Manchester-born electronic producer and sound designer Model 86 (Matthew Wilcock) announces the launch of a brand-new EP, titled “I Was Depressed And Anxious For Most Of My 20s Until I Came Off My Tablets,” out 27th April. Inspired by his own personal experiences, Model 86 is socially aware and present, drawing on issues such as “class division, casual sexism, poverty, and depression.”

In this vein, the pseudonym Model 86 stands for a consideration of androgyny and fluidity, rather than fixed identity notions, and classifying boxes, something reflected in the music: shifting sounds and genre-bending creations. We sat down with Matthew, to hear more about the first single on the upcoming EP, his rebellious years, and his view on creative freedom.

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Elena Stanciu: How did you first start to write music and how did you find your sound/style? 

Model 86: I don't think I´m finished finding my style yet. I started writing songs when I was in primary school, I used to sing in front of the class with a friend at the end of the day as a treat. Come to think of it, that was a bit strange.

ES: Who are your creative influences? 

Model 86: So many people and things. I tend not to dwell on one person, I'll take snippets of loads of different things: current popular electronic producers, when I watch films, going to galleries. I went to a Jasper Johns exhibition a couple of months ago and just wanted to run to the studio afterwards. I get more inspired by the attitudes of people, music, and art; by what they are saying and commenting on.

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ES: Your bio says you dropped out of art school – what prompted this decision? Was there a clash between the academic approach to art and your creativity? 

Model 86: I was pretty moody and rebellious and was surrounded by very rigid people. They took us all to a lecture and told us not to rebel, and that we had to be more submissive. That meant the only thing I could do was leave.

ES: What´s your definition of creative freedom? Would you say that this is an attainable notion, in a world where artists need to also "make a living?" 

Model 86: I don't think absolute creative freedom exists, or the pure definition of those words doesn't exist. We're all free but trapped in whatever box we put ourselves in, by whatever influences we take and follow: ethnicity, sex, location.

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ES: You also make music and sound design for TV, advertising, and film – tell me about this experience. Is it complementing your own work or rather running in parallel? Are you particularly close to any of the projects you´ve been working on?

Model 86: It runs in parallel and often complements what I do – ideas I come up with on both sides cross over. The stuff we do for Nike, Microsoft, Apple etc. crosses over and I'm close to all the projects. 

ES: Your third EP will soon be launched – please tell our readers about it. 

Model 86: FAMOUS came out a couple of weeks ago and the EP will be out on the 27th April. It's three tracks on the path to me releasing more stuff more often. I learned a lot doing it, I'm excited about what's next. I made this stuff literally when I came off my antidepressants, that's all. It's kind of a side story, as I would have been making music either way, but last year, that was a significant moment.

ES: I couldn´t help but noticing that the lyrics of Famous – the first track the new EP – are quite deep and meaningful – is there something specific that inspired this song?

Model 86: Nothing specific. I remember talking to Rayon [Nelson] when we started writing the track. He was asking what I wanted it to be about, I said I don't care as long as it's honest and close/intimate. I didn't want him to write pretending to be something else. I guess that's how he was feeling and it's relatable, for sure. I think no matter how successful you are, people always struggle with pushing on and reaching for the next thing. We changed a few things along the way, but the idea stayed the same. It should have been a piano ballad.

ES: I know you made the artwork for the new EP – how do you blend visual art with music – in terms of aesthetics, themes, process?

Model 86:I try not to over-think it and then see what happens. I did the painting way after the EP was finished. I didn't start it thinking I would use it for the artwork but, as it was happening and when I finished it, I thought it would work, then I got really into it. I then asked a painter friend of mine, Jarek Kubicki, if I could use a couple of his paintings for the other two singles and he was into the idea. I've seen his work ages ago and had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to use it for something.

Words: Elena Stanciu