Name: Matt Malpass (producer/musician)
Band: The Cinema
Current mood: “Trying to stay warm and pretend it’s not 25 degrees in Atlanta. I’m in the south! It should never be this cold!”
Dream Collaboration: “Maybe Radiohead or The Beatles, something fun or experimental. Either that or NSYNC, ya know.”
Over the years, the creative process behind an album has changed dramatically. There’s new equipment in the studios, new means of the musicians communicating ideas, and, of course, the ability to work on separate sides of the country. Have you ever seen the old Google Docs commercial where Hall & Oats
are trying to write the lyrics for “Maneater”? Hearing about the duo behind The Cinema may remind people of that commercial. Matt Malpass (producer) and Leighton Antelman (of Lydia
) live on opposite sides of the coast, but have still garnered attention from listeners all over the world.
“Usually, [songwriting] starts with me sitting in the studio alone and just coming up with a spark of an idea, whether it’s a chord progression, a beat, or a random lyric. I’ll usually sketch out a rough idea of what I’m thinking musically, and sometimes I’ll throw down vocal/lyric ideas too, then I’ll bounce down an mp3 and send it over to Leighton,” Malpass explains. “If he’s feeling the idea, he’ll start working on it, adding additional instruments, and writing vocals, or changing around the vocals I started. Then, he’ll email me the files and I’ll throw them in the session and build over on top of that. If he’s not feeling it, or we both get stuck, it’ll go in the “bad/unused ideas” folder.
“I [actually] just looked, and there are currently fifteen songs in that folder, so we were a bit picky about which songs we actually kept and which we just put to side and didn’t finish. When we finally have a good handful of solid ideas, Leighton will fly to the studio here in Atlanta, and we’ll start tracking real vocals and then collaborating to finish the final 80% of the song.”
The Cinema will be releasing their new album, Talking In Your Sleep, on December 18th. The pair have been crafting the album since 2012, with many fans now chewing the bit for new music. Malpass is quick to express his own excitement over the release. “I’m excited for people who have been asking us about it for the past two years to finally get a chance to see what’s been going on!”
Listeners are already commenting their excitement all over the band’s Facebook page
, with some even questioning what’s been taking The Cinema so long. “I feel like, at this point, we’ve been straining this record along for so long that people might have thought we were never going to finish it. [I’m] really excited to just share the songs with people and see how they react.”
Between the rigorous touring schedule with Lydia, and the madness of consistent producing, the pair seem to have barely had a moment to put their feet up, never mind record an album, but they have accomplished the task, and it is easy to predict that the material will be even better because of it.
“[Writing]’s been super unconventional, but the strange thing is that both of us seem to write better when we’re by ourselves, so [being on opposite coasts] wasn’t as big of an issue as you might think,” Malpass says thoughtfully. “I like sitting in the studio by myself and coming up with the base musical ideas without anyone being here because I can try whatever I want without feeling like someone’s gonna laugh if it sounds bad, or feel pressure if the right idea doesn’t come out. I’ve noticed that Leighton seems to write vocals best when he’s alone in a room with just a few books and his laptop; we did almost no writing in collaboration together in the same room, even when we were rehoming the final ideas and we’re both in the same physical location. If Leighton needed to finish a vocals part, he would usually just go to a different room and finish it, and then come back in to track it. For some reason, both of us just seem to have better luck when writing alone, as much as that doesn’t make sense…”
The Cinema has provided both Antelman and Malpass a new outlet for their creativity, especially in Malpass’s case, as a producer; one could liken it to a director acting in a role in front of the camera. “[Going into the studio] is a strange line to cross, because, for me personally, I’m a producer and I’m in the studio 24/7 recording other bands and artists,” Malpass explains. “The great thing about The Cinema is getting to switch gears from being a producer for other people.
“I get to go in with a blank slate and be totally creative without having to get the approval of whatever band I may be working with. In this case, it’s just Leighton and I being able to throw around any thoughts we have. I love being able to just throw out crazy ideas and see what sticks without any judgement or anyone looking over my shoulder.”
“Honestly, my favorite [songs] come and go depending on my mood,” Malpass admits. “But I’m sort of partial to ‘Call It In The Air,’ ‘Punchline,’ and ‘Dancing Round Me.'”
Malpass encourages other songwriters/musicians to also let their ideas flow. “Don’t be afraid to keep trying and writing songs. You have to write lots and lots of bad songs before you start hitting the good stuff,” he assures. “I’m not sure if I’ve made it there yet, but I know I have hundreds of terrible songs under my belt. NO MATTER WHAT, KEEP WRITING, and as you write, you’ll learn and grow into your style.”
From being as young as eight or nine years old, Malpass worked to learn how to play the guitar, forcing his brothers to learn instruments of their own in order to start a band. In those years, he found his style, allowing his natural talents to shine. “My family was very musical; my grandpas on both sides were in bands–one was a drummer and the other was a guitar player/singer. I’ve always had the support from my family on the music side, so it just always seemed to come naturally.”
Natural, raw talent seems to be the key ingredient to The Cinema, as well as the countless hours of hard work the duo have put in. Before digital media, a band’s main focus was practicing, creating, and recording great music. Now, there’s another layer to it: social media. “[Social media is] helping, because it’s so accessible, but it really challenges bands and artists and management to have to be extremely creative. Since we all have the same tools now, we don’t even need record labels for the most part. As long as you’re smart, have good songs and creative ideas to market them on social media I think it’s great, it pushes everyone to try and think outside the box to reach a broader audience and build that fan base.”
Beyond building the fan base is making sure that they stay connected, which, Malpass admits, is his hope when listeners hear Talking In Your Sleep. “I’d just like them to feel something, anything. If music can make you feel an emotion, regardless of what it might be, then it’s done its job.”
Talking In Your Sleep
will be released on December 16th, 2014 (just in time to make the
perfect Christmas present). To pre-order the album, click HERE
. For more information on The Cinema, please click HERE