1. First off, who are you and what genre of music do you make?
Hi, I’m Matt Whittle from the band Seagulls. I play guitar and sing, primarily. We usually classify ourselves as “surf-folk,” as our songs typically have folk structures and dynamics, but the sonic elements of surf rock. Lots of our songs have big vocal harmonies, as well as some glitchy electronic sounds.
2. If you had to describe your music with a color, what would it be?
That’s kind of tough. Our debut LP, Great Pine (available at yellowkrecords.com and all streaming services) has sort of a red and orange motif. I think people were caught off guard that we didn’t use more foresty imagery of earthy tones, but I guess I’m confident in the bold red/orange that we used. I think we’re moving into more of a pastel sound with our next record.
3. What’s the biggest struggle you have when it comes to creating?
Sometimes I struggle with the sentiment of “is this special? Is this worth making?” and it motivates us to make sure that everything sits right and feels right. Lyrics can be a bit of a struggle as well – we try to value the sound of something over the exact wordy meaning of it, so sometimes, if I have some specific sentence I want to say, we kind of pull back on it to suit the melody/cadence/etc.
4. If you could play any show in the world, what would it be?
Growing up, I would attend shows in the basement of the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia. Later, they started to run shows up in the sanctuary of the church itself, and I saw some of my favorite bands play there. I’d love to play in that sanctuary.
5. What do you consider your biggest musical success?
While we’re currently working on our second full-length record, our debut album Great Pine was cooking for awhile, both in the recording and production process. I’m immensely proud of the way it came together, and to see it come to fruition from the planning phases has to be the most fulfilling feeling of success I’ve felt regarding music.
6. What inspired you to start making music?
It’s tough to point to any single inspiration. I think, in some way, I was raised in an environment that stressed the importance of music. Playing Sega with my brother as a kid had us both picking apart our favorite songs in Sonic the Hedgehog (Star Light Zone!) and Streets of Rage 2 (Slow Moon!) My parents pushed my brother, sister and me into learning instruments as kids, as well. I sort of resented it at the time, as we would have to miss recess in order to rehearse, but it established my understanding of music theory at a young age.
7. If you could hear any person living or dead sing to you, who would it be?
There’s this Beach Boys live recording of “Their Hearts Were Full of Spring,” and it blows my mind every time I hear it. I think hearing a performance of that song, alone in the same room as the late 60s Beach Boys would have to be up there for me. Or maybe just hearing Abel from The Weeknd working out some new stuff would be really special.
8. Who, aside from any band or musician, is your biggest influence?
Though he is retired at this point, Bryan Danielson, aka Daniel Bryan, is one of my biggest influences. He has an insane drive and exudes an insane amount of confidence and charisma, balanced with humility and groundedness. The best dude.
9. What’s your favorite book?
When it comes to fiction, my two faves are probably Bret Easton Ellis’ Less Than Zero and John Swartzwelder’s The Time Machine Did It. The latter is the first book by the most prolific Simpsons writer – the amount of jokes per page (or per sentence!) is staggering, and even a bit exhausting.
Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth rocked my world when I first read it, and I still revisit it a few times every year.
10. What do you like to do other than music?
-I’m a huge fan of Pro Wrestling, video games, and wine. There are currents of these things running through our music. We actually released our album Great Pine on a Sega Genesis cartridge at one point:
11. Who is your favorite musical artist?
-I’m going to cop out here and give two favorites, but Brian Wilson and Kanye West. Considering arrangement in music is right in my wheelhouse, and Brian Wilson and Yeezy are two of the best ever. I’m not sure there’s anything left to say about it, but Pet Sounds hit me the first time I heard it and stuck as my favorite record ever since. Kanye is a rare artist where there’s an argument to made for any of his records as his best.
12. What’s one piece of advice you have for young musicians?
-Get started. Start recording and releasing things. You will inevitably look back at your past recordings and projects – possibly with disdain – but getting things out there is incredibly important for your ongoing development as a musician.
13. Lastly, what’s your lucky number?
-I’ve always loved things with 4 in them. 4, 14, 24. Even numbers, for sure. My birthday is 10/22, and that mixture of numbers has always felt right to me.
You can check out Seagulls on Spotify and iTunes. Be sure to follow them on Instagram at @sglls.