Sweet soul and folk-psychedelica permeate the unhurried tracks of Matt Corby’s second album Rainbow Valley; the new father explains why finding the core value of a song ensures its meaning doesn’t get buried, and how he slaps himself out of over-thinking things.
When we spoke in 2016 about your debut Telluric, you mentioned your newfound love for drums. You played everything on this record – which instrument carried you away this time?
I think this time I was less excited about the fact that I was learning instruments as I was recording it. I spent a fair bit more time practising, but this record was very much about giving everything a balance – not getting too carried away on anything. Well, still on the drums. I probably spend more time on that than anything but that’s probably because I’m so particular about rhythm, I want it to be perfect. I was just trying to keep everything moving together really well. ‘How can I make all these things complement each other and not let anything poke out too much or take away from the feeling from the song, the core value of the song?’
The title song has some samples of birds tweeting. I listened to it while walking through the Botanical Gardens and I wasn’t sure if I was hearing you or hearing the gardens. Where are those birdies from?
That’s classic! We sampled the birds from my house. We just left one of the mics out in the afternoon. That is the sound of Rainbow Valley. It’s the name of the property. I didn’t even name it. The guy that lived here before us was a full-time gardener, and he went full HAM on the house, but moreso the garden. It’s a bit of a magical wonderland in here. So, Rainbow Valley, when you actually see the property, you really feel like it’s aptly named.
What’s your favourite part of the property?
It actually has a little section of pineapple. It’s really weird, ‘cause pineapples are a strange plant to look at. To see them all chilling in a row, planted on this funny little landing… There’s a secret path to get there. We call it Pineapple Hill and every now and then we check to see if any of them are ripe enough to have a crack at. That’s probably the coolest little spot. It overlooks this dam. I’m really trying to build a studio around Pineapple Hill.
You’ve said that with this album you don’t need to prove things you might have felt you did earlier – which is something you mentioned during the Telluric album cycle too. It’s obviously an ongoing endeavour for you. Who do you think you’ve stopped trying to prove yourself to?
It’s a good question, actually. I think it’s me. Everyone, objectively, can hear great music and go, ‘That’s great music.’ And I am constantly aspiring to make something great. So, I’ll always be one-upping myself, and my values change as I progress. I think when you’re young you have a lot to prove with artists. I’m a bit of an over-thinker so I go into a bit of a hole, being hypercritical.
Do you have a method of getting out of that over-analytical spiral?
Yeah. It’s called ‘deleting the song file’! That’s pretty much what I do now. I’ve gotten a lot better at saying goodbye to things that aren’t going to work. There might be a week’s worth of experiments at any given time and a few songs might be written, four of them might be absolute dogsh-t, and one of them actually sounds really cool and just needs a bit of re-jigging. As I’m playing everything on my own, I can’t stop and be like, ‘Everyone, we need to change this section here, let’s all just learn it quickly and put it down.’ And, maybe because I was playing everything, this time it was a lot more refined. With just me and Ben in the room we can just be like, ‘that sounds terrible. Let’s cut that and try again.’ I can write a different part on the spot and be comfortable to do that because I have the authority in the situation to do so.
Rainbow Valley is out now via Universal.
Read our review of Rainbow Valley.