How to write 14,000 songs: Mark Mallman interviews Motern Media's Matt Farley
"Hey Mallman, did you hear about the guy who wrote 14,000 songs?" was my first introduction to the music of Motern Media (a.k.a. Matt Farley). Upon a little web surfing I found out about a comedy songwriter who takes up more of real estate on Spotify than anybody else in the world, and pulls down $23,000 annually on the service when most established artists are making pennies.
After laughing myself though instant classics like "Phil Collins Deserves to be Worshiped By All of Us" and "Andrew Bird Flies to Great Musical Heights Always" I had no choice but to track the Massachusetts songwriter down to find out how he can .
Mark Mallman: The thing that strikes anybody I talk with about your stuff, is that technology has allowed you to do something that no one's done in music history before.
Matt Farley: Just from my looking around the internet, I definitely haven't seen it.
How many songs would you say you make per day?
For the piano and vocal songs it'll be about 20 to 40. For the ones that are more involved, I can do 5 to 15 in a day. I can do 100 birthday songs in one day, but takes a lot of will power.
Traditionally, a proper "song," isn't just made up on the spot. There's this notion of a songwriter poring over a song. Like if you don't tear your hair out, it isn't valid.
People might say that what I'm doing is just releasing home made demos as finished, or that since there is so much of it, that it's terrible. But I'm proud of most of my songs. I'll sit down, look at a topic, find some chords, and hit record. I'll go for about 90 seconds, mix it, then on to the next one.
Is there a perspective for some to not see it as legit? It's improv comedy music, yet, jazz improvisation is perceived as highly intellectual.
Yeah. In general, anything that is comedic is going to get a little bit less respect, I don't know why personally. A lot of comedic songwriters are seen to be on the lower tier. But, I think Bob Dylan is also pretty funny. Did you ever see the movie, Ishtar? It's about a couple of idiot songwriters who make very bland songs. I feel like every songwriter at some time feels like those two characters. That movie is wonderfully inspiring. Ishtar is unfairly maligned.
So, are you saying there's a bit of Don Quixote in your vision?
Yeah, like it's a ridiculous misguided quest. "Hey, I'm going to go outside and just sing about my back yard. Isn't it nice?" I also think that musicians are limiting themselves by putting out one album a year. If you spend a month on a song versus a week or a day, what's the difference? Sometimes the instant creativity is better than what you tweak for the next month. That's my theory.
I've played, Unexpected Songs of Joy, and Celebrations of Music Stars by one of your alter egos The Passionate and Objective Jokerfan to a number of fellow professional musicians. Everybody I play it for says "Thumbs way up!" You're singing really funny songs about serious musicians like Miles Davis, Lauryn Hill, and Jack White. Comedy music is rarely very educated.
Yeah, I try to go deep as possible with the songs about music. People like Townes Van Zandt, they make a movie about how tortured he was. When I saw that I watched that I was like, "Man I should get addicted to drugs and ruin my family, it could lead to more sales!" I'm kidding, of course. But record companies know that the more they say Brian Wilson is a tortured genius, the more they are going to sell of Pet Sounds