Artist Interviews

Q&A: Aqualung

By | Published on Thursday 1 July 2010


Singer songwriter Matt Hales may have been the lead singer of Britpop band Ruth, which later became The 45s, but it is under his solo moniker of Aqualung that he has enjoyed most success.

Volkswagen using his song ‘Strange And Beautiful’ for an ad in 2002 helped a little in that regard, contributing in part to the commercial success of the two Aqualung albums that followed, though it was Hales’s musical abilities that meant critical success was also assured. Officially Hales retired from music in 2007, though that hasn’t stopped him touring the US, and won’t stop him releasing a third Aqualung album called ‘Magnetic North’ via Verve Forecast this summer. So, a Jay-Z style retirement then. Ahead of a London gig at the Bush Hall on 15 Jul, Matt took some time out to tackle the Same Six.

Q1 How did you start out making music?
Just before I was born my Dad decided that there should be a piano in the house, so he went and got a knackered and fantastically out of tune upright and put it in the front room. Just after I was born my Dad sat me on the piano stool and showed me what happened when you pressed the funny brown monster’s teeth….. and I fell in love. I’ve been bewitched ever since. Playing piano is part of my everyday life, like going to the toilet. If I don’t get to do it regularly I start to feel all peculiar and my tummy hurts.

Q2 What inspired your latest album?
It’s been a big few years for me. A new child and a new home and all that. I think this album has a sort of pioneering, wide-open, roadtrippy sort of atmosphere because it was made amongst big changes – and not knowing if they were going to be for the better or not. But knowing they were going to happen anyway.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
a) Get the weird feeling.
b) Find a piano.
c) Play and sing and get lost in it.
d) Find a bit that I can’t live without.
e) Play that bit 1000 times.
f) Do something else for a while (between 1 hour and 2 years).
g) Get the weird feeling again.
h) Turn the bit into a song. decipher the singing and write some words.
i) See (f) but be always thinking about it.
j) Suddenly need to hear it all finished. NOW!
k) Get some friends around and record it. Make it sound great with whatever is lying around. DO IT QUICKLY.
l) Listen to it 1000 times.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?

Bill Withers, Cornelius, Faure, ABBA, The Meters, Brian and Carl and Dennis Wilson, and Kate Bush.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
This is for you. From me. It was hand-made with Great Care. I hope you enjoy it.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and for the future?
I hope people get a chance to hear the new album. And that they enjoy it. And that it becomes part of their lives in some small way. As for the future – I hope my kids grow up happy and healthy and that the world we’re making for them isn’t too messed up. And I hope that I can carry on making and sharing music until I am very old and very odd.