Aqualung (musician)

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For other uses, see Aqualung (disambiguation).
Matt Hales
Matt Hales 2012.jpg
Background information
Birth name Matthew Nicholas Hales
Born (1972-01-17) 17 January 1972 (age 42)
Origin Southampton, England
Genres Alternative rock, soul, folk, electronic
Occupations Singer-songwriter, musician, record producer
Instruments Piano, vocals
Years active 1990–present
Labels Verve Forecast, Columbia, B-Unique
Associated acts Lianne La Havas, Diane Birch, Jason Mraz, Paloma Faith
Website www.aqualung.net

Matt Hales (born 17 January 1972[1]) is an English songwriter, musician, and record producer who has been performing professionally under the name Aqualung since the early 2000s.[2] Aqualung is best known in the UK for his song "Strange and Beautiful," which was featured on a television advertisement for the new Volkswagen Beetle during the summer of 2002[3] and went on to become a Top 10 hit in the UK Singles Chart later that year.[4] In the United States, Aqualung is also known for the song "Brighter Than Sunshine," which had considerable airplay and was used in the film A Lot Like Love[5] and various television spots.

As a songwriter and record producer, Hales has collaborated with Lianne La Havas,[6] The Fray, Leona Lewis, Jason Mraz, Christina Perri, Sara Bareilles,[7] Diane Birch,[8] Paloma Faith,[9] Disclosure, Alex Clare, Birdy, Mikky Ekko, and others.[10]

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Hales grew up in Southampton, where his parents ran an independent record shop.[11] He aspired to be a musician from an early age, writing songs using the family piano when he was just 4 years old. When he was 16, Hales was awarded a scholarship to study music composition at Winchester College. Within a year, he wrote his first symphony titled "Life Cycle,"[12] and formed his first band, which carried several different names during its lifespan. In the spring of 1990, the band (known at the time as Mecano Pig)[13] produced their debut self-titled album, but broke up soon afterwards. That same year, Hales moved to London to study music at City University,[14] and in 1992 formed a new band with his brother Ben called Gravel Monsters.[15]

RUTH / the 45s[edit]

Gravel Monsters became a quartet that featured Matt & Ben Hales, Matt Vincent-Brown, and Stephen Cousins.[16] The band's name was changed to RUTH in 1992,[17] and although it enjoyed a minor hit in 1997 ("I Don't Know")[18] which earned them a loyal fan base, the indie rock quartet failed to find commercial success in their seven years together. Arc Records released RUTH's debut album Harrison in 1999.[19] After the band parted ways with Arc Records in the Summer of 2000, they renamed themselves the 45s[20] and signed a short-term contract with Mercury Records (part of the Universal Music Group). Despite releasing two well-received singles, the label declined to renew the band's contract in March 2002,[21] leading the band to split up. It was at this moment that Matt Hales began to concentrate on a solo project that he would call Aqualung.[22]

Aqualung[edit]

Almost immediately after the 45s split, Aqualung's debut single "Strange and Beautiful (I'll Put a Spell on You)" gained popularity when it was used as the soundtrack on a television commercial for the new Volkswagen Beetle. It was released as a single on B-Unique Records in September 2002, and reached No. 7 on the UK Singles Chart.[23] Later that month, B-Unique released the eponymous debut album Aqualung, which according to the sleeve notes was recorded entirely in Hales' hallway. It peaked at No. 15 on the UK Albums Chart, and achieved Gold status before year's end.[24] The album's second single "Good Times Gonna Come" was released on 2 December 2002. It was featured on the British television show Skins,[25] and reached No. 71 on the UK Singles Chart. Several singles followed into the next year, as did Aqualung's second album Still Life, which spawned the single "Brighter Than Sunshine".[26] The song attracted the attention of film and television music supervisors in both Europe and North America, and was featured in the television show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and the motion picture A Lot Like Love.[27] "Brighter Than Sunshine" enjoyed Top 40 airplay success in the United States,[28] leading Aqualung to a worldwide recording contract with Columbia Records in 2005, and the US release of Strange and Beautiful,[29] a compilation of tracks from his first two UK albums. It reached No. 3 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart,[30] eventually selling more than 250,000 copies in the US. Throughout the mid and late 2000s, Aqualung's music was used in television shows such as Grey's Anatomy, The O.C., CSI: Miami, Gossip Girl, Cold Case, Scrubs, One Tree Hill, Eli Stone, and Brothers and Sisters.[31]

