can listen to it repeatedly and then I’ll sit somewhere else in the room or even go for a drive somewhere and think through the lyrics to get the message down. This process takes the longest and usually (i feel) has the greatest impact on a person and therefore needs the most thought and time. I never try to rush the message or what I’m trying to say, though I will usually write out all my ideas and try not to critique too much or let that hinder the creative flow. Once I have enough ideas.. I’ll then start shaping it into form or as most people are familiar with.. a Pop Song or radio friendly song. It’s always rather easy for me to shape the song. It’s harder for me to write in such a way that I’m saying something “Profound” and really worth writing about. -At least that’s how I feel about it. But I definitely enjoy the process even though it takes nearly ounce of concentration and energy to partake in this process. When it’s all said and done… I give it a name.. and call it something like “Where Is Your Love?”, which happens to be the name of the song that I used to described an example of my process. 

What is a common mistake you notice during the create process.
Sometimes it’s very hard to turn off the inner critic. I usually wanna criticize and cut to pieces every little word or just nitpick at everything. But then I realize that everyone starts in the same place when they’re creating- with just an idea. 🙂 And very rarely do you come up with a million dollar idea or song on the first try. It’s always easier when i think about it that way to not be so hard on myself. It’s also important to surround yourself with people who will encourage you through times of doubt but at the same time people who will tell you truthfully.. “you can do better.”

How do you think your art form has evolved during this generation?
Not sure if I understand the question but here goes: First i was interested in Nintendo. I couldn’t live without it. Then guitar came in and replaced it completely. I just sort of forgot about NES because guitar was something that I guess I saw the potential to use it more constructively. Learning guitar eventually made me want to learn to sing. Singing and playing made me want to write my own music. Writing my own music made me want to record my own music. Recording my own music made me want to play all the instrumentation that I was hearing in my head. This drove me to start tinkering with other instruments besides guitar. Eventually, this leads to other things outside of music like… being a better communicator in general with or without my music. But I just feel that my life is SO much better with the ability to communicate through music. It moves my soul.

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What’s the next season of creating look like for you?
I’m currently in a creative season finishing up a new album called “Dancing To A Disco (When The World Stops Turning)”. This I feel is my best work yet and its authentic to who I am and a perfect demonstration of this creative process that I’ve been describing. The next step as March 28th, the CD release approaches, is sharing it with the rest of the world and an audience interested in discovering their own potential. This album is really a reflection of hope in the midst of tragedy. Though there is pain in this quest of life and more often seemingly more negatives than positives, …. underneath it all lies an incredible discovery that defeats all evil and negativity. -Hope. If you’re like me, when you find it, you’ll be inspired.

Catch Matt’s CD release party of “Dancing To A Disco”:
When: March 28th at 7pm & 8pm
Location: Bella Terra Amphitheater, Huntington Beach, CA.


More info on Matt: 

WEB: http://www.mattshockley.com:
MYSPACE
 http://myspace.com/mattshockley 
MUSIC PLAYER: http://www.mattshockley.com/player/ShockwaveRadio.swf:
ITUNES
 http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?id=278050498&s=143441

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Posted in: Creative Leaders