matt carstens, coffeehouse, platform magazine

Interview: Matt Carstens

20-year-old Matt Carstens is a singer-songwriter from South Africa, who is embarking on his first ever overseas abroad with Coffeehouse Sessions. We chatted to him about English pudding, Rocky Horror, synthetic chicken nuggets, and more…

You’re touring England for the first time – how are you finding it?
This is my first time overseas ever, so it’s been really rad. I’ve got to see a bunch of cool sights while I’ve been doing this tour. The Germein sisters are really nice gals, so I couldn’t have been luckier with who I got to tour with. Your universities are all really fancy and amazing, full of people who like music, so what else could I ask for?

Is there anything particularly strange us Brits do that weirds you out?
Your idea of pudding is completely haywire. Black pudding and Yorkshire pudding are not pudding. I thought I was getting a nice little pudding with my full English breakfast, and they gave me black pudding. I was like ‘Dope, it’s probably got black cherries in it’. Then I had a bite of that and I was like ‘Uugggh’. So bad. You guys have self check out as well. On the first day I came here I went to Tesco to get groceries, and in South Africa we have attendants. So I was waiting for 10 minutes looking around awkwardly. Then a very angry manager told me I was holding up the line. I had to explain to her that I was foreign as hell!

Tell us about your track ‘Somebody Else’

It has been doing so well. It actually got played as track of the week on a Manchester radio station, which was the first time it has been played overseas. It’s the happiest break up song I’ve ever written, and people seem to dig it. It’s also a perfect example of the new sound I’ve been working towards, with a more band vibe.

Why do you enjoying creating music?

It makes me feel good, in every way. With performing, I have pretty bad anxiety so that is a really surreal experience. It’s like chasing an adrenaline high – you put something out there and you get it right back with a positive crowd.

What’s been the best thing to happen to you musically so far?

Probably this Coffeehouse Tour! It’s been the biggest thing I’ve taken on as a musician, and it’s all independent and free of labels. It’s really awesome, and I’m really enjoying it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You’ve said before you would have gone into theatre if not music – what would be your dream musical and dream role?
Rocky Horror Show, Frank n Furter all the way! I don’t have the body for it, but I have the hairy legs for it. I could totally pull it off.

You’ve been writing songs since you were 12 – are there any songs that you’re particularly proud of? 
That’s a tough question! It’s like asking to choose between your favourite kids; it’s just not going to go down well with the other. The song that I enjoy playing the most is Somebody Else because it’s just pure happiness, and it’s got really sad lyrics. That’s the best part about pop music; so long as you’ve got the happy melody, you can say what you want and people will love it.

You’re also fond of instant noodles – if you could be a flavour of instant noodle, what would you be and why?
Chicken is the best. You can’t do better than chicken. There’s some weird flavours as well, like fish flavoured ones. You can’t be having that. Speaking of chicken, did you guys hear about the synthetically grown chicken nuggets? I really dig meat, but I really don’t like slaughter. I’m actually getting involved with SPCA, which supports animal welfare in South Africa. I’d totally eat synthetic chicken nuggets all day. Guilt-free nuggets. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
See you guys next year! I’m hopefully coming back here next year with a band, coming around the festivals. Also, support local music. There’s not a lot of that in South Africa, hence why I’m here!

By Eve Smallman

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