G-7L1BQ01JC4 google-site-verification=FcHx71H1bjVosBa3N5PbNSP0lPlz9dKW5Fnb3zbHVBI Matthew and the Keys is In the Key of Q - Gay Music: In the Key of Q

Episode 7

full
Published on:

26th Apr 2022

Matthew and the Keys: Potter, Madonna and Silenced BIPOC

Welcome to In the Key of Q the weekly podcast where I chat with inspiring Queer musicians from around the world as they share stories, inspirations and of course their music.

This week's guest is from Edmonton, Alberta in Canada. His music combines personal experiences, passion, and is inspired by artists as varied as Vanessa Carlton, John Mayer and Metric. He is an educator, a model, and an actor. He's sung since the age of two and has written songs since he was 12.

Despite being a shy kid, Matthew couldn't stop his love of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from escaping out. And he'd tell anyone who'd listen about LeonardoRaphaelDonatello and Michelangelo - those heroes in a half shell. And of course, he'd run around the house singing the theme.

His home was beautifully musical with Soul, Hip Hop, Rap and R&B blending with the tunes of Abba's Waterloo, Fernando and SOS.

As an adult, he is frustrated how the gay community can be bad at looking after its own. And how we can often be blind to the silencing of BIPOC of LGBTQ voices. He out and proud music most definitely moves towards that, even more so with the release of his new album Victory (Produced by Brett Reed).

Additional Material

If you enjoyed this episode why not take a listen to Andy Pisanu ("Memory Flowers").

In the Key of Q is a weekly 30-40 minute podcast publishing every Tuesday. I’m your host Dan Hall, and in each episode, I chat candidly with a gay/bi musician about their life and music. 

Access exclusive interview content and support the production of this podcast by heading over to Petreon and making a small donation.

Enjoy the music of previous guests by listening to these playlists with tracks selected by the artists themselves.

Credits

  • The podcast can be reached on email and on social media at Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The podcast’s forever home can be found here.
  • Theme tune is by Paul Leonidou.
  • Press & PR by Paul Smith.
  • Many thanks to Kaj and Moray for their continued support.
  • In the Key of Q is presented and produced by Dan Hall and made at Pup Media. Dan has recently produced the landmark BBC film, "Freddie Mercury: The Final Act" (dir. James Rogan) and is the producer of the podcast series Been There Done That. For audio or video production inquiries Dan can be reached here or at Talent Manager.

Would you like to appear on the show? Or have an artist you'd like to recommend, please tell them to get in touch via email.

Transcript

Matthew

And that's the thing with pop music too, is that you can put it into so many different genres with different instruments, and it's still sounds frikkin' dope.

Dan

This is In the Key of Q featuring musicians from around the world who inspire my queer identity. Everybody is welcomed to the conversation, whatever beautiful identity pleases you. Music helps us feel connected and know that we are not alone.

This program is made possible thanks to the financial support of listeners like you over at patreon.com/inthekeyofq. And remember to subscribe to the show wherever you listen to podcasts.

I'm Dan Hall. Tune in. And be heard.

This week's guest is from Edmonton. Alberta in Canada. His music combines personal experiences, passion, and is inspired by artists as varied as Vanessa Carlton, John Mayer and Metric. He is an educator, a model, and an actor. He's sung since the age of two and has written songs since he was 12. It's a pleasure to welcome to In the Key of Q, Matthew Akplu. Matthew, hello!

Matthew

Hi, how are you? Dan?

When I was really young I was actually very shy, which is funny for all the people that I know in my life to hear. They're like, oh, that's not, that's not Matthew at all, but I didn't say very much in anything until music was the thing that really got me to come out of my shell.

I remember when I was two, I did used to love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And every Saturday we'd watch those commercials and I would take my hand out of my mouth and be running around my house, singing the theme song, talking about the ninja turtles, and it just wouldn't stop. It wouldn't stop.

Also within my house too, my mom would listen to a variety of different artists. She make us listen to Celine Dion, James Ingram, Abba. And then on the other side of it, then I had my brother who listened to rap music from NWA, Wu-Tang Clan, Nas and other things. And it just built up all this, these different types of genres that I just love to feed off of and draw inspiration from.

