Matthew Cornwell Discusses Struggles and Growth as an Artist
Matthew Cornwell is a popular r&b artist from Binghamton NY. He moved to Binghamton when he was five where he lived just outside of the city limits near Ross Park Zoo. This positioned him just outside the restrictions for attending Binghamton Schools. Which meant he instead would be attending the much smaller Susquehanna Valley School District. Which is something he attributes to who he is as a person and an artist now.
“I grew up just outside the city limits past Ross Park Zoo which landed me in the more rural Susquehanna Valley School District (Go Sabers) as opposed to Binghamton which was in the middle of the city. To some degree I attribute a lot of who I am to that; I would've been pretty different had I gone to school in the city.”
Becoming a musician is something that Matthew has aspired to do for his entire life. Its been something natural for him for as long as he can remember. As he looks at his current surroundings he sees some old hardware and reminisces on the simpler times.
“I've been singing my entire life, making music for almost as long. As I write this I'm sitting next to my four-track tape recorder, the first machine I ever used to record. Wish I still had some of the old tapes around..”
The natural desire to become a musician didn’t make it any easier for Cornwell to know exactly how he planned to achieve those goals. He spent his early years the same way several other artists do trying to find himself.
“I spent a lot of my youth searching for an identity. I wanted to be something quantifiable, placeable -- the athlete, the goth, class-clown, skater etc. In some ways I felt I was small pieces of a lot of different things but not wholly anything; not wholly me. So, in my best Kendrick Lamar voice, I went running for answers.”
Through this quest for answers he has grown and found more understanding of who he is as a person.
“...my career up until this point has been both the question and the answer. This is what I am, and as I paint my experiences along with my fears and aspirations I understand myself more and more.”
While Cornwell was able to consistently grow and understand himself he still suffered his fair share of setbacks. One of the biggest being his decision to take an extended hiatus from making music to focus on his image as an artist.
“Truthfully my biggest setback would have been the hiatus I took between my second and third projects - somewhere in the ballpark of three years. I was too concerned with the material, quantifiable fruits of this line of work. So much so that I stopped making music in lieu of presenting some grand image of an artist.”
“Ever heard the story of Icarus?”
While this setback did effect Cornwell it wasn’t his entirely to his detriment. While a step away is not always viewed as a positive it lead to the creation of Cornwell’s most polished worked to date ‘ICARUS’. It was the creation and release of Icarus that helped Cornwell reconnect with himself musically.
“Reconnecting with my purpose. Rooting my work, my happiness, my self-worth in my passion for music again. Showing gratitude to it for what its done for me. It's all come around in the process of releasing that project.”
When asked if he had the opportunity to go back in time and give himself advice what he would say to himself Cornwell kept it rather simple.
“Don't ever sing quieter because people are around.”
A strong lesson to live by as well as a note to self to remain confident in what it is you are doing. When asked if there was any direct advice he could give to younger artists in the area he once again kept it simple. This time reminding the youth not to get caught up in cliches that could negatively effect them moving forward.
“Remove the word "clout" from your dictionary - It's lethal.”
Cornwell also believes the Upstate area as a whole especially Binghamton could benefit more from collaborating and supporting each others craft. Something that has begun to happen more often but still needs to continue to help the area prosper as a whole.
“Supporting and collaborating. I say that more to past versions of myself and of the CNY music community. Things have been changing as of late.”
Cornwell looks to every artist he interacts with or sees providing information and takes it all in. Utilizing what fits his situation and discarding the rest. However he did have one local name who came to mind.
“You can find a lesson everywhere if you listen. Special mention: Kelsey McBean”
He has taken these lessons and applied them to his craft over time. Cornwell currently has a lineup of live shows planned throughout the first half of 2019. He continues to grow into his own while growing his fan base by performing at a variety of live events throughout central New York. This growth has come over time for Cornwell as his first few live shows were as he described ‘Awkward’ he had to grow into the live artist he is today.
“ Understanding that stage craft is it's own planet separate from vocal skill, studio skill, personality, etc etc took me some time. “
Learning his way around the stage was only half the battle. Finding proper venues with the right equipment also proved to be a task early on and over time Cornwell learned not to sacrifice quality for the sake of having a chance to perform. Something he has a word of advice on for aspiring artists.
“MAKE SURE YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH EVERYTHING IN YOUR ENVIRONMENT BEFORE YOU WALK ON STAGE. What I mean by that is don't do a show on a shit mic, on a dollar store sound system, with a DJ/Sound guy that doesn't know what he's doing, in a venue that's not expecting or prepared for live performance. Period. I have done all of those things several times. It's damaging to your confidence and to peoples' perception of your level of talent. “
For Cornwell the difference between performing a well executed show and a subpar performance is simple math.
“1 well executed show > 1000 sub-par performances”
For now Cornwell’s focus is simple, to continue growing his level of engagement with his fan base. Something he has done more of over the last few months. With the release of his ‘Picture Perfect’ video Cornwell hosted a live viewing session on social media. Events like these are all part of Cornwells goals to engage more with his audience as well as those close to him.
“My biggest focus right now is my level of engagement with friends and listeners. There are times when I get lost inside myself and forget to text/message people back, update social media or share my life with the people that support me.”
Outside of fan engagement Cornwell is always working on creating new content for his fans and not so subtly teased that fans have some exciting things to look forward to in the future.
“New music soon. New videos sooner.”
Matthew Cornwell encourages fans to eat at Petersons Tavern a venue that Cornwell has performed at in the past and has plans to perform at again in the future. You can check out a list of all of Cornwell’s upcoming shows at his website https://www.matthewcornwellmusic.com/tour. Check out his latest video below and he wants to remind everyone to
“Be kind to people”