Room Thirteen have the privilege of talking to Ivor Novello winner Scott Matthews in the middle of a run of festival shows.

R13: How did your interest in music begin?
Scott: From any early age because there's always been music in the house, my dad used to be a drummer, music was always being played in the house when me and my brother were kids. We always enjoyed singing along with everything and doing the usual family thing listening to music together. I just fell into playing music naturally, I got a guitar and a keyboard respectively, we just carried on going - me and my brother.

R13: When did you first start to write songs then?
S: Since about 2001, I've been a guitarist since I started off and been in bands for quite a bit but it wasn't until the start of 2001 that I started to write songs and through some melodies together with words.

R13: Congratulations on the Ivor Novello Award, when you wrote the winning song, 'Elusive', did you have any idea of how big it would become?
S: It actually started off as a Strokes-y kind of song - slightly thrashy. I never thought it would do anything at that point, so it wasn't until we got into the studio to record the album and we left this song until the end of the sessions because we didn't know what to do with it and I think it just came from playing the chords on the acoustic in a different way, the producer John Cotton just really liked the idea and it turned out to be the direction that really suited the words. A lot of people do pick up on that songs, but I like to think there's more than the one song going on that people can latch onto as well.

R13: You were up against the Arctic Monkeys, did you get to meet them at the award ceremony?
S: No we didn't get to meet anyone, Cat Stevens and Peter Gabriel and people like that were at the tables next to me; it was amazing to be in the same room as those guys. It was good event and interesting to see all these celebs as well! It was a great thing to win, considering how short into my career it's come as well.

R13: You don't have a celebrity lifestyle yourself then?
S: No, totally un rock n'roll myself, I'm just generally quite dull! I think as long as the music's doing something for somebody it's one of those things where people don't need to see the artist as something special; if I've got his/her CD in the car that's enough really.

R13: What do you think about things like Live Earth then where celebrity musicians are using their status to advance a message?
S: It's quite strange, they planned this event with a subject of global warming, yet it's using god knows how much electricity, so that seems kind of strange. Obviously people should be made aware of these things, but I think there are other ways of doing it - acoustic gigs for instance. I think music is definitely a powerful form of communication and it does a lot more than words can.

R13: Singer/songwriters are often lumped together into one category although their music can be quite different, what do you think of that?
S: I think people can use their own ears to judge what's going on with my music compared to someone else, I don't think there are too many contemporary singers doing bluesy stuff, which my album does and is based on a lot of blues roots. There's nothing really unique about it, but my influence pour from different roots with ehtnic music and tablar drums, there's some latin stuff, so there's a bit of a world music thing going on with different influence from different countries.
I think people have appreciated that, I think a lot of reviewers have struggled to pick holes in the record really, they've been a bit afraid to put it in a bracket like "singer/songwriter", it could come under folk, rock, blues. You like to think that people buy the music for what it is and if they put in a category with someone else who you shouldn't be with, that's just because they're totally thick probably!

R13: Do you have plans for another album already?
S: Yeah, I'm working on new songs when I've got the time really, I'm really pleased with a lot of the new songs and I'm really eager to work on them, just making things different and giving people the chance to hear something completely different from me and disorientating the reviewers even more. It's not quite trance rock or an obscure alienation kind of jazz thing, but I'm just really positive about where I'm going with my music, I'm really excited.

R13: You said that 'Passing Stranger' covers a lot of genres, because you weren't quite sure where to go with the first record, does that mean that the second record will be more focussed on one particular genre or style?
S: I think the next album will have some kind of theme running through it, there'll be a certain mood that I'll be more aware of as well. I think it's important to keep people in a certain frame of mind, musically and lyrically it'll have some kind of bond to it. I won't be pulling in all sorts of directions this time, similar to Tom Waits earlier records which have a certain kind of character, I think I'll be producing records like that in the future, for instance Beck's album, 'Seachange' is completely different to what he usually does, it's just acoustic ambient strings and that album works as you're driving back home somewhere late at night; Willy Mason's new album I'll put on late in the evening as well, whereas someone like Arcade Fire I'll put their album on to get me going in the afternoon or whatever. I think it's important to create a different mood for each record. I also want to make more of a timeless feeling record as well, one that feels quite old like the 50's big band jazz sound with lots of old style recording techniques.

R13: Which do you personally feel were the strongest songs from 'Passing Stranger' then?
S: One of my favourites is towards the end, it's called 'White Feathered Medicine', I just particularly like the mood it's got on it, it's quite haunting and lyrically quite confusing and open to interpretation as well. There's a really great flute part on it as well from Matt Taylor, which really makes the song stick out for me. I kind of like, 'City Headache' as well.

R13: You signed with Island Records rather than continuing to release on your own label, what was the decision process behind that?
S: We still actually act as an independent label, we're licensed to Island Records, so I still basically release what I want and we still make records as an independent label, with the added bonus of a great label like Island Records with an amazing heritage. Being on the same label as Bob Marley, U2, Fairport Convention and Tom Waits and there are some great artists on the label at the moment as well - Amy Winehouse is doing great things. I don't think it matters what label music's being released on; there's been some fantastic records and some real crap that have been produced on major labels.

R13: You've said that live shows are very important to you, do you find it easy to connect with the crowd?
S: I think the live thing is weird, people get a bit shocked as to what's going on as I've got an acoustic guitar and all that rubbish but we've been compared to Sonic Youth at one point - quite heavy and they get a bit shocked when I plug in electric guitars and start doing the Soundgarden thing. I suppose that's because that's the generation I'm from - early 90's - and people first get to hear that live, as you don't on the record and it's definitely the best way of communicating with everybody. I think people appreciate the live thing better than the record sometimes. I just think it's insightful and people can relate to it a lot better at times, although you do get times when it goes down like a lead balloon. I like to get the crowd involved with gigs, especially my own gigs.
R13: How do you cope when it doesn't go so well?
S: You start losing a bit of faith in yourself, but generally it's been great.

R13: How did the shows with Rufus Wainwright come about?
Through our booking agent but I presume that he's camp heard us and I'm ecstatic about the tour, I can't wait. It'll be good to meet him too, he's a bit of an interesting guy.
R13: Is he someone you admire?
S: Totally, he's done some brilliant songs over the years and his live shows are pretty spectacular and he's got a brilliant voice and is a great songwriter.

R13: How do you cope with being on the road then?
S: On the last tour we hired a tour bus but we're all quite normal guys! I tend to watch what I drink because of my voice, there are times when I have a bottle of wine to myself and get quite merry, but we all have our routines on the road. There's a crew of 12 of us and we're accumulated this group of really genuine people that we can really get on with.

R13: What have been the most memorable dates then?
S: They've all been really good, Shepherds Bush in January was really good, it was sold out which was amazing. Foo Fighters last year was great too. We've had some really great gigs and you just keep pinching yourself that you're in this situation really!

R13: Have you had a chance to see any other bands at festivals this year?
S: At Glastonbury we got to see The Young Knives, I was a bit vexed that we didn't get to see Arcade Fire who're my favourite band of the moment, but we might get to see them at Latitude, which is going to be a good one. We played there last year with Jose Gonzalez and Antony and The Johnsons.