Even if you’re not sure if you know Matt Pond’s music, you know Matt Pond’s music. His song “Snow Day” scored a well-known Starbucks holiday commercial a few years ago — the one with people flying snowflakes as kites — and his music has provided the background to pivotal scenes in movies and TV shows from Vince Vaughn’s Delivery Man to The O.C.
Perhaps it’s crass to explain an artist by the commercials and TV shows they’ve scored. In that case, let me convey the abundance of Matt’s output by telling you that between 1998 and 2017 (the lifespan of his band Matt Pond PA), he released 12 albums and even more EPs. He co-hosted the Radio Kingston show In Dreams, and has an upcoming installation at next month’s O+ Festival. He’s nothing if not prolific.
A native of New Hampshire, Matt came to the Hudson Valley by way of New York City. Prior to NYC he was in Philadelphia, where Matt Pond PA was founded — hence the “PA.” He currently lives in Uptown Kingston, not far from his bandmate and frequent collaborator Chris Hansen, who lives in Midtown.
One of the most gratifying things about running Creative Hudson Valley is sending interview questions into the ether and getting illuminating answers back. Occasionally I’ll interview someone who thinks in the written word, and their answers are pure poetry. I suppose it isn’t surprising, then, that Matt Pond’s answers read like song lyrics. Here they are, for you to enjoy.
Hello! Who are you? Tell us about yourself. What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing?
I live for building music and words out of nothing.
That isn’t exactly true. There were music and words before I was a human being. Therefore, I love building upon the consciousness and foundation of humanity that I stumbled into by being alive. In a certain sense, it’s an incredible collaboration. Especially when people aren’t killing and/or exploiting one another.
How did you discover the Hudson Valley?
Years ago, I attended college in these parts. I’ve lived in Elizaville, Tivoli, Hudson, Bearsville and now Kingston. I guess you could say that I get around.
I love it here. Close to the city and beautifully similar to Upper Valley in New Hampshire.
Walk us through a typical day.
Please allow me to type these words as an out-of-sequence blur. Because that’s how my days mostly feel.
Right now, my elbow is resting my dog’s shoulder. Willa is sleeping, her legs are twitching — dog dreams.
Before this, we were at the dog park covered in mud. Later, we’ll run a few miles together and argue about when we’re supposed to take a breather.
In between, I type on the couch and look at the guitars with suspicion. I pick them up and strum, I write songs to Willa that I intentionally forget. I sometimes get a piece of gold and dig deeper.
Above anything, I like words. I like reading a well-worded email, I like responding with the same fire. I like trying to unearth visions of worlds beside our world where everyone has a secret worth unearthing. Nothing about money, nothing about fame — only thoughts leading to more questions than answers. (I might not always be the most fun person at the party.)
Where are your favorite places to spend time in the Hudson Valley?
Awosting Lake is El Supremo. But really, hiking any and all the Catskills is a dream.
Do you have a go-to coffee or beer order, and from where?
I love Murray’s in Tivoli for Americanos. I love Stockade Bar for an Old Fashioned. Outdated for lunch, Duo for dinner. Oblong is where I find the words to get lost. Upstate Films are for the corresponding moving images.
Where do you do your best creative work?
I’m looking for that answer, as well. Sometimes it’s typing in bed. Sometimes it’s right here, with my arm on the dog. But it’s not a given. And whenever it’s easy, I don’t remember it happening or where or how. Creativity is a sneaky beast.
How has the Hudson Valley influenced or impacted your creative work?
It’s the wire that runs from the past to here. Familiar, yet contrasting. I still keep beer cold in the calm shallows while swimming. But it’s not an Old Milwaukee tallboy anymore.
Just look out the window at these brilliant, late summer days. The infinite shades of green, the blinding blue sky. I’m not worthy of this ridiculous majesty.
What’s surprised you most about living and working in the Hudson Valley?
I don’t know. Maybe it’s that I’m still alive? Maybe that I’m alive in the first place?
I thought I was going to be a history professor with a wingback chair in some strange midwestern town. Elbow patches, chuckling, reasonable, easy.
Everything is a surprise to me.
Are you part of any local groups or communities you’d like to mention?
My groups are generally small, elite squads of like minded individuals. We forget all the secret handshakes and prefer to dance through our disputes.
I do believe Radio Kingston is doing some amazing things for the city. We had a radio show that was too time intensive to maintain. But they were incredibly supportive and we’re always looking to join that gang again with a simpler plan.
Anything you want to plug or promote?
We’re building an installation for the O+ Festival in October called An Orchestrated Impulse. We’re scoring 12 paintings with 12 pieces of music in 12 keys. The paintings were painted to the building score, then the music counters. All 12 paintings will be shown with the looping pieces of music. It’s an appeal to be immersed in something beyond the electronic world. It’s an appeal to listen and be heard — in real person.
We’re also starting a new band, releasing music as a collaboration that stretches much further than my freckled arms.
For the uninitiated, here are three of my favorite Matt Pond tracks. First, the song Still Summer from its eponymous album:
And, from the same album, the song A Spark:
And finally, the song Specks from the album The Dark Leaves: