Matthew Chaim unveils his new single "Sunflowers".
Written by Chaim and produced by Rabitt, "Sunflowers" is directed to his father who passed away when he was only 12-years-old.
“Sunflowers were my father’s favorite flower, and we had huge ones growing in our backyard throughout my childhood summers. The lyrics of this song are a conversation directed at my father, sharing with him both the sadness of missing him - of missing those days that are now so far gone - and also the anger I have towards him for leaving so early in life,” expresses Chaim.
Born in Montreal and now relocated in Los Angeles, the artist dropped his debut EP in 2018, which included the successful single "Homemade".
Working closely with Los Angeles-based producer Rabitt (Charlotte Lawrence, Quinn Lewis, Kiiara), Matthew Chaim draws heartfelt and innovative records highlighting unique vocals and productions.
"Sunflowers" is now available worldwide.
Introduce yourself - where are you from?
Hello! Name’s Matthew and I’m from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
When did your love for music and art begin? When did you start making music?
I started playing the drums at around 15 years old, and quickly fell in love with them. I had visions of being a touring drummer. But I didn’t have the work ethic at that age to power through the growing pains of learning a new instrument, so I stopped playing. It wasn’t until 19 or 20 that I came back to music, in the form of writing raps. From there I slowly found my way into singing and songwriting.
Do you remember a specific moment in your life where music made a huge difference?
Songwriting was already a pretty important part of my life at this point, but a few years ago someone very close to me was going through some very scary health problems. Being able to write songs at that time was a huge outlet for me, and allowed me to then show up for this person in a strong and supportive way.
When did you decide to fully pursue music as a career?
There isn’t exactly a precise moment. I just keep on making that decision, and it keeps pushing me further and further into a life submerged in music.
You are originally from Montreal. How did Montreal shape your artistry?
The more I travel and get to see other parts of the world, the more I fall in love with Montreal. The city is extremely rich in culture, and also has this relaxed and calming rhythm to it. I feel fortunate to have began cultivating and expressing my creativity in Montreal. The greatest way the city shaped my artistry is undoubtedly through the friends I made and collaborated with on music over the years. The city overflows with talent, and I luckily got to work with some incredibly creative people there.
Who was the first person to ever believe in you?
I had this teacher - Dror Etzion - in university for a class called The Social Context of Business. I was studying finance and absolutely hated it. This was the first (and only) class that I finally got to exercise some creative muscles. The only graded assignment in the course was to keep a Conscious Living Journal for 2 months, through which you were meant to live more consciously by simply writing about your days. I really took to the project, and Dror noticed. After handing it in, he suggested I think about pursuing something outside of finance / business. That really stuck with me.
What did you learn about yourself since your very first release?
A lot. Or maybe very little I’m really not sure.
"Sunflowers" is your new single. What's the story behind this song?
I wrote “Sunflowers” at a time when I was writing a lot of music about my father. He passed away when I was 12 years old, and it has only been in the last couple of years that I've found the space to express this loss through songwriting. The song's genesis was actually sparked by a moment when I had walked out of Rabitt's studio and into his main house to use the bathroom, and I saw a pot of sunflowers on the window sill. Sunflowers were my father’s favorite flower, and we had huge ones growing in our backyard throughout my childhood summers. When I got back into the studio, Rabitt was building the skeletons of this music and I quickly wrote the first verse of the song. The lyrics of this song are a conversation directed at my father, sharing with him both the sadness of missing him - of missing those days that are now so far gone - and also the anger I have towards him for leaving so early in life.
You worked with Rabitt on this song. How's it like to work with Rabitt? How did you guys meet?
This was the very first song Rabitt and I ever wrote together. From that first time in session together, it was clear we had a strong creative synergy. We’ve continued to confirm that, as we’ve written a lot of strong and meaningful songs together since. We were originally introduced through Rabitt’s manager at the time, Brett. I really enjoy writing with Rabitt because he gives me the space to do my thing. Since I like to write from this vulnerable and intimate place, it’s pretty integral that I feel comfortable and free to explore whatever ideas come up. Rabitt does such a good job at giving me that space, and I think it is because he too creates from that same place within. That’s why the track itself is also soaked in such distinct emotion and personality. Through our creative collaboration, our friendship has grown as well, and I ended up moving in with him, his girlfriend and one other roommate a few months ago.
When did you know "Sunflowers" had to be a single?
“Sunflowers” was the entryway into this new sonic world for me. So it should be the entryway into this new sonic world for you.
