The Importance of Self Care
The Importance of Self Care
Nov 4, 2022
Sometimes there are bands, and sometimes there’s a band with an artist who just makes you smile simply because he’s so authentic. Ladies, gents, and non-binary peoples, meet Matthew Schwartz—a man of many, many talents.
I really don’t know where to begin with this guy.
On top of being super humble and very kind, Schwartz is a man of many talents. He’s a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, podcast host, and, if I do say so myself, quite the poet.
He is the band Pacifico, out of Atlanta, Georgia.
If the name sounds somewhat familiar to you, it kind of should. Pacifico formed in 1999 and made some pretty big career marks through the mid-2000s by being lucky enough to have their songs featured in movies (Wish for Christmas), on TV shows (Now What?, Sausage Factory), in video games (“Rock Band Download”), and on the radio.
After seeing some success full of label showcases, touring, and, as Matthew puts it, “a failed attempt to move to California,” the band needed a break and amicably parted ways. That’s when Pacifico the group became Pacifico the one-man band. Mostly. Matthew enjoys collaborating with other musicians on his albums.
“I LOVE to collaborate with people. I think it only helps to make the music better,” says Schwartz. “For the new album, I collaborated with Shane Tutmarc of Dolour, Peter Randall—bass player for Adele, Matt Bowers of House Of Fools, Ben Herrington of Minos The Saint, Matt Tuttle of Codeseven, and the famous producer Aaron Sprinkle.”
I was lucky enough to get to rap with Matthew about Pacifico and his upcoming album, "Self Care".
KB: So, Matthew, was this your dream as a kid, or did it just sort of develop?
MS: Like most kids my dreams changed often. First, I wanted to be in the army, or a police officer, then it was a baseball player. It wasn’t until I was about 14 that I realized I had musical talent and wanted to be a musician. There have been many times in my adult life, though, that I have also considered being a teacher, a comedian, or a writer.
(In a round-about way, Matthew, you are, Dude. You are.)
KB: You’re a multi-instrumentalist. Tell us what instruments you play and what the first one was you learned to play, then what followed.
MS: My first instrument was piano. I used to make up songs and then my parents got me lessons. Trumpet was my second instrument. I played in symphonic and marching band. Then I learned the guitar and never looked back. From there it just grew. I can play a little bit of almost every instrument, but I’m not really great at any of them.
KB: I’ve heard your music. With all due respect, that’s a lie. (laughs) So how’d the name Pacifico originate, anyway?
MS: Joel (friend and former drummer) and I were driving around in his truck trying to think of a cool band name that would represent the music we were creating. We thought about how Radiohead took their name from a Talking Heads’ song and so thought about one of our favorite bands, Starflyer 59. Couldn’t think of a name that related to them that we liked but their drummer had just put out an album by his side project, The Lassie Foundation, called Pacifico. We liked that it meant peaceful and we liked that it made us think of the West Coast and the Pacific, so we took it. We later found out they were inspired by the beer, which we incidentally have been sponsored by before too.
KB: That’s amazing. I understand you have three albums out (“Thin Skin and an Open Heart”, “Without Heroes”, “Everest”) with a fourth on the way. Tell us about these and where you drew your inspiration.
MS: [My fourth album] "Self Care" is due out February 10th, 2023. Each album has been a snapshot of where I was and [is] focused around a central theme. “Thin Skin and an Open Heart” was recorded in CA with one of my heroes, Jason Martin of Starflyer 59. The songs were mostly written around different issues my friends were going through at the time, with some of my life and experiences thrown in. “Without Heroes” is the first Pacifico album I produced and its songs were all centered around the heroes I had in my life, as well as the lack of heroes I was seeing in our world. “Everest” was my attempt to challenge myself and our listeners by creating more complex lyrics and music that was wrapped in confectious melodies in hopes people wouldn’t notice. The new album "Self Care" deals with different ways to look at mental health and self-care from self-motivation, to encouraging others, drawing healthy boundaries, and more.
KB: As an author who openly writes about my own mental health struggles, you don’t know how happy that makes me to hear. Speaking of the upcoming album, aptly titled "Self Care," you went through some shit with this one. I know your soul is in it. Tell us how this album came to be, "and why it's called "Self Care."
MS: It started from an apparent failed attempt to quit music. I was looking through old demos and realizing I had several really great songs and ideas that needed to be finished and released. I came into the beginning of this process thinking this might be my last album. Right before I started this project I had moved back to Georgia and in the process realized I had some trauma I needed to work through, then my eldest brother passed, and we had a pandemic. I decided I needed help, I got a therapist and I guess a lot of my work ended up in this album. When looking through the themes on the album, I thought no other name would aptly sum up what [it’s] about, self-care.
KB: There’s currently a new single out now called “Don’t Play Dead.” Tell me about that.
MS: When compiling the songs for "Self Care," I was going through all my demos and ideas. I came across this chord structure that I liked but previously couldn't create anything with. For some reason, after several tries with no luck, I was finally inspired. At that time, my wife was overcome with anxiety and depression, so much so that she felt defeated and had become immobile. I wanted nothing more than to give her comfort and take away her pain. Writing this song was the least I could do. Just like that, the words and melody came to me and the song basically wrote itself.
KB: What's your intention with "Self Care?" What do you want people to know?
MS: I don’t know if there is an intention per se, but I do want people to know that they matter, and that they are not alone. We all have something going on. Give yourself love and grace, and then extend that same love and grace to others.
KB: It’s heavily apparent your music is not just music. This is you, your thoughts, your feelings, your energy, your emotions. And as listeners, I think people can’t help but feel your emotion and intention behind each song. Even in the way you play your instruments. How has that carried you along the way through any difficult or trying times? I’m sure it has been very cathartic and healing.
MS: You are correct. My music is very much a part of me and the relationship I have had with music and the music business has been nothing less than challenging. It's always very cathartic and healing to finish a song and/or recording but releasing the music is much more complex. When I finally release a song or an album it's like putting your child in a beauty contest. I know I think it's beautiful and without flaws, but it's no longer up to me. It's hard to just let them go and see if people connect and what they think. At that point they are no longer my songs, they are everyone's. The way they come to me, I wonder if they ever were mine to begin with. No matter what, I almost always get some sort of postpartum depression.
KB: I can relate to that for sure. Have you had any major epiphanies that’ve come to you while writing or recording?
MS: Trust your gut, follow your heart, run ideas by people you trust, be open to criticism, never settle for less than you want, and always be open to experimentation and improvising.
KB: I understand you also host a podcast called Moontraveling. What’s that about?
MS: I was lucky enough to become friends with one of my heroes and mentors, [producer] Aaron Sprinkle. It was started as a platform for him to tell stories and talk about all the amazing albums he’s done and although we do talk about those things, it really has become a podcast about music, and life. We talk about anything that affects us both: deconstruction, love, life, our interests, music, friendships, and more.
KB: Any current shows right now? If not, when will you be back on stage?
MS: I just lost my booking agent (if anyone is a booking agent please let me know!). I would love to be on the road! I also don’t currently have a band [to go out and play shows with], so if you are in the Atlanta area and like my music, hit me up. Otherwise, I am working on some sort of album release party in February, and I will be playing some online shows here and there. [People can] follow me on social [media] or sign my mailing list so [they] don’t miss any announcements.
So, my dear readers, now you can go like and follow and sign up for Matthew’s/Pacifico’s mailing list.
Questions or comments?
Rap with Keeley at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Photo cred: Mike Dunn, provided by Matthew Schwartz*