My plan was to write this big ‘welcome back’ post, but screw that. I’ve gone away and come back so many times. You know that. So, I’m just going to skip all of that BS, skip over me apologizing for being absent, especially skip over me telling you I’m here to stay, because who knows if I’ll be able to keep up. What I will say is that I’m going to try my hardest to continue posting, because like you, I love music and I prefer letting people know about the good stuff out there rather than keeping it all to myself.
Now that we’ve got that awkward re-introduction out of the way…let’s move on to the real story.
Some of you may have heard this band before and if you haven’t, listen up. For four years, Leighton Antelman (side note: you might recognize his name/voice from his other musical project, Lydia) and Matt Malpass (side note: he’s a genius songwriter/producer who’s worked on albums you’ve most likely played on repeat) have been joining forces to release music that leaves an effect on anyone who listens. The Cinema introduced themselves into the world with their debut, My Blood Is Full of Airplanes, consisting of ten tracks that each have a powerful sound. Three years later, they released their sophomore album, Talking in Your Sleep. Another ten songs, every single one perfection. This post isn’t me reviewing their albums. I obviously love them. This post is to introduce the new ears out there to a band they need to know.
I recently interviewed Matt and Leighton and I’m not gonna go into how excited I was to be able to interview one of my current favorite bands. That would be embarrassing…but seriously, I was so excited. I may have had a hilarious text exchange with a few friends who are very much aware of my love for this band.
Onto the interview. Meet Leighton Antelman and Matt Malpass of The Cinema.
Q. The Cinema is made up of you and Matt. How do you go about recording/writing, while not being together in the same room?
A. Leighton: It’s pretty simple, we mostly write over the internet…bouncing ideas back and forth. Then, when we got enough ideas together we hit that studio booth.
Q. What’s your process like when you first get an idea in your head for a new song? Matt: Same question.
A. Leighton: I literally just go into my own studio at my house and grind away at the idea until there is something that isn’t terrible. Then I send it off to Matt for his cold judgement.
Matt: You never know when inspiration for a new song is going to hit and when it does you want to get the initial idea down as soon as possible before it goes away. For me, I’ll usually go into the studio and put down a basic beat, or at least a kick + snare pattern, and then try to hash out whatever the chord progression is going to be. In order to not get caught up scrolling through hundreds of possible sounds and getting sidetracked, I’ll just pick a basic instrument like piano or synth pad and just hammer out the progression or main musical idea to get it down. After the tempo/main groove or beat/progression is down I’ll start filling it out a bit and then laying down scratch vocals if I have an idea for melody or lyrics. If I don’t have any ideas for the vocals I’ll just leave it blank. After I have a good skeleton down I’ll generally bounce down the initial idea and email it over to Leighton to see if he’s feeling it. If he’s down with it we’ll both start attacking the idea back and forth together, but if he’s not into it I’ll just put it into a folder I made called “Unused Ideas” — ha, at this point there’s over a dozen sessions in that folder.
Q. Your latest album, Talking in Your Sleep, I’ve listened to repeatedly. What were a few of the biggest highlights when recording that album?
A. Leighton: I’d say just the freedom we had while writing and recording it was a highlight for me. We could just record the album at our own pace, work on it whenever we felt like it.
Matt: For me the highlights of doing this album were more about the experiences involved in creating it. There are a handful of songs that were inspired by events in my life that were very memorable and kickstarted the songwriting process weeks before even getting in the actual studio. I think those were the biggest highlights for me.
Q. Leighton, you’re also in Lydia, which I’ve seen you’ve been recording new music for recently and you also have an upcoming tour with The Early November. How do you balance working on two separate projects?
A. Yeah, Lydia is wrapping up an album that will be out later this year. Sometimes it gets tricky to juggle the two, but if you want to do it, you can. I think it’s as simple as that.
Q. Matt, what’s been the best memory you can think of as a musician?
A. I think in general, just hearing something you’ve worked on come to life and see people react positively is the best thing you can hope for as a musician. So all the times things have come together and the songs come out and people enjoy them, those are the best memories for sure.
Q. Many musicians talk about the fact that the industry has changed and how much of the music you hear today is very much manufactured. How do you work to keep your music unique to the point where it stands out?
A. Matt: When starting a song I try to keep in mind that its an empty canvas with a million possibilities, you can literally do whatever you want to do, there are no rules. I’ve started writing for the next record already, and I’m more aware than ever that we can build a song however we want with whatever kind of sounds and lyrics we want, and I’m personally determined to make this new batch of songs more unique and interesting than anything we’ve released in the past. Things can get stale if you follow the same steps and same process over and over again, so I’m having a lot of fun trying to push myself and Leighton into being more creative than ever.
Q. Many artists go back and re-release new versions of songs, changing the melody or some of the lyrics. Have either of you ever wanted to do that? If so, what would you change?
A. Matt: We’ve actually talked about revisiting some of the songs we’ve previously released and doing a “remix” of sorts, with the idea of taking the music and just re-imagining it. I would like to take an older song or two and see if we can make them interesting by completely changing aspects of the music, even the chord progression or main riffs, just to find out what can come out of it. Just not sure what song(s?) to try it on!
Q. Leighton, What band or artist are you listening to these days? Matt: Same question.
A. Leighton: You know what, to be honest, I’ve been taking a break from music recently, just in general. Listening to comedy specials and podcast in the car. It’s a nice break when that’s what you do for a living.
Matt: I’ve been going back and forth listening to a few different things; been listening to a lot of hip hop lately, I love the production on J Coles Forest Hills Drive record and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, ect. And then I’ve been hitting up the Miike Snow and Passion Pit Pandora stations to get my fill of the indie pop world. Then there’s always the 80’s Pandora stations that I can’t get away from, gotta throw that on at least once a week or so!
Q. What’s one thing you admire about the other’s talent?
A. Leighton: He’s a bigger asshole than me, It’s something I strive to pass him at one day.
Matt: I like how I can send Leighton a song that might be decent but is lacking in soul or character and he’s able to breathe life into it and turn it into a legit song that surpass and expectations I had going in. Somehow that asshole has a knack for knowing what a song needs when I can’t 100% deliver sometimes. (which isn’t often, haha)
Q. If you were both stranded on an island and could only bring one of your songs to listen to, which one would it be and why?
A. Leighton: Whoa listen to myself on repeat? That sounds terrible.
Matt: I would have to choose any of them, as long as I could hear that smooth sexy voice in my ear on repeat everything in the world would be ok! Just kidding, if I had to listen to him sing on repeat I’d probably punch myself in the head till I passed out.
Check out The Cinema’s latest video, Turn It On.