Matthew Wayne Stillwell is a writer of nearly all genres of music, including some that have no names. When not composing scores for episodes of The Object, Matthew works on his own albums. Radio Friends, his latest work, is now available at most online retailers, and we’ve managed to pull him away from his soundboard long enough to talk to us:
1) Tell us a little about yourself and your music.
There’s really not much to say about me personally- I’m not very interesting. But, I’ve always had a fascination with sound and music. That fascination really started some time in the early 90’s, when my parents would let me tinker with their boom box. It had a cassette player, a record button, a built-in microphone, and it ran on batteries. I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but I couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9. I’d wander around with that thing for hours, recording noises and, occasionally, stuff off the radio, including commercials and static. I remember figuring out how to get it to record with the tape tray partially open, and I’d deliberately stick a pencil in there to get the tape to drag while it was recording. Just to see what I could get it to sound like.
2) What inspired the name of the album?
Sarcasm, kind of. Every track on Radio Friends is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike something you’d hear on the radio. Pick a person at random sometime, and ask them what they think of the radio. Most will have something negative to say about it. So, “radio friendly” doesn’t necessarily make a “radio friend”, if that makes sense.
3) Name some of your favorite musicians and tell us why they’re important to you.
Originality and/or sincerity are the most important artistic factors, in my opinion. If you’re doing that, you’re probably going to catch my interest. Of course, both of those factors are very subjective, just like music itself. That being said, I listen to a lot of different musicians, in a lot of different styles. It’s difficult, if not impossible, for me to pick a few favorites. I don’t mention it often, but I sometimes even go a while without actively listening to music at all, especially when I’m working on new ideas.
If I could, I’d like to say this to anyone who may be reading: If you’re not already, please open your mind and ears to some of the more “obscure” music out there. Local and independent musicians need all the support they can get. After you do some digging, you might just be pleasantly surprised by some of the music you find. And, if you like what you hear, let them know you’re listening.
4) Do you work with other musicians or go it alone?
Sometimes I record with or for other people. And, if I know I’m welcome, I’ve been known to show up for a jam session. I enjoy jamming, especially if things are just made up on-the-spot.
But, musically-speaking, I’m fairly reclusive most of the time. Project 10 and Radio Friends was just me. If I’m working on something I have a definite direction for, and can do by myself, I’d rather not muddy it up by getting other people involved.
5) What’s it like composing music for The Object?
It’s a blast! Although I’m working with two other people, I essentially have complete creative freedom, because each of us contributes in a different medium. I really like seeing how the story, artwork, and music come together each episode- our artistic styles seem to work really well together, for some reason.
The process I go through for each episode’s recording varies, depending on what the particular episode is about, but I try to stick with certain tones and sounds. There’s definitely a theme going on.
6) What’s your favorite track on Radio Friends? What one song would you suggest for first-time listeners?
Predictably, I’m going to say I like every track on here equally! It’s also really difficult to suggest a track for other people, because all of the tracks are quite different from each other. Maybe people will leave feedback about their favorite tracks off the album…
7) What upcoming projects do you have in the works?
Of course, there’s always The Object, but, beyond that, I’m working on an EP right now. It’s completely a capella, although there aren’t any lyrics, really- just vocal sounds like beatboxing and humming. I’m also letting myself edit and alter the vocal takes however I want. A lot of it doesn’t even sound like a voice at all. If I decide to make it publicly available, I imagine more than a few people are going to find it very strange to listen to.
I’ve also been brainstorming ideas for the next album. If everything goes as expected, it’s going to be drastically different from anything I’ve ever done. I’ll probably have to get some other people involved. I’m hoping to combine tonal qualities from decades ago- everything from the 40’s to the 70’s- together to make something fresh sounding. Hopefully, it’ll prove interesting.
Follow Matthew on Twitter: @StillwellMusic