Dan

And that's interesting as a European to hear that Abba made it across to Canada!. I always thought that they weren't necessarily that, that big in north America, certainly not until Mamma Mia took off.

Matthew

No. Well, I know that in our house, my mom had, I think at least four Abba albums that we would listen to. One of my favorite songs to hear from them was Waterloo. I loved the way that, that sounds. SOS, Fernando, like all the classics. I just, I just love the sound. I love looking at the album, seeing wow, these, these two beautiful women and then these two beautiful men. And I just, I just loved it. I loved the sound. I loved everything about it.

Dan

Waterloo was Abba's first of international single, because it was the song they came into, into people's consciousness with, because they won the Eurovision song contest with it. And my mum talks about watching the Eurovision song contest at home, and she just said it was like nothing else. That I kind of envy my mum, that, that she saw Abba when Abba wasn't a thing. And she got to experience that what the hell was that?

Matthew

Yeah.

Dan

That was a pop song about the battle of Waterloo for a start.

Matthew

That's such, such a magical moment and that's the magic of pop music, right? And so the magic of music where you can take something that may be a little bit mundane, a little bit strange, and then whip it into something that is so whimsical and it catches your attention.

Dan

But people often dismiss pop music, hugely. They say it's always just throw away three minute nonsense. Why do you think that is? Why do you think it doesn't necessarily get the credit it deserves? Because I imagine it's not easy to write and I don't imagine actually it's easy to sing.

Matthew

No, it's not. It's not easy. It's I feel like just like every kind of music, it's not, it's not easy, but pop music seems to get this reputation. I think just because of connotations of it being sell out from your roots or whatever it is. But pop is really a derivative from popular. And for any musician and any artists, wouldn't you want to be heard by masses of people?

I mean, I would personally, so I have no qualms about being referred to as a pop musician. And I wish that more musicians now would not go away from the pop music, writing, mentality and structure. Cause it's just really finding music that connects with people. Finding music that stays in your mind and is catchy. And I think that happens in a lot of different genres. People just don't say it.

My first performance was, oh my gosh. When I was six years old. I didn't write anything at that time

Dan

How adorable must you have been as a little six year old!

Matthew

With my little gap tooth or did I have it at that time? I guess usually they just kind of grow in, but, I remember we were doing a Christmas concert at the church I went to as a kid. And I had gotten, I received this solo opportunity. So we had the choir, the kids, and I was the one singing this solo. I was so excited about it.

The funny thing about it is that that the night that I was going to perform, I was horsing around with my sister and I actually burned my cheek on my right side on an iron. An iron that was still hot . So I had to wear a bandaid on the right side of my face for this performance, but I still killed it.

Like I honestly, it was as if, I can see it right now is wearing a green silk kind of shirt with like black designs on those. Very cool. And I can just envision myself and I was like dancing on the stage. My hands are up. I was getting the audience to clap up. I was belting my heart out and it was just such an amazing moment.

Dan

Wasn't there an artist that used to wear a bandaid on his cheek? Was that, was that a fashion that was started by you? Is that like that scene in Mean Girls where the, where the nipples are cut out of the dress and then suddenly the next day everyone's doing it!

Matthew

I'm essentially Regina George, except them not a bitch.

Nellie, you owe me a lot of residuals cause that's who started it, but really it was me. I'm sure I can find pictures. Maybe I'll post them on Instagram or something.

Dan

Now I get artists onto this program for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes PR agents get hold of me sometimes. The artists themselves reach out. Sometimes I've read an article that I've loved, but surprisingly few artists I reach out to initially because I've stumbled on their songs and thought, oh, I love them. I really liked that from the outset. The artist's music, generally, I grow to like it because, we do the interview and then I do research on them and I think, oh, the music's great. But occasionally I will find an artist whose music I really like. And then it kind of aggressively go after them. And yours is one of those.

Your album has these slightly Rocky elements, but also isn't ashamed of the pop. And could you tell us a little bit about how you made the journey to that album,

Matthew

The journey onto writing this music, well, I've always, ever since I was about 17, as it was writing my own songs and, and wondering about that, but then I was also inspired by a lot of my friends at the time who were listening to punk music. And punk music pop punk would have a lot of those same elements in it that I would hear on the radio. And then there was things like Avril Levine, Michelle Branch, Vanessa Carlton, who were those kind of women who rock, who write their own songs and, have their own attitudes and their personalities and their opinions about things. And I always loved that.

