Matthew Pinder takes us on an evolutionary journey of self-awareness, figuring out life, uncertainties – showing that it’s okay not to have it all together while reaching our goals. Through his own experiences, he gives us a dope soundtrack to rock to.
By Gold of Ophir
“Running away from the typical storyline, ask me questions, anything I don’t mind'”
– Matthew Pinder St Paul, Minnesota
Why certainly, Matthew Pinder, your wish is my command. Bahamian Folklore singer is a term that has never been used before but Matthew Pinder has made it a talked about staple in the Bahamian music community.
With the release of “Give Me Some Time” back in April 2019, and one million streams of the hit Golden Hour it’s safe to say that Matthew Pinder is making his mark in the music industry.
Close your eyes, imagine yourself, feet sinking in the sand, hair flowing in the wind with the beautiful Bahamian water as your backdrop, a Kalik to your right and freshly made conch salad to your left, with waves crashing at your feet.
You just experienced a Matthew Pinder album.
Through the emotional rawness of The Fall, featuring Judah Tha Lion, Matthew takes us through his transition of loss his mother was sick from cancer, and through The Fall, he connects us with his knowing that her last days are imminent and coping with the realization of it. The song is broken down into two parts, “Before The Fall” and “After The Fall”.
Today, on a rainy and overcast afternoon at Starbucks, Harbour Bay Shopping Center, Matthew sits with me to unravel the tapestry, his album and the stories that inspired it.
Gold of Ophir: Let’s get right into it! Bahamian Folklore Singer-Songwriter, this is actually the first time I ever heard Bahamian & Folklore in the same sentence. How did you get into this genre?
Matthew: I think when I ended up going to college in the states that’s probably where I started to find more artists like that, that were doing a lot more, like, acoustic singer-songwriter type stuff and I just felt very drawn to that.
Gold of Ophir: When did you realize, “you know what I want to take this as far as I possibly can and I want to actually be a professional artist”. When did it start for you?
Matthew: When I came home from school I recorded a few songs with a local guy here at his home studio and it was sort of like for fun, I didn’t plan on doing anything with it; I ended up releasing 5-6 songs. It wasn’t until doing more gigs here and just I began to write a lot more, being home and I just wanted to work with more professional producers. Once I got connected with him that’s when I felt like I could sort of make a legit album.
Gold of Ophir: So tell me the writing process as it relates to Give Me Some Time because one of my favorite songs I really resonated with on that album was Leaving. The reason I resonated with it was because it talks about making a transition from where you are to the next step, because I think that is something a lot of people can relate to. So for you, Leaving, what was the inspiration behind the lyrics for the song ?
Matthew: I started writing that song right when college was ending. I was about to graduate and a lot of people that I was with there– I was in South Florida – people that I knew there, I’d sort of planned on staying and working with a few guys that were there and doing some music stuff there.
But something just sort of came up, and I got a job opportunity to be far away and so that’s where that song came about. I like playing it a lot and recorded it on my phone and sent it to some people. I started to feel like “yeah I think I should record this” or “I think I should take the songwriting a little bit more seriously” cause I could make something work.
Gold of Ophir: There is a lot of rawness, authenticity and vulnerability in your music; as a male that is not considered “cool”. So for you, what is important for you to show that vulnerability in your songs?
Matthew: I think about it a little bit differently now than I used to. So I was really into artists that had that reputation of being brutally honest and very blunt about their struggles and their issues and stuff, so I really wanted that.
I think I wanted that too much; I really wanted to come off as like this honest, heavy dude that had all this stuff. And you know, I don’t try to, like, lie in my lyrics but I tried to look at it a little bit since the album has been out for a while. But now, I am you know, I am usually really honest about things that don’t make me look that bad.
I started to feel like this whole ‘me striving for authenticity’ thing sort of became a little bit like if I was trying that hard, it probably wasn’t authentic. So that’s where I am at with that category of writing right now. I do want those things, I want to feel like I’m writing something I believe in but I also don’t want to get fixated on, “I have to have this image that I am the sad singer-songwriter”.
I have some mixed feelings about how hard I went after that.
