Hey Matt! How did you go about choosing your songs?
I gave it a lot of thought actually! I thought about what I’d like to listen to if I was stranded. I imagine I’d be pretty unhinged on the island, a bit like Tom Hanks in Castaway rather than Robinson Crusoe. So I chose the songs not only because I’ve always gone back to them over the last few years no matter what my flavour of the month was, but also because I think my volleyball-with-a-drawn-on-face and I would enjoy them by the campfire.
You’re president of PearShaped, can you tell us a little about the magazine and how you guys got started at Exeter?
As I’m just entering my fourth year here (MA English) I was one of the original founders of the magazine back in 2013. PearShaped is an online music magazine that we created with the aim to offer support and coverage to what we believed to be a vibrant local scene. Today we’re part of the Guild, having dissolved as a business in 2014, and we’re all about music coverage both local and global. We hope that we not only give students keen on writing about music an great outlet but also amplify the quality local acts that make the Exeter scene across a variety of genres so awesome.
So you’re stranded on our desert island, what are the first few songs you’d take with you?
Sergei Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor. Mvt. 1.
I’ve always been a huge fan of classical music and this is probably my favourite piece by my favourite composer (although Mozart comes really close). Lots of people will have heard the second movement of this concerto, which is a great piece of Romantic writing, but I prefer this, for the juxtaposition of the swirling piano and controlled strings at the opening, which moves into a seemingly effortless solo study.
Gregorio Allegri – Miserere
I’m not going to spend the whole time talking about Classical and Choral don’t worry! But this is an absolutely epic piece of Choral work that I find so poignant and tranquil. There’s also a Top C in the soprano/ treble line, a bit of a rogue note on paper, but always sounds incredible in practice.
London Grammar – ‘Wasting My Young Years’
Our previous president Jack Reid loved London Grammar, and I have to agree with him. I’m not sure whether the lyrics of this one might not become a bit sad if you were stuck on an island, but hopefully I’d be able to enjoy the beautiful vocals for what they are, rather than start crying in my treehouse to them.
You mention Jack and the founding of the society, would you say PearShaped has had a big influence on your music taste?
Yeah definitely. Back in the early years I wrote a lot more for them than I do now, so I found a load of stuff through reviewing that I stuck with. Villagers is one that really stands out to me there. That being said, most of my finds via PearShaped have been local. Recently I’ve been listening to Item, a student DJ who has released a few quality demos, and recent graduate, Jonny Harrison (Drive In Saturday), who has a great track called ‘Little White Flags’ up on his SoundCloud at the moment.
Three down, five to go:
Bruce Springsteen – ‘Thunder Road’
When all’s said and done, Bruce Springsteen is probably my favourite artist. I was put on to him by my dad who’s seen him at pretty much every tour he’s ever done in the UK, and when I saw him live a few years back it was by a country mile the best gig I’ve ever seen. ‘Born to Run’ is a classic, and I love ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’, but ‘Thunder Road’ just has everything, and the chorus especially is for me such a special piece of writing.
Kanye West – ‘Runaway’
One time when I was a bit worse for wear on New Years’ Day, my mate and I were walking through Wimbledon and he just stuck on ‘Runaway’ – and it was a strangely beautiful moment. Kanye West is in my opinion a surprisingly underrated musician, in that the vast majority of people seem to concentrate on his public aura – Imma let you Finish and all that. However My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy should be on everyone’s best albums of the 21st Century list, and ‘Runaway’ is indicative of his clear talent.
Kendrick Lamar – ‘i’
Kendrick Lamar is my find (not a very original one) of the last few years, and it was a toss up between this and ‘Money Trees’ to be on this list. I probably prefer Good Kid, M.A.A.D City to To Pimp a Butterfly, but ‘i’ stands on its own as a stellar piece of work. Hopefully its seriously funky instrumental would get me two-stepping at late nights down at the beach on my Island.
You spoke of Jonny Harrison and Index earlier, and PearShaped has always championed local music. Who would you say is your favourite act currently performing on the local scene?
Last year I would have definitely said one of Tom Elliott or Drive In Saturday, but now I’d have to go for Duplex Sound. I really think they’ll blow up sooner rather than later, and they, alongside acts like Takao and Delmer Darion form such a talented cohort of DJs and Producers we have in the city at the moment.
And what would your final two tracks be on the island?
Macklemore – ‘Can’t Hold Us’
It’s a bit embarrassing to like Macklemore, but I really can’t help it. I swear this song follows me around Nightclubs and its got to the point where I will request it if I haven’t heard it – an evening’s not the same without it! In all seriousness though, I rate Macklemore and the simple arrangement, the thumping keys and over the top brass of this track make it a really uplifting listen
‘I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts’ / ‘Z Cars’
I had to choose two here and I’ll explain why. ‘Z Cars’ is the entrance music for Everton, and ‘I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts’ is played whenever Cambridge UTD win, and I’m a passionate supporter of both these football teams. I probably wouldn’t be able to watch Gillete Soccer Saturday for the results on the Island would I? But if I played these I could at least imagine Ross Barkley or Harrison Dunk curling in a beauty from the edge of the area past some despairing keeper – preferably in Liverpool or Luton colours.
You are also allowed a book and a luxury item to bring to the island. What would you take to read?
I used to love Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy but I wrote my Dissertation on it so I’m a bit sick of it now. I’ve always gone back to Thomas Hardy however, so I’d go for one of his, maybe one of the less tragic ones – Far From the Madding Crowd would be a good bet.
And what would your luxury item be?
A bit pathetic I know, but I have a terrible memory so I’ve started to write everything I need to do in a day in a notebook. I’d definitely need that. How else would I remember to keep putting logs on the signal fire??
Thanks very much! Say you made it back to Exeter, what event would you be most looking forward to over the coming year?
Well the Exeposé launch looks quality, and I’m really excited for the first PearShaped event this year (stay tuned…), but Hold It Down are killing it with their bookings this year. Julio Bashmore’s been a staple of my summer playlist so I’ll be pretty stoked for him at the Phoenix.
And finally, what about working with PearShaped most excites you for the next year?
Last year was our first as a society and I thought it went really well! This year its all about building on the strong foundations we’ve been left, both by our committee and our excellent writers, and it’s an honour for me to take it forward. If I was to be specific though, I’ve been working with the rest of the team for months on our Annual, which is our yearly print publication, so I’m looking forward to selling that! It looks absolutely amazing.
Listen to Matt’s selections here:
Find out more from PearShaped online here, and keep your eyes peeled for the Annual and launch party in the weeks and months to come.
In the meantime, stay tuned for more Freshers’ Week editions of Desert Island Discs with the main music societies in Exeter.