Matthew Wilcock chose the pseudonym, MODEL 86, because of its adrogyny. “There’s a few different meanings and I’m not sure which is which”, he said when I asked him about it. “The simple reason is it doesn’t mean anything. It’s not male, and it’s not female. It’s not from a specific location, so it’s generic”. After thoughtful reflection, he music that perhaps it is a bad idea for a name…
However, like the name, his music is a fluid, shapeshifting sound. He has a full EP coming out in late April and it will showcase a new sound; having previously released hip-hop infused electronica. “I’ve been in London for nearly 8 years”, he continued when I asked if growing up in Manchester had any influence on him, “and I feel more connected down here. I rebelled against Manchester. I didn’t like any of the Hacienda stuff of the generation before and I listened to Oasis when I was very young”.
He also grew to dislike football and binge drinking; something we have in common. “I still have that underreprestented chip on my shoulder that comes from being from the north and working class and the self-esteem that comes with that. I have a funny relationship with Manchester, I don’t think it likes me for some reason. I have no proof, I just feel nervous there, like nothing is happening. Like I’ll get trapped and self-implode…”
With all the available genres, I asked Wilcock why electronica? The answer was simple, “computers and technology”. He said that something has always pulled him that way. “It just scratches me the right way. You can do anything and it’s limiting and it’s an obstruction. If I could though I would write piano ballads, or be a singer songwriter too, or write anything. The more I learn and learnt about music, the more everything felt interesting and inspiring. What’s good is good, fuck teenage genre bullshit”.
To get into the right headspace to work on new material, he has to sneak up on it and jump it. But it doesn’t stop there. “I have to beat it to death, work on something, an idea, feel like shit, go back and edit it and then repeat”, he said bluntly. “Then a lot of the times I have to sit down and force myself to start. Force the physical act then trust the process. You can’t rely on the mood to be right, or I would never do anything”.
The new EP, ‘I Was Depressed And Anxious For Most Of My 20s Until I Came Off My Tablets’, is as self explanatory as it sounds. It’s a dark comedy based on his life; “Like ‘Everything you want to know about sex but were afraid to ask”, he laughed.
But Model 86’s music is only sometimes based on personal experiences. “I only have my own experience to go by”, he said. “And I think about myself a lot, so put those two together… I’m not sure it adds anything but, I do think when you find a way to be really very honest in your art something magical can happen. I’m not sure I’ve found that just yet. I’m still looking”.
‘Famous’ was the first track to be released from the EP because it had the catchiest hook. But since the release of two more tracks, he’s not so sure about it because the others are catchy too. Either way, the music is a carefully constructed piece of work. We spoke about working with Rayon Nelson on ‘Famous’ but all that transpires is that “he’s a massive pain”. Wilcock winked as he said this, “He likes to have the studio at an exact temperature or he refuses to sing. Then if we don’t have sparking water after every take he leaves the booth for 10 minutes to do some stretches”.
In all seriousness, the vocals are complementary. “I had the instrumental mostly there”, he continued. “I don’t think I had the hook yet. He asked me what I wanted the track to be about, what I was thinking. I said I just wanted him to be honest and that I liked intimate and close lyrics. He wrote that first verse. When I heard the first line, it was fire. Then we tried to keep that up throughout. We edited it over a couple of sessions over a couple of months then it didn’t really change after that. But I kept asking him to come back to redo one or two bits, which I think started to annoy him”.
When Matthew Wilcock realises what’s happening, he enjoys being pushed out of his comfort zone. “When something makes you think, ‘fuck these people are really talented’, or ‘I really need to try and grind this one out’ that usually means you’re in the right place. That’s what I look for when working with someone”.
But on advice for someone to follow a similar career path… “Don’t pursue a similar path, take inspiration but you can never do what someone else does, cause you’re you. Work really fucking hard, get away from negative people really quickly, make friends with talented, nice folk. Believe in yourself, even if you have to pretend”.