INTERVIEW: Matt Moua and his upcoming EP “Old Songs”!

Matt Moua is a cool dude.. what, you seriously don't know Matt Moua? Yes you do.. he's the axeman behind Cheap Shoes, as well as the talented artist who goes not-so-subtly under the alias of mattmouart, as well as Matt Ratt for his solo work. "Intense" may be the first word that comes to mind when you think of his body of work, but Matt is getting ready to drop an acoustic EP, "Old Songs", though if you knew him, you'd know he was more than equipped to dish out some clean tracks. We caught up with him recently, and here's what he had to say about well, everything!

Photo Credit: Matt Moua

Overall, what would you describe the style of this new EP as? Is it a form of expression away from Cheap Shoes?

These are songs that I made when I was younger, so they're just old songs that I never put out. Genre wise, I think it leans to an alternative side.. maybe a spice of punk, but not too angry. It's not really an expression away from Cheap Shoes, since I've been playing acoustic since before Cheap Shoes. After my old and first band, Stockton City Rats, broke up, I never really got into another band, because everyone that I knew were already in bands, and I wanted to be in a band that wasn't just people who just met-and-play; I wanted it to be a band of my friends, and a lot of my close friends weren't into the punk scene after Stockton City Rats broke up. After that, I decided to just start my own solo stuff.

Photo Credit: Amanda Her

That's cool, though, to revisit the stuff you create before you make other hectic stuff with other people. It's very sincere.. especially old songs.

Yeah, my good friend Julien Gonzales from Pity Party has always pushed me to record my acoustic songs ever since I recorded with him at a mutual friend's house, "The Dungeon". To this day, even, a lot of my friends want me to put out this EP. I get so busy with school and drawings that sometimes I got lost, but I always come back to it, and this time it's gonna be an actual recording. I actually recorded at Daniel Correa's, the guy who runs "This is Stockton Not LA", place! I just banged them out and now he's about done with mixing it. Just a few little tweaks and it'll be ready to be released.

That's really cool! That's something cool about the scene in Stockton/the 209, there's a definite camaraderie, and everyone wants to help everyone.

I've known Julien for well over 8 years, and I met Daniel through Julien when he was still in Get Bent. Julien used to live in a house called the Kingdom.. it used to be the kick-it house/tour crash house. A lot of memories were made there! Jules encouraged me so much to get these songs on an EP. One day he set up some mics and his mixer in the middle of his kitchen to record some originals. It was super fucking rad, I love that dude.

In all, the Stockton scene is really loving and caring, especially if you're in a band or even playing music. Bands like Bloodpig, Knee Deep, Heated, Mike Hawk's Dishonorable Discharge, Pine + Palm, Malaska, Pity Party and all the other bands always show a lot of love for the scene. It makes me happy when I think about how all these bands come from such a small town notorious for being a bad place to live in, but they still can make fucking phenomenal music.

Those are the best setups, just being in the moment and recording music.. it's so raw and visceral, even if that sounds cliché.

Photo Credit: Matt Moua

I love recording just straight through, because it sounds raw, and that's the part of recording that I love. It sounds like you're really there, not over-produced, and is the closest to how you really sound. I think most of us play without the intention of being big; maybe it's a cliché thing to say, but I play music for the love and passion of the music scene here. I saw Tanner (from Pine + Palm) after I played an acoustic set, and he didn't even realize I played acoustic songs. That's why I think it's the right time to put out this solo record. It's always been there, from writing those songs and Jules telling me to record them, and Tanner not knowing I did that kind of music. I was like "I'm finally gonna put it out on Bandcamp". I hope the scene or anyone from the scene likes it.

Dang, that's a good attitude to have.. making the best of the bad and just putting out music in a caring scene.

Living in Stockton has heavily impacted how I live and how the music is brought out of me. Growing up here, a lot of shit has happened, and I put that towards my songs. Being straight-edge has also heavily impacted me as well. I don't go preaching and drawing X's on my hands, but being edge has influenced me a lot through the music scene. I want to give back to the scene naturally.. it's always been so open minded, which I really like a lot. I remember going to my first local show and meeting a lot of my friends.

Photo Credit: Matt Moua

Straight edge culture is a really cool thing! The mental clarity that one must possess is very inspiring, from Minor Threat to now.. avoiding peer pressure and being able to say "no".

Yes, straight edge is one of those things I naturally want to be. I never drank ever, and I still don't to this day. Most of my friends do, but it doesn't bother me, and as long as they respect my decisions, I'll respect theirs. Minor Threat is one of my favorite bands! My best friend showed me them on MySpace.. he posted a YouTube video and was like "Matt, check this band out, they don't drink or smoke, just like you".

Peer pressure has never bothered me, though. I never gave into it. I'm Hmong, and in that culture, drinking is like a masculine thing. Almost everyone who is Hmong drinks like its tradition. I'd get offered some booze and I'd turn it down. I guess it's a sign of disrespect to do that, but for real I was this close to swinging on them. They kept trying to peer pressure me even when I said no. I'd understand if they respected it the first time I declined, but they didn't and it really pissed me off. That's one thing in the Stockton scene: I'm one of the few asians, but in all, the only Hmong person a show. It's nothing to be proud of, but when I'm around Hmong people it's like I'm too Americanized to be around them. It became part of an identity crisis where I said "am I really that different to where I am outcasted?". It made me a better person, but if someone offers me a drink, I'll always turn it down respectfully.

Talk about the EP and stuff now! And where do you see yourself going from here?

Photo Credit: Daniel Correa

On "Old Songs" they're literally old songs that I've written. The songs are pretty much straight to the point I think. I'm not that good at reading or writing, though, so it may look all fucked up. The EP has songs about breaking up with someone and knowing that you'll be okay in the end, questioning what is being a man, a park that my cousin found a dead body at while she was walking home, and some other stuff.

As of the future, I don't really know. I try to balance out the things that I do. I just finished my last hard class, and right now I'm in summer school, but its easy. Im studying to take an entry exam so I can apply to the nursing program in 2018. I draw almost everyday and I'm going to try to make some more solo songs, but for now, I'm focused on Cheap Shoes. There might be a cover EP of old pop girl tunes. I feel like I'm on the right track. I try to do everything I love everyday and I love every second of it. I'm happy where I'm at and I think it'll be like this forever.

Matt Moua is a truly good guy, and he was a pleasure to interview. Check out his new EP, "Old Songs", when it comes out! It'll be almost entirely originals, save for a couple of covers. We'll have the link here and on our social media! His Facebook is here, and his Instagram here!

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