PREMIERE | Matt Hall Wades Through Toxic Relationship With New Song "Self Help"
The pop upstart struggles with staying in a relationship.
The newcomer displays sharp playfulness with his new song.
"I'm the worst me when we're on it," pop upstart Matt Hall sings, matter-of-factly. It's only his fourth single ever, but "Self Help" exhibits brash honesty, brushed with spitting strokes about a toxic relationship. Built on clicks an flickers, the track chronicles one person's struggle between holding on and letting go. "'Self Help' is about that person in your life that you know isn't great for you but somehow you always keep finding yourself going back anyway," Hall writes to Popdust about the song, premiering today. "Those people can bring out some negative stuff in you."
"Self Help," which follows the equally-electric stunner "Reason to Miss You," peels back the layers to expose "that weird version of yourself you suddenly become around someone that's bad for you," he says. Clearly influenced by the mainstream's syrupy blend of R&B and bubbly pop, Hall's new entry was co-written with two close friends, Conor Matthews and Lauren LaRue, in the height of summer last year. Originally created on just guitar, Hall's vocals as you'll hear on the final product was performed as if the song was a stripped-back, earthy acoustic number. "I had a gut feeling about it pretty immediately but we held on to it for like six months before we actually brought it to a producer to get the production I was wanting. It was one of the longer processes I've had of creating a song."
"Self Help" is satisfyingly blistering, seemingly burning into the skin like a cattle brand. It serves as just the latest sampling of a project coming along somewhere on the horizon. Hall is a delightful purveyor of the kind of meaningful pop music the current marketplace is severely lacking. He's a craftsman, that's for sure.
What emotions did you find yourself revisiting through writing and recording "Self Help"?
I would say two totally different ones, actually. When we did the record version of the song, it's kind of like the carefree "I know I shouldn't do this, but I'm young and going to like you anyways." But there's an acoustic version of the song coming out later that I kind of got to tap into the sadder truth of those situations. I just find that to be really fitting. It's kinda like this situation where sometimes you find it entertaining but sometimes draining.
Do you find it is far easier to address certain parts of yourself in song form?
I'm always trying to be self-aware in my life, but I would say yes, especially when I'm writing. I feel like all of my concepts reflect how I've dealt with situations or how I would deal with a situation in my real life. I love to learn about myself and talk about it in song form.
How have you changed through your craft?
I hope that I'm always evolving, creatively. I find myself getting bored of things really quickly, so I love experimenting with new things all the time. I want all the music I make right now to reflect what it's like to be Matt right now, but I also want that music and that Matt to keep changing and growing with each season of my life.
"Self Helps" adheres to what you established with "Reason to Miss You," but how did you push further here?
Actually, what's kind of cool is that "Self Help" was created long before "Reason to Miss You." "Self Help" was the beginning when I was like "woah this is what I've been going for," and then all the music after that just started clicking.
Your lyrics are rather searing. Not only do the songs feel larger than life but there is a unshakable intimacy to the stories you're telling. Over time, how have you seen your songwriting shift?
We all go through the same things in one way or another, and the more I keep growing up and learning about myself, the more honest the perspective in my music becomes. It is definitely kinda weird to put it all out there like "hey this is how I think, this is me," but I feel like I just keep allowing myself to do that more and more.
What is so compelling with your work so far is how you are grappling with the mental space, the feelings that make us feel trapped, either within ourselves or situations around us. Did that always come naturally in your songwriting?
I think that's what I've always been drawn to as a fan. All my favorite songs and artists seem to have that common thread in their music. So yeah, I've always been drawn to that, creatively, so I think it's pretty natural in my work.
How did living in Nashville impact your approach?
I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, but I moved to Nashville myself when I was 17. I loved the past four years there because I feel like the focus on development and songwriting is unlike any other place. I love being in LA, as well, but I definitely feel the creative mix of what both those places offer has impacted what I do.
How do these two songs feed into your impending project?
These two songs are definitely a good look into the identity of my sound. I think how music is consumed has changed so much even in the past year or two, though. I've definitely created a project that feels cohesive and like a body of work, but there's stuff I'm writing as little as two days ago that I'm just as excited about. I think artists have permission now to put songs out one-by-one and as they're created, which is amazing. But at the same time, I feel like the through-line you'll see with all my music, including these first two, is the signatures of who I am as an artist and songwriter.
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