Finn Matthews doesn’t like to worry. “I have learned to appreciate what I have and enjoy the moment,” he smiles. The pop singer and I are catching up at a West Hollywood coffee shop to talk about his new single, “Beautiful Stranger.” Our chat about his new music sparks a conversation about his love for production, the honesty in his music, and letting go of fear and anxiety.
“Beautiful Stranger” is a song that follows a string of releases that the New Jersey native, 21, has released over the last year. Songs like “Running Away,” “Closing In,” and fan-favorite “Low Key” have helped shape his infectious brand of pop that’s defined by his soaring pop vocals, savvy writing, and crisp production stylings.
Like any committed artist, Matthews is a perfectionist. In fact, it took over a year to finish “Beautiful Stranger.” He explains, “I wrote the song with my friend Lofton [Shaw]. We were listening to ‘Everything I Wanted’ by Billy Eilish. We heard that pumping piano, which inspired the synth you hear at the beginning of ‘Beautiful Stranger.’ Obviously, the song developed into a completely different track than the Billie Eilish song, but that’s what sparked us to write it.”
He explains, “Things flowed pretty quickly when we had the ‘Friday night solo, solo’ line, but it took a long time to figure out how to get from the pre-chorus to the hook of the song. We continued to work on it. We wrote some bad versions that didn’t work, but we kept trying. Then I landed on something that fit, and then it all flowed from there.”
“It’s like a puzzle sometimes. You have to try different pieces and see what works,” he adds.
Since coming to Los Angeles at the age of fifteen to pursue a career in music, Matthews has gone through the motions of the music industry while growing up and cultivating his artistry. He developed a passion for production and now produces all of his own music.
“I am a bit of a production nerd now,” he smirks. “Take ‘Beautiful Stranger’ for example. I really wanted to get it right. It’s very satisfying when you look at a song in the [Ableton] session, and you see every part lined up perfectly. Then I can tell myself, ‘alright, it’s good.’
Matthews agrees that a song is never really done, but he knows when enough is enough. “ I like to play the song with just piano or guitar, just very stripped. If I like that better than the produced version, then I’m doing too much,” he explains. “That’s my test. I have a pretty good ear to hear when it’s too cluttered.”
I don’t like to worry. The more you worry, the further away you’re from happiness
Getting hands-on with production has helped Matthews to direct every aspect of his music. He explains that this has been important for him to dig deeper as an artist and capture a feeling in the song that will resonate with listeners. “Beautiful Stranger” is a perfect example of that.
“There’s a color and openness to ‘Beautiful Stanger’ that unlocked something for me. I really wanted to take time and see what the story had to offer.”
It was important for him to pass on that sentiment to listeners. “I really wanted to convey the feeling of freedom,” Matthews shares. “It’s being about being able to not attach yourself to everything that’s going on but to live in the moment. Like meeting that one person and experiencing everything they are in that moment without any expectations.”
All FOMO aside, Matthews acknowledges that many people are anxious because of expectations they set that are just not realistic. “People are meant to be experienced and not possessed,” he says. “‘Beautiful Stranger’ captures that feeling of being in the moment without worry.”
“We are in a world that’s full of worry right now,” Matthews concludes. “Maybe that’s okay, but I’d like to be in that state when I’m just free. I want to appreciate those moments. I don’t like to worry. The more you worry, the further away you’re from happiness. I’m just grateful to be here.”