Mat McHugh goes it alone in Byron Bay.
Mat McHugh goes it alone in Byron Bay. Supplied

Solo is beautiful for Mat McHugh

AFTER a decade with The Beautiful Girls, Mat McHugh is out to prove he can go it alone.

The former front man released his solo EP, Go Don’t Stop, in June. It’s a stripped-back affair in the same vein as his band, with that mellow mood and sweetly soothing voice.

When McHugh spoke to Pulse he said he just wanted to write a bunch of songs that are true, simple and from the heart. He wanted to remind people that you don’t have to go a million miles an hour all the time to be happy.

It also came down to just writing some damn good songs.

“A good song should still be good in 50 years, 100 years or 1000 years. The key is to not add too many elements that date it to a particular time,” he tells Pulse.

“You might sacrifice a little bit of the current production trends but you don’t put a date stamp on it.”

Go Don’t Stop is full of classic McHugh tunes. A track like Darling This Must End is a typically bare-boned acoustic slow jam with a thoughtful lyric and delivery.

There are also those island flavours we can attribute to his surfy trio. The music is the exact same, but for the sake of being honest and transparent it is McHugh’s name on the cover.

But of course there’s all that zest and optimism that made the boys a live band to cherish. And Mat hasn’t lost that spark in the transition to solo star.

“You’re at a dance: life itself comes up to you and asks to dance,” he says.

“You choose whether you’re gonna sit in the chair in the corner and not have any part in it because you’re afraid to fail… or you get up, dance and don’t care whether you look stupid orcrazy,” he says.

On top of solo pressures McHugh has also become a father. While sleepless nights aren’t uncommon he says he’s up for the challenge of being dad and a musician.

In fact he can’t wait to get his little tyke on the road.

Getting used to kicking it solo is another thing the fedora-donning artist must adapt to.

“Travelling alone is different in everyway you’d think,” he says. But being a solo artist gives him the freedom to make snap decisions.

He says that the Beautiful Girls in many ways was more of a collective than a band, with McHugh starting the group and writing all their music. Now, he feels he’s at a point where he has grown up and is confident enough to branch out on his own.

But he won’t completely rule out the possibility of a reunion.

“I never rule a line through anything because if I did I’d be a fool [but] I feel pretty happy right now and excited about making music.

I feel more confident about being a musician than I ever have.”


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