Matthew Mole a singer songwriter from Cape Town, South Africa was in New York City to play his first ever US show. The artist who has quite a big following especially in his native country of South Africa was on stage to perform at the intimate Rockwood City Music Hall in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. With the room nearly filled to capacity Matthew Mole played quite the set moving from the piano, to drums, to guitar all while singing. Sometimes playing all three in a single song. Heads could be seen popping through the stage two curtains of people that could hear the music from the other room and wanted a closer look.
There was a special atmosphere in the room with it being Matthew Moles first show in New York City, and in the United States. There was a good amount of loyal fans excited to see him live for the first time. There was also a lot of people from South Africa there coming to support. It was something special and beautiful in Matthews set that you felt the because of this performance you could be friends with just about anyone in attendance. Matthew Mole and his beautiful songs and lyrics had a way of uniting an energetic crowd.
Nowhere was this more evident than after Matthew Mole played a cover of the song ‘Closer’ by The Chainsmokers and was laughing that the crowd new the lyrics better to his songs than they did to this hit (which they really did) and how everyone in South Africa flips out about that cover. As the audience laughed someone from the crowd (me) yelled out to Matthew Mole “New York, New York Cover!” (In my interview with Matthew before the show, which you can read below he mentioned that that is the best Karaoke song of all time.) Matthew then shared a laugh with the crowd explaining the inside joke to the crowd and it being the best karaoke song. The crowd then cheered for this to be the next song performed. You could start to see Matthew begin to think about… as he was the crowd starts with the beginning beat of the song acapella and “Start Spreading the News” before you know it the whole room was singing this song together in the city the song was about.
Check out a little bit more from my interview with Matthew Mole as we talked about what is on his road trip playlist, the fun nature of his music, karaoke, as well as an announcement for a new album.
Hello I’m here with Matthew Mole before his show at Rockwood Music Hall, and Matthew I have to say this is pretty cool for me. For the last two years I have had a goal to travel somewhere once a month big or small, I make a playlist for each trip and ‘Take Yours, I’ll Take Mine’ has been on just about every one of those playlists.
Matthew: Oh wow that is amazing, thank you so much!
And so yeah it is really cool to be here. What would be on Matthew Mole’s road trip playlist?
MM: Well thank you it’s an honor. But I was just thinking that the fact that that is on a lot of your playlists is quite amazing because um I thought I made pretty good playlists but none lately… we’ve been going on tours, and on the last tour in South Africa we’ve had the same group of guys for awhile and whenever I start playing music they all get kind of upset and are like “Aw Matthew’s playing music.” And I think it’s because I play a lot of the same stuff so I basically have got like one playlist with a few different things. I think part of the reason people complain is because I love Frank Sinatra so there is quite a lot of Frank Sinatra on the playlist but everyone wants the happy summery stuff. And I guess a lot of the other stuff I like at the moment is this guy Jon Bellion who is from around here, and it is weird to talk about this stuff being in the states now because a lot of music I listen to is actually from here. Another band as well is Bombay Bicycle Club. But yeah Frank Sinatra is the main one and all you need to know about. (laughs)
Awesome, that is a good list and I know with that you like to travel a lot from what I’ve learned through social media. What are some of your travel routines?
MM: Yeah and so at the moment over the last few years I am only really used to travelling around South Africa because there is so much you can do there within the country that its kind of like you are in this bubble. Most of the time we’re just travelling within there. There’s not a lot of driving, it’s quite a small country but we are mostly flying around the place. But over the last year and a bit we are doing quite a few shows outside of the country and for me that is brand new. So to go to like Europe and I was telling Sam the other day that I have never really played a proper show in the states before so this will kind of be the first time I’m playing a show here. So currently when we’re not playing the show we have been tourists. What was cool about this time and this trip was that we had like 3 or 4 days before the show to hang out. So it was nice to see where we are and not just play the show inside the club because that’s how it is a lot of the time when we go to Europe we are just in one place for those few hours and then we move onto the next. So most of the time we are playing the show or being tourists.
So what have been some highlights from your three or four days off here in New York being tourists?
MM: Um I mean just so much of it. It is so different from where I am from so I love all of it. I have been to New York a few times now, this is like my fourth time but I love just walking around. I have only been in the winter and I’m just so used to walking around in the cold and I love a lot of it. Every time I have been I’ve been with someone that hasn’t been so it’s been a tourist thing every time. So Greg my sound engineer that’s here with me it’s his first time so we have been doing all the stuff like we walked over Brooklyn Bridge and got some food in Brooklyn, we went up the buidings, and we walked up and down Fifth avenue a lot. That has probably been the worst part of it it’s so hectic.
So it is your first show in the States and New York? What is that like?
MM: Yeah exactly and it’s amazing! So social media and all of that is an awesome way to see who is listening to your music and from where in the world. So for me and a lot of South African bands South Africa is where your audience is and that’s kind of it and then you just play around the country that’s all. That is really all most South African bands ever do. So I don’t want to do that I want to try and obviously my dream is to play around the world. And like it’s amazing to finally come to the states and even if it is just a small show two hundred people, one hundred people, whatever it’s just cool to get out of the country and meet new people. So I am super nervous but I’m very excited as well.
