You responded really well to Mahala’s snarky diagram about you. Were you as chilled about it as you let on?
A lot of people are talking about that. It’s quite cool. I thought it was funny, it doesn’t really matter. They’re cool, they’re dicks and stuff, but it was funny and something to laugh about, I guess. Some people took it seriously. It’s caused people to talk about it, so it helps us both.
One of the things Mahala criticised you about is the fact that you make religious music. Do you think it could isolate certain audiences?
I don’t do anything purposefully, like play the Christian card. It’s just kind of what I write about a lot. I think a lot of people could be put off by it but everyone that’s spoken to me has been really respectful about everything I’ve written about it.
You’ve said that you try to live your life a little differently to the way most people think it should be done. What way is that?
It’s kind of just a way of saying I’m Christian. It’s just what I write about but without throwing it in people’s faces. It’s not full on singing about the Bible, but just the way my parents raised me with specific values and the way they taught me how to make decisions. It’s a bit different to a lot of what I’ve seen. It’s where I get a lot of influences from for writing songs.
You’ve spent quite a lot of time recording your album in Joburg, would you ever make it a permanent move up north?
I’ve just made it. I’ve been going back and forth. It’s such a cool place. I’m keen to stay there for as long as I need to.
What was it like working with producer Matthew Fink?
He has all these ideas and puts so much detail into what he does, so it’s just amazing to work with him. He’s open to my ideas and he was keen to just throw out whatever ideas we could put in there, so he was cool.
You’re signed to Just Music, a label which seems to be doing pretty well in an industry where others are floundering. What do you think makes them stand out?
It’s been so cool with them because they give you so much freedom. They run everything independently. They respect their artists because they sign artists that they like and like what they are doing, so they encourage them to keep doing what they’re doing instead of changing anything.
Review:The Home We Built
For a musician who has made local chart history by being the first South African artist to enter the iTunes album chart at number one, Matthew Mole’s debut, The Home We Built, sure has a lot to live up to.
Mole’s Christianity is undoubtedly an influence on the album, his faith sometimes creeping up in more overt ways than others.
On “Autumn”, he talks about enlightening people on his beliefs (“Go see the world, speak of your understanding / Make one thing known / That we are held in merciful hands and you are the way home”), while on “It’s Simple Child” Mole reflects on the magnitude of his faith (“I, I believe in such a faith / Strong enough that it will break these worldy intentions and make a change”).
“Whale” uses the Bible story of Jonah to meditate on turning your back on religion (“If you run, run, run away and disobey your father / Then wait and see there’s a whale in the sea for you”).
But make no mistake in thinking that Mole’s musings on the big guy upstairs don’t make The Home We Built any less accessible than if he were to go all secular on us. In fact, it’s his honesty and simplicity that makes him so endearing.
Our only gripe? That The Home We Built doesn’t include more tracks that haven’t been previously released on Mole’s EP, only because they’re just so damn good.