Gold of Ophir: In an article in The Nassau Guardian you stated one of the main messages of your album comes from a place of uncertainty, you said, “I need some time to write about relationships with others, relationships with myself and my mind”. Elaborate more on that for me?
Matthew: I think that my writing is always going to be about the way that I perceive things. I guess with a lot of people that is the perspective that people write from. Just the last couple of years I felt have been harder than anything I have ever experienced, a lot of very trying situations and I talk about it a lot– where I’m at with my own mental health – and it’s like ninety percent of what I end up thinking about.
In my idle time it’s where’s my head at, like how am I actually faring right now, do I even know? So, I am trying to be more self-aware about these things. So Give Me Some Time was me sort of saying ‘I need some time to figure some things out and I’m not there yet, I’m not there now’. I’m not there a year or a little less than a year after the album came out.
I still have a lot of heavy uncertainty about certain things and changes that happened. I don’t think it’s really about age, I think for a long time I was thinking like when I reach a certain age I won’t have to deal with this kind of stuff anymore, but I feel it more now as I look back at all of it.
Gold of Ophir: So when your album came out in April 2019 what was the feeling like to finally have your album released for the masses to hear?
Matthew: It was really cool, it was awesome. I really wanted it to be heard so I worked with a few people on that; I had a lot of support on that. I had a guy help me with marketing. I wanted it to feel like the real thing.
So I made videos and did a bunch of visuals, I really try to go all in with the release. It was fun, it was fun to see people share. I think it really felt really real when I got to do an album release show last year in May that was pretty surreal. It just felt like a real show.
I would say the majority of gigs I’ve done here are not that by any stretch, they don’t feel – it’s hard to feel like people are interested if you are at a bar playing. So I really want that again because that feeling was so great, we’ll see.
Gold of Ophir: Talking about your hometown show with 100 tickets sold, how did it feel to have your own Bahamian people come to your show and have a sold-out performance?
Matthew: It was great, I don’t know. It was like the people that were there really wanted to be there. You don’t always have that, I’ve played in Nassau for a while, not like decades, but I’ve been playing since like 2016. I’ve played all kinds of places, seen all kinds of people but that was, I don’t know, that was really cool.
It felt like I was legit, It felt like I was an artist. It felt like I wasn’t just some kid that people kind of knew from here. It felt like I was really able to connect with people, it is something that I really want because that’s what I like about going to see my favorite artist live.
Feeling this really means something to me. I live with these songs. It was a great feeling, I don’t know. Some of my family came down and saw it, it was cool.
Gold of Ophir: You have a lot to celebrate and be proud of because Golden Hour which is a fan favorite hit a million streams on Spotify, that’s crazy (laughing). When you saw that, what did you do, who did you call!?
Matthew: I was watching it for a long time cause I can look at my stats and I remember when ingot to like 900,000 streams I was just like this could potentially get to a million soon because it was getting pretty steady streams every day.
It’s still kind of a mixed thing because – I get that it’s gotten over a million streams right now, but… like I ain’t out here being a musician – this ain’t my full-time job like I wish it was. I wish that – I didn’t think like this so much but after doing it for a while – and after investing a lot in it, I wish it was making me money, honestly.
I can be real, streaming doesn’t pay, streaming pays a very minute amount of money compared to the number you get. I mean I like it that it’s heard a lot, it’s heard by whole different kinds of people. I hear people, you know, tell me they heard it at a public place in the States and I get random people tag me, listening to that song and it’s really cool.
So I’m grateful for that and also I still want more out of whatever being an artist means.
Gold of Ophir: B-sides & Badlands which is an online digital magazine publication added your album to their “List of Favorite Albums in 2019”, seeing that and knowing that your album was good enough to be among Beyonce and other amazing artist projects on that list, how did that feel for you?
Matthew: It was really cool, I loved seeing those writeups. I can’t deny it’s a great feeling to have people write about something that you put out. And, yeah, whoever is over there at B-sides, they write a lot about the singles and the videos and they are really promoting.
They’re really an indie publication so they are always looking for up and coming people that aren’t signed. I remember looking at that list and being like this is sweet. I hope that whoever wrote really listened to the whole album and really did like it you know because that…
It was cool because I am proud of that album. I do think that it is good, I am happy with the whole thing; it was great to see it on a list like that.
