Matt Okine, stand-up comedian, actor, musician, radio host. You’re doing everything we cover at Crtive. Is there anything I’ve missed?
Someone approached me recently about writing a teen novel. That idea had never entered my mind before. They sort of said “we don’t know whether it’d be good but if you think you can write, then give it a go and we’ll support you through it”. I think it’s definitely a possibility in the future, the only problem is that I don’t really have time at the moment.
I can’t draw, I’m terrible at drawing and terrible at painting. I spend a lot of my time making art, but actual physical visual art, I couldn’t be worse at.
I guess, first and foremost, how do you manage so many different projects?
I end up focussing on the one that’s least important, purely because when you’ve got a deadline to meet you seem to find other things to do. It’ll be opening night of my comedy show and I know that I should be refining it and making it the best show I possibly can but all of a sudden some really sweet rap lyrics will pop into my head and I’ll start writing a song.
I’ve learnt to give myself personal deadlines and really do my best to stick with them so I can focus on the one thing whole heartedly before moving onto the next project. Right now, the focus is on my comedy show with the Melbourne Comedy Festival coming up. It’s a really big show and big part of my career. Once that’s done I’ll start doing as much live music as possible.
At the end of the day though, I just do whatever I want to, whenever it pops into my head. It’s difficult to tell your brain not to come up with jokes, if it’s coming up with jokes. There’s no point ruining that, I’ve got to make the most of it when it’s there. My whole life has sort of revolved around creating stuff. There’s not really a switch I’m just thinking creatively all the time (when I’m not drinking with friends).
Where do you find the passion for all these different avenues of creativity?
There’s two people, there’s consumers and then there’s producers and as a kid, I liked and enjoyed consuming it all. Then came a stage in my life after my mum died when I realised I was consuming all this creative stuff; music, movies, tv and there was nothing stopping me from producing it.
If you make the things that you like, you start to enjoy it the most out of everything you’re consuming. When I was 12 years old, I decided I was going to focus on making stuff. Now I don’t really consume much, I don’t watch tv or movies, and I only listen to a little bit of music while at work. I’ve started dedicated my time on producing rather than consuming.
Melbourne Comedy Festival. You’re playing there obviously, but are there any other shows we should all go see?
Along with my show Matt Okine – The Other Guy Solo Tour, I’m also doing a hip-hop karaoke night which should be awesome. In terms of other shows, you can never go wrong with people like Ronny Cheing, Celia Pacquola, Ann Edmonds, Michael Che, a guy from New York is really good, and also Josie Long’s hilarious. The thing about Melbourne is there’s 400+ different shows in that one month, so it’s hard to pick. The cream always rises to the top though, so you find out what’s good in the first week or so.
You released your DVD, Matt Okine: Being Black n Chicken n Shit, a couple of years back. Can we expect something similar in The Other Guy Solo Tour?
I like telling stories in my shows, getting a bit real and I like linking things back to the stories. I’ll talk about dumb shit like ‘fancy buying expensive bread’ or ‘racist people on buses’.
My first show was all about my mum dying, the second show was Broken Diamond House, which was all about the perceptions of money and class. The third show was about happiness and depression and this 4th show is all about relationships and infidelity. The dumbass bread jokes definitely link back to the overall story in the show.
As some might know, you’re apart of the Boilermakers, want to tell us a little about that?
I’ve been making music since I was in high school, it’s gone through so many different incarnations. I wanted to be like John Mayer, then I wanted to be like Hilltop Hoods.
I go under Disco-Matt, my friend is Dinnertime Duke, and together we’re the Boilermakers. For the last 10 years we’ve sort of been tinkering with music and we weren’t taking it seriously. But it’s at the stage now, where I’d like to become a little more serious because I have faith in my abilities. If you’re doubting yourself, people look at you and think “well if you don’t have faith in it, why should I?”.
I guess 2015 is the year for me to try and brush of any self-consciousness and put some stuff out there. I just keep going back to that idea that if I were to die tomorrow, would I be glad that some dickhead didn’t have the chance to tell me my music was shit over a YouTube comment? or would I be happy knowing I put stuff out there, regardless of whether it got criticised or not? I really just want to commit to everything I can, as much as I can.
You dropped a track hinting at the kind of sound we can expect in the next Boilermakers EP. What’s the story behind Full Cups?
