Tag Archives: Beautiful Girls

The Beautiful Girls – Beautiful Music.

It was a picture perfect day in Cairns when I called up Mat McHugh to find out a little more about him and what Cairns can expect when The Beautiful Girls play at the Tanks in September. “I haven’t seen the sun in 3 weeks here in Sydney; it’s just constantly raining all of the time, stop telling me about that awesome weather up there, I can’t wait to see it”

Not that Mat spends much time taking in the rays these days, between fatherhood and his many musical projects – The Beautiful girls, and his solo projects, Mat McHugh solo and The Seperatista Soundsystem, each taking their own musical journey.

And how did Mat’s music journey evolve?

“Take a seat, and I’ll tell you, this could take a while! I’ve always played, and my dad who I lost when I was young, played guitar. He’d always play guitar and sing. It sounds really hippie compared to what our kids have today, but growing up we didn’t have a TV we just had a record player and a guitar. I got into it like speaking, I didn’t think about it, it just happened; it was never a professional aspiration. I just loved it and it evolved and every opportunity I had, I tried not to blow it, I grew up with music I don’t want to compromise that to a world of commerce.”

You play a host of instruments as well as write your own material, is that self-taught or professional?

“Self-taught and studied. I started guitar then that progressed into saxophone. I studied piano as a kid.  I’m not a Beethoven who is the master of everything, but I interpret as I can. It’s important that the song keeps its identity as it is when it’s first created. People can get hung up in major labels, as the focus isn’t their music energy within the song, which to me is the important part.”

The Beautiful girls have been around for 12 years, releasing 3 albums to date, as well as singles and EP’s. The band have toured world-wide and gone through a few line-up changes. Mat has remained a constant in the band. The Beautiful Girls’ work has charted in both ARIA and Billboard charts, whilst also nominated for APRA and Aria awards. 2014 sees the awaited follow up to Spooks – Dancehall Days.

Tell me about the artwork for Dancehall days; is that by you, or someone else?

“I was in New York and I saw this artwork, I took a picture of it as I loved it so. I carried the picture in my pocket for years. I get inspired by art more than music and the image stayed in head. I knew the artist Mymo from Berlin (My Monsters). I approached her to see if I could use it, I sent her the photo I had been carrying for years and she allowed it. I love collaborating with artists. Art inspires to build on elements, it’s not forced. A song should come to you rather trying to find it. The cover inspired me. I kept looking at that boombox and thinking what sounds would be coming out of it, like 80’s style beats.”

I admire your direction to steer clear of the mainstream record companies. Tell me why you hold that as such an ideal?

“I never really want to sell out and I really, truly love music. Music is my confidante, my best friend, I can’t imagine life without it and if it means that to other people, it’s important to people in the world. There needs to be people that hold that ideal in mind and if everyone does the commercial thing then the culture of music and culture in general would be gone. Pop music is ordinary right now, and if we all subscribed to that thinking it would be terrible. Music is too important, and if I sign on dotted line it’s selling out, and it’s not interesting to me. There needs to be finding other ways pay rent go to sleep at night knowing that you’ve put in and fight the good the fight, because if you don’t, the whole world is stuffed. There’s 12 year old kids who see X Factor and there’s The Voice and Sony records, then there is John Butler Trio, The Waifs, The Beautiful Girls and the other choices with more creativity and what I hope is the good stuff.”

Dancehall days is being distributed by MGM and joining a large host of Australian music being put out there. Do you think this is a growing trend to buck against the system?

“We’ve done it forever and been on MGM since John Butler Trio and The Waifs etc.   There’s a lot of good music and it’s a valid way. When we started it was less accepted and now with the internet and getting music to people more rapidly it’s more accepted. People are getting the fact you can sell ten times less on an independent but make a lot more money than they would on the majors, and artists have far more freedom.”

The idea of pledge is brilliant, I’ve never heard of it before, but not only does it give you the creative strength to record at will, but it allows fans to contribute and also get rewarded with sweet deals. How important is that whole set up to you?

“It was interesting me, it was a different way to do it and being independent feels like everyone is involved in the process and wise enough to know where the dollars are going. If your support for an artist is solid why not jump on at the start of the project, the money goes to a record and you get bunch of stuff you’ve never had access to before, it offers that personal level of interaction. I’ve been in communication with people that have pledged and met them at the sound checks and stuff it’s turned out great. If I had opportunities like that with the artists I was into when I was growing up I would’ve gone insane!”

And what artists are you into?

“I’m too busy making own music now, growing up early Washington DC punk, Indy raw punk –  Minor Threat, Black Flag, Bad Brains, early hip hop Run DMC are my Beatles, reggae, I had weird tastes didn’t tend towards mainstream, I only discovered Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin at a much later time. Music is always there to discover it, whenever if its classic its classic forever.”

You manage your Facebook page, that’s a great connection point to the people that follow your work.

“Yeah it’s an important ethos to me. More and more artists are using it for music industry bullshit, and behind the camera are way different to what you expect. I’ve copped a lot of flak for my beliefs and I believe in what I say. I take time to write and answer back and whether I’m arguing or agreeing, understand that I’m respecting you and taking the time to write back to you and keep it going. I’m not into that rockstar crap.”

You played Brothers in 2012 and featured a mix of The Beautiful Girls as well as Mat McHugh tracks, now you’re back and playing Tanks. What can the audience expect from the show?

“I played a couple of solo shows live at tanks and I love the venue, it’s a great place. We’ve toured now and it’s a different show, we use a different sound system and have a horn section and beats, so it’s more artistic and an evaluation of the past year. Hopefully something different to you are used to.”

Cherie kitto

The Beautiful Girls play The Tanks Arts Centre Friday 3rd of Oct. tickets available through Ticketlink

Price: $40 / $35 (CONC) (+15)

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