Matt Hales is better known as Aqualung. His breakout track “Brighter Than Sunshine” put him in the national spotlight, as well as his work with Brooke Fraser and Leona Lewis.
What parts of your formal musical training do you fall back on in your current songwriting process? Berklee kids like hearing that kind of thing.
MH: I don’t want to say anything too disheartening, like, “You must practice! Practice those scales, kids!” They have no appreciable use in my line of work, but I gather there are occasions where they can be helpful… I think it’s hard to say, because there’s not, say, one part of my mind that’s sectioned off from another. I was making music for a long time before I started learning about playing the piano, or Shostakovich and so on. I’ve always found that in technical ways, I’ve been more conscious of my options. I still think basically when it comes down to writing, it’s mostly an instinctive thing. I don’t think that if I can describe the chords makes any difference. In some ways, I hope it doesn’t. Where [the training] comes into play, is what happens after that – In being aware of all the different options sonically, and arrangement-wise, and instrumentation.
I think the further down the line it gets with songs in arranging and recording them – even just communicating to other musicians – that’s where that stuff becomes helpful. It doesn’t really play much of a role in the writing. The writing bit is still just as simple and peculiar, kind of slightly magical as it’s always been. I hope it stays that way.
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