“Don’t put too much stock in what strangers say about you”
Don’t put too much stock in what strangers say about you. Make art you love, not art you think people want to hear . Be yourself, there is only one you. Work harder than everyone else . Practice every single day on your craft, writing, melodies and performance.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Matthew Birch of Our Violet Room.
A deep love of movie scores and the composers that made them alongside an admiration and passion for folk music is the base of the music that Birch creates under the moniker Our Violet Room. An “indie singer-songwriter with a cinematic twist”, Birch got his musical start in 2018 by playing SoFar Sound shows — first in Denver but soon all over the world. A humble story of overcoming depression, working hard, and diving headfirst into his dream, Birch only has one goal…. to make thoughtful, well-made, emotional art that inspires his listeners and causes them to feel. His music has been compared to the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, and Coldplay for its lush atmosphere, emotional lyrics, and cinematic arrangements and has quickly launched his music career with two songs featured on FreeForm’s Good Trouble series and two songs featured in a Magnolia feature film. “Making movie scores has been a dream of mine and to look at each song as a little movie score has been a great way of creating,” says Birch. Thus far in his career, Birch has released two EPs — Our Violet Room and the live EP Loss and Death in Winter — alongside a handful of singles. Mixing folk and cinematic soundscapes seem to be working for the emerging artist as his songs have a combined 37K+ streams. “ I don’t go for cool or hip, I go for what moves me.”
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in Los Angeles county also known as the Valley in Southern California.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Honestly, it was from watching my favorite movies and tv shows and hearing perfect music for the perfect scene. Once I realized how powerful music was, I wanted to be one of those people who created it. Causing people to have an emotional reaction to something you have created is one of my greatest drives.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I started music later in life, after a tough divorce and after a lot of medical issues so it was a huge step to go after this dream. However, things happened fairly quickly for me that first year and that gave me the encouragement to know I was indeed doing the right things. For example, at my second open mic ever, there was a concert promoter at the bar getting a drink. They heard me playing and within a week I was playing my first booked proper show! Soon after that an actress, that shall remain anonymous, heard my music and gave my songs to a Licensing company. I was signed the next day and soon after had my song “Cradle To The Grave” playing on Good Trouble during an important scene for two minutes straight. I know compared to many this is small beans, but to me, it was a dream come true.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Sadly, I don’t have anything good for you, just the normal forgetting the lyrics during a performance thing.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m releasing my first proper single “Winter” tomorrow August 20th. I’m playing my first show back since covid with Sofar sounds here in Denver this weekend and next with a full band and string section. “Winter” just got picked up for a TV show and will be on TV next week, and I’m now working with my first press team as I release some singles that lead up to my new album, Not Where I Thought I’d Be, which comes out this Fall. I’m taking this release seriously because I believe with all my heart that if it gets heard, it will be special for the folks that hear it. As in, I hope it will move them.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
The world is full of diversity. The world is full of different cultures. To not represent those truths through the arts is to lie about the world we live in. The arts need to be a mirror of our world.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
These are five things that I share with others when they ask. I hope they help!
- Don’t put too much stock in what strangers say about you.
- Make art you love, not art you think people want to hear .
- Be yourself, there is only one you.
- Work harder than everyone else .
- Practice every single day on your craft, writing, melodies and performance.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Make art true to yourself! That way you don’t have to fake who you are. You want people to love you for the truth of you, not for some fake version of yourself.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I want to be an artist who supports and loves other artists. I’m so tired of the “contest” mentality. If my influence is anything, I want to be known as an encourager and helper of the arts. I truly want there to be more love and kindness in the arts and less competition.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My mom, dad and grams. Without them, I would be lost. My life has been hard and they have been the brightest lights and greatest encouragement. They are behind this music dream 100 percent.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Honestly, as I’ve mentioned above, “create art true to who you are. There is only one you and you have the opportunity to create something amazingly unique.”
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Bon Iver aka Justin Vernon
How can our readers follow you online?
OurVioletRoom on Spotify or Instagram. I’ve recently created a Facebook page and Twitter page, but those are brand new. All my fans know that Instagram is the best way to follow me. So, Instagram or Spotify it is.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Ditto! Thanks for the great questions.