On December 23rd, just in time for snuggling up by the fireplace with a steaming cup of hot chocolate, British singer-songwriter Matthew And The Atlas
will be releasing an acoustic version of his critically-acclaimed sophomore album, Temple - Unplugged
. Featuring eleven stripped-down tracks, the voice behind the project, Matthew Hegarty, demonstrates his ability to harmonize and put his already-intimate vocals at the very forefront of each song. He has already released a couple of acoustic renditions like "Modern World" and "Old Master" and will continue to release a song every two weeks up until the release. In anticipation of the record, we had the chance to speak with Hegarty about the process and what it's like to be so vulnerable.
You released your album Temple earlier this year. How has the reception been so far?
Overall it's been really positive. I feels like people have been slowly discovering it throughout the year, which is great.
How has touring been?
Touring is good, we played around the UK and Europe when the record was released and are currently supporting Bear's Den around the UK and Europe as well. We played Brixton Academy a few nights ago which was pretty special and so great to see the Bear's Den lads getting to headline that venue after all the hard work they've put in.
And now you have an acoustic version of the entire album coming out in December -- what inspired you to unplug?
I really enjoying reworking songs, so if I'm given an opportunity to do it, I will. I know we have some listeners who really enjoy the more acoustic side of MATA, so I wanted an opportunity to show the songs in that light and also to see if they stood up to being pared back. It was also a really nice opportunity for us as a band to work together on the arrangements.
Which song was the easiest to transfer from full band to stripped down acoustic? Which song was the most challenging?
Basically the bigger tracks were fairly easy to strip back, and the already acoustic tracks proved more difficult, as we had less places to go with them. I really loved working on "Mirrors" and "On A Midnight Street." We also got to do a more minor version of "Modern World" which we toyed with doing on the original album, so I'm glad that has found its way into the world. The most tricky one was "When The Light Hits The Water." I think the original recording was as good as it could get, and we couldn't really top it.
Are you planning on performing any of the acoustic renditions during your live show?
We have just done a run of Sofar Sounds dates, with just acoustic instruments, which was a lot of fun. So I think we'll try and incorporate that into the live show for our February tour. We'll definitely do something interesting for the London Union Chapel show!
Your songs are already so intimate as is, and to strip them down only amplifies the intimacy. Is it ever challenging to be so personal with your audience?
I don't really struggle with that aspect of it, I do feel like I have more freedom vocally when we do the acoustic or stripped back set, which is something I really enjoy. I think I go through the emotional side of it when I'm writing the song, then I feel quite protective as we go through the studio process and try to keep or elevate the heart of the song. After that, I sort of let them go. So I don't find that particularly challenging when I perform them, it's more a case of trying to reconnect with that original feeling I had when writing it.