Northcote is the performance moniker for Victoria-based singer-songwriter Matthew Goud. A troubadour at heart, Goud has been writing songs and touring the world for most of his adult life. With three full-length projects, two EPs, and more than 500 shows performed globally alongside some of the heavyweights of his genre, Goud’s is a familiar voice to many in the community. The latest iteration of Northcote, one that finds his signature raspy-sweet voice effortlessly laid over a beautifully blended landscape of folk and Americana, draws inspiration from two years of self-reflection and exploration. The forthcoming collection of songs, Let Me Roar are the most personal and affecting of his career to date.
In an effort to let the world know a bit more about this Canadian musician and his new music, DittyTV Senior Editor Tim W. Jackson got in touch with Goud for a 5 Questions segment.
1) Having lived in Seattle for a couple years, I was fortunate enough to take a handful of trips to Vancouver Island, and I love it up there. So let’s start by telling us what it’s been like living in Victoria, and what’s the music scene like there?
My spouse and I are very blessed here in Victoria. We rent an apartment near to downtown and near Beacon Hill Park and the ocean. We have lived in a few different spots around town but mostly staying down by the water. I grew up in rural Saskatchewan and she is from Yellowknife, NT, up north, so for us the nearness of the ocean is special and still amazes me when I go down there at night or early in the morning. I do often miss the open fields of home and the summer sky colors and storms. Here in a Victoria the sun sets over the suburb town of Colwood when we are down by the water and there is often an orange and pink color, which is very special.
I think it takes me a long time to adjust to change. At the same time we have moved around a lot over the last 10 years. Over the past three years or so, I’ve found a sense of community through my day job being a mental health worker. As an artist new to town, at first I was quite shy and still at arms length a bit with the music scene. I’m not sure why that is. I am probably being stubborn or else I long to hang out with artists from home who have similar roots to me perhaps. Having said that, I have made friends with some wonderful artistic and eccentric types here in Victoria: songwriters, music teachers, videographers, and counselors who work in artistic methods.
Over the last few years, I have come to appreciate the underground scene here and its eclectic nature. There was a place for a while called the Copper Owl, which was about 100 capacity and hosted experimental art performances, indie bands, groups whose performance included visual components, world music, and electronic scenes. The other spot is the curiosity shop on Douglas Street. I’ve seen some metal, grunge, thrash stuff at that place. There is a low ceiling where the stage is and the small room is filled with collectables from the curiosity shop. I like to see the bands Gush and Shallow End at this spot.
My sister’s partner promotes works with college radio here in Victoria and promotes a concert series that is unique. Last year there were bands playing up on the top of a parkade with the mountains and sunset in the distance. He also does hardcore shows around town from time to time. My favorite that I saw was a hardcore band from Denver. I’m kicking myself I can’t remember the name.
2) I’m always interested in what musicians do with the rest of their lives, and I know that you are a musician and a social worker. What can you tell me about the social work aspect of your life?
I am working for an organization that operates shelters and housing projects using a harm reduction model. To me that means folks are not required to be abstinent from drugs to secure housing. They also operate a safe injection site that is a safe place for folks to connect, check in, and use with peers and staff around for support. This job provides me with income and a connection to the community that I didn’t have when I was only working as a musician.
There was a period of time when I was quite a loner, and I still am that way sometimes. I am at my best when I am working well with others and listening and following along. I have had many jobs over the years that I have enjoyed to different degrees. This current job as a mental health worker has been a good experience for me because the job aligns with my values—that everyone deserves a home, dignity, privacy, and access to health care. When I was painting houses I worked hard and was proud when we did a good job. I am looking for balance in life between work and writing and singing. This balance is often on my mind because I am obsessed with songwriting and have been since I was 13. I know this answer might be annoying, I still think it’s important that if you have access to go and get educated that one should take the chance. I dropped out of religious college and haven’t gone back yet and think about that a lot. Maybe a return to education is in my future. Thank you for the question.
3) Let’s talk about your upcoming album. Let Me Roar releases on Oct. 23. This album was written after some challenging times for you, and now here we are in some challenging times for all of us. What messages on this album do you think will resonate with your listeners?
For me, these days the record brings up the memories from the studio. Mike, Stephen, Eric, and I went to Gabriola Island and stayed in the cabin behind the studio for 10 days or so. We made meals together and shared stories and worked on the songs, and I found the experience to be a safe place to land. I was able to open up and sing the songs. We practiced each song for a couple hours then tracked it. So each song got a good focus time with us all together. We also did things like read together and watch corny movies and hockey. My hope today is that the record portrays some of that feeling of safety, sharing, friendship, and solitude. The record can be whatever others want it to be, and I am OK with that. Even for me during the process the record has shifted meaning from time to time, and I embrace that.
4) I know you’ve been doing very regular live stream concerts. What can you tell us about that, and what other plans do you have to promote the record in October and beyond?
During the pandemic time I have been doing an online show each Thursday. On the show I share songs and stories and, from time to time, have had guests on for a conversation. The show has been helpful for me to stay connected with my work during the virus time and also I have enjoyed the messages from folks at the show. In that way I feel connected in a more genuine way than simple advertisements for my work. I have had some bumps along the way and not always sang well. On the other hand I have had memorable correspondence with folks who have helped me through the virus time to feel centered.
Besides the open mic live show, we are working on additional video pieces to go along with the album release. We have done a video feature for “Nine to Midnight” and are working on a few others. I’d like to get the band involved sometime soon to show the songs. That is another showcase I’d like to work out soon depending on timing, cost, and virus concerns.
5) I hate to look too far forward with your music as Let Me Roar hasn’t released yet, but I know most of those songs were written quite a while back. So how has your writing been going throughout 2020, and what will your next musical project look like?
Thanks for asking. I have found this year to be a time of growth for me in my writing. I’m not sure all that I am making is excellent, and I’m sure it’s not, at the same time I’m letting myself be a bit more free to explore other ways of writing and singing. When I’m working full time in music in Northcote, I can get quite fixated on image and what I think Northcote should be like. During the virus time I have been able to set that aside for a while, in a sense, and explore other modes such as instrumentals, silly and comedic songs, and more lullaby-type songs. For example, if I go to my guitar or piano and feel that it’s not happening today, or if I am having trouble connecting to that special place to express a heartfelt lyric, then it has been helpful to me to let go of that control and just let whatever is happening happen. Sometimes this process results in something more silly or something without lyrics at all. The band and I have recently set up a rehearsal spot and we had our first get-together of the year last night. We practiced some songs from Let Me Roar and worked on a new idea together.
To connect with fans during the pandemic, Northcote hosts a weekly live stream concert every Thursday at 7 p.m. EDT/4 p.m. PDT via Instagram. And to connect with you right now, here’s Northcote and the video for “Nine to Midnight.”