The UK-based pop-rock band The 1975 headlined one of the inaugural shows at Canadian Music Week 2014. In the last year, the band broke out from music industry insider circles and connected with audiences through their colourful synth-driven pop music and emotive performances juxtaposed against a stark black-and-white aesthetic. Band frontman and lead singer Matthew ‘Matty’ Healy offered Aesthetic Magazine’s Elaisha Green an insightful stream-of-conscious glimpse into his artistic upbringing with parents in British cinema, how he discovered his nascent fashion sense, and learning from Prince how to punctuate each performance with meaningfulness.
Elaisha Green: What is your favourite thing about touring internationally?
Matty Healy: That makes it sound like it’s almost like a niche, like something I do irregularly. All I do now is tour internationally. So, it’s the shows. We’re doing 10 shows in a row at the moment this week…. I get up at 8 [AM], do interviews until sound check… [and] until the show, then I do the show and it’s like a massive release, and the earliest I can get to bed is 2 AM, and I’m up at 8. So, it’s the shows. The shows are everything. They really do become everything and people say ‘how do you get yourself pumped up for a show every night?’ [or] ‘how do you get yourself to invest in a show every night?’ And it’s like ‘how do you not?!’ Throwing a party in a city for 3,000 people every night is not mundane. It’s the day-to-day that’s mundane. I’ll fucking do 5 shows in a day instead of sitting around. This is what we want to do. This is why we’re here. So it’s not an issue of getting ourselves ready for shows, it’s the trying to punctuate your life. It’s trying to form something so intense, and especially with our shows. There’s a lot of screaming and crying, and it’s hard to come down off that. I feel like I just never switch off. I go to bed and I think about my performance and I watch videos of everything. I see what’s happened, what’s gone wrong, and I wake up and fucking talk about it all day. It’s like Prince. I’ve seen him after a gig. You don’t want to be in Prince’s band after a gig if you’ve messed up. What’s the point in doing something if it’s not reaching it’s full potential?
EG: So you always wanted to be a musician?
MH: There was never any question. I was a fucking pop-star when I was working at Caffe Nero. I was waiting for the world to catch up. Not in an arrogant “I’m just going to sit here and be fabulous” kind-of-way. I always worked towards my craft, but I was never worried. At the risk of sounding arrogant, and I am a-bit, I was in my favourite band…and I’m not wrong. This is definitely going to be someone else’s favourite band. If I love our records so much, then people are going to invest in them. I was never worried about it.
EG: You’re from Manchester right?
MH: Yeah, from Manchester. My upbringing [was] different because I was allowed to have that mentality. Both my parents are actors and from a very bohemian place. I was brought up on British cinema, watching the movies with the actors themselves. Being creative was endorsed, whether that was emotionally or financially or whatever it was, it was endorsed. And I was allowed to have that thing. That’s why when people say to me “what do you think of X-Factor? Doesn’t that really piss you off?” and it’s like “well, not really, because half the people on those shows don’t have those resources. They don’t have a world, or a mentality, or an environment where you can say ‘I’m gonna be a fucking pop-star’ and everyone takes you seriously”. My family took me seriously, and if you don’t have that, then the appropriatepsyche doesn’t evolve.
EG: I interviewed The Neighbourhood recently and I mentioned The 1975 since you guys are friends and toured together in the UK. Tell me about touring with them.
MH: We were really excited to take them on tour because I think that our fans are very responsive. I wanted to help them out in the UK ‘cause it’s difficult. A British band coming over to America can be like “’Ello” and everybody is like “Oh my God” and they just think you’re the fucking coolest thing in the world. It’s not the same in the UK. [In the UK]…wedo bands. That’s our thing. The thing about Jesse [Rutherford of the Neighbourhood] is [like] when Vanilla Ice first came out, he was the coolest… before he became a parody. When he first came out everyone was like “Who is this bitchin’ white dude?” And Jesse is kind of [like that]. If you could think of a dark credible boy-band that existed—I love the Backstreet Boys, one of my favourite bands of all time – and I think that [The Neighbourhood is] like a genuinely dark version of a credible, songwriting, cool, sexy boy-band. I think they’re fucking great and I’ve always loved that band, and we’ve got an obvious synergy with our aesthetic with the whole black-and-white thing. Me and Jesse…we’re so drawn to each other like a magnet, and then we repel away from each other. When we go on tour together, you can tell who the frontmen are.
EG: Speaking of outfits, tell me about your style.
MH: I’ve got Prada shoes on. They’re duct taped together. I thought “what was going on in my life before I had these boots?” I thought, “what happened? What did I do?” Not even ‘what did I wear, how did I walk?’ [but] “How did I move without these fabulous boots?!”
EG: Where did you get them?
MH: From Prada in London. I went so heavy that day. Me and George [Daniel of the 1975] went HAM. I thought I was fucking Anna Wintour. She’s on [Late Night with] Seth Meyers tomorrow. Me, Anna Wintour, [and] Sarah Jessica Parker. My mate Emma is at Vogue America, she used to do a lot of British Vogue and I was talking about this to her. I said “I don’t really know what my style is”, and she said “Darling, your style is black and expensive”. She’s so right. Black and expensive. If it’s got clean lines and it’s in black, I love it. I’m not that elaborate. I love this jacket so much [that] it’s turning into a bit of a dreadlock. It looks a bit like a thrift store jacket, but it’s not. Now I love Michael Hutchins, like suede kind-of early 90’s, post-New Romantics flow-y, but all black. I wear floral shirts now because I wore one for the “Robbers” video.