Mat Kearney has a thing for drones. He became so preoccupied with them that he actually used one to film his “Heartbeats” music video, the first single off his fourth album, “Just Kids.”
“I just got really obsessed,” he tells us. “Who doesn’t want a camera where you can fly around like you’re in a James Bond movie with cameras flying around you?” But in order for it to work, everything had to be done in one take: there couldn’t be any editing later. “The dancers had to do everything perfect. I had to do everything perfect. The drone had to hit all its marks and the camera operator had to frame everything perfectly. It sounded like a challenge that was different from what I’d ever done.”
Taking himself by surprise
Experimenting with drones isn’t the only challenge Kearney has given himself lately. He’s also been taking the reigns more on producing, saying he produced most of the songs on “Just Kids” himself, something he’s shied away from in the past. While working on this record, he spent a lot of time trying different things on his own, which led to some serendipitous surprises.
“When you’re alone, you’re more likely to go places that seem weird and odd,” he says. “You’re more willing to take chances because you’re just having fun. Sometimes some really beautiful things happen when you have no consequences and no one is there to tell you its wrong.”
Paul Simon and Kanye West mashup
Though it’s classified in the pop/rock genre, Kearney’s music is heavily rooted in hip-hop, something he tells us he’s always listened to a lot of. “When I set out to make this record, I kept asking, what would it sound like if Paul Simon and Kanye West made a record together? That was kind of the goal,” he says.
This is the first album Kearney has made since getting married and one of the themes throughout the album is transitioning from a honeymoon stage to being faced with real difficulties and challenges. And then there’s the title track, which begs for a return to innocence. “It’s about the idea of going back to a place before someone cheated on us, or we had our heart broken or we were taught not to trust,” he explains. “Like, here’s the reality we’re facing, but can we go back to when we were just kids?”
If you go:
New York City
Tuesday, March 24, 7 p.m.
Best Buy Theater
1515 Broadway, 212-930-1950
Wednesday, March 25, 7 p.m.
House of Blues
15 Landsdowne St., 888-693-2583
Friday, March 27, 7 p.m.
1026 Spring Garden St., 215-232-2100
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence