Interview: The Berries- Matt Berry on ‘Berryland’

Posted: by The Editor

Nostalgic at their core, The Berries are paving a new soundscape within the indie rock scene. The twangy, Seattle based operation is fronted by the multi-talented, Matt Berry. After spending hours in the studio and teaching himself how to play various instruments, Berryland is an ode to the past and a nod to the future. A beautiful mix of experimental, futuristic sounds with an old school feel, the album is extremely unique.

While, The Berries may currently be one of the lesser known groups on Run For Cover’s roster, it won’t stay that way for long. Set to release their sophomore LP, Berryland, September 20th we teamed with Berry to learn some of the sonic influences behind their new album. Stream the playlist while you read our interview below.


How are you doing? How is the anticipation growing as you get closer to the release date?

I’m doing just fine. I’m eager to have the record out for sure. We’re all excited to tour and play the record.


What’s the biggest difference between Berryland and Start All Over Again?

Berryland is fairly different. I think I did a better job on the production side of things. More than anything, it’s a progression towards something I think. Feels like a more honest representation of the band and it’s goals.


Where do you find your influences? Especially the songs you shared you listened to during the making of the album. Is it a mix of artists you’ve always loved and new stuff you find along the way?

I find most music through youtube or recommendations from friends. The artists and songs I shared are all stuff I was listening to a lot during the making of the record. I can’t really say that much of that stuff is new to me. I’ve been listening to all those bands/artists for a long time. I think I found myself recently paying more attention to them or something, maybe listening to them in a different way. 


What is it about the older, more “classic” musicians that you enjoy to much?

It’s hard to say. . . I hate feeling like I’m some sort of nostalgia junky. People always compare my records to stuff from the 90’s or 70’s or whatever and I think those interpretations are definitely valid, but I want to someday make something that feels less like its harkening back to a “better time”. But hey, what can I say? All my favorite rock records were made in the 60s and 70s. It’s not about nostalgia, it’s about songs. . . I hope.


When listening to music, what captures your attention and makes you think, “this is good”?

I truly have no idea. If a song is good, I’ll generally try to figure out what makes me so drawn to that song, be it the writing, the vibe, whatever. Sometimes it’s all the little idiosyncrasies in a song that make it so special. It could be anything really. A good song is a good song.


How do you craft your influences into the music you create while still making it very much your own?

There’s no intentional “craft” to it. I just get inspired by something I hear in a song and somewhere down the road, when I’m writing a song of my own, that sound I was so struck by tends to surface in the music I’m writing. It’s usually subconscious, but not always. 


How did you learn to play so many different instruments? What peaked your interest in learning?

I mean, of all the instruments in the world, I’m really only half-decent at playing guitar. I have a fairly rudimentary approach to all the others. It’s all out of necessity really. I grew up playing music alone and, for better or worse, have stuck to that approach in my adult life. Part of it is being a control freak, but it’s also laziness maybe. Why go through the trouble of teaching a song to somebody and have them play it really well when I could just do a half-decent job myself and have it be done right now? I’m growing out of that mentality a bit. We’re planning on making the next record as a full band. 


What is your favorite instrument/genre to play/listen to?

I always tend towards the guitar but I love playing piano too, even though I’m pretty terrible at it. I like the way guitars sound a lot.


You spent a lot of long days building the album, does sitting in a room for hours on end creating feel natural and enjoyable or do you have to put yourself into a certain mindspace?

I like the process a lot, it gives me a sense of purpose, something to do with my time. I’m not very good at anything else.


After creating by yourself, how do you bring the product to the rest of the band to finish the song?

The live band kind of interprets the song in the way that only those five people together in a room can. I can’t ask them to play the parts I wrote exactly as I wrote them or the whole thing will just feel kind of stagnant. We just play around with the songs until they feel right. They are some of the best musicians I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing with and I trust them to do as they wish with the songs.


So how exactly does the songwriting process look like for you?

I get an idea, work on it and it either falls flat or it doesn’t. After I’ve worked on it for a while, I’ll make a demo and either decide it’s a song worth pursuing or it’s not. 


A lot of the album discusses themes of autonomy and creating balance. Can you explain a little bit more about your perspective on this and why you find this to be an important concept?

When I was working on lyrics for this record, I was really preoccupied with the dichotomy between solitude/self-sufficiency vs community/relationships. Which is better for me and why. It’s painful to be alone and sometimes more too painful to love others. There is a balance somewhere within that and finding that seems virtually impossible. Balance as a general concept is something I struggle with heavily, whether it’s substances, work, food, anything really . . . I always seem to go 100% in one way or the other and I wanted/want to see some change in that department. Find a place in the middle where I can stake my claim in peace. 


What would you say the band’s ethos is?

A few things come to mind. Providing some joy to those who listen, make as many records as possible, ensure we use any kind of platform we have in a way that isn’t exclusively self-serving among many others.


How are you enjoying Run For Cover? What’s your favorite part of being on the label?

It’s been a really pleasant experience. We feel supported and loved. They always have my back and I appreciate them for all they’ve done to help this band exist. 


Is there anything else you want to share or add?

Please vote.

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Emily Kitchin//@DeathNap4Cutie