I believe that Universe has a magical power of bringing the music into our life that we need the most. This is exactly what happened with ‘Breathe’. I heard it for the first time and it seemed that all the noise around me just stopped. It is ironic that it took my breathe away.
It was a no brainer for me to reach out to Mathieu Gombault from Belgium who goes under the name of Matt Gombau and get to know him a little better and understand how he is creating this magical world in few minutes that makes me wanna travel.
Congratulations on your recent release. Tell us about the journey until the moment ‘Breathe’ saw the light of day!
I’m used to playing music in a very spontaneous way. I grab my guitar, sit in my room and just let go. Sometimes I can be doing this for hours until I stumble upon a nice melody that I want to turn into a proper song. And that part is the hardest for me. Putting a structure into place, writing lyrics and getting aside from the “jamming” mode.
Few months after the release of ‘Cats & Butterflies’ I wanted to create a song and share it with the world.
That’s when I reached out to Gwenshana, the producer of the song. We decided to meet up at his studio so I could show him my latest ideas.
We first worked a few hours on one of the melodies, but without being convinced by it. By the end of session, I showed him another composition. Gwenshana liked what I was playing, so I stayed a bit longer to put some structure to it and record a maquette. Ten sessions later, we gave birth to what is now my new single ‘Breathe’.
I’m used to playing music in a very spontaneous wayMATT GOMBAU
You say that the song is about the desire to escape society in order to refocus on oneself. What helps you to refocus while escaping from the surrounding?
I have many ways of refocusing on myself. Obviously, music is part of it. Jamming with my guitar helps me to deal with my day-to-day stresses and to find inner peace. I feel lighter after it, it’s an outlet, a therapy.
Another way to escape is to go on little or bigger adventures in the outdoors. I go rock climbing, for a run in the woods, travel with my bike etc. I’m obsessed with that.
‘Breathe’ is a collaboration with the musician and producer Gwenshana, a good friend of yours who contributed to the writing, the production and the mix. How did the two of you meet? And what was the moment you both knew that you are destined to create music together?
We met a few years ago through a networking platform for musicians on the internet. He was looking for someone to practice on the bass guitar, so we did 2-3 jams but lost contact during the pandemic.
After my release of ‘Cats & Butterflies’, he contacted me again saying he really liked it and that I could reach out to him whenever I wanted to work on a new project.
What was the secret behind creating such a dreamy and magical sound of ‘Breathe’?
We can feel the input of Gwenshana’s musical universe, that perfectly matches with mine.
His way of working is very pure and genuine. He pays attention to every detail and works with authentic tools. I feel it’s like a game for him, it’s a lot of funny experimentations, and at the same time, he does it very seriously. At the studio we experimented a lot with his pedals and his sound designing tools. One that really fascinated me was his old school Watkins copycat tape delay, because it creates very unexpected sounds.
A funny part is also that when Gwenshana sent one of the first maquettes, I was doing a bikepacking trip on my own to Scotland. (In October 2021) I remember being cycling in the cold and the dark while discovering the maquette.
Those hours on the bike gave me the time to reflect on the song and the way I wanted it to be.MATT GOMBAU
So, the secret behind it is a lot of fun and passion, but also dedication and seriousness.
While exploring the outdoors, do you tend to do that completely by yourself or with a group of friends?
It depends. Most of the time I do it with friends, because for me, the companionship is an important part of it. The friends I go with on expeditions are probably the ones I know the best, because I had to face the most delicate conditions with them, and we share very powerful moments of freedom.
When I travel on my own, it’s often for a not too long period of time, when I really need to refocus on myself or to “breathe”. It happens that I go for short bikepacking trip just for one weekend and travel to a random destination. When you are on your own, you tend to go more towards people you don’t know. This allowed me to meet wonderful and welcoming people (people hosting me at their house during my travel,…).
When you are on your own, you tend to go more towards people you don’t know.MATT GOMBAU
What are you trying to escape?
I kind of escape the routine and try to eliminate the weight of my day-to-day worries. Paradoxically, while on expedition it feels heavier on my shoulders but lighter in my head.
When I’m on an expedition, I feel like I’m in another time dimension. I take the time to contemplate. The things I experience seem more real and authentic.
I also escape my phone/news/social media and the anxiety inducing flux of information we get through it.
Paradoxically, while on expedition it feels heavier on my shoulders but lighter in my head.MATT GOMBAU
For someone who might not have access to wilderness, what would be your advise, how to find inner peace?
According to me, wilderness is more accessible than we think it is. You don’t have to go to the other side of the planet to discover wonderful places. I really encourage people to travel in their own country, they will be most likely to discover remote and peaceful places.
You will always be remembered by the very first song that started your career. How did you know that ‘Cats & Butterflies’ is the one?
My songs are most often a reflection of my state of mind of the moment. When I wrote ‘Cats & Butterflies’ I was in a sadder period and I think you can clearly feel it when you listen to it.
So I have not been thinking “my first song has to be like this”. I just let the music flow at certain period of time, and at the time it’s ‘Cats & Butterflies’ that popped out.
Do you have a song that when you hear, you’d be ‘Damn I wish I’d written that’.
‘Anything’ of Adrianne Lenker. This song has the power to make me travel, even if I’m sitting on my chair. Adrianne’s melodies and voice instantly soothe me. (I’m listening to her while writing now)
Music to me is an outletMATT GOMBAU
How would you define success in the music industry?
Being able to reach out to your audience, while remaining authentic. For me, authenticity is one of the most important things in music.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience?
With 3 friends of mine, I’m planning to go for an expedition in Laponia for two weeks between the 20th and the 6th of March. The idea is to travel in full autonomy through the Toundra with Nordic skis, pulkas and a tent. I will try to make a clip for “Breathe” with the footage from the trip, so stay tuned!
We added Matt Gombau’s ‘Breathe’ to the playlist of all the artists we interviewed so far.
Don’t be shy to give it a listen!