Talking With Hands is the primary creative vehicle of the Nashville, Tennessee born songwriter, Matthew Thomas Smith. Equally inspired by the pop sensibility and clever wordplay of XTC and the ethereal styles of Air and My Bloody Valentine, Talking With Hands blend intelligent song craft and mesmerizing atmospherics into a sort of pop-art that aims to change the way people think and feel about music. Talking With Hands began in early 2007 as an outlet for Smith to reflect on his experiences living and studying language in Tokyo and Seoul and quickly grew into more of a musical diary. As Talking With Hands, Smith has performed at several house shows in the Nashville/Murfreesboro areas of Tennessee (U.S.) and has plans to bring his music to Korea this winter under the name Soo-Hwa (수화). Talking With Hands’ first single and EP are to be released by Sweeting Records in the United States at the beginning of 2008 with an Asian release following soon after.
Here a brief interview with Talking With Hand
1. What makes the far east country so fascinating for you? that they can inspiring your musical diary?
Actually I’ve been fascinated with Asia since I was a child, but in my adult life I think it was the cultural experiences I had with some exchange students at my university that really made me want to leave the States behind. I didn’t feel comfortable in the states and neither did they. I felt like I had more in common with these foreigners than I did with the rest of my country.
Tokyo and Seoul have made such an impact on my life because for me they were gateways to the rest of world. I never felt like living in the U.S. provided me with a global perspective… Americans are short-changed in this way, but when I was living in Asia I was interacting with people from all over the world on a daily basis. Apart from that, the deep relationships that I formed while living there have consistently inspired me to create very personal music. So I guess these two factors give my music a very socio-political and emotional quality.
The way a lot of Japanese music makes me feel is definitely another factor. I’m a big fan of the Cornelius group and Eastern Youth, who I saw live in Nashville and later at the Shibuya Quattro. The art and melancholy in Cornelius’ music and the raw emotion of Eastern Youth are inspiring for me.
… I hope that answered your question in some way. haha
2. Any good band/musicians you found in Japan and Korea?
Wow… there are so many good bands from both of these countries. The big names for me are Qururi, Cornelius, Supercar, and Shiina Ringo from Japan. Qururi and Supercar make amazing pop music and the production on Cornelius’ and Shiina Ringo’s records are absolutely genius. Rollercoster from Korea make some really interesting jazz influenced pop and most of the bands on the Pastel Music label are fantastic.
3. What is on your playlist now?
At this very minute I’m listening to Wreckless Eric, which I just recently heard about. Actually I’m taking a class called International Recording Industry this semester so I’ve been listening to stuff from all over the world. I’ve been really impressed with the hip-hop coming out of the U.K. I’ve been listening to Roots Manuva a lot. Kode9 & the Spaceape are great. I love Darkel’s album (Jean-Benoit Dunckel). I listen to my own music a lot… I never understood why people think that is narcissistic. I made this music because I wanted to hear it!
4. Any Indonesian band you found that is good?
Actually I had no idea that there was a big demand for “indie” pop in Indonesia until recently! I read an article where Johan Angergard was describing how much he enjoys playing in Indonesia and I was really surprised. I’m glad this music is finding an audience in Indonesia. Indonesian bands… I really like what I’ve heard by Alphawaves… very relaxing and R.N.R.M have some serious beats. I definitely want to hear more.
5. Last word?
…before I walk the plank? Make art because you love it. Life is not about money or fame. Maybe this is a cliché, but these days indie music is mainstream. I hope that musicians will keep their integrity and continue to make music that is genuine and honest.
photograph by : Sun Heaming