words, photos & video by josh yong
- Name – Matthew Dewar
- Based – Sydney, Australia
- Genre – Folk/Indie
- Web – fb.com/direwolfmusicaus
“Hey pal, I love the look of your filmy things,
I need some savvy videos to get some spin happening…”
This was the exact way that Matt Dewar, artist name Direwolf, first introduced himself to me.
In my books, anyone who approaches collaboration with this level of informality is bound to be someone I want to work with. Matt sent through some of his music, and it was definitely a sound that I wanted to learn more about. I let him know when I would next be coming across to Sydney and so we locked in a plan to hang out and work on, quote, “some savvy videos” together.
“Sorry about the messy car mate, I’ve just driven up from Melbourne” – Matt apologises as I jump into the front seat, balancing my gear between guitar cases and travel bags. We were headed to the suburb of Freshwater in North Sydney, just up the road from Manly Beach. Matt had some friends who lived in a big house up those ways and thought it would be a suitable place to work on some videos, and also escape the stormy weather that Sydney had decided to put on for the week.
It was also the place that Matt had previously recorded some of his tracks, so it was a location he was both comfortable with, and also knew sounded good acoustically.
“It’s a super creative household” Matt explains to me as we walk down the driveway, passing a van that has been covered in its entirety in a montage of artwork; a beautifully mismatched collection of words, symbols and figures. We enter the house and the artistic theme is continued into its interior. The entire living room is full of the most amazing pieces of artwork and objects. I’m introduced to a couple of Matt’s friends who live in this place, and it quickly becomes clear that they are the type of people who introduce themselves to you in the form of a hug that instantly makes you feel as if they are some long-lost friend that you never realised you knew. In rapid succession I’m introduced to an artist, a tribal drum leader and a rewilder, which I then go on to learn stems from ‘rewilding’ – the practice of restoring various habitats to its natural state. I’ve barely made it into the house and already I’ve been exposed to some of the most incredible people, stories and experiences, and I’m not sure whether I’m beginning to make more sense, or becoming more perplexed, as to who Matt is and where his artistry comes from.
We head upstairs to the room in which Matt had done some recording, and he immediately heads to the far corner.
“This right here is the spot” Matt proclaims with extreme certainty,
“We tested every part of the room and decided this has the best acoustics.”
I trust completely in his judgement and we set up for our session.
The Direwolf sound is, simply put, beautiful.
It now makes perfect sense why Matt would immediately head for that one spot in that one room to achieve the best sound; his music can be seen to possess that same delicacy and consideration. There’s a primary focus on the story, I quickly gather that, but the way that this story is then told is something else completely. It’s a carefully calculated intersection of melody and tone, and all the nuances in his delivery takes the performance somewhere beyond honesty. It’s a realness that isn’t just being conveyed to the listener, but directly involves the listener. In every take that we do, you can see that it takes Matt a moment to almost bring himself back to the room.
“Not another heartache, //
not another single word to say…”
– Direwold “The Watcher”
Just as we finish filming the sessions, I notice out the window that the sun has managed to pop through the dark storm-clouds that have been hanging above the city for most of the week. I’m not entirely sure whether Matt would be completely keen on the more posed style of portrait shooting, but thought while the light is good we should give it a go. We initially head out onto the balcony and take a few shots, and I notice him warming up to the camera quite nicely, so I suggested we head out onto the street where there was a bit more light to play with.
“Hold up just one sec” Matt suddenly says to me, as he pulls his phone from his pocket and frantically starts scrolling through his music library.
He starts a track playing, it’s Hit that Jive by Gramatik. In time with the beat he starts what is best described as a strut, off the kerb and onto the street. This is followed by the single most unexpected event I have ever encountered while doing this project. Just as the song drops into its groove, Matt starts an exuberant dance, arms flailing and heels clicking. It’s a completely different side to his character that I haven’t seen all afternoon, I did not expect such a sudden departure from the quiet, reserved Matt that I’d been hanging out with so far.
I have to take a moment to process what’s going on, and then I pick up my camera and basically set the shutter going non-stop for the next three minutes…
It was as if throughout the entire day I had been seeing small, seemingly unlinked snippets of who Matt was, where his music and his art stems from, but never quite understanding how it all fit together into the larger picture.
I have reached a certain degree of comprehension, but I think there is still mystery there, and I think that in itself is part of his vibe, and I’m happy to leave that be. But it was rather incredible rapidly getting to know Matt as a person, and Direwolf as an artist.
We wrapped the cameras, put the guitar away and end up chatting about some pretty big topics with a few of the housemates for another couple of hours. These are all people that I have just met, and essentially know nothing about, yet manage to facilitate the discussion of issues, concepts and ideas that you’d struggle to engage in with people that you’ve known for your entire life.
I think ultimately it is this character, both in Matt and in the people he surrounds himself with, that provides the real catalyst in allowing Direwolf to tell his stories with the integrity that I’ve witnessed this evening.
Enjoy – more projects on the way so keep in touch.
Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what you think of the project so far.
– JY x