What can people expect from a live show with you? and approaching a show tonight at a smaller more intimate venue like Rockwood, compared to some of the larger festival looking crowds I’ve seen in South Africa?
MM: Yeah cool so mainly like the bigger shows you mention in South Africa, like I said the South African bands there’s an audience for them so they just stay there so stuff has been going quite well in South Africa so a lot of those cool big festival shows and it is so much fun. I normally have a friend there who plays drums so Matthew Mole is technically a solo artist which is me, but then when I play shows I like to get some guys involved and it is a lot easier to do that where I’m from in South Africa because it is just easier to have people I know there. So there is normally a drummer and there is quite a bit going on but tonight and for shows like this at smaller and I don’t want to say the show is small and doesn’t mean as much I actually prefer the more intimate stuff. But the smaller shows when it comes to space like on the stage there is really just space for me with the kind of set I’m doing. The way I wanted it to look is there is like three different stations. I’ll be playing piano a bit of the time, playing a bit of the drums, a bit of guitar, singing the whole time. I wanted it to look busy like I am moving around a lot of the time to make it look interesting. I try to make it as energetic as possible but it is just me on the stage so I don’t know I’m going to see it. It also comes down to how the crowd is feeling it, so hopefully they will be feeling it and I don’t know we will see how it goes. But it’s fun. It’s fun for me so that’s all I kind of look for from the start of it and hope other people get into it.
You talked about keeping your shows fun and all of that, and that is definitely something I noticed about you and so much of you do. I found some really fun music videos you’ve done on YouTube and wanted to ask about that for ‘Run’ and ‘Holding On’ What is some of the story behind that and the creativity?
MM: Yeah so specifically those two videos are I think the only ones that I didn’t really conceptualize… so thanks I’m offended. (laughs) No no no I’m just kidding. Those are the first two songs that were released on my latest album. The album actually isn’t available here in the states which has been a bit of a fight. But some of those songs are available obviously for people to find on the internet. Those two songs ‘Run’ is a video where I’m getting kidnapped and the guy is kind of pretending to be me. It’s not like this self-righteous video where I think I’m cool and people are trying to be like me. It’s more of this fun idea that there is this guy in South Africa and has some really cool ideas so he has directed a few music videos in South Africa and he approached me that he would love to do a video for one of the new songs that at the time the stuff wasn’t out yet so it was the first song ‘Run’ that was released on this album. And he had a few ideas, and one of them was this idea that he had to have this guy to kidnap me and this whole journey that goes on. I just thought it is nothing like I have ever done. I had never had like any music videos done before this one, I had like two minor videos. So I just really loved the idea that there was whole a story behind the song. It doesn’t really have much to do with the song which was a little weird but a lot of people have taken like deep meanings out of the video which weren’t specifically the reason for the video but it’s awesome that that is what people draw. So that is fully conceptualized by this other guy his name is Bouwer Bosch.
MM: And then the other video was conceptualized by another band in South Africa called Short Straw. Also good friends of mine the guy just like listened to the lyrics in the song and he kind of thought that there could be some cool things to do in the video that related to the lyrics. Like stuff I’m doing in the video directly relates too. It’s not like metaphorical stuff which I thought was quite cool because it’s very like quirky It’s very much the kind of thing that Matthew Mole tries to portray like the quirky funny stuff. So ‘Holding On’ was just that was just kind of doing a bunch of stuff that exactly what I’m saying is exactly what you’re seeing which is quite cool.
Which you talked about that new album with those songs mentioned on it, which I wanted to ask about since it’s not released in states yet. But what is it called? What can you tell us about it?
MM: Yes! I can tell you a bit about that. So I won’t go much into why it is not available but that just comes down to label politics really. But the album is called ‘Run’ it’s my second album my first album is available world wide. The second one isn’t available unfortunately, which I am not happy about. But there is stuff that I am working on. I’m actually going to the UK next month just to finish off tracking of this. But my idea is it’s kind of an idea to resolve why the album isn’t out but also just an idea for more product to put out there. I’m going to release a new album that is going to consist of like a few songs from this album that isn’t available from ‘Run’ and then just a few songs from the first album, some re-imagined versions of the songs, and then a whole bunch of new songs. So it will basically be a full brand new album with some of the old stuff or new versions of the old stuff on there. So that is going to be released here worldwide. We are working on a plan to have like a full release schedule with some shows around the states and a few other places but specifically the states and some shows here. And then we will have this whole brand new product because obviously in South Africa everything is available there. So I want this to be a brand new product for them as well where the old stuff will be re-recorded and will be brand new to me and to everyone. Even though ‘Run’ isn’t available here I’m looking at this as a way of getting those songs released here just in a way that is more current to Matthew Mole now. The ‘Run’ album will be available at some point but I think I have some awesome ideas for the songs that I want people to hear for the first time. So that is the idea. But ‘Run’ was the second album I wrote and it was the first time I was writing an album to have an album that people were going to hear. So it was very different for me to think like that when I wrote the songs whereas before I would just write songs for fun. Which I guess is the case for all bands when they release a second album that’s how it is. So it was really cool to experience that. There is a very different vibe from my first album to that second album which is exciting and was really fun for me to do. A lot of it was rushed but a lot of it was there was like certain things I put a lot of time into. It was a very cool mixture of different things that were happening over like two years. It was very cool and I’m very happy with it. I would love people to hear the songs outside of where I’m from (laughs) so hopefully that will happen soon.