Gold of Ophir: Let’s talk about your experience performing at Where I’m Bound Folkfest 2020, West Palm Beach ?
Matthew: Yeah, to be honest, I was not looking forward to it. It was a newer festival some people that I kinda knew were starting up. I applied for it and they had me come and play at it. I remember going to it feeling like this isn’t going to mean anything and no one is going to really know who I am and I’ll play, but whatever.
But I ended up having a really good time and it was just me and my guitar, like it was a solo thing.
Because it was a folk festival, people there – that’s what they came for, they came for stuff like that. Nobody ‘round here comes for stuff like that so that was really cool. I could literally stand up there and sing the way I actually sing and sing the songs that I actually write and people have appreciation for it.
Also my brother, my younger brother lives there in Florida and he sings too and he sang some songs with me, so that was really cool too. I ended up really enjoying that though because sometimes you do a lot of gigs and like… it’s not as fun sometimes. It’s depending on the level of engagement or if people are already into it.
So that was really different and it’s also cool when you can hear yourself when you are playing. I have played in a lot of loud places around here and they ain’t checking, you’re just playing in a corner and it’s just loud. So it’s a bunch of people there and I could hear myself because people were actually there for the music and I heard myself say the same thing so many times about wanting people to show up for music but, like, I can’t change the culture so that’s fine.
Gold of Ophir: “Golden Hour” being a fan favorite, what is your favorite song on the album and favorite to perform ?
Matthew: St. Paul is pretty fun to perform, I’ll say that it’s like the one super poppy song on the album. My producer, really wanted that when I had presented that song, it was not that hype.
Gold of Ophir: Really?
Matthew: No, (smiling) It was a chill slow swingy song , and he was like ‘we gotta amp this up’. So I went with him on that.
Gold of Ophir: I’m glad you did. (smiling)
Matthew: Yeah, so that was really fun to perform. We released an acoustic version of it too. My favorite song on that album was probably After the Fall was really meaningful to me and I ended up also doing a new spin on it too. We ended up adding Judah to it and made a video and all that stuff. That song was really big to me.
Gold of Ophir: So let’s talk about “The Fall” , I know it was written from the perspective of your mother who passed away from cancer, so it’s a very deep, meaningful song for you. What made you decide to go to that level of vulnerability and release that song on your album ?
Matthew: Yeah, so that song came out of a spontaneous session. I was playing with my friend Romel Shearer who is a cellist, he’s a really great cellist. So me and him were like in my room and I was just playing some chords. Was just messing around and he started playing with it and I just like… recorded it with my phone.
A lot of that song was just on the spot lyrically because when I wrote that song my mom was still here, but it was terminal and we all knew and that’s like, a very bizarre feeling – like she’s here but you know, like, she’s gone.
So it’s wild, and, so initially that was all one song then I split it. So it’s called “Before the Fall” and “After the Fall”; two songs but they go together. So it just ah, I think I like it because the music and instrumentation behind it is pretty minimal, there’s no drums or anything, there’s no heavy, crazy stuff.
But I think lyrically, it’s one of those things that just happened pretty quickly – the writing of it – but I think it captures all that pretty accurately, the whole situation, those feelings. Yeah, so I think that’s why it always felt very special to me, those songs.
Gold of Ophir: Collaborating with Judah Tha Lion, you both have such different musical styles but when you did the song together you guys meshed so well. What made you decide to choose him for the song?
Matthew: One, Judah’s a great singer. That sounds like a simple statement but Judah can actually sing, like – that means a lot to me, he can really sing and I really like him. I met him shortly after I came home and I covered one of his songs, a really popular song called “Outlaw”.
I covered it and posted it and we had met once. I asked him for the lyrics because I could not decipher all the lyrics and I posted it and a lot of people saw that and thought it was interesting and I thought it was really cool.
So since then, we started to cross paths more at music events and I was like, this dude is very easy to be around. So the first time I asked him to do background vocals on one of the songs, he was just immediately down, no question.
