A Chat with MyLyricalMind (24.09.2020)

After 4 years, MyLyricalMind is unleashing his new album Arc Liberty on our ears. Hitting out with a different sound to his debut, Matt Wood, the man behind the sound, puts the focus on mental health and emotion. Through raw feelings, he balances the positive and negative aspects of an uncertain future. We sat down with Wood to talk about the new album, his music, future plans and much more!

OSR: What first got you interested in making music?

Wood: I think I was around 10 years old and I vividly remember my dad had a videotape of a Dire Straits concert and I remember watching Mark Knopfler play the guitar and thinking, I want to do that. Off the back of that, I pestered my parents for a guitar and lessons.

After a couple of years of guitar lessons, I kind of just stopped playing. I think I just lost interest. However, it was when I was 15-16 when I really started to fall in love with music properly. I was a proper indie rock kid. 2005 – 2007 was the golden years for indie rock with bands like Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys, The Killers all hitting the scene with their debut albums. I started going to gigs and loved it. I bought a cheap electric guitar and just spent all of my time trying to play all of the songs I loved listening to.

The catalyst to me starting to actually write and record my own music and start singing was my now wife who was my main inspiration at the time (around 2011-12). She actually pushed me to sing and write which was what I really needed. I would have never probably done it without her. I bought a quality acoustic guitar and after a couple of months had soon written and recorded my first EP on a 4 track recorder, and was performing at open mics in Manchester.

OSR: Your new album Arc Liberty is sonically quite different to your debut album. Was this a conscious choice or did it evolve as you creating it?

Wood: It was definitely a conscious choice, I wanted to do something that was completely different from my first album which was quite singer-songwriter/pop-focused. I wanted to create something quite experimental, even instrumental as my next piece.

I started writing the songs on Arc Liberty immediately after releasing my first album with a completely different mindset. I had a few ideas in my head from creating a soundtrack for a film about an apocalyptic event to writing an album about mental health.

I also changed the way I wrote songs. I used to write all of my lyrics first and then write the song structure using an acoustic guitar. However, with Arc Liberty, I just sat in front of my MAC with a piano, a completely blank slate and went from there. At first, it was really jarring writing like that, however, I don’t think I would have gotten the sound I wanted simply writing with a guitar.

I think the more electronic nature of the songs on the album came from the music I was listening to at the time. I was listening to a lot of M83 and Hurry Up We’re Dreaming is one of my all-time favourite albums, I wanted to create something that sounded big that had some big themes behind it. I was also listening to a lot of lo-fi chill music and ambient instrumental stuff.

A lot of the songs in Arc Liberty don’t have standard song structures and are more centred around the music rather than the vocals or samples.

OSR: Is there a backstory to the album?

Wood: I guess Arc Liberty is a part concept album. It’s an album themed around a fictional city of the future called Arc Liberty. Think of the biggest megacity you have ever seen, think the cities in films like Blade Runner and Judge Dread. The album is about living in a city like that and the different mental states that you feel, the different emotions you feel. It starts with the hectic bustle of the city, the feelings of despair and euphoria to the destruction and fall of the city and eventually the rebuild. At least it does in my head. I think really it’s an album about isolation, sadness and being able to drag yourself out of it, being able to rebuild yourself one piece at a time.

I lived in Manchester city centre for around 8 years, and while it’s not a megacity, it’s big enough to make you feel like a very small part of something you can’t control. I think that’s the sense I wanted to capture.

OSR: What was the biggest challenge when creating Arc Liberty?

Wood: As I previously mentioned, I wrote this album using a piano as the main base instrument rather than an acoustic guitar which meant the songwriting process took a lot longer. I think time was something that was always on my mind while writing this album. There were many times where I thought I would never get another album released as it was just taking so long to write and record the songs.

I would often write a song, play it back and then decide it was too safe and take it in a completely different direction. So yes, changing my writing style was by far the biggest challenge, however, it has also been the most rewarding thing to come out of this.

OSR: You chose to produce Arc Liberty yourself, why is that?

Wood: With my first album, I wrote and recorded it with a few different producers and I also produced a few of the tracks myself, and I really loved it, I loved the whole production process. I remember after being in the studio one week, I went out and bought a Mac Book and Logic Pro X so I could start producing myself. It just clicked with me straight away, having so many different instruments and sounds at your fingertips. Producing music for me is the ultimate was of creatively expressing yourself.

So when it came to album two, I wanted to do something that really pushed my production abilities to the limit. I had all of these ideas around the concept in my head and I just don’t think I could have conveyed them properly to another producer and get the same results.

I guess one of the downsides of self-production is not having another person in the room to give you a biased view of the tracks. I found producing the album a highly rewarding, very personal experience yet an incredibly isolating experience too.

OSR: Do you have one track that holds a special place for you? If yes, why?

Wood: I think my favourite track on the album is ‘Days Ended’, as I love the big cinematic sound of it. It was a song that started off as a very simple vocal and piano piece and it evolved into this epic alternative synth track. The theme of the song is centred around being at your lowest point and just feeling completely lost.

I have to give a special mention to ‘Soundtrack’ which is a song I wrote last year just before I got married, so personally, it means a lot.


OSR: What is the one thing you would like people to take away from the album?

Wood: Arc Liberty in my mind is all about self-redemption and being able to be happy with who you are. I would be more than happy if it helps anyone at all the feel that way.

OSR: If your music was a new addition to the crayon box, what colour would it be and why?

Wood: Neon. Everything looks great in neon lights.

OSR: If we were to look at your personal playlist, who are some of the artists we might find?

Wood: My taste in music pretty much changes week by week, however, right now regulars on my playlists are Phoebe Bridgers, Cigarettes after Sex, Shallou, and Bring Me the Horizon.

OSR: What can we expect from you in the next 12 months?

Wood: So one thing I won’t be doing in the next 12 months is touring the album, mainly because it’s near impossible. I want to get writing asap and I really want to create something quite downtempo and sad. I will probably move away from the more experimental song structures of Arc Liberty.

I don’t have any time constraints or deadlines to hit so I am just going to take my time with it and see where the writing process takes me.

Thanks to Matt Wood for chatting with us! You can find more about MyLyricalMind on his website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify.

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