Aqualung is a project, a personal Matt Hales feels free to return to at his own speed.
Whether that's the experimentation that fuelled his early work, his unlikely breakthrough, or his current creative desires, Aqualung has stretched to fit each avenue the songwriter has explored.
Ending 2018 with a blast of new material, the project stirs once more for the release of new EP 'Additional Futures' on February 14th.
Lead song 'Use Me' is online now, a stirring slice of extra-dimensional pop songwriting Hales describes as “a rumination on the undervalued role of pragmatism in long term relationships... sung by a sad robot”.
Clash caught up with Aqualung to explore his literary tastes and preferences...
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What is your favourite book and why?
The House at Pooh Corner. I was raised on Pooh, quite possibly I was raised BY Pooh. Put my cells under a microscope and you'll probably see tiny Piglets and Eeyores wandering and wondering around.
The House At Pooh Corner is the 'Pet Sounds' of English Literature - apparently naive and superficially straight-forward but over time revealing a deeply sophisticated and acute interior. Brilliantly funny, full of proper wisdom, made from love AND Pooh is a songwriter. READ IT.
What other authors do you like?
John Steinbeck, David Mitchell, Douglas Adams, Hampton Sides, Tove Jansson, Toni Morrison.
What draws you to certain books?
I'm always hoping/hunting for something profound. I also love travelling in time and space.
Have you ever discovered a real lost classic? What is it and why?
Bright Lights. Dark Shadows. The real story of ABBA. by Carl Magnus Palm. Not very high on the literary lost classics list but for a student of record making and songwriting and a lifelong ABBA freak like me, it was like finding a bag of diamonds in my sock drawer.
Do your literary influences have a direct impact on your songwriting?
What I read certainly has an effect on me, and I make music from a very personal place, so there must be an indirect effect. I often note interesting words and phrases that i come across - sometimes those grow into song ideas or show up in lyrics. Also I tend to appraise my work in literary terms - some songs are short stories, some are chapters from a larger narrative.
What are you reading at the moment?
All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr.
What is the first book you remember reading as a child?
Did you make good use of your library card when you were younger?
I did. I love libraries - such a fantastic idea! Have you ever found a book that you simply couldn’t finish?
The Magus. I was lured in by The Collecter, but it was a trap.
Do you read book reviews?
I love reading reviews of almost anything but generally I find book reviews heavy going. Literary critics seem to feel obliged to display their own writing chops which is distracting. Imagine if music critics had to write and record little review songs?! Oof....
Would you ever re-read the same book?
Yes. I read and re-read my favourite books like I listen and re-listen to my favourite music. You just have to leave a longer gap with books. Sometimes I get sad finishing a book cos i know it will be a few years until I can go back to it.
Have you ever identified with a character in a book?
Winnie the Pooh.
Do you read one book at a time or more than one?
One fiction at a time. sometimes I can have some non-fiction on the go but great fiction takes up too much of my heart to share.
Is there an author or poet you would like to collaborate with?
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Aqualung will release new EP 'Additional Futures' on February 14th.
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