IT’S been a busy time for Leigh born and bred musician Matt Battle, having just released his debut album titled Cut Your Teeth. After a flurry of gigs locally and in London, he is just about to head back to Bogota, Colombia, where he is currently living, and where much of the album was made. Prior to this solo offering, Matt has played in a variety of post-punk/anti-folk bands including Captain Blood Blood and the Sea Dogs and Papyrus Pirates. For more information about where to buy the album and Matt’s future gigs, follow him at, or his label, Southend Records at southendrecords

WHAT’S your earliest musical memory?

My earliest musical memory is, I think, a theme from an 80s radio show that my mum used to have on in the daytime when I was a toddler. I remember that it was a melancholic piece that played in the background whilst callers into the station told sad stories about unrequited love. Funnily enough, whilst playing my song Searching recently with a live band, my wife, who was playing keyboard for me, picked out a melody that immediately recalled that memory. So I’ve subconsciously included that melody in my music.

WHERE did you perform live for the first time, what was the occasion?

In an assembly at my senior school, King John.

FIRST album you bought? Last album you bought? 

The first album I bought was Michael Jackson’s Thriller on vinyl. I remember playing it on my parents’ record player and dancing around the living room.

An album I recently discovered is Andy Shauf’s stunning The Bearer of Bad News, which Shauf recorded in his parents’ basement, playing every instrument himself, which I immediately find interesting because that’s the way I personally like to work. For me playing and recording everything myself is an essential part of the writing process.

However the last album I bought was a copy of Willie Colón and Hector Lavoe’s amazing Salsa classic, Lo Mato, on vinyl from a flea market in central Bogota. I think people often have a preconceived idea of Salsa as quite a light dancebased genre, but the original Salsa movement created by Latin American immigrants in New York in the late 60s, particularly the albums released by the record label and music collective, Fania All-Stars, of which Hector Lavoe was a central member, is astonishing.

It’s music to dance to but with a heavy, cerebral content. The lyrics, particulary Hector Lavoe’s, are dark, metaphysical and poetic. That juxtaposition between a deep lyrical content and spritely music is for me extremely powerful and inspirational.

FAVOURITE album of all time?

That’s a tough one . . . I guess I’d have to say the Beatles’ White Album just because it’s such a beautiful, sprawling mess of an album and you could make a case for it as one of the, along with Dylan’s Basement Tapes, earliest expressions of lo-fi. That demo quality that you get on the White Album, with each of the Beatles more or less recording their own material with minimal input from the other members is similar to what you find, for example, on a Sebadoh album where each member has at least one of their own songs included on the record, which gives it a fragmented aesthetic; an aesthetic that modernist writers like James Joyce explored in classic 20th century novels such as Ulysses. That connection between literature and music is very important for me.

WHO’S your biggest inspiration?

John Lennon has always been a huge musical influence on me, ever since I was a kid.

But more recently, since moving to Colombia, there have been a number of Latin American artists such as the legendary salsa singer Hector Lavoe and Colombian Vallenato artists like Rafael Escalona and Calixto Ochoa who have really inspired me to make music. These latter artists particularly helped me to realize that apparent (if not actual) simplicity is often the key, for me at least, to great music. Literature and philosophy are also huge inspirations for me lyrically.

For example, ‘Santiago Nasar’, a song from my debut album, is named after the central character from Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel, Chronicle of a Death Foretold. The lyrics are basically my reading of the novel.

HOW do you discover new music?

I often watch YouTube channels such as Tiny Desk concerts and KEXP, which are good places to discover new music. I also read music websites like The Quietus, as well as getting recommendations from friends.

FAVOURITE lyric from your own band/you have ever written?

I’m not sure if a writer should ever be satisfied with his or her own work; self-satisfaction only breeds idleness. If pushed I’d say I find the chorus to my song A Country Song interesting.

That song is an attempt at writing a song in the form of metafiction: a metasong.

It is about the act of writing a song itself: “I think of words until they write me, I’m just a blotter for the ink, There’s someone else writing this song, It costs the mind too much to think”. It’s a cliché to say that artists are vessels through which a message is transmitted but I think there’s some truth in it; ironically finding your “voice” is precisely the point at which you give yourself over to a universal idea. Great art always has a universal element.

FAVOURITE lyric from someone else?

“With half-damp eyes I stared to the room Where my friends and I spent many an afternoon Where we together weathered many a storm Laughin’ and singin’ till the early hours of the morn”

It’s from Dylan’s Bob Dylan’s dream. A very nostalgic lyric that’s always stuck with me. I remember late one night sitting in the garage of my parents’ house where we used to rehearse with some friends and we were listening to this song.

We were about 18, just when we were getting ready to go to university and our lives were about to take different paths.

This beautiful song about the magic of early friendships and the affects of time and life on those relationships really struck me then and still resonates with me now.

FIRST song you played?

Probably Ain’t no sunshine by Bill Withers in the afterschool music group I was in at King John School.

BEST gig you’ve been to and why?

Another tough one. Perhaps when I saw Sonic Youth play Daydream Nation in its entirety, just because it’s such a seminal album and an important one in my own musical education in terms of its marriage of noise and melody. Although this aesthetic is not hugely present in my debut album it’s something I really admire in some of my favourite bands, such as Pavement, and something I’d like to explore more in the future.