Hailing from The City of a Hundred Steeples, or Montreal, indie pop songwriter and visual artist Townes is set to drop his new EP and coinciding short film, Ghostwriters, this Friday, November 10th.
The collection of songs and film tells the story of two songwriters who have been kidnapped and forced to write a comeback single for a disgraced pop star in the midst of a public scandal.
This fun and ambitious project blends Townes’ aka Matt Radich’s songs and cinematic vision in a captivating package, with his vivid and humorous songwriting leading the way. It embodies his message that success in the modern music industry should be measured by the satisfaction one gets through creating art, not through sales or streams.
Townes has released several home-recorded EPs and has focused on his live performances, and his unique sound floats between indie pop and New Wave energy, driven by influences like Beck, Diamond Rings, and Hot Chips.
Ghostwriters serves to encapsulate the strengths in Townes’ music, whether it be his self-deprecating humor, tactful and nostalgic production, or his imagery-laden songwriting.
We got to chat with Townes about the upcoming release, his adoration of Nicolas Cage, what’s to come, and more.
So how has 2023 treated you? Any notable highlights?
2023 has been great. The biggest highlight had to be screening Ghostwriters, my upcoming EP/short film at Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal. As a musician, I definitely haven’t been at many film industry events, so it was cool to be part of that. Imposter syndrome was working overtime. I got to chat music and film with so many like minded artists over the course of the festival, it was truly an amazing experience.
Can you talk about your process in deciding to make a concept EP and short film together?
I wanted to make a project that could have a life outside of being a single on streaming services. Initially I thought I would make a screenplay that would go along with an EP, but after some thought, I realized that it would be an ambitious project worth actually making. I had already made several music videos with director Nicholas Wandel, and we saw this project as an opportunity to create something truly one-of-a-kind. We hadn’t heard of any short films, EPs, or music videos that were really like this, which made it very exciting.
What are the common themes and threads throughout?
The first half of the record is all double-entendre songs that can be interpreted as love songs or songs that are literally about being kidnapped. They’re implied to have been written by the characters in the film. Towards the end of the EP, the theme changes to be about the challenges of creating art in the streaming-era and finding contentment in creating music, regardless of commercial viability.
How might your songwriting/creative process differ from a more standard project?
For this project, I had the entire story in mind from front to back when I was writing the music. It helped the music become fully formed because I knew which beats I wanted to hit story-wise for each song. Normally, I would write singles on their own without seeing them as part of a big picture, but this time it was great to have each song serve a specific purpose in telling the story.
The music was all written first along with a general story, once the music was done, Nicholas and I worked on turning my story into a working screenplay. From there, pre-production started by looking for locations, cast, and anything else I needed to well-verse myself in before making a short film.
What has been the most rewarding—or perhaps the most fun—part of creating this project?
The most fun part of the project was definitely being on set each day for about three weeks. There was so much that could have gone wrong, but after each day we were in shock by how well everything went. Everyone who worked on the film was stoked to be part of it, and it was so much fun to share that excitement with them. There’s a special moment in creating something where only you know about it, it’s your secret, and that’s my favorite part.
What do you hope people get out of listening to this music and watching the short film? Is there a particular message you’re looking to share?
The most important intent behind the record and film is that people have fun with it. Nicholas Wandel and I have set out to create something truly unique, so we hope that viewers and listeners see the value in that. The overall message of the project is that success in the music industry is something that should be measured not by streams, views, or sales, but rather the satisfaction of creating the art itself.
What does success as a musician and artist mean to you?
I struggle with the meaning of success as a musician. Although I’ve said earlier that the theme of the film is about creating a different definition of success, I’m not the best at listening to my own advice. It’s hard to put a ton of effort into something and not know if it’ll be seen by anyone. However, whenever I watch this film back with someone who hasn’t seen it, it feels like such a success and it feels brand new all over again. Sometimes I just have to remind myself that hard work is worth celebrating.
If you could tour with any modern day artist, who would it be and why?
Right now I’d say Baxter Dury, because I love how he incorporates humor into his indie rock music. I also really want to see him play live and I don’t think he’s ever played in North America, so I’m a bit selfish with this dream.
Okay so we also saw where you’re “one of Nicolas Cage’s only genuine fans.” Can you elaborate your feelings on him and how he might inspire you? And please list your Top 3 Nick Cage movies.
Nicolas Cage is a singular artist. There has never been another Nicolas Cage and there will never be. He feels like a true movie star in that way. I’m not sure I’d say my work is directly inspired by him, but he is unique, which is something I prioritize when creating music.
What are some of your goals—musically or otherwise—following Ghostwriters? Where do you hope to go from here?
I would love to play shows all over the place one day. I know I have a unique one-man live show, so it would be great to get it to more cities. For new music, I would love to work with guest vocalists down the line. I’ve always wondered what kind of songs I could write if I was writing them for a different voice. Maybe something disco-infused next.