Last month, Mat Kearney dropped his fourth album, “Just Kids,” a modern amalgamation of hip-hop, spoken word, folk, and rock. Over the last few years, his songs have been getting more and more radio play, especially his hits such as “Ships in the Night,” “Hey Mama,” and “Nothing Left to Lose.” His new singles, “Heartbeat” and “Billion,” are destined to get the same radio play due to their incredible likability and Kearney’s vulnerability on this record, talking about his hometown and his wife. Just listening to the record as a whole, you feel like you are listening to stories from his childhood and have even stepped into his living room as he talks about his wife’s adorable habits.
While on tour, Kearney took a minute to talk to Viva Glam Magazine to discuss his new record, going back to basics, and his classic sense of style we love seeing live on tour. Make sure to check out his new record, “Just Kids,” available now.
(All photos were taken by Brianne Nemiroff at The Wiltern on March 11, 2015)
About “Just Kids”
A lot of the songs off “Just Kids” are either an homage to your childhood or a love letter to your wife. What made you want to address both of those parts of your life?
A lot of my family moved to Nashville where I live now. There’s kind of like a death of your hometown, there’s no place to go back to. It started with one song and then “Just Kids” happened. It’s funny how certain songs open up other songs that are kind-of on the same topic. It ended up being [an album about] me reflecting on that season of my life, growing up, what forms us, what ingredients make us who we are today.
On Writing about his Wife:
That’s just fun for me, celebrating us. We’re not newlyweds anymore but I think it’s still a source of inspiration. It’s something I’m working on and being involved with everyday as much as my music career. It’s changed who I am and my priorities. It’s definitely a muse I come back to on this record a lot.
How does your wife feel about the more personal tracks on the album, such as “Billion”?
Was it difficult to open up about her?
(Laughs) Probably for her, [but for me] no. I learned early on in my writing success that the songs that are scary and seem intimidating and too close and too vulnerable end up being the songs that are the most important and resonate with people the most and people end up loving.
On this album, you went back to your roots musically by doing more spoken word and connecting with your hip-hop side. What made you want to explore those avenues again?
It’s just what I’ve been listening to. I think I just listen to hip-hop records these days. I think I’m completely over anything throwback. I’m into modern music. Hip-hop seems to be the only kind of music that’s talking about now. It’s the folk of our generation. It’s not afraid to be talking about now, talking about today, not trying to be Motown, throwback bluegrass or Americana. I think that’s inspiring to me, drawing from that, the immediacy of it all.
“Los Angeles” talks about the start of your career and making your first record. Towards the end of the song, you say
“schizophrenic records I love to make.” Why did you describe your process as schizophrenic?
I think if you’re a fan of my music, you’ve signed up for not knowing what you’re going to get every song, this exploratory journey of trying out different genres and seeing how they fit together. I think that’s what I meant by that. I unabashedly try different things and blended different styles together. I guess the criticism can be schizophrenic. It’s my insecure self pulling the Eminem where he just says it before anyone else can make fun of it. (Laughs)
You also incorporated some African influences into this album. What was the inspiration behind that decision?
I think it’s 100% my love for Paul Simon and “Graceland,” [as well as incorporating] world influences which is fun. I often would think what would Kanye [West] and Paul Simon do if they were here in the same room. That was the goal a lot of times.
Find out about Mat Kearney’s style on the next page!