So when I went about writing this album, it was kind of like a cumulation of the experiences that I have come across and also the inspiration with my writing partner partner, Lorenzo, who we came together. And he comes from a background where Queens of the Stone Age, Linkin Park are some of his inspirations and musicians that I also really appreciate and really like their artistry.

So it was really an easy kind of mesh to mesh all of these things together.

Dan

Do you think it's important for us queer people to hear musicians singing in out queer voices?

Matthew

Absolutely. I think it's so important. There's so much representation of, of hetero relationships and heteronormativity that it really does silence a lot of voices within the queer community.

Music is such a great way for us to express ourselves, hear ourselves, love ourselves and gain confidence in ourselves. And when you don't really hear your story or a story that could be similar to yours in music, it's hard for you to connect. It's really hard for you to connect and it's hard for you to feel good about yourself then and create confidence.

What was I like as a kid? I was super happy-go-lucky. I was very, I was a very, I was a very happy kid. I led a very happy life. I had a lot of really cool friends, a lot of male friends, a lot of female friends, very personable. I talked a lot and really talked a lot. It would get me in trouble a lot.

But being a kid was just so great. It was so great living in an Edmonton where I'm born and raised. It was great to be around my two brothers and my younger sister. And yeah, it was just all of us just taking on the world.

Dan

And so when did queerness become relevant to you or, or maybe a better way of putting it is when did you start to become aware of it?

Matthew

I think I would say my earliest recollections of my, my sexuality would be I think when I was probably in high school, when I was definitely feeling the notions of, I like girls, but I also am interested in boys, but I never really acted on anything like that until I was much older.

I was about 25 years old and I had just got my heart broken. My heart was broken and I made a trip over to visit some friends in Vancouver, BC, which is just an hour flight away from where I am. And I came to my, my realization. Now, before that point, I was trying to figure things out and I thought for me, it was really important for me to find out who I was as a human being first, before I added the very important part of my, my sexuality and my queerness.

So I took a lot of time to myself to find out who I was, what do I want to do in life? What inspires me? What, what angers me? What are things that make Matthew Akplu tick?

I made sure that I didn't date. I didn't date anyone for about two and a half years. I made connections with my friends. I connected with my family and I really dove into music at that point too. And I think that really helps to kind of lead me to the path that I am right now,

Dan

But it can be easier said than done.

Matthew

That's very true because there's so many people who are not as blessed and privileged as I am to have family that are super accepting and loving of me for who I am. They're loving of me before and loving with me even more now.

Dan

It seems very sad, doesn't it? That we still have these conversations now where we talk about people having to flee unsafe homes. And it makes me cross when at the same time I hear straight community going, why do they still need Pride? They've got everything.

ryone. And it's ridiculous in:

Matthew

How can you live in a world where you don't acknowledge that there is pain and suffering injustices and, and the white male patriarchy in the world that is running things around to suppress BIPOC people to suppress LGBTQ plus people. Like this is happening the time and we need to take a stand. And it's ridiculous when people just say like, Hmm, it's not, it's not part of my life.

Dan

Was religion a big part of your upbringing?

Matthew

Yeah, it, it, it w it really was. We went to church every Sunday. I was involved in choir when I was a very young kid. I remember even when I was a little bit older being like, okay I'm just going to go for the music part and then leave when the sermon would happen?

I would duck out with my friends and we would like run around the chuch. Cause I went to like a huge church and we'd run around and like hang out outside or just not be there, avoid my mom's angry stares!

Dan

How did you manage to balance the complex relationship that religion and faith has with queer identity with your own queer identity?

Matthew

Well, thankfully. My mom was a really great supporter of just her kids as being good, moral people based on, on just good values. And she would take a lot of, a lot of the sermons that were said if they were kind of weird in a way or homophobic or like kind of like misogynistic. She'd be like, okay let's all sit down and we're going to talk about what was said in this sermon. Let's let's discuss this.