For now for us hardcore fans we will look into purchasing a South Africa VPN to access these songs. For the type of people like the kidnapper in the ‘Run’ video.
MM: (laughs) And that’s true, exactly! But there are a lot of songs on that album that are available on YouTube. There are like seven or eight of the songs which is most of them. If you really want to hear the stuff you can find it.
Oh awesome. What about Karaoke? Do you ever do Karaoke?
MM: I love Karaoke!! That is my favorite thing to do! Which is why I love Frank Sinatra so much. Frank Sinatra has the best karaoke songs no offense to Frank Sinatra I think that is an amazing thing. I mean his songs work perfectly with karaoke. Why do you ask? (laughs)
I love karaoke! So I took a folklore class in college and the first day we were taught about folkways and traditions and that it takes three consecutive times for something to become a tradition. I noticed in my first three interviews that I asked the same questions and have adopted it as a tradition. So I love karaoke and selfishly about it because I think it is super interesting. But I have like a ‘Karaoke’ highlights section on my Instagram that is saved for like me and only me. I’m not good at singing.
MM: That is amazing! Why doesn’t everyone do that? But no no no that is the best part about karaoke anyone can go up. And the worst people to do karaoke are actually the people that are good at karaoke because no one wants to see that. Come on. Were you going to ask what my favorite karaoke song is?
Yeah that is exactly my next question.
MM: ‘New York, New York’ by Frank Sinatra. So I came to the states last year actually with a friend of mine. His name is Marus just a side note and he introduced me to karaoke. There is this amazing karaoke club in Cape Town that we would literally go to every weekend. It’s just so much fun and always almost every time we would do ‘New York, New York’ and people started realizing it. I guess people that had been there more than once were like “I’m pretty sure we saw these guys do this…” But when we came to the States last January and we went to New York and some places on the west coast, San Francisco, and L.A, and places in between and we went to I think about seven karaoke bars and sang ‘New York, New York’ in every single one. People all over the place loved the song! It was amazing. What about you? What’s yours?
Um I go anything Destiny’s Child. I’m not a good singer so it has to be fast. Give me a ‘Say My Name’ Give me ‘Jumpin, Jumpin’ all of those fast paced hits get the crowd going.
MM: Yesss! That is amazing! You are going to have to show me those videos.
(laughs) I will! Um if not music what would Matthew Mole be doing?
MM: Um that is a good question. I love illustration and design, like graphic design and all that. So that isalways something I really liked as well as video editing. I haven’t ever done much of it now but when I was a lot younger as I was finishing school I loved that. I loved putting videos – I used to skateboard so I would put together a lot of videos skating. I was a skater for like twelve years and me and my friends would put together videos. I was like “hey video editing is pretty cool” but I was putting together all stuff I enjoyed so I don’t know how I would do now but I loved that and I still do love illustration and design. I don’t know how good I am and I used to love illustrating when I was a little younger like a few years ago. I do a little bit of illustration for some of the artwork for my own stuff. But I think that is the direction that I would have headed was somewhere that was still creative and artistic.
So what is next for you when you get home and as far as future tours?
Yes so I mean currently there is a plan to have an old single that I had that you mentioned ‘Take Yours, I’ll Take Mine’ I haven’t really chatted to anyone about it but I mean since you’re asking and it is 2019 I’d love to tell you about it. So ‘Take Yours, I’ll Take Mine’ that song is going to be part of the new album release and we have got a re-recorded version of the song that is a little bit different but not really to far from the original song. It is always a tricky thing to have bands do re-recordings of their songs but that is going to be part of the worldwide release where we are going to kick it of with the new version of that song with the new video and just a different take. Not to replace the old stuff just to have a different take and to finally try and approach the rest of the world rather than just South Africa. Which is what I did with that song originally. So now we are going to try and look at the whole world and say “Hey guys, this is the plan” we have a whole lot of all the songs like I said and follow it up with the album and brand new songs and some re-recorded songs. So that is going to be the idea from literally like the end of February and then stuff will start to be released. Then for the first half of this year I will be playing around South Africa there is so much you can do in South Africa what a South African band can do for six months in their own country which is quite hectic and it’s awesome it is amazing all that you can do in South Africa. But then the second half of the year will be the first half of that half in Europe, and then we are going to look at the States like the end of the year. So that is the idea. Nothing of that has been spoken of about that like I haven’t said anything on Social Media or anything until we really have something to release. But yeah it is awesome to be able to tell you that. So thank you for asking that question.
Okay fair warning that will be included in the interview and I am excited to add that there.
MM: No that is amazing! Thank you! Thank you so much!