Weird Ones

Weird Ones

By Matt Holubowski’s own admission, he’s not a very weird guy on the surface. “I’m just a normal, polite dude who was raised well by good parents,” the Montreal singer-songwriter tells Apple Music. However, as an artist, he’s always been drawn to the great eccentrics—Bowie, Dylan, Waits—and his 2016 breakthrough, Solitudes, hinted at a more adventurous spirit lurking within his folk-song formalism. Now, on his third album, he’s embracing his inner outsider more fervently. “When I started to do music, I was always kind of upset that I wasn’t as fucked up as [those aforementioned artists] were,” he says, “but at the end of the day, I felt there was something weird about the way I thought about things or see the world. So Weird Ones is kind of my consolation to myself and to all the others out there who appreciate difference, but don’t necessarily exteriorize it.” Like its predecessor, Weird Ones' deceptively earthbound songcraft belies Holubowski’s grand ambitions, but this time out, he’s much more willing to surrender to his idiosyncratic side. “Thoroughfare” begins as a pastoral romantic serenade before gradually veering into darker terrain without warning, while the solitary introspection of “Down the Rabbit Hole” builds into a disorienting swirl of strings. “This record is about traversing through a really intense, fascinating, tumultuous period of my life,” Holubowski says, “and then waking up one day, in the calm after the storm, and looking back on it and wondering which parts of it were real and which parts weren't.” Here’s his track-by-track guide to help you make sense of it all. Weird Ones “I live the next street over from Leonard Cohen’s house, and so I walked by it literally every day. His house is right in front of the Parc du Portugal on Saint-Laurent, so I sing: ‘I walk by Leonard’s house and wonder/And I lay low for hours to feel the glow of Portugal.’ A lot of these songs came from just me sitting in that park with a cup of coffee and a pen and pad. It was a bit of a haven. But the fact that Leonard’s house was just over my shoulder is more of a coincidence—though I've always loved his music, I didn't go there specifically because he was there.” Two Paper Moons “This song was kind of the genesis of me wanting the record to be something a little more surrealist. At the time, I was reading [Haruki] Murakami's 1Q84, and there's this theme in there about this whole [parallel] world being the same as ours, but only a little bit different—and in this case, it’s different because it has two moons. There’s a romantic aspect to the song, but it's more about the dichotomy between playful, blissful ignorance and the darker side of reality. It’s kind of inspired by being on tour a lot and always being in a situation where you’re drinking and there's always a party going on. And at a certain point, you’re like, ‘I don't want to go to this party, I don't want to drink anymore because I'm not feeling super good.’ But when you’re feeling great again, you just end up drinking more. It creates a vicious cycle.” Thoroughfare “This started off as kind of a love song, actually, because that was a topic I had refused to engage in for a really long time. But then it became impossible for me not to address it, because I was going through this pretty shitty breakup. And so I saw this song as like a flashback—I had this image of a beautiful girl walking through a passageway and I’m following her, and I imagined it being a little bit dreamlike. But then you get to the chorus and the dream dissolves into more of a nightmarish state, and there's this realization that the dream has faded away.” Around Here “This song is about a specific place that I’ve gone to every couple of months for the last 10 or 15 years in my life. It's this little spot on top of a mountain near my old high school that I always went to with my friends whenever we had a crisis or had a big life change or decision to make—we would go there and discuss it. And usually, by the time we walk down, we've resolved the issue. So no matter what happens, this place is a bit of a haven. I tend to talk about a lot of darker stuff, and this song is a bit of a lighter one—it's about a place where I find peace.” Down the Rabbit Hole “It's about the weird feeling of being on a stage and having lots of people there listening to every word that you say and every note that you play, and being on this heightened plane. It's such a beautiful feeling of elation, but it only lasts an hour and a half or so. And then the next image is one of me back at home after the show, doing my laundry by myself. That contrast is really interesting to go through—you're living these different kinds of realities.” The Highlands “I did my whole background in political science, and I’ve always written pretty rationally about very specific, concrete topics, and I was craving something a little more ethereal and fictional—a narrative that didn’t necessarily involve me, per se. So this was my first foray into something a little more fantasy-based. I was reading a bunch of Icelandic mythology and Nordic literature when I wrote it.” Weird Ones II “That line—‘It's been a strange day, but I wouldn't want it any other way’—is the theme of the album in a nutshell. We tried to do five or six different versions of ‘Weird Ones’ and decided to put the two I liked the most on the record.” Eyes Wider “This song is about forgiveness. I tend to be really, really difficult on myself. I just try to do the best that I can in every situation, but sometimes you screw up, and sometimes it's your fault, and sometimes there's nothing you can do about it. But in all of these situations, I had to come to a place where I needed to forgive myself for my failings. Every time I perform this one, it's kind of a gentle reminder to not be so hard on myself. There's no time to dwell on these things—you just need to move on and learn from your mistakes.” Greener “I hear a lot of comments like, ‘Wow, you're so lucky that you get to do this.’ And to be sure, I'm so fortunate to have people interested in what I'm doing, and I don't take it for granted! But there are some days when you're just like, ‘I really don’t want to be doing this right now. I want to curl up in a ball.’ You just want to call in sick, except that you can't call in sick, because 300 people have bought tickets to your show tonight. And then if you complain, people are quick to remind you of how lucky you are to be in that situation in the first place. So you’re in this position where sometimes you just want to be like anybody else and have the opportunity to just disappear for a minute.” Moon Rising “This one started out as a bit of a joke at first…there was this point of contention with my ex-girlfriend about how I would always have to schedule time with her, because my calendar was just so packed. In order for me to make time for her, I would have to pencil her in—which is a bit of a drab thing to do with somebody that you love. It became a point of frustration whenever we'd be like, ‘When are we hanging out next?’ and I'd have to pull out my phone and look at my schedule and be like, ‘Okay, I have two hours here, and one hour there…’ It grew to be a symbol of pain and difficulty in that relationship, so I wanted to create this image where I just burn the calendar down. At a certain point for a while, I stopped using a calendar, and everything just went to shit, because you need a calendar!” Mellifluous Flowers “This song's a bit of a tough one—it’s as dark as I’ve ever been, and hopefully as dark as I’ll ever go. It’s about these two sides of myself: I can be this really extroverted, happy-go-lucky, fun person who loves being with people, but then there’s another side of me that is more morose and introspective and that needs to be on my own. And I was thinking about how, in times where I was feeling particularly good, I was having a difficult time writing music because a lot of my music tended to come from the more morose part of me and the happier part of me just didn't feel the need to express themselves in songs. So I started to worry that if I'm too happy, then maybe I won't be able to write songs anymore. But then I realized that this morose side of me is kind of here to stay, and that line ‘I guess I'll hold onto my mellifluous flowers’ is about accepting it.” Love, the Impossible Ghost “I actually wrote this and 'Melliflous Flowers' at the same time last year. I had finished my tour and I was just so burnt out, so I rented an apartment in Kraków, Poland, for two months and just sat there and wrote tunes, and these two came out from that period of time. My family's from Poland, and there's this kind of resilience in the air there, and for me, these last two songs are symbols of resilience—of taking back control of your life and doing it in a way that is peaceful. I wanted to induce a bit of a dreamlike state where you kind of forget that you’re listening to the song and you’re just in the clouds and forgetting about what you’re doing in that moment. It’s very meditative. You know, this is a challenging record in some places, and so at the end, I wanted to give you something simple and peaceful.”

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