Matt Hoy’s love for music has led him across the world many times over. Now, embarking on a solo career and already winning a world songwriting award for the lead track ‘Happy’ he brings together all of his greatest influences, Reggae/Pop/RnB all on album listeners are sure to enjoy. This week, we had the privilege of speaking with the songwriting award-winner, Matt Hoy, about his singing journey, what inspired him to pursue a career in this field, and the inspiration behind his single “Happy.“
Interviewer: Every creative person that I’ve come across has had something that drew them towards that one thing they are passionate about. What drew you to the music industry?
Matt: I have always adored music. From the age of 3, I used to sing and dance along to my mother’s records whenever she would play them. Having an older mother, my earliest memories would be listening to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Jim Reeves, but also The Drifters and The Temptations. As I got older, it was my cousin who influenced my taste in music. She listened to a lot of 80’s music, electronic pop, she also took me to my first ever big concert which was Lionel Richie at Birmingham’s NEC Arena. It was from that night on, I knew, that this was what I wanted to do for a living.
Interviewer: I know you’ve probably heard this question multiple times before, but what inspired you to create music? What was that one moment of epiphany that inspired you to create what you do?
Matt: My inspiration to create music came from one album ‘Faith’ by George Michael. My cousin recorded the album onto a cassette for me, and from the first play, I was hooked. In fact, I think I actually wore the tape out playing it so much. My mum ended up having to buy me the real album for Christmas. That album sparked my interest in being a singer foremost, but also I was addicted to the production and the arrangements, noises, and chords in the background that accompanied the words, it was amazing!
Interviewer: At what age did you first start singing?
Matt: I started singing from the age of 3, basically, as soon as I could start talking, I then carried on through my early years and my teens, locking myself in my bedroom with my cassette player and my mum’s old record player. Much to her joy and somewhat annoyance at the same time, due to the fact that we lived in a council flat and the neighbors would regularly give her dirty looks or say “I could hear your Matthew singing in his bedroom the other night” But what they were really saying was, can you tell him to shut up! She told me to keep it down as much as she encouraged me, and it was my mum who pushed me to have singing lessons.
Interviewer: When you first launched your career in this field, was your family supportive? Or did it take time to convince them that this is who you want to be and that this is something you love immensely?
Matt: When I was young, it was only myself and my mum. She would have moved heaven and earth so I could enjoy a life doing what I loved. When I first started doing gigs, she would try and make it to as many as she could, joining other band members families on coach trips down to London or up to Manchester, she loved it and was so proud.
Interviewer: If there is any singer in the industry whom you look up to, who is it and why?
Matt: George Michael. From falling in love with ‘Faith.’ I revisited Wham and then carried on with the rest of his journey. His voice was flawless, his lyrics and emotions were spellbinding and the production of his music was next level, always pushing the class level beyond reach. ‘Older’ was the pinnacle for me, and is definitely one of the reasons I now do what I do. George Michael changed my life.
Interviewer: What involves in your overall creative process? When dealing with musician’s block, how do you get yourself to create some music? Some artists drink coffee, while others listen to songs. Where do you get inspiration from when creating your music?
Matt: I always find that listening to music helps to stoke the fire, but I also think having a subject matter you want to talk or communicate with people helps. A lot of what I write comes from personal experiences, but also I find, that writing about other people’s experiences helps me understand what they went through. Putting yourself in their shoes can be very emotional.
Interviewer: When creating music, do you aspire to give a hidden message to your audience through the lyrics, or is it solely based on just words to enjoy and groove to?
Matt: 80% of the time, there is always a message. I never choose to hide the message and the subject matter will be more than apparent. The other 20% is all about having a good time and enjoying life. Something a lot of people find really hard to do at the moment.
Interviewer: Your love for music has led you across the world many times over and you have embarked on a solo career as well. Would you anytime, in the future, would prefer to collaborate with artists and musicians of your genre, or do you prefer to create music all by yourself?
Matt: Performing all over the world with UB40 featuring Ali and Astro is amazing, but it is that that led me to my solo career and having the honor of recording a duet with Ali Campbell for my debut album. I also managed to collaborate with the incredible Raging Fyah too. My second album has led me to work with real heroes of mine. Having 3 x Grammy-winning singer Patricia Lacy from Sounds of Blackness and Luther Vandross sing backing vocals on 2 of my songs. Having Walter Chancellor Jnr, Prince’s saxophone player play on one of my songs. Plus many more that are top secret at the moment…haha!
Interviewer: Your lead track ‘Happy’ won a songwriting award. Can you tell us what inspired you to create that wonderful song?
Matt: Unfortunately, during my 20’s, my mum sadly discovered she had bone cancer, which later developed into her lungs. When she passed away, I fell into a bad period of depression and solely depended on friends to get me through it. That depression never leaves you, and over the years you begin to recognize the triggers and also understand how to deal with them. Happy was my way of voicing my feelings and opinions surrounding mental health and all those that suffer from it. Initially, it was just an album track, but when people started hearing it, the number of messages and comments, video’s that people sent me. Lists of names from people that played it in the morning to get themselves motivated, people that played it last thing at night, as it helped them relax and feel positive before they went to sleep. I truly feel very blessed and honored to have helped so many people with this little song, that has taken on a life of its own.
Interviewer: The songs you create range from Reggae, Pop, and RnB all on your album. Is there a possibility for you to explore more music categories in the near future?
Matt: I don’t think so. My new album especially is exactly where I want to be musically. I’ve played quite a few different styles over the years, but feel absolutely content where I am right now!
Interviewer: What projects can we expect from you in the next few months, or perhaps, even years?
Matt: 2021 is going to see me releasing some amazing new music, which I’ve absolutely loved working on. I’m extremely excited for people to hear these new songs, and can’t wait to get it out there for everyone to enjoy.
Interviewer: Attaining a breakthrough in the music industry is tough. And attaining recognition is even harder. Were you ever faced with a moment in your career when you suffered from performance anxiety or you had that moment of hopelessness where you felt that singing is not for you? If you did, how did you overcome that feeling?
Matt: This industry is built on nothing but luck. Talent comes into play once you’ve been lucky. I’ve been so lucky to be apart of Ali Campbell’s journey for the last 11 years, it has given me the opportunity to write and record my own music, plus experience the world and all its beauty.
Singing is me, it’s all I know how to do. I’ve always been confident in my ability, but it’s a career where you never stop learning and every day throws out something new. Any time I’ve felt nervous or concerned about a situation, a swift brandy always calms the nerves.
Interviewer: What advice would you like to give to aspiring musicians worldwide?
Matt: Get yourself out there as much as you can. It’s not a dream, it can be a reality.
“This ain’t no dress rehearsal, and there ain’t no second show”