Hales and his touring band spent the next two years performing throughout North America, participating in the Hotel Cafe Tour,[32] which also featured Cary Brothers, Meiko, Greg Laswell, Tom McRae, Joe Purdy, and Jim Bianco.[33] While on the road, Hales would routinely switch up the Aqualung show with different musicians, settings, and approaches. The diverse elements he explored during these tours (including the use of an echo device called the Memory Man) subsequently drove the creative process behind what would become Aqualung's next album, Memory Man.[34] It was released in March 2007, and the liner notes credit Hales with playing the following instruments: piano, Fender Rhodes, glockenspiel, electric guitar, Stairwell Drums, harmonium, Moog bass and vocoder.[35] Hales completed his first UK tour since his debut album was released, and concluded the run at the newly re-opened Tabernacle, Notting Hill.[36]

2008 brought the release of Words and Music, Hales' first album for Verve Forecast Records.[37] It featured acoustic versions of two songs from his debut album Aqualung, as well as new songs written in a similar style. In 2010, Hales moved to Los Angeles, to begin the production of his sixth studio album titled Magnetic North.[38] In reference to the album on his Facebook page, Hales said, "It's hard to describe. It's like 12 kids who you would never guess were in the same family until you hear them speaking." The album's first single "Fingertip" was released on 2 March 2010, and reviews of Magnetic North make reference to the indication of Los Angeles' influence on Hales as a writer, with songs containing words like "California," "Sundowning," and "Hummingbird," which were not used prior to his moving Stateside. In 2013, Hales announced on his Facebook page that he had begun work on a new Aqualung album.[39] Also in 2013, Aqualung is featured on the song "Surrounded" on the album A Song Across Wires by EDM artist BT.

Songwriter and producer[edit]

As early as 2004, Hales began collaborating with other artists as a songwriter and producer. He co-wrote "UR" by Tiësto[40] which featured his lead vocal, and was released as a single and featured on the album Just Be. He worked with Leona Lewis on her album Echo[41] in 2009, and in 2010 he co-wrote songs appearing on albums by Brooke Fraser,[42] Christophe Willem, and Boyzone. [43] After co-writing and producing the song "Pick Up Your Tricks" by Australian pop rock band Amy Meredith[44] in 2011, Hales wrote and produced "Cold" which featured himself and Lucy Schwartz and appeared on the The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (soundtrack),[45] which sold more than 500,000 copies in the United States.

2012 proved to be the breakout year for Hales in the recording studio. He co-wrote and produced Is Your Love Big Enough? by British singer/songwriter Lianne La Havas.[46] It debuted at No. 4 on the UK Albums Chart,[47] was named iTunes UK album of the year,[48] and was nominated at the 2012 Barclaycard Mercury Prize.[49] In addition to this, Hales co-wrote "Everything Is Sound" on Jason Mraz's Grammy nominated album Love Is A Four Letter Word,[50] and worked with Paloma Faith on the single "Just Be" from her album Fall to Grace. He also co-wrote and produced Diane Birch's single "Unfucked", and the single "Same Heart (feat. Tom Chaplin)" by Laura Jansen. Hales has recently spent time in the studio collaborating with Christina Perri, The Fray, Sara Bareilles, Birdie, Alex Clare, Katharine McPhee, Ginny Blackmore, Kina Grannis, amongst others.

