April/May 2017

by Kethaki Masilamani

Fresh Talent: Bryony Matthews

by Kethaki Masilamani

Fresh Talent: Bryony Matthews

Auckland-born, Bryony Matthews has been a singer and writer all her life. Still, it required leaving her home turf to find the confidence to perform the lyric-based alternative-folk music she’d been writing since her teens.

Naturally shy of the spotlight, Matthews put her inhibitions aside after travelling through London. Sitting in on local gigs, she realised just how much the Kiwi “tall poppy syndrome” had an effect on her without her realising it.

“It kind’a struck me how everyone was doing it. Whether they were good or bad, everyone was just doing it, and I realised I’d been holding back.”

Returning to NZ, Matthews started making music and the connections that since led her to form her now band. New single Alexander heralds her upcoming album ‘Little Queen’. Inspired by the relationship she’s currently in, Alexander proved easy to write.

“Most of my music is about love or heartbreak,” she laughs. “It’s the happiest song on the album and it’s about finding love that is pure and balanced and healthy and growing together in these ways… my classic love song!”

Her album is a happy concoction of vocal harmonies and guitar licks. Stand out track Gypsy Prince displays Matthews’ vocal prowess and writing at its best. The song came to her during her trip of self-discovery.

“That one I wrote in London, hanging out with these musicians. There’s a lot of Gypsy-ish, folk influences and it was written about one of those musicians.”

While ‘Little Queen’ is built up with layers of harmonies, Matthews says her live performances are stripped down and intimate.

“A recorded sound should represent your live sound, but it is a different experience and my live sound is simpler.”

Her recent festival performance at Christchurch’s Nostalgia festival proved testament, drawing listeners into a singular, almost-holy, vocal performance.

Studying music at a tertiary level has helped give her the musical collaborations she needed to form her sound.

“I guess it comes from travelling, the lack of roots, but studying at Unitec and MAINZ put me in touch with musicians who’ve had a huge influence on my sound now.”

The album includes the talents of drummer AJ Park and guitarist Adam Hattaway. It has been produced by Dictaphone Blues’ frontman Eddie Castelow, who played a big role in the sound of the album.

“He added so much instrumentation, it’s turned it into its own entity now… I’m so proud of the collaboration, it’s not just my album anymore.”