I remember actually one time, cause I was at this church, I guess Harry Potter, when it was a big thing was not okay. And I remember she let me read the books because they were good and I was reading and that was amazing. And she came home from choir practice and I'm reading Potter and she comes in, she said, I just got to let you know something important. I said,, what is it? She said, oh, well they talked about Harry Potter. And I said, oh, okay. And she said it's witchcraft or some weird thing like that? And I said, oh. And she just looks at me and she says, so what I want you to do, is just keep reading. But when you go to church, you say nothing, nothing about Potter. You understand that? I was like, noted!

Dan

Although what a gamble she was taking, telling her talkative son who ran around the building, talking to everyone and making a noise, don't say this!

Matthew

Right. Cause I do have a fucking big mouth!

Dan

Now when we finish this recording, Matthew, I take it into the edit suite and nip us here and there tuck us down, take a couple of bits out to make us both sound incredibly clever and gorgeous. But for the next couple of minutes, I'm not going to do that. It's all yours. I'm going to promise you not to get out of the red pencil once. You have a bandstand onto which you're going to stand and have your voice heard without anyone shaping it or rewriting it for you. So off you go!

Matthew

Oh, my gosh. There's so much to talk- so almost a talk about! I think that this is, this is such an incredible form for me to do this. I love the fact that I'm able to talk to people from all across the world and to have my music being heard. Like I never thought that this would be, Something that actually happens. I was dreaming in my head, but now that it's actually happened, I'm like, whoa, this is such a trip.

I'm trying to think of like, what else would you talk about, oh my album, which is pretty amazing. 10 tracks, gorgeous! Produced by Brett Reed in Edmonton. And it is, was a labor of love to put it all together.

Our first single Choose Love is super dope. It's so queer love it's so BIPOC love. It's all about choosing love in situations where you feel like, you know what, I have nothing left to give. But you have friends, you have family and people that love you, your chosen family that will lift you up and support you and give you love.

So definitely listen to it, pick it up and requests on your radio stations, bombard them and say, yeah, I need to hear Matthew and the Keys. And if you don't know them then you're nothing!.

You're a dead station.

Matthew

You're a dead station. You got nothing going on. Oh, what else did I talk about? Oh, I guess that, a model as well. Well, this is pretty fun and exciting. So a lot of shoots aren't happening right now, but when they do, it's such a cool experience to stand in front of the camera and just be like... Yeah, with that, let's take pictures, take flex.

Dan

As Matthew appears to forgotten that he's on an audio format, he was posing that in that silence!

Matthew

I will, I will tell you also that I did, I did. I woke up at 3.30am and I was like, okay, I'm going to get. I got to get ready. So I put on a top, I put on some jewellery, some jewellery, and I was like, I gotta get ready.

And then when I logged onto the Zencaster for this Dan, I looked and it said audio only. And I was like, okay, okay. But that is, I should have known. But I didn't and you know what we and we learn!

Dan

Matthew, what was your 15 year old self like and what do you think he would make of you now?

Matthew

Oh my gosh. My 15 year old self was very talkative, very into music. I was very focused on just making friends. The potential of becoming a pop star one day. And I think the Matthew of then would be, so I think he would be really excited about the person that is doing all these amazing things and performing on stage and writing these really cool songs, because I think the Matthew of 15 years old would really like the music that I've written. He'd really really enjoy it..

Dan

Ty McKinnie when I asked him the same question said that he thought that he would have switched off the station! That he would have been like, who is this old guy talking about love? And Ty isn't old at all!

Matthew

Oh, no, oh no!.

Dan

So Matthew, what queer artists are you listening to at the moment? Maybe who do you think I should be getting on the show?

Matthew

Oh my gosh. Okay. Well, I love Mow Mow who is from Canada. They're an amazing artist

I've been recently getting into a little bit of Kim Petras once again, really loved the new music that she's putting out. So unapologetically fun. pop kind of music.

There's another artist that I've been listening to. I, I keep their song Prosecco all the time on my Spotify. And I added some. I can't remember who.

Dan

Bruno Ferrara? Patrik Jean?

Matthew

Patrik Jean, Patrick Jean, you're right. Love the art that he's doing. Super great.

I would always write in these same ways where I'd have a hook, regardless if I wanted to not write one or not, it would always just be there. And I'd still have the same sensibilities within the music as well. And I, I love it. I. Stripe away from it very much. Even what the songs on my album, there are a lot of harder rock elements, that you would find on it, but there's still those pop elements in there.

