The overarching concept behind Colour Film, the new identity of Hamilton, Ontario singer/songwriter Matthew de Zoete, grew out of a song de Zoete had previously written by that name, which became the title track of his last solo album from 2012. It explored de Zoete’s fascination with his family’s history, but also embodied his idea of songs as “little films,” wherein a combination of characters, stories and emotions create a visual element in the listener’s mind.
De Zoete (pronounced “duh-ZOO-tuh”) has channeled the various sounds and influences from those records into Super 8, a six-song EP released April 8 on Ship Records that will reintroduce his melodic gifts and poignant lyricism under the name Colour Film. The six songs on the Super 8 EP achieve de Zoete’s ends brilliantly, with his voice and the shimmering arrangements often echoing the glorious melancholy of Elliott Smith, Badly Drawn Boy, and the Pernice Brothers.
Produced by Les Cooper (Jill Barber, the Good Lovelies), who also adds his dynamically nuanced guitar playing, the EP also features harmony vocals from Julie Fader (Etiquette, Great Lake Swimmers), Robbie Grunwald (Doug Paisley, Justin Rutledge) on keyboards, bassist Mark McIntyre (Danny Michel, Roxanne Potvin), and drummer Joel Stouffer (Dragonette, The New Deal).
Call it a new voice, a new philosophy, or simply the discovery of a gift he never knew he possessed until now, Colour Film’s Super 8 EP is the first taste of a re-born singer/songwriter whose body of work is sure to remain as timeless as its subject matter. De Zoete kicks off his EP release tour this Friday with a run of Ontario and Quebec dates before heading to the east coast in May. For more info, go to colourfilm.ca.
What sets your latest release apart from anything you’ve previously done?
Super 8 is my first release under the name Colour Film. I chose this name to reflect my desire to make songs that can act like home movies in the listener's imagination, flashing characters, situations, and emotions that are familiar but open to interpretation—maybe triggering a spark of recognition.
What songs do you feel best capture the musical vision you had for it?
“The Money’s On The Dresser.”
What has been your most memorable experience while touring in Canada?
In the fall of 2006, I toured the Maritimes with my first album Across the Sea. While waiting to do an interview on CBC Radio in Charlottetown, I started chatting with the security guard, who was an older fellow with a Dutch last name on his badge. My family background is also Dutch, and we got to talking about the immigration experiences of our respective families. It turned out that when he was a boy in 1953, he sailed to Canada on the same boat at the same time as my grandparents and mother did. I thought, ‘What a small world it is sometimes.’ Since the cover of that album is a picture of my grandparents standing at the railing of that boat leaving the Netherlands for Canada, I gave a copy to the security guard. Not sure how the music grabbed him, but he liked the cover.
What song in your catalogue means the most to you and why?
The song “Colour Film” because it helped me realize some important things about myself and how I approach music. I wrote the song after seeing old home movies of my grandparents when they were much younger than I’d ever known them.I realized that my grandparents had lives that were just as real as my own and that I had a lot more in common with them than I had thought. Writing “Colour Film” also got me thinking about the visual aspect of music and how that's involved with how I write and record songs.
What song by another artist do you wish you had written?
“Days” by The Kinks. Every time I hear it, my eyes burn with bittersweet joy.