08th Sep2010

Your New Favorite Band: Heinali and Matt Finney

by Sania

Intensity. The majority of the music on our planet is pop fluff that floats in and out of our consciousness without leaving any residue. Heinali and Matt Finney creep into your brain and never leave. By creating songs that refuse to be neatly classified in any of the round holes of genre defining, these square pegs have created one of the finest EP’s of 2010. Eschewing cheesy press photos, they prefer for the music to paint their picture. As TDOA writer Sania wrote, “Lyrically and musically, it feels like gravity has been turned up a few notches while you listen. Here’s is the conversation that the guys had with Sania, talking about their newest effort, Lemonade.

TDOA: How did this collaboration between the two of you come about?

Matt: We met each other through Myspace. Heinali had become friends with my band (Finneyerkes) and we both loved each other’s music. I was on a break from recording at the time and I asked him if he would be interested in recording a couple tracks. That turned into our first EP and we’ve been doing this ever since.

TDOA: Given the fact both parties are never creating in the same room together, what is the writing and recording process? What’s the biggest challenge with doing it this way?

Heinali: Taking in account Matt writes lyrics and does spoken word, and the music’s domain is fully mine that’s pretty easy. Matt records himself and sends the files over to me and I compose music. The biggest challenge is the distance itself of course.

Matt: We do our parts separately. Usually I’ll write the entire album and record the vocals and send them to Heinali. He’ll take them from there and work his magic. It’s a very free environment so we both get the chance to do whatever we want. The biggest challenge is not being in the same room! I never knew how much not being able to play live would hurt but we have a good thing going. Making solid albums is what’s most important.

TDOA: When you finally meet each other in person, what will be the very first thing you do?

Heinali: Get drunk?

Matt: Go grab some drinks and get to work!

TDOA: The very layered and engulfing sound of this music seems like it would translate so well in a live setting, are there any considerations in the making?

Heinali: Sure. Right now we can’t do gigs cause you know, basically we’re broke and neither one of us have enough amount of money to come over, book a studio for the rehearsals, maybe find some musicians and do the shows.

Matt: We’re across the world from each other so that’s a bit of a problem but I have a feeling one day we’ll be able to play in front of an audience and make these songs take on a new dimension. Hell, if people keep donating it might sooner than later…

TDOA: What’s behind the decision to release your music for free and the pay what you want idea for bonus tracks and booklet with The ‘Lemonade’ EP?

Heinali: intend not to sound communist, but the basic idea that music is a product, which makes it the part of consumerist culture, makes me sick. I’m pretty much ok to starve to death in the world where noone would pay for my art, but I’m terrified by the idea of living in the world where most of the music is not art but the consumerist product. As the major labels are slowly dying now it is a great time to form the new model of music distribution. The music itself should be free, but the listener should be able to support the artist financially. I really liked what Trent Reznor and Radiohead did with their latest releases. But to make the “pay what you want” model work for the lesser known indie projects the listeners should understand that now all the money they are paying are coming directly to the artist, and they are the only source of support.

Matt: Putting your music out there for free is a great way of getting it to a larger group of people. If we put a price tag on it then I don’t think a whole lot of folks would’ve paid attention. They see the word “Free” attached and they immediately dive in. The pay what you want function is for those that really like what we’re doing and want to give back. All of the support is appreciated more than you could know. A million thanks to all of the people who have taken their hard earned money and bought our tunes.

TDOA: To call the sound of this collaboration ‘dark’ is a bit of an understatement. The new EP is so saturated with darkness both lyrically and musically that its impossible to escape from it, like gravity has been turned up a few notches while you listen. What inspired such a pushing rock bottom feel to the album?

Matt: I really like the gravity comment. Thank you! You’re right, it is a very dark album altogether but that’s just the people we are. Unlike most, I’m stuck being around myself all of the time. That’s enough to drive you into despair. Lyrically, all of the songs stem from a very rough time I was going through. A failed engagement, a miscarriage, people that I
always thought I could count on disappeared, disillusionment, my anxiety multiplied this times a hundred. I’m still trying to get out from underneath the wreckage. I never sit down and try to make things as bleak as possible but I try my best to be honest.

TDOA: What are you currently listening to on heavy rotation? Anything newer? Something older that feels relevant now?

Heinali: Tchaikovsky, Bach, Debussy, Nico Muhly, Rachmaninoff…

Matt: Currently it’s been the new Twilight Sad EP. I love that band to death. The National’s High Violet and The Gaslight Anthem’s American Slang are up there as well. Brand New’s last album got a lot of play. August and Everything After by Counting Crows is a major influence on me. One band that I listened to when I was a sophomore in high school was Joy Division but I’m just now starting to get what they were all about. They’re incredible.

TDOA: You’ve referred to your sound as being ‘cinematic’ descriptively, what does that mean? Does it mean something different for ‘Town Line’ vs ‘Lemonade’ ?

Heinali: No, I don’t think it’s differs much. The main idea behind the “cinematic” label is to get away from the usual “song” structure and feel. Film music sometimes isn’t structured around some melodic or timbral idea, it’s composed more like in a flow, a soundscape way. It could suddenly change its direction, transform into something different. Because the main idea is the image, video sequence, it’s outside the music.I love the idea of this “soundtrack to the imaginary movie”, it gives much more freedom, and it’s a challenge for the listener’s (who got used to the standart song structures) imagination and aesthetical qualities to perceive and digest this kind of music.

Matt: We try to give you music that you can close your eyes and see what’s going on while it’s playing. Each track is almost like a different scene picking up. I think both of the albums share this quality.

TDOA: Any advice that can be offered for unsigned indie artists who are trying to use the internet and social media sites, as you have, as their main form of marketing music?

Heinali: Improvise. The old music business model is falling apart, and currently noone actually knows how to distribute and promote music in a right way. This is the time of revolutions.

Matt: Just keep pressing on and don’t ever get discouraged. I write to websites and blogs all of the time and hardly hear back. That’s how it goes.You can come across some
amazing people that will love your music and want to help you out. Be kind and people will be kind back.

TDOA: What disclaimer would you give to someone about to experience your music for the first time?

Matt: Stay away from guns, knives, or open windows.

Download their new EP for free here.

Follow them on Twitter @HeinaliandMatt

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