Featuring new material made public for the first time, pop rock singer Matt Fishel discusses his five favourite songs plus the one track that he'd chosen as a gateway song into his catalogue.
Series 2 of In the Key of Q will begin on 1 March 2022.
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Hello, it's Dan here. In the Key of Q is on hiatus until the first of March, but until those new episodes drop, here are clips from the patron exclusive feed, plus other treats from the main episode to keep you occupied.
This week we revisit Matt Fishel. This is an exclusive episode for our patron subscribers, where I chat with queer musicians about their five songs to save from Armageddon. Enjoy.
Hello. The world is coming to an end, and you can only rescue five songs.
Well, for a start, the world coming to an end, and I can only rescue five songs, I don't know which of those two is more stressful. I have probably. I have a playlist of my 120 favourite songs ever, so this is a nightmare task that I would select.
I would choose. So I'm going to choose a Pet Shop Boys song because I love and adore the Pet Shop Boys I always have. They're one of my first musical influences, and I'm going to choose as hard to decide.
But I'm going with ‘Being Boring’ because I think that's probably the best song that the Pet Shop Boys have done for me. There is so much I love about it and so much I could say lyrically, I think.
It's it's such a beautiful song, lyrically, it really, really showcases Neil Tennent's amazing lyric writing skills, which I love what he does. Very, very simple, well-chosen words and rhyming couplets that sum up so much they evoke. These songs particularly evoke so much nostalgia and days of kind of youth and joy, and it charts at chart three periods of somebody's life, but it's also full of pathos and sadness. It alludes to the AIDS epidemic. And it's essentially, I think about the loss of a friend to AIDS. So it's very beautiful. It works on many levels. It has many meanings.
It's also about youthful exuberance and the idea of looking out into the world and being excited to go out and make something of your life. And then the dreams that come and the dreams that don't happen. All of that stuff is like all the stuff that I love in music, you know, pathos, nostalgia, beautiful lyrics.
So lyrically, I think is brilliant. And musically, it's again, it's incredibly unconventional for a pop song. I always love things that are kind of slightly against the norm. It's in. It changes key all over the place it's in.
I don't want to be old, boring and, you know, bare boring BS about it all, but essentially it jumps around at the end of the chorus. It moves up like they want the semitone and it's in. It starts in a minor key.
It's it's just I get boring about it. But production wise and musically, I think it's a fascinating song, definitely one of the absolute best. And the lyrics are beautiful. So every element of it for me comes together. Oh, and one last thing don't know if you've heard this, but what I really love about the production is that
Neil Tennant's voice, the entire song is sung in two octaves. It's sung on the lower octave, which is the main bit that you hear quite a low voice. But the whole song, if you really listen in the headphones, is sung all the way through in a higher octave as well.
And I love stuff like that little subtle details that really open up the spectrum. So, yes, being boring by Pet Shop Boys.
I would choose Like a Prayer by Madonna. I love its epic this a pop song. It comes in around, you know, just under six minutes or five and a half minutes or something.
I love it. It's epic. It has a choir. It has an old song structure. It goes off on a crazy, amazing gospel tangent halfway through. It has the guitars at the beginning. If it's the album version, or if it's the immaculate collection version with its God and the choir singing at the beginning.
I love all that. I love how non-conventional and interesting, as well as being addictively melodic and ridiculously uplifting, and it makes me nostalgic for my childhood.
And it doesn't outstay its welcome, which most pop songs over four and a half minutes, right? Do, right?
Yeah, exactly. And this goes on a lot longer than that, and I actually equally love both the album version and the immaculate collection version, which, as you know, kind of very different, but also equally as good for different reasons.
So that one gets saved for me. I really struggle with Madonna. I would have chosen ‘Vogue’ as well, but with me, like a.
But not ‘I'm Going Bananas’.
Unfortunately, no. Ha ha ha. Going bananas? No, I don't think so. It's so weird. Yeah, it's strange.
So yeah, it's not our best.
Although it's quite funny. Well. Oh yeah.
I would have to choose a Prince song because he is my idol and I'm not going to go for any of the conventional kind of singles.
Everyone knows my absolute favourite Prince song is a song called ‘Shhh’, from the Gold experience. It's a seven minute epic. I think it's the sexiest, dirtiest thing he's done lyrically and musically. It's like it's a slow jam with these crazy drum solos and guitar solos, and it's beautiful.