Discography[edit]

Aqualung[edit]

Main article: Aqualung discography
Title Album details
Magnetic North
Words and Music
Memory Man
  • Released: 13 March 2007
  • Label: Columbia
Strange and Beautiful
  • Released: 22 March 2005
  • Label: Columbia
Still Life
  • Released: 27 October 2003
  • Label: B-Unique
Aqualung
  • Released: 30 September 2002
  • Label: B-Unique

RUTH[edit]

Title Album details
Harrison

Select Songwriting Discography[edit]

Year Artist Album Song Co-written with
2013 Lucy Schwartz Timekeeper "Boomerang" Lucy Schwartz
Sara Bareilles The Blessed Unrest "Eden" Sara Bareilles
"Islands" Sara Bareilles
Laura Jansen Elba "The Lighthouse" Laura Jansen
"Queen of Elba" Laura Jansen
"Golden" Laura Jansen
"Little Things (You)" Laura Jansen, David Sneddon, James Bauer-Mein
"Same Heart" Laura Jansen, Kim Oliver
"Around the Sun" Laura Jansen
BT A Song Across Wires "Surrounded" BT
2012 Lianne La Havas Is Your Love Big Enough? "Is Your Love Big Enough?" Lianne La Havas, Willy Mason
"Lost & Found" Lianne La Havas
"Au Cinéma" Lianne La Havas
"No Room For Doubt (featuring Willy Mason)" Lianne La Havas, Willy Mason
"Age" Lianne La Havas
"Everything Everything" Lianne La Havas
"Gone" Lianne La Havas
"They Could Be Wrong" Lianne La Havas
Paloma Faith Fall to Grace "Just Be" Paloma Faith, Greg Wells
Jason Mraz Love Is a Four Letter Word "Everything Is Sound" Jason Mraz, Mike Daly, Martin Terefe, Tyler Phillips
Diane Birch Non-album single "Unfucked" Diane Birch
Good Old War Come Back As Rain "Amazing Eyes" Good Old War
For King & Country Crave "Light It Up" For King & Country
"Pushing on a Pull Door" For King & Country
2011 Ximena Sariñana Ximena Sariñana "Wrong Miracle" Ximena Sariñana
Aqualung & Lucy Schwartz The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (soundtrack) "Cold" Lucy Schwartz
Amy Meredith Non-album single "Pick Up Your Tricks" Amy Meredith
2010 Boyzone Brother "Time" Greg Wells, Kim Oliver
Brooke Fraser Flags "Who Are We Fooling? (featuring Aqualung)" Brooke Fraser
2009 Christophe Willem Caféine "Heartbox" Guy Chambers
2004 Tiësto Just Be "UR" Tiësto

Select Production Discography[edit]

Year Artist Album Details
2013 Lucy Schwartz Timekeeper Producer
Laura Jansen Elba Producer
2012 Lianne La Havas Is Your Love Big Enough? Producer, Mixer
Diane Birch "Unfucked" (Non-album single) Producer
For King & Country Crave Producer, Programmer
2011 Amy Meredith "Pick Up Your Tricks" (Non-album single) Producer
2010 Aqualung & Lucy Schwartz The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (soundtrack) Producer
Aqualung Magnetic North Producer
2009 Seabird Rocks into Rivers Producer
2008 Aqualung Words and Music Producer, Mixer, engineer, arranger
2007 Aqualung Memory Man Producer, Programmer
2005 Aqualung Strange and Beautiful Producer, Mixer, engineer, arranger

