Just as there is no comedy without tragedy, there is no party without heartache.
The Halifax, NS singer-songwriter’s sixth studio album, Once Upon a Hell of a Time straddles the melodramatic and the melancholy. It tells the story of a man in search of love, coping with loss and looking for something more. The follow-up to JUNO Award-winning Coyote (2012), Once Upon a Hell of a Time making spans five years and a handful of locales; starting with the LA studio once owned by Elliott Smith and with sessions at The Farm Studios in Vancouver, The Sonic Temple in Halifax, The Boiler Room in New York and Breakglass Studios in Montreal along the way. The bulk of the album was recorded with co-producer Loel Campbell (Wintersleep) during an intense two month period in Montreal during the summer of 2016.
“This is a snapshot of four or five years of my life that were pretty wild, and pretty lost, and pretty free – in certain ways – and I kind of felt like I was coming to the end of a bit of a chapter,” says Matt. “It was a fucking wild ride of emotions and late nights and all the feels. Kind of the record I’ve always wanted to make.”
“Ola Volo” was inspired by the work of the celebrated artist and illustrator Matt discovered when he became entranced by a mural she did for a Vancouver bar where he happened to be DJ’ing one night. Matt was later introduced to Ola by Loel Campbell and he asked her to create the album cover for Once Upon a Hell of a Time.
“I was living in Vancouver at the time and was DJing at a bar called The Heatley on the east side. I saw this mural on the wall and it took my breath away. It was behind the bar and took up the whole wall. I asked the manager, “who did this?” and found out it was Ola Volo. I looked up her work and realized how prolific she is. She has a very recognizable, distinct style, and she’s known for doing a lot of huge murals but she also does smaller pieces. Every time you look, she’s got a new piece up online.
Her paintings and her drawings all have a theme that I picked up on, there’s a lot of nature. To me, it’s from another dimension, a very curious dimension that draws me in. Her pieces are very edgy and real-life at the same time. I had this feeling that I’d like to be in one of her paintings, to live in that world that she’s created. I didn’t know her and didn’t want to freak her out by sending her the song. Then she ended up at a Wintersleep show and Loel Campbell from the band and who co-produced my record, played the song for her in the studio one night. She really liked it and it meant a lot to me. We finally got to meet, and we had a really great night getting acquainted over some smoked meat poutine at the Royal in Montreal. She’s the sweetest pie, such an amazing person. I felt really privileged to get to meet her. She burns as bright as the sun. I’m really glad I was DJ’ing that night at that bar, or I wouldn’t have gotten to meet her or see any of her work. Seeing her paintings is therapeutic to me, it’s great.”
Ola Volo (Acoustic) is the first track being released from Matt Mays’ Twice Upon a Hell of a Time which is a track by track ‘unplugged’ version of his 2017 record Once Upon a Hell of a Time. Matt co-produced the new album with award winning producer Eric Ratz.
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