And to me, it represents all the best things about Prince as an artist.razy’ by Seal. From back in:
It reminds me of like warm summers and like kind of orange and yellow glows and sunsets. And I love the production of Seal and Trevor Horn, and I think they're an incredible duo. They always make this beautiful, otherworldly sounds.
I did not know Trevor Horn produced that.
Yeah, yeah, he produced Seal all of Seal’s first four albums, actually.
Goodness, yeah, he's a fantastic producer.
He's an amazing producer and the two of them have created for me a sound that has never been made since. It's it's like this beautiful mix of acoustic and electric guitars, really warm, swirling strings and pads and synths, and his lyrics are about, you know, their anti racism and they're about freedom and unity.
And I just love the sound of the opening, the introduction of the song Crazy. I could play on loop. I just I just love it. It's so evocative and warm, and it kind of opens up this new sonic world that I've never heard before.
I would also like to add a very quick musical comment to that song, which is that it's one of those rare songs I love where the bass pretty much stays the same almost throughout the whole song, and the chords swirl around it, and I love that.
So it's almost like a drone.
Well, yeah, kind of. Yeah, it mostly stays on on one note and one riff while all the chords change around it, which gives it that kind of otherworldly, swirling feel. I really love the music.
So my final one of the five I only have from Manic Street Preachers song because those guys had a huge impact on me throughout my teens and twenties. And I'm going to choose a song right back from their first album, which I didn't actually hear when it came out. But I heard it again in retrospect several years later, and that's ‘Little Baby’.
Taken from their album ‘Generation Terrorists’, which I have always adored melodically. It's beautiful and really uplifting. Lyrically, it's very profound, and it's about women and women's rights and women and how they're treated by the patriarchy and how they're just thrown away as junk and used as sex toys.
It's a fascinating lyric which I've always loved. And to top it all off, it's a duet with the porn star Traci Lords, which I think makes it the kind of really hammers home the point of the lyrics as well.
This song is from 91, and they the famous story is, I've heard it. How many times is that they? The song was written for Kylie as a duet with Kylie. So 91, it would have been recorded 92. So that would have been just a kind of the end of the stock awards many years.
Yeah, the deConstruction contract was hovering.
She then said later, many years later, that she was never told that they'd reached out to her for it. So clearly her management, like I'm assuming, just would didn't tell her that the request came through. So they didn't get Kylie and then work with Traci Lords, which I think is brilliant anyway, and it works perfectly.
And then later, James Dean Bradfield wrote songs with Kylie anyway, but that's a different story. But yes, ‘Little Baby’ from Manic Street Preachers.
One of my main ambitions for this podcast is to introduce audiences to new music, and I do think the best way to do that often is by a specific song. So what do you think would be the good gateway song into your catalogue?
I mean, I guess I'm going to have to go with ‘Radio Friendly Pop Song’. I suppose it's the it's it was my fifth single, but it's the opening track of my debut album. It sets out my mission statement, I suppose.
As an artist, it says who I am, where I've come from, the journey I went through being told, you know, to eradicate all the gay content from my songs. And it's it's it's, I suppose, and a bit tongue in cheek critique on certain music industry executives in L.A., a man who constantly told me, and I'm sure many other artists to remove all the gay content from their songs. And what the song does is it sets the scene and it's from change his perspective. It's from the perspective of them talking to the artists. But then halfway through, my voice comes out and I basically say, Fuck you, I'm gay, I'm open, I'm proud, I'm happy to be. And this is who I am as an artist. And nothing you do or say is going to stop me being me and.
Thank you so much for coming on this very first episode of In the Key of Q.
Thank you. It's been a real privilege.
Genuinely, it was your music that helped inspire this podcast, so thank you so much.
It's been amazing. Thank you for having me.
You've been listening to In the Key of Q. You can find Matt’s music on the usual streaming platforms. The opening theme is by Paul Leonidou at unstoppablemonsters.com
Check out the shownotes for links, including a Spotify playlist to complement this episode. Many thanks to Kaj and Moray and special thanks to Tom Goss at tomgossmusic.com. You can hear our full conversation later in this series.
Please rate and subscribe to the podcast and follow us on social media. This episode is produced by me Dan Hall for Pup Media Consultancy.
See you next Quesday.