What do you like the most about this song?
If I had to choose one element about the song, it’d have to be the weird, screwed-up saxophone sample that plays throughout the tune. The original saxophone recording is played by Ryan Linvill, who Rabitt collaborates with regularly. At the top of the session, I told Rabitt that I’d been obsessed with this song “__45___” by Bon Iver lately. We listened to it, and Rabitt then quickly started looping through these sax recordings that Ryan had recently laid down. Rabitt found a short piece of the sample he liked, and proceeded to throw all this stuff on it that got it sounding super heavy and powerful. It really laid down the emotional groundwork that inspired the whole story behind the song.
What message do you want to convey through this particular song?
Excellent question. And a difficult one to answer. My favorite thing about music is that it can convey a strong message, but you’re not entirely sure what that message is. Or better yet, something deep in you know full well what that message is. But to put it into words is an unfeasible task. In writing songs, I try and capture the emotion that I’m feeling and communicate that in the purest way possible. And while my lyrics in this track do come from a specific part of my own personal story, the beautiful thing is that the song - and it’s underlying feeling tones - will resonate with people in completely unique ways based on their completely unique stories.
What can you tell us about the artwork for "Sunflowers"? What was the inspiration behind it?
I created the artwork for this song with crayons. For some time now, I’ve been obsessed with drawing with crayons. I started with a small pack of 24 crayons. I then graduated to a pack of 64 crayons. And now I am the proud owner of “The Ultimate Crayon Collection” -- a pack of 152 crayons organized in a crayon caddy. :D
I found it a wonderful practice in songwriting sessions to bring along my crayons and draw while writing. It gave my inner artist child something else to do, and tricked me into loosening up enough to get away from the mind-made pressures that sometimes come along with an “LA writing session” and into a space where I can write something honest.
Last Fall, I drove from Montreal to Los Angeles on an 8-day journey through the states. Soon after, I found myself drawing a lot of landscapes inspired by the incredible scenery along my drive. It was mainly Colorado and Utah that truly blew my mind. And ever since then, this 2-D mountainous landscape drawing has become like a drug for me. I just draw it all the time. So I figured that might as well be the cover artwork.
What do you want to accomplish with your art?
I’m pretty sure art is the accomplishment. *bows proudly to a standing ovation and exits stage left*.
How does Los Angeles impact your music career? How do you stay "grounded" in a big city like LA?
For the most part, I equate LA with productivity. I’ve learnt that I excel in an environment of structure and accountability. (My actual calling is probably therefore a corporate desk job at some fortune 500 behemoth. jkjkjk.) By spending my time in LA, I do a whole lot more because I am surrounded by people who I can work with all the time. That being said, while LA can provide structure to certain career paths that are otherwise extremely unstructured, it also supplies an unending amount of possible distraction. So staying grounded as you say is definitely something I try and pay attention to. Having a solid morning routine usually helps me in that department. I have 3 main pillars that make up a solid morning for me. They include meditation, yoga, and journaling. When I do all 3, I’m grounded AF. Oh also, I’m a huge fan of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Reading that book and doing the exercises therein act for me like a hand to hold as I slowly lower deeper into the depths of my own art and heart and creativity and etc etc etc.
How do you want to be remembered for?
I don’t need to be remembered. It’s cool. *bows humbly to a quiet applause and exits stage right*.
In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?
If everyday around 3:05pm every human on the planet stopped what they were doing and made themselves a cup of tea and just sat quietly and slowly drank it. That’d be super chill.
What biggest life lessons have you learned so far?
The biggest life lesson that I’ve learnt so far is that I haven’t learnt anything so far. *stands still. Awaits his applause. It doesn’t come. Rethinks previous moment. “Should I have said something else”, he wonders. But it’s too late. The moment has come and gone. He hath no chance to redeem himself now. They either liked it or they didn’t. And it seems they didn’t. Solemnly, he climbs off the front of the stage and walks down the aisle towards the Exit at the back. The silent audience watches him leave, their heads slowly following his saddened steps like a crowd at a tennis match turned down to quarter-speed. He finally reaches the doors and pushes them open. Light floods the auditorium. He looks back once, with a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, they still like him. Love him even. But no one makes a sound. You can hear a pin drop. He turns back towards the blinding light. Perhaps, out there, he’ll find what he’s looking for. He takes a step. The sun fills his entire body now. The camera zooms in. A crack of a smile appears on his face. Cut to black.*
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