Playing both sides
Greyspace emcee Matt Lowe goes solo on a new project—with a little help from his friends
Usually, when a band’s frontman puts out a solo album, it signifies the beginning of the end. But when Greyspace emcee Matt Lowe started work on Median, he had no intentions of stepping away from his band. In fact, his Greyspace bandmates—drummer Adam Odello, guitarist Patrick Meneses, and bassist Kenny Osborne—played a big behind-the-scenes role in shaping their frontman’s album.
Here, Lowe’s delve into the singing world gives the album an unorthodox Modest Mouse kind of feel at times. But, far from being experimental, Median exhibits a raw, personal lyricism, addressing issues such as the pitfalls of chasing the hip-hop dream to dealing with the passing of a loved one. Lowe recently spoke to SN&R about finding perspective, adolescent bravado and how songs are like children.
Why the title Median?
Median represents the middle of a situation or topic where both sides can be seen. It’s how I personally handle life, and I wanted to illustrate that. Many of the songs end with a different perspective than when they start.
What was the motivation to do a solo album?
I always try to further myself as a musician, rapper and artist. A handful of the songs existed without an official project. Gathering those and working on new material that would make a cohesive project just seemed like the logical thing to do. I’ve been involved in making music in some capacity since I was 13 years old and writing terrible music for my middle-school drum line—though, at the time, I was a self-proclaimed genius/prodigy. I’ve since learned a lot about music, and my passion for learning new techniques to express myself through music has been strong ever since.
How was making Median different from making the first Greyspace album?
I experimented with using my voice in singing parts, focused more on melody-driven hooks, and I challenged myself to shoulder more responsibility over the parts. However, throughout the process I would run the material by my bandmates to get their opinions.
You self-produced the album. How does that work? You play a little bit of everything?
I only really feel confident calling myself a drummer. I’m like a kid with music. I’ll fiddle with it until I get the sounds out that I like, but I am in no means a technician with most instruments. I play some bass and guitar, but I would never call myself a bassist in front of a bassist or a guitarist in front of a guitarist.
What do you want listeners to take away from Median?
When I was growing up, there were artists that described what they were going through in a way that helped me to understand something that I was experiencing. … My primary goal is to provide the listener with something that will help them the same way it helped me. Whether it’s an escape, a new perspective, a parallel or plain-old entertainment.
What were your musical influences for Median?
At the time, I was listening to a lot of Sapient’s stuff before it worked out to have him on the album. He uses a lot of musicality and harmonies in his work. Other than that, I listened to a lot of Gorillaz, Cold War Kids and really a lot of non-rap.
What’s your favorite track?
Hard to answer without sounding arrogant, but all the songs offer slightly different things. In some songs, the beat is simple, and I experiment with different lyrical techniques, while others are more musically driven. I guess, depending on the day, different tracks could be my favorite. I forget where I heard it, but someone said that songs are like children in that you love them all the same even though some treat you different.