Impose Magazine’s Week in Pop: Gambles
Gambles blew our minds & stole all of our hearts four years back with the moving song & video for “Trust” & returns with a listen from his latest cycle with the charged emotive strums & views from the interior heard on the demo “Bookend” & the new song “Hard Time Livin’”. Born Matthew Daniel Siskin, we discovered his music nearly half a decade back when the rising song-smith/troubadour was working as a creative design director (working with such clients like Beyoncé) who turned heads, opened hearts/ears & minds with the moving debut album Trust. This was the catalyst that presented new creative facets from Siskin that were something outside of his field of design/marketing/branding where intimate & painfully blunt betrayals of compromised relationships & loss sprung to life from the fabrics of the great Americana music quilt that is constantly being expanding, patched, mended/amended & more… From the late nights at Rare Book Room in Greenpoint recording with Nicolas Vernhes, the recent I Can’t Keep Still When It Comes To You EP, an upcoming show at Rough Trade NYC September 16, breaking the world exclusive news to us that Father John Misty is producing Matthew’s forthcoming album—Gambles is closer now than ever before to becoming one of the most ubiquitous household names yet.
The stark simplicity of Gambles’ demo “Bookend” is one of those once upon a time in New York City sort of songs where the sentiment of solitude & candid earnestness shines through all acoustic resonances. The chosen cover for the song illustrates the humble & claustrophobic confines of a dedicated artist’s studio where we see the chair, guitars, the microphone stands, the Vox amp, pedals, MacBook, wolve-skin rug, chords & a well worn & well lived-in wooden floor sets the stage for the hushed hymns of heartbreak & profound feelings that are held close & tight. “Bookends” picks up where “265” left off where the time markers of eras past & gone & how all those previous experiences still hold relevance in personal ways are described through observational lyrical streams and intense closing refrain of “there is no one that compares to your light.” The landmarks & recalled placeholders that punctuate human existence are described through the metaphor of weighted objects meant for the organization of bound literature collections.
Also showcasing a listen of sounds soon to follow, Matthew shared with us the new Gambles’ song “Hard Time Livin’” that pushes some sick of suburbia-subterranean blues & the dull aches & pains of city living. The echo-laden arrangement begins with Siskin striding his way into town with the percussion of a slow galloping mare that returns to the land of city lights after a spell of taking some time away from the hustles & bustles & general madness. Leftover feelings surface as the song progresses with pianos that lead the entire arrangement that paints the hardships encountered when you are no longer equipped with the previously enjoyed familiarity of old stomping grounds. Join us after the following listen for a candid conversation with Gambles’ Matthew Daniel Siskin.
Was revisiting your earlier single & video for “Trust” and was interested in hearing what you have learned about your self as an artist in the four years between then & “Bookend”.
Christ, has it been four years?—I think the most important thing I’ve realized…is that love is a skill you really have to actually, work on—it’s not just something that happens to you, like taking a hit of acid and waiting to see the results. That song “Bookend” I posted is really just a down and dirty sketch that happened late at night—this keeps happening to me—its not really representative of where I’m headed. But, seeing people react to it is a reminder that being honest is more important than anything else. So that’s a good thing.
How would you describe your current approach to song composition? Do you have any preferred rituals or superstitious regiments?
Rituals are dangerous for me, because they slowly become my limitations—or excuses to go do something else…if the black and red rocks are not in a straight line, or if its raining—when I struggle to write these days, I find there’s usually a reason—and that reason is most likely because I’m full of shit. So I just get true and that usually solves it. I’m only writing what I know and what’s true to me, that’s the only way I can get into anything worth anything.
How has the experience of being Beyoncé’s creative director impacted your own artistic vision when it comes to your own work as Gambles?
I have no idea what a “Beyoncé” is—sounds like a cool place to visit. Hi. What? okay! Next question.
Tell us everything we need to know about the upcoming Gambles material.
My friend Josh Tillman (Father John Misty) said he wants to produce the album, so I’m talking to him about that now—I’m neck deep in the writing and stockpiling songs. Its all a back to basics moment for me, songs being the most important thing above all else. I really trust Josh’s musical taste and FJM is probably one of my favorite artists out there—there really isn’t anyone else I could imagine collaborating with, unless Beyoncé calls of course.
What have the recent writing, song sketching & recording sessions been like for you personally?
I don’t have an analyst or regular shrink—but I suppose this process would be a lot like having one of those—except I’m analyzing myself and keeping a regular ego shattering / reinforcing pen written journal daily—I’m sure my kids will enjoy those one day, whenever they get born.
What do you listen to when you’re not necessarily in the creative mode?
I think I’m always in a creative mode, if I’m not writing I’m listening but I don’t know how to passively listen, I’m always taking notes and stealing. But, right now—its a lot of Townes Van Zandt, Father John Misty, and anything Laura Stemmer is kind enough to put on a mixtape.
Prayers & hopes for 2017?
Fall in love and write good songs—maybe the earth somehow magically heals itself and also maybe Trump is a word we never hear again.
Keep your attention piqued for further information about the forthcoming Father John Misty produced Gambles album & listen to more via Soundcloud.
Also check out the Gambles’ website Vicious Times.