Blending a strong acoustic backbone and a bit of Johnny Cash-like overtone, Brooklyn’s Two Cent Revival is simultaneously poetic and strong.
Incorporating tastes of Americana and classical country, Two Cent Revival is a new project from Brazilian-born, Texas-raised singer/songwriter Matt Jones. The Devil’s in This Whiskey is Two Cent Revival’s upcoming release due on June 15th, 2011, the same date as the release show at Rockwood Music Hall.
As a part of TJCC’s ‘Inside the Writer’s Mind’ series, I caught up with Jones to chat about music, the story behind his story and his words of wisdom for all writers.
Laura Cococcia: Was there a particular moment you realized you wanted to be a singer / songwriter or did it evolve over time?
Matt Jones: It definitely evolved over time. I’ve been writing songs since I was sixteen, but I didn’t really incorporate it into my life as a serious craft to pursue and cultivate until I moved to New York City in 2005. I think part of the reason is that I’ve always known that it’s difficult to make a living as a singer-songwriter, so I tried to convince myself out of it, until I realized that every fiber of my being needs to be doing this, or I won’t be happy.
LC: What are some of the most satisfying aspects of songwriting for you? The most challenging or difficult?
MJ: I think what makes songwriting so satisfying for me, is that, perhaps in a narcissistic way, it allows me to peer into parts of my mind that are hard to do so otherwise. It’s like another tool, such as psychotherapy, that allows me to peek into certain sections of my mind I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Sometimes songs feel almost like a gift my subconscious mind is offering up to me, to allow me to know myself better. It makes me feel really grateful, honestly.
The hardest part of songwriting for me is to continually try to write different types of songs. It’s easy for me to get into a comfort zone, and to keep writing songs that I feel confident about. For example, it’s much easier for me to write a very personal and emotional song about a specific experience, than to write a song from the point of view of someone whose had a different life than me. I’m trying to do this more, because I think it will help me grow as a songwriter, but I’ve found that it’s hard to write from someone else’s point of view, without romanticizing or simplifying their character.
LC: Where do you get most of your inspiration for your lyrics?
MJ: Although sometimes a lyrical phrase will come into my mind, or something someone else says triggers a lyrical idea, most often my lyrics come after I’ve already laid down the tentative chord structure of a song. I usually feel like writing when I’m in a very specific mood that interests me, or when I feel the need to – in a cathartic way – work through an emotion, so the lyrics usually come out of the tone of the song that I’ve already established with the chords and tempo.
LC: What advice can you offer other aspiring songwriters/singers – or even other writers – as they start their artistic journey?
MJ: Although I think it’s good to be familiar with typical song writing forms and structures, aspiring songwriters should try to create an atmosphere that is the most conducive for them to be able to express their individual creativity, to find what works best for them. I’d advice keeping an open mind, and talking to as many fellow singer-songwriters and writers about what works best for them, and to try everything.
Once they get a better idea of what works best for them, to cultivate this. Then when they get comfortable with this structure, to push themselves to try other ways. In my humble opinion, you have to keep mixing it up to be able to keep tapping into the creative stream effectively over and over; the creative mind can be very coy.
LC: What’s next for you? And, of course, where can we come see you?
MJ: I’m starting to plan a full length record, which is really exciting. I’m open to any opportunities that come my way, but I’m definitely crafting and honing a plan that will hopefully allow me sustainability with songwriting. I want to be in this for the long haul, so that I will be able to write and record songs for the rest of my life, so I’m trying to align all of my energies and goals to make this happen. I tend to feel overwhelmed by all that I could conceivably doing for my career, so I constantly try to assess if I’m using my time, money and energy to best achieve my goals.
My EP release show is June 15th, at 7pm at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 1. It’s going to be a blast, with my full band, and guest appearances, I can’t wait!
To get a sample taste, you can check out Two Cent Revival’s single “Devil’s in the Whiskey” here: http://twocentrevival.bandcamp.com/