It's ingrained in me. It's in my DNA very much like S Club 7. It's in my DNA. It's just natural.

Dan

So I stumbled the other day on a cover version of S Club's Reach sung by an artist called Harriet. And it was incredible. Sounds like Karen Carpenter and she sings it and it's produced like a Carpenters song.

You realize, oh, actually this is a really good song. And I could imagine Karen Carpenter singing this and it was incredible.

Matthew

And that's the thing, pop music too, is that you can take it and put it into so many different genres with different instruments and it still sounds fricking dope. Oh, I love a good cover. I love a good cover.

Dan

If you love a good cover, then you must listen to Aiden James's cover of, I Wanna Dance with Somebody.

Matthew

How am I listened to that before?

Dan

And it's so different from her production. But hearing that song without the gender changes is beautiful!

Matthew

Ah, I love that. That was the thing that I used to do as a kid too. I never would change it from if it was a female talking about a boy. I wouldn't change it.

Dan

I was the same!

Matthew

If if was a male talking about a girl, I would just be, I would just silence the girl. I would just wouldn't say.

Dan

Those early signs were there, darling!

Matthew

Yeah, they really were!

Dan

a precocious child because in:

What a precocious little queer kid!

Matthew

I love that so much! Not even changed, don't even changed the words. That's pretty precocious of HER!

Dan

Still now I think it! I was just listening to True Blue the other day and still now, when I hear that line, I think, humph!

Now, Matthew, where can we hear you online? Where can we find you?

Matthew

You can find me on, I am on Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal. On all streaming music you can search Matthew and the Keys. You can search me up on my website. That's www.mathekeys.com as well as on Twitter and Instagram at @mathekeys. And you can find me on YouTube, www.youtube.com/MATHEKEYS. And so if you can find me on Facebook to Matthew and the Keys as well. And, oh, I, my Bandcamp, I forgot about that one, https://matthewandthekeys.bandcamp.com/. That's where you can purchase my album there too. And you can purchase a physical album and I'll send it out to you as well.

Dan

And of course, we'll put links to all these wonderful places in the show notes.

Matthew, you just made me think, I think we should set up a music streaming service called Fire so you can just say "I'm on Fire"..

Matthew

I love that!

Dan

"I'm on Spotfiy, Apple and I'm on Fire!"

Matthew

And now I'm on Fire. Oh my God. Patent pending patent pending. Yes.

Dan

Now we've been listening to your songs Matthew, all the way through this episode, but I think we saved the best til last. And so I'd like to ask my guests to present a gateway song. A song that is the perfect introduction to their catalog and something that'll make audiences absolutely fall in love with you.

What would your gateway song be and why?

Matthew

My gateway song would be my single Choose Love, because it is all about finding love finding, choosing love in situations where you feel like you were depleted and you have nothing, but you always have your friends and your family and your chosen family to help support you up.

And it's always just the best thing to do is to choose love in all situations in life. So I would say Choose Love is my gateway track.

Dan

Matthew Akplu thank you so much for coming here on In the Key of Q and sharing with us, your stories and your music.

Matthew

Thank you so much for having me, Dan, and thank you to all the listeners of In the Key of Q.. I hope you enjoy.

Dan

Thanks for listening to this episode, you can support In the Key of Q via Patreon. The link is in the shownotes.

Theme music is by Paul Leonidou at unstoppablemonsters.com. With press and PR by Paul Smith.

Help others discover new queer musicians by rating and reviewing In the Key of Q, wherever you find podcasts.

Thanks to Kaj and Moray for their continued support and to you for subscribing.

The show was made at Pup Media. I'm Dan Hall. Go listen to some music and I'll see you next Quesday!

Show artwork for Gay Music: In the Key of Q

About the Podcast

Gay Music: In the Key of Q
Queer chat. Queer music.
Music-loving gay podcast. The best bi and gay music from around the world featuring insightful and inspiring conversations with Queer musicians.

Episodes drop weekly and are 30-40 minutes in length, celebrating LGBTQ identity, tunes and stories.

Presented by Dan Hall (producer, BBC’s Freddie Mercury: The Final Act) and produced by Pup Media.
Support This Show

About your host

Profile picture for Dan Hall

Dan Hall