Mat Hunsley talks us through each track of his debut EP, To Being Free. He discusses long distance relationships and breaking out of the singer-songwriter stereotype across three intricate acoustic tracks.
For a long time I was hung up on not knowing how to make a record, nor how to finish these simple songs that I wrote in my bedroom. I was trying to be too clever and it was preventing me from finishing anything at all. It took some time for me to realise that the songs needed to speak for themselves, that they didn’t need to hide beneath layers of instrumentation in order for them to resonate with people.
For me, "Dropping" is a great way to open my debut. Lyrically it is quite cutting; a fairly frank commentary of how I see some of those around me acting, and the expectations I sometimes feel as a young person today. I’ve chosen to be quite direct about this, even explicit at times, whilst strongly defending my own decision to settle down and commit to someone. I’m proud of the life I lead and "Dropping" let me say this aloud.
"Fires" is the first decent song I ever wrote. It’s about difficulties in a long distance relationship, especially during a time of unprecedented change. For me, that was leaving home for university but I guess it could come in any shape or form.
Even at that age, I quickly learnt that relationships take work, regardless of longevity. Fortunately, I am still with said person even after all these years. I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved over that time and "Fires" now represents a real testament to our success.
For a little while I felt very stagnant as an artist. I was watching musicians around me progress in their career, have successful releases and play some cool shows. I was still this pigeon-holed singer-songwriter with potential who hadn’t really amounted to much. Perhaps that was just me, but it definitely concerned for me for a good while that I wasn’t making the progress I wanted to.
"To Being Free" was my way of venting that frustration and I think it definitely helped me to move past that point. I’m glad that it made it onto the debut record. It’s a lyrical high point for me. Being an original and imaginative lyricist is incredibly important to me as a songwriter. This is something I’ve always got in mind when I’m writing. I want to be able to play a solo set and still stand out as a performer.