So I was in the studio with him, doing vocals and he’s just very adaptable. His style is extremely different from mine but I think he could sing with anybody and he would figure out a way to make it click. He really is not egotistical at all which is also a rare thing, you know in all people and in musicians a lot, you will find that you don’t want to hang with them but he is not like that.
He initially sang on “Before The Fall”, just some background stuff and he had put a verse on it. My producer initially was like I don’t know if that fits, so we cut for the album but I always liked and wanted Judah to get more of a moment on those songs so, we went back in the studio here and he sang on “Before the Fall” and “After the Fall” and I am really happy with the turnout, yeah.
Gold of Ophir: It was a great song and the visuals were amazing. I loved at the end how the music went quiet and Judah sang live —
Matthew: Oh Yeah, he did that live. I’ve seen something like that before where midway through a video they just started singing live and I was like that would be cool if Judah sang his little part just in the wind. It was super windy that night, so we just did that and I brought Sam and Noah down from Nashville and they were really good at audio and mics.
So we mic’d him up and Judah again he was just so on board with the whole thing, he just kind of bought into what we were trying to make and he was all about it. So I really liked how all that looks now.
Gold of Ophir: Future collaborations, who would you like to work with ?
Matthew: Like just anybody?
Gold of Ophir: Anybody!
Matthew: I initially like, was thinking about local people. I was talking to Von Trap a lot and he is another friend of mine, just outside of the music thing and we talked about it all the time – like we should do something, we just haven’t gotten around to it. He had sent me a beat the other day and I like, experimented on it and I think that would be cool.
Out there in the wide world, I mean there are a lot of great singers I am really into right now but if I am thinking realistically there is a singer named Sara Davis Regan and I just think she is super creative and her voice is great.
She doesn’t do the standard, “I’ll just sing like a harmony on this line”, she will do this weird vocal texture stuff a lot like what Judah does, sort of like those background ethereal sounds. I really like working with people like that, I really want to work with my friends more too, my friends that I have in music. So I have a friend named A.J he lives in Tennessee, he does music. We have talked about collaborating so I am very open to collaboration. I didn’t used to be, but now I am like let’s all make something together. I mean maybe not all of us but a lot more people than I used to feel open to.
Gold Of Ophir: You made a Facebook post about some new music with Sara and then afterwards you were like “after that I would probably become a rapper” (laughing). Is that going to happen?
Matthew: That’s funny. Okay so I was in Atlanta recently I was in Atlanta for like three months and that city affected me in a lot of different ways. For so long – I think I started to touch on this – I wanted to come across and have this image of this sad singer-songwriter dude that wears, like, flannels and skinny jeans and you know, has a beard.
When I was over there, I don’t know, it wasn’t like that at all. I don’t know, I always liked rap. I listened to a lot of rap growing up, believe it or not. But, when I was in Orlando, like everybody did that… I was around and I went to a show while I was there, the first hip hop show that I have been to.
Another big thing was like, lyrically a lot of my lyrics come from this very broken down place and like “I need help and like I’m struggling”; and all these rappers are like “I’m great and I’m on top and you can’t stop me because I’m gonna make life something”. And, I was like that is kind of, inspirational actually – and even though it’s super braggadocious and all that stuff. But that is appealing to me now and didn’t used to be.
I liked listening to it but never thought that I would want to write like that or perform like that but I dig it.
I don’t know Atlanta, I love it, it was so great. I was over there for three months but I feel like I am probably the type of person that wherever I end up living or being for a while that place will rub off on me; and Atlanta? Big time. I was just like “yo I’m trying to be from here”. I loved the people.
Von Trap sent me that beat the other day and he was like “would you ever rap”. I was like I don’t know man, I was like it’s kinda hard. He was like “singing is hard man”, he was like “rapping you could probably do”, so who knows.
I could see it happening because I just want to create stuff and I want to care less about how it looks, so I’m on that train right now. So we will see, we’re gonna switch things up. I have some new songs that haven’t come out yet.
I did record them with my initial producer Chris, those songs are kind of in the vibe of “Give me Some Time” but they are different. They’re not gonna be like rap, but moving forward I have been just experimenting with different sounds, not just acoustic guitar-driven.
Gold of Ophir: Well that’s amazing, Thank you so much, Matthew I really appreciate it.