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Matt Hales' official Aqualung Facebook post on 40th birthday – 17 January 2012". Facebook. Retrieved 8 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Bonacich, Drago. "Aqualung – Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Salmon, Chris (28 June 2007). "Beetle mania". Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  4. ^ Columbia, Records (8 December 2004). "Strange And Beautiful, Eagerly-Anticipated Aqualung Album, Ready for Stateside Release". UBM plc. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  5. ^ Murray, Rebecca (8 March 2005). ""A Lot Like Love" Soundtrack News". About.com. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  6. ^ Brown, Helen (6 July 2012). "Lianne La Havas, Is Your Love Big Enough?, review". Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  7. ^ Ganz, Caryn (10 March 2010). "Sara Bareilles Turns Panic into Rebirth on Uptempo Summer Disc". Wenner Media LLC. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  8. ^ "New Album To Be Released in Late April". Warner Bros. Records. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  9. ^ Kellman, Andy (29 May 2012). "Fall to Grace – Paloma Faith". Allmusic. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  10. ^ Matt Hales. "Matt Hales – Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  11. ^ "Profile from Matt Hales 'Aqualung'". Bebo. 1 December 2007. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  12. ^ Silverstein, Rebecca (21 February 2007). "Getting To Know Matt Hales From Aqualung". The Fader. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  13. ^ Stovin, Jack (10 May 2010). "Aqualung announce the release of new album 'Magnetic North'". Altsounds.com. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  14. ^ Mervis, Scott (5 May 2005). "Music Preview: Matt Hales, aka Aqualung, explains confusion with Jethro Tull album". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  15. ^ Murfett, Andrew (20 April 2007). "Bigger than Texas". Fairfax Media. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  16. ^ "RUTHsongs". Vanity Press. 27 June 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  17. ^ Long, Joe (25 July 2005). "Aqualung: Breathing Underwater". Glidemagazine.com. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  18. ^ "Ruth (12) – I Don't Know". Discogs.com. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  19. ^ "Harrison-Ruth". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  20. ^ "45s – biography, band news, gig listings, reviews". Leedsmusicscene.net. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  21. ^ Tripwire. "Strange And Beautiful". The Fader. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  22. ^ Hodgkinson, Will (23 April 2003). "Wired for sound". Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  23. ^ "Aqualung". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  24. ^ Pearson, Beth (20 November 2002). "Music Aqualung, St Andrews in the Square, Glasgow". Newsquest. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  25. ^ "Skins – Music guide: series 2, episode 2". E4. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  26. ^ Daley, Niky (27 August 2003). "Aqualung Still Life Review". BBC. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  27. ^ "A Lot Like Love – Original Soundtrack". Allmusic. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  28. ^ "B&E – Aqualung". Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  29. ^ Jenkins, Mark (6 May 2005). "Aqualung 'Strange and Beautiful' Red Ink/Columbia". The Washington Post Company. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  30. ^ "Heatseekers Albums: 3 September 2005". Prometheus Global Media. 3 September 2005. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  31. ^ "Matt Hales – IMDb". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  32. ^ "Hotel Cafe Tour". Penske Business Media. 28 January 2005. [dead link]
  33. ^ Brownlee, Bill (2 April 2008). "Review: Hotel Cafe Tour". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  34. ^ "Aqualung puff out their chest". News International. 4 October 2007. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  35. ^ "Memory Man – Aqualung". Allmusic. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  36. ^ "Lily Allen, Pink Floyd-supported venue to reopen". NME. 10 June 2009. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  37. ^ "Words & Music – Aqualung". Allmusic. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  38. ^ Ashari, Nazirah (26 March 2010). "First Impressions: Aqualung, "Magnetic North"". Filter. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  39. ^ https://www.facebook.com/AqualungOfficial/posts/10151476467963863
  40. ^ "UR – DJ Tiësto, Aqualung". Allmusic. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  41. ^ Smart, Gordon (30 June 2009). "Leona's album is Aqua-fresh". News International. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  42. ^ Jones, Bridget (10 November 2010). "http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/music/4218798/Fraser-experiments-with-Flags". Fairfax New Zealand. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  43. ^ Murphy, Lauren (5 March 2010). "Music Review-Boyzone-Brother". The Irish Times. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  44. ^ Eliezer, Christie (16 November 2011). "Amy Meredith: new international management deal, split from Sony". The Music Network. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  45. ^ Thatcher, Autumn (17 November 2011). "Musicians hope to win new fans with 'Twilight' soundtrack". MediaNews Group. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  46. ^ Ramirez, Erika (22 August 2012). "Lianne La Havas, Reps Talk 'Is Your Love Big Enough?' Album & Stardom". Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  47. ^ Maynard, Trent (17 December 2012). "news: Lianne La Havas' year in review". Box Television. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  48. ^ James, Nicole (21 February 2013). "Lianne La Havas Is Winning British Soul Right Now". Fuse. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  49. ^ Vaziri, Aidin (9 November 2012). "Lianne La Havas' dreams are coming true". Hearst Corporation. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  50. ^ "Everything Is Sound – Jason Mraz". Allmusic. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 

External links[edit]