Feature: Matt Miller – A Look Back At 2016 | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Over the last twelve months, we’ve had our pages filled with some incredible creative souls, we asked a few of them to be kind enough to share some words on a year that the world all went a bit odd. Next up, it’s poet Matt Miller.

So Matt, how was your 2016?
Well it’s all taken off somewhat this year. I got an Arts Council grant for my first solo show Sticking, so I’ve been able to finish making that with my co-creator Peader Kirk, and show it in Durham, Newcastle and Stockton. On a personal level, although I’m still largely funded by the government, it feels like I’m just starting to get over the fact that I’m not a student anymore, which is, I think, a good thing.

What was your best moment?
I did a week’s run on the PBH Free Fringe this summer, with another solo show of mine, in a small, homely back room of The Southsider Pub. I’d pictured performing on the Free Fringe as DIY, intimate and immediate – and it was – it was just what I’d been itching for. For the first show of the run, we got 30-odd people in and packed the room out. We never managed this again, but it was great to have such a busy first show. So that was my best moment. I hope to go back next summer for a full month’s run.

And your worst moment?
A few months ago, on my way to work, I saw a pigeon with a knackered wing. I rang RSPCA and they said they could only pick it up if it was secured in a cardboard box. I went and found one outside the grocers in Gateshead Bus Terminal, came back and tried to catch the pigeon. It hid under a tree and I figured I’d just wait with it for the RSPCA to show up. When it transpired they weren’t coming for a while, I chased the pigeon again and got it in the box, which I tied up with my phone charger and left by the side of the road to be collected. Later that day, the RSPCA rang me to say that it had died. I can’t help but imagine that that pigeon would have thanked me for just leaving it to die on the bit of grass across the road from the bus station where it presumably lived, rather than filling it’s last moments with confusion and terror.

Your favourite band of 2016?
I’ve been listening to Bon Iver’s new album 22, A Million for the last month or two and it growing on me steadily. I loved, still love and will probably always love his first album, but have lost touch since then. Peader re-introduced me to the new album and I’m liking it, and have now been tentatively recovering the middle ground of the stuff I hadn’t listened to in-between. I like the way you can see the use of electronic sounds growing gradually throughout his body of work.

Your favourite song of the year? 
Bowie, Lazarus. Blackstar comes close, and is the song I have in my head as I’m writing, but I loved the cheekiness of Lazarus. Who else gets to write from beyond the grave so consciously, with such a mix of tongue-in-cheek self-reference and cutting poignancy?

Your favourite film? 
This one’s easy. Swiss Army Man, hands down. I think it’s a really important film. Initially introduced to me by my sister as ‘that film trailer where Daniel Radcliffe gets ridden like a speedboat’, I was ready to watch something amusing and ridiculous – and it is. But it’s also so loving, tender and poignant. I think it’s a film that’s crucial in holding a triumphant middle finger up to typical Hollywood ‘boy meets girl’ narratives. It doesn’t seem to take a definite stance one way or another on the sexuality of the characters – rather it just swishes its hand around in the waters a bit, muddies things up, and shows, for me, that sexuality isn’t always that is so definable as much mainstream media would have us believe. As a mid-sexual person, that was heart-warming to see.

What was your favourite gig of the year?
I saw The Libertines on the tour for their new album back in January, in Nottingham. It was in one of these big ice-hockey turned arena venues, and was maybe a little more polished than you’d want The Libertines to be, but it was a good show. Support from Sleaford Mods too, who I like a lot.

And finally, what has 2017 got in store for you?
Hopefully we can get enough bookings to get a fuller tour of Sticking together in the autumn. On top of that, I’m hoping to get another Edinburgh run of a show I’m calling Suzanne Tweddle: (Wild) Life Coach, which I’ll be doing a section of at the Tyneside Irish Centre for PUG on Friday 27th January (more info here). I’m also hoping to put 2016’s Edinburgh show on at Alphabetti, work with Peader again on a new show and start one or two new projects I’ve talking about with friends this year. So if it all comes together, it should be a busy one!

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