Random Tongues is a new electronic rock project from multi-instrumentalist & producer Matt Olson. Matt has been writing and recording music for almost two decades. Starting out as guitarist and songwriter for hard rock band Rearview Mirror, Matt had the opportunity to record an album with legendary producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, DMB, 30 Seconds to Mars) and tour around the U.S. Since then Matt has kept writing and recording music through a variety of solo and band projects including Brahman Shaman, The Camp David Singers, Objective Subject, and Moth Mountain.
Entertwine: What inspired the founding of Random Tongues? Could you give us some insight into each of your projects (Brahman Shaman, Moth Mountain, Rearview Mirror, Analog Spaceships, Objective Subject, and The Camp David Singers) and your musical background in general?
Random Tongues: I was inspired by my desire to incorporate more electronic elements in my
music. It was also a reaction against my standard songwriting process where I typically start
with an acoustic guitar and a melody. The Random Tongues material was all started with a beat
or synth idea and then layered to completion. Also, the gestation period for the songs was much
shorter in an effort to capture the initial spark on recording versus how I will usually work and
rework songs countless times before calling them done, if I ever do.
Brahman Shaman is more of a straight pop rock / indie rock project with all the songs started
with guitar and voice and the other instrumentation layered in with a focus on hooks and tradition
song structures. Analog Spaceships is a purely instrumental project with almost 100% electronic instruments and serves primarily as a repository for musical ideas I haven’t found another place for.
Moth Mountain started as a duo with my close friend, Joe Dawson, who is a talented vocalist and
songwriter. The focus of this project is the vocal being very out front and the instrumentation
providing a groove oriented effect.
Rearview Mirror was my first band and I just played guitar and came up with musical ideas for
many of the tunes. We started out as a strictly hard rock band but eventually evolved in a bit
more pop oriented direction.
I began playing guitar at 14 and while Rearview Mirror was the focus for nearly the next eleven years I was always recording my own ideas which moved to the forefront once the band decided to dial things back and not work on any future material.
ET: What life experiences and events influenced the writing and recording of your latest release (“EP1”)?
RT: All of the lyrics for the Random Tongues songs started as stream of thought scat style singing to just get out some melody ideas and I ended up keeping a lot of those ideas. I wasn’t sure what inspired the material until after it was done where it seemed to reflect the process of growing older and having time refocused on family etc..
ET: What was it like working with legendary producer Steve Lillywhite (who has worked with U2, Dave Matthews Band, and 30 Seconds to Mars)?
RT: We had a great time working with Steve, but at the time we were in our late teens and honestly unfamiliar with most of his career and the legendary artists he had worked with. Because I was the main source of the musical ideas in Rearview Mirror I worked directly with Steve a lot and he pushed me to work harder on my songwriting and arrangements and evolve ideas further. I think many of the things I learned did not become apparent until I was older and recording myself and other artists more.
ET: You’ve been a professional musician for nearly two decades; how have you been able to remain inspired and creative on such a consistent basis?
RT: It has been hard to maintain creative and inspired over the past 18 years and it really goes in waves where sometimes I am writing a lot of material and other times I am focusing on other projects where I just get to play an instrument and not do the writing. There are many times I have tried to stop playing music and have taken a handful of breaks but the satisfaction I get from creative work always draws me back in.
ET: What are your favorite aspects of the La Crosse, Wisconsin area (I’m sure your studio is high up on the list)? Is there any type of music scene there or within the surrounding area
RT: The La Crosse area is filled with scenic beauty and a lot of interesting people and talented musicians, plus it is only about 2.5 hours to Minneapolis or Madison, and 4.5 to Chicago and Milwaukee which provides a lot venues to play in the regional area as well a plethora of talented musicians to work and collaborate with. My little basement studio is mainly for me but I ended up doing some projects for other local artists who wanted to work with me after hearing my own material that I had recorded. I haven’t been doing many recording projects since my daughter was born a few years ago but still do some mastering work for another one of the studios in town every couple of months or so.