Fresh off success from his More Alive EP, Yellow Shoots (real name Greg Matthews) has found himself established as one of the rapidly growing underdogs of the R&B scene. Combining an affinity for futuristic, electronically-inspired production angle with silk-smooth vocal work, Yellow Shoots is uniquely positioned as a member of a new guard of singer-songwriter-producers who do it all with unprecedented deftness. He stopped by for a quick interview and to share his ‘cuffing season’ playlist, for those cold winter nights with that special someone.
Tell me about the “More Alive” EP and how you came to write it. What started the process?
The genesis of the EP actually occurred last fall. I was writing tons of songs in my bedroom in Flatbush, Brooklyn and came to the conclusion that I was ready to start a solo career as a producer/songwriter. I started exploring new songs and new feels by combining some of my old childhood influences with some of the stuff I’m listening to today. A lot of this music came out of my time in Moon Lab Studios in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Overall it was an experiment.
What is it that makes your music sound so… seductive? Where is that impetus coming from? It’s more than just soul, but something that actually transcends into Prince-type levels – a lot of your recent music is stuff to get freaky to. Anything specific inspiring that?
Honestly, I think society has some serious polarity in the arena of sexuality … Sex in America is either massively overdone, overcompensating to grab people’s attention or it’s considered completely taboo. I wanted to explore sex and society in the psychological realm.
I think this EP has a naturally seductive nature because I explored what sex actually does to people. I think it’s capable of driving people to insanity, euphoria, freedom and knowledge. It can be liberating as well as damaging. Most of the music here demonstrates sex as a quest for knowledge, to learn about others, expand one’s mind. So I explored this side of sex. It’s much less about about the instinctual side.
In addition to being soulful in sound, your productions are futuristic. Very broken beat-inspired, lots of non-traditional patterns and styles incorporated throughout — where does that come from?
Well, that probably comes from me [having] a guitar background. Guitarists always end up making odd beats. It’s just how that instrument interprets to drums.
On the future tip, well I’ve always been into sound sculpting and pushing the sonic boundaries. I use Ableton, and it’s good for that. The bottom line criteria for all my music involves strong melody, harmony and out of the box drum patterns and sound. I grew up in Philly playing with tons of dope drummers like Boots Greene and “Spanky” McCurdy. Whenever I make stuff, I channel their rhythmic styles.
Which direction are you hoping to take Yellow Shoots in 2016? What plans have you got that you’d like for your fans to know about?
I’m writing a ton. I’ll most likely play one or two shows this winter with the live band. I already have another EP developed that I’ll be dropping in the Spring. I also have a ton of remixes in the bucket too. I’m gearing up for a summer of collaborations and touring.
Tell us a bit about this cuffing season playlist — what defines “cuffing season” to you and what makes these tracks your specific selections for that alone time with a special someone.
Well cuffing season involves meeting someone in the summer months and now moving into more of a relationship status in the fall and winter. I think this is where two people begin to learn much more than they’ve had before. I think these tracks are going to focus on the difficulty of being in a relationship, how to seal the deal [laughs].
1. “Down in Flames” – Cleopold
This song is in an instant hit. It talks about that mesmerization period between two people and the imbalances that can occur.
2. “Cause I’m a Man”- Tame Impala
Dope, sexy. Also kind of funny from a man’s perspective.
3. “Eventually” – Tame Impala
This song is smooth and talks about pain and happiness and honesty.
4. “Heavy Feet” – Local Natives
I dig the vibe on this song hard. It’s very unconventional and has a vibe.
5. “Without” – Sampha
“Without” is one of my favorites. This one speaks to those longing for that someone.