Heinali and Matt Finney

author DR date 13/09/11

It hasn't even been a year yet and I've already reviewed three releases from the Heinali and Matt Finney collaboration. Their most recent, "Ain't No Night", has received strong critical acclaim, but that doesn't always translate into good album sales, especially if it sounds something like 'spoken word doomgaze'. I had the chance to e-interview Matt Finney, who discussed underwhelming album sales, writing music with someone on the other-side of the world and... awkward car rides...

RF.net: Firstly, thanks for doing this! Could you start by introducing yourself to our readers?
Matt: Not a problem at all. Thanks for wanting to talk to me. It's much appreciated. I'm Matt and I write the lyrics and mumble for Heinali and Matt Finney.

RF.net: How did the project get started?
Matt: We started about a year ago, I think. We were both friends with a guy who used to host albums for free download. He'd put Heinali's solo stuff up for free and he had a few of my old band Finneyerkes' up as well. He tipped me off about Heinali and I loved what he was doing. I got in contact with him and we've been together since. He's my lover. My life partner. My everything.

RF.net: He's based in Ukraine, right?

Matt: Yeah. Kiev.

RF.net: Is it difficult putting songs together when there is such a physical distance between you two?

Matt: Surprisingly, no. Neither of us has actually collaborated with people in the same room together so we're used to having to piece it together the best way we can using words and instincts. We talk constantly here on Facebook and email and Twitter, so it's become a lot easier than the first album we did when we were just wandering around in the dark.

RF.net: What's the writing process like for you guys?
Matt: It always starts with me coming up with the lyrics and titles and the album title. I'll send all that to Heinali and if he digs it I'll start recording the vocals. After that, it's in his hands. But lately we've been collaborating with outside artists and we're pretty excited about who's working with us on our 5th album so that's been new for both of us.

RF.net: Who is this artist?

Matt: I can only name one that we're positive is on there at the moment and that's Merzbow. The track we've done with him is easily the darkest thing in our catalog. Very hard to listen to. People are in for a shock.

RF.net: It's hard to imagine your music getting any darker. I remember not long ago I showed it to my friend, and his face was a mixture of awe, agreement and disgust.

Matt: Haha, that's what we aim for. And a lot of people have said that they can't imagine us going any darker, but I think we have. The stuff that we have done is so uncomfortable it makes my gut sink. There is a small fragment of light there at the end though. It's an unrelenting record.

RF.net: When will it be out?

Matt: We're hoping this fall from Handmade Birds Records. We will wanna push "Ain't No Night" some more, so maybe later than that.

RF.net: Not Paradigms Records?

Matt: : Nah, we were only signed on for two records and then R. Loren from Handmade Birds got in touch.

RF.net: How did that come about?

Matt: Our buddy Jon Rosenthal, who's gonna love this shout out, knows everybody. You name it, he probably knows them. He writes for The Inarguable and he's good friend with R. Loren. I had sent him an early copy of "Ain't No Night" and he passed it on. Turns out that R. Loren loved it and he wanted to put it out. We were already signed on with Paradigms so it was out of the question. I ended up convincing him to put out our 5th album, "On Mercy's Shore", and we've been pretty close since. He's a dear friend of mine.

RF.net: It has been a few months since "Ain't No Night" was released. How has the reaction to that album been, both critically and in terms of album sales?
Matt: The critical reaction has been amazing. It's a shame that that hasn't turned into sales. We were pretty bummed out about it since we put so much into it, but it's only officially been out for a month, so maybe it'll pick up. I guess you gotta learn to expect that when people don't really buy albums anymore.

RF.net: My mistake, I've had it for a little longer.

Matt: Haha, yeah man. But still, the sales have been shit.

RF.net:Is that why you've given away some of your past albums for 'name your price' download?

Matt: Well that was all when we couldn't find a label. But it was a really good starting point from us. People started discovering us and actually donating. We'll still release stuff like that. It's amazing to see how people will support what you're doing firsthand.

RF.net: So do you think Handmade Birds Records can do more for your album sales then?

Matt: I think so. I hope so. It's very discouraging putting out a record and then seeing it not really go anywhere. Not blaming that on anyone, since it's only been a month and I think the ANN sales will pick up, but R. Loren is like a living legend - really respected by everyone, and he's just a nice guy. I know he'll do right by us.

RF.net: Your music is very experimental. Do you think that contributes to poor album sales?

Matt: Probably, there's not a big calling for "spoken word doomgaze".

RF.net: Are your lyrics/words based on personal experiences or characters?
Matt: All of them are based on personal experience and people that i know that are close to me.

RF.net: They're pretty dark!

Matt: Yeah man, I'm very far from being Mr. Cheerful.

RF.net: Have your family and friends listened to your stuff?

Matt: Only a few of my friends that I know of. My buddy Nick has bought all of our stuff

and donated and I'm really happy about that. It's good to know that a friend enjoys it and he would enjoy it even if you weren't in the band and he knew you. My mom is my biggest supporter though.

It's pretty uncomfortable riding in the car with her and she puts in our albums and hears what I'm saying.

RF.net: Do you think Heinali and Matt Finney could become a full-time, touring project?
Matt: I mean, if we could get up the money, that's the only real thing holding us back. People have been in touch about maybe using our music in their films, so maybe we can put that towards me making a trip over there or him coming to the States and make this happen. Doing at least one show together is a dream of ours. We just don't have the resouces at the moment.

RF.net: Would you let your music be used in your other peoples films?

Matt: Of course. I know some bands object to that, but we're in no position to say no to someone who wants to give us money for our songs. We're broke. It's not even funny how poor we are and if we don't let them use our songs then they'll probably just find someone to make a song that sounds like that anyway.

RF.net: Your cameo on the new Sleepmakeswaves album, and arguably the best song on the album, must've helped get your band out there more?
Matt: Thanks man! I'm really super proud of being on that album. And they're great, great friends of ours. I hope it maybe made people look into our band, but I'm just stoked that they asked me and I hope one day I can maybe play it live with them. I have man crushes on Alex and Otto.

RF.net: How did you meet?

Matt: Back in the Finneyerkes days I used to bug the shit out of them. Forced them to like me because I loved their first album so much, and they finally gave in.

RF.net: "in today already walks tomorrow"?

Matt: Yeah, that album is incredible. I've been following them for a few years now. So it's been great watching them grow as a band and to know that your friends are becoming successful and making challenging music.

RF.net: Did they have any influence on what your cameo consisted of, like what words you spoke or anything?

Matt: Alex told me to think of it like I was recording my last thoughts into a black box on a plane that was going down. That was the only guideline they gave me. But we might've scratched that idea. It was so long ago. He might've just emailed me and said, "Matt...we need depressing stuff. NOW!".

RF.net: Are there any particular influences on your music?
Matt: Well, they're all over the place. We both like so much stuff between us. But the big ones would be Nirvana, The Angelic Process, Nadja, Merzbow, Dalek, Coil, Joy Division, The Cure, Radiohead.

RF.net: What about literary influences on your words?

Matt: Raymond Carver is the biggest one, I also enjoy Cormac McCarthy, Sylvia Plath, Neil Gaiman, Creeley.

RF.net: I think that's all the questions I have! Thank you! Anything else you'd like to add?
Matt: Thank you! I really enjoyed it. Nah man. Nothing I can think of. Just thanks to whoever is reading this. Hope you'll check out our music and buy an album if you have some extra money laying around.

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