I really like having strings on my tracks. I call myself hip-hop because that’s the easiest genre to put it into but my sound is also pretty poppy. The thing I’m working on now is making it sound original and sound like me, I don’t want it to sound like someone else. I’m trying to be as honest as possible with my lyrics.
I’m in a situation now where I’m meeting all these people that I used to admire from a-far, whether they be a musician, actor or what not. Full Cups is all about falling for someone that’s in that position and the foolish things you do along the way to try and get to them. Julia Stone features on the voice message in the song and she’s someone I had a crush on, in that sense, thankfully we’re friends and she was really nice and helped me out by putting her voice on something she hadn’t heard and thankfully she had some faith in me.
We like to hear interesting stories, do you have any to share?
I’ve been a massive fan of Hilltop Hoods since like forever. I realised they added me on Instagram a few months back after an interview. I made the mistake of getting into this habit when I was wasted on a Saturday night, I would direct message them. Luckily, Suffa (Matt Lambert) was running the account and instead of getting annoyed with it he thought it was pretty funny.
He decided, kindly enough, to buy tickets to my show when I was performing in Adelaide. Him, his wife Carlie and myself all went out after the show. It was a massive trip out… You love these dudes and really respect their work and then all of a sudden you’re having beers with them and there’s fans coming up introducing themselves to us. The night ended up getting pretty out of hand, he messaged me in the morning saying he went home and vomited. He almost missed his flight to Future Music, I could’ve possibly ruined Future Music for the Brisbane crowd just because of some antics the night before. You never know where a drunk message leads to [laughs], people say you’ll regret it but I have no regrets.
Matt, let’s break up this interview for a bit of fun… Superman or Spiderman? Fried Rice or Stir-fry? Facebook or Twitter? Books or movies?
Spiderman. I want fried rice but I know stir-fry is probably better for me. Instagram because I don’t like either of them. Movies.
You of course also act, do you have any acting gigs coming up that you can tell us about?
There’s not really any acting stuff coming up. It’s sort of a weird one. I do sketch shows and that sort of thing but when I graduated, I wanted to get into serious acting. I had a few guest roles on All Saints, Sea Patrol and Neighbours but it’s really difficult to find the time.
My agent contacted me about a possible role in Pirates of The Caribbean recently, they were in the last stage of shooting and were looking at me for a role. I would’ve had to be on the boat at 6am off the Gold Coast every morning instead of in the studio and there was no way I could’ve done both. It sucks that we couldn’t work it out because 1. How rad would it be appearing in Pirates of The Caribbean 5? 2. It would’ve been worth a shit load of money and 3. I’ve never dressed up as a pirate before. Thats the problem with getting a guaranteed reliable job, one that’s set in stone. All of a sudden different opportunities pop up and you miss out on them all.
Along with your stand-up, producing and acting you’re one half of breakfast duo Matt + Alex on Triple J. Was there something specific that made you go “I want to be on Triple J”?
No never. I mean I used to listen to Triple J as a kid and in a dream world anyone would love to be on the Triple J breakfast show, it’s like the best radio job in the country in my eyes. As I got older it was a ship that had sailed and there was no point thinking I could get a job like that.
All of a sudden, I’m in Edinburgh receiving an award and I got this call from my now boss Ollie Wards who said “hey look what are you doing? Something has come up”. I didn’t know what to think until someone told me that Tom had left the show and they were looking for a replacement. Radio was never a long term goal for me, I never saw it until the opportunity came up and now that it’s here I honestly can’t be more thankful that I was given the chance and that I took it.
Do you have a few words for young people wanting to make it into any stream of creativity?
The main thing is make what you like and commit to everything. I think people really connect to honesty and they respect it, so everything I make I try to be as open and honest as possible. Again, I think would life be any better if I died knowing that people didn’t know that about me and I always think that “probably not”. Once you’re dead, you’re dead and that doesn’t matter.
So be honest, commit and be in it to win it. No one’s out to get you, no one wants you to fail, everyone wants you to do well, you’ve just got to stick with it. Too many people quit because they’re not famous after a year.
Have you got anything planned over the coming months?
I’ve got the comedy tour happening at the moment and tickets and details are on my website. Other than that, I’ve got the Boilermakers EP coming out and I’m super excited about it and super proud of it.
Thanks heaps Matt. I’ll see you at the Comedy Festival.
For sure man, I’ll talk to you soon. Poice.