The link between an artist’s psyche and their output has always been a fascinating insight. The portrayal of an artists inner thoughts always come to the forefront in their work and fewer artists showcase this more than producer and artist Matt Ellery, otherwise known as Posh Chocolates.
While his artist name might reflect a joyful, wholesome delicacy enjoyed far too much over the Christmas period… Ellery’s music is a far more rugged, unpredictable and raw experience. Somewhere between the lines of Hip Hop, Electronica and Indie – on Clever Weight Champion (Released via GODMODE) we hear an artist that seems to actively avoid the boundaries of conventional production. The tracks are all, performed and written at his own kind of time signature with a wonky, laid-back but ultimately precise groove. It’s the first project where Ellery has explored rap, where previous releases were more soulful in their vocal performance.
We took the time to chat to Posh Chocolates about his EP, his obsession with MF Doom and a forthcoming album.
Your EP is about the ego and how people present themselves. Were there examples of personal experiences or events that fuelled this idea for the project?
Weird & Bizarre is about social anxiety and imposter syndrome. I’ve always been a heavily social person throughout my life, until more recent years. And a newfound thirst for isolation fuelled by depression was something that I struggled to swallow for a long time. When drug abuse had to become a thing of the past for me, it felt that my ability to socialise got exiled along with it. It made me feel like a freak for a long time because I wasn’t used to it. Thus the title Weird & Bizarre; it’s the first time I’ve named a song something that isn’t a lyric included within. Wait for the music video for it though, I’ve got some wonky ideas up my sleeve. In contrast, the title track Clever Weight Champion is about fabricating an ego; notes on a former me that necessitated substance to feel at all confident enough to raise a hand and share my thoughts. Plus, I’m a country boy who grew up in the mountains, so living in a city on a diet of cocaine and oxycontin was so not me. It definitely has had irreversible consequences on who I am sadly. I was fabricating a lifestyle that I thought was necessary in order to make good music. And, in hindsight, I have a lot of regret for the years wasted living that life chasing an ego that made me way shitter at what I did but in the moment obviously felt like I could bag the queen lol. Interestingly, during this time I made the wettest, most self deprecating soft-boy tunes though.
Do you have any favourites within the project? Perhaps one that resonates with you most or challenges you as an artist?
Weird & Bizarre is definitely my proudest work to date. It encapsulated so many musical and stylistic elements that I was inspired by at that time. And the narrative felt way more coherent than my usual level of senseless scribbling. I feel like people might actually resonate with what the track says and how that paranoia is reflected sonically.
What message do you aim to convey to your audience through this project?
Clever Weight Champion discusses topics around reaching basic human fulfilment, the actuality of ego, identity and how people present themselves. Living in a world incentivised by success and fuelled by humans’ thirst for reason and fulfilment, it seems that the world continues to grow more complex and self-destructive. The lines. I’ve become increasingly more self-aware of the effect of these subliminal societal pressures on myself and my peers. And, as I get older, I’ve found it hard but interesting to combat, particularly trying to put into words. But it seemed that the most approachable way to voice this was via a manufactured ego, as it seems that most people are massively keeping up facades anyway. Why not make the caricature you’re playing a bit entertaining? I wish people weren’t as scared to admit who they are and who they want to be.
Taking inspiration from MF Doom’s concept of Quazimoto, what aspects attracted you to this idea and influenced your creative process?
I’m really self-loathing. I hate the sound of my own voice a lot of the time and find it hard to want to share my opinions with the world. I’m also not a great singer at all and never really wanted to sing, but there came a day that I had made so much music that it would have been a shame to not give it a go in order to be able to shape a complete-feeling project of my own. The idea of creating an alter-ego like quasi was that it was a pitched-up version of myself, which really helped me detach from my sense of self when writing. It also gave me the freedom to just say whatever came to mind (within reason obviously). The clever-weight champion is my hypothetical inner egotist that I don’t ever let in the driver’s seat, but is still an important part of the subconscious when in balance with the rest. Being able to step into his shoes and get a bit mouthy without real-world consequence is liberating. I get a bit carried away with this concept sometimes and have to rein it in.
Having roots in Wales and currently residing in Manchester, how has your musical journey been shaped by the distinct music scenes in both locations?
I’ve never really felt the power of a music scene having much impact on Posh Chocolates. I briefly played my music with a band when I started the project and, at that point, it felt more like part of something that was happening within the guitar scene of Manchester. However, Posh Chocolates has always been me being reclusive and appropriating all the pockets of scenes worldwide that I’m interested in, and trying to make some unique hybrid of it all. I get quite in my own head about this, i love the idea of music being about community and growing around others, but it just hasn’t worked for me, or at least I haven’t found my scene yet.
If your father wasn’t an ‘audiophile,’ do you think you would have still pursued a career in music?
The age-old nature or nurture debate is interesting. I’d really like to think that I would. If the introduction hadn’t come from him, I’m sure I would have found a root connection somewhere else. From the second I became the age that you can make your own opinions on things, our tastes in music completely differed anyway which makes me think he can’t take the credit haha
When did you realise that music was a path you wanted to explore?
When becoming a pro skater started looking a bit too optimistic. And what a reality sandwich that was. Luckily, music quickly became way more fulfilling, and my knees are better off for it.
Can you describe your approach or particular process when it comes to writing your tracks?
At the moment I’m feeling a bit of an arthouse wanker. I’m travelling, listening to a lot of classical, world and cultural music, sitting at pianos focussing on harmony… lots of sampling, lots of synthesisers. I get bored very quickly so each track starts very differently. But it’s always music first. I have nothing to say unless I write a piece of music that moves me enough to have some kind of verbal opinion to lead with.
Looking ahead, where do you envision yourself in the next two years?
Album time, baby. It’s cookin’
As we approach the end of 2023, what are three accomplishments from this year that you take pride in?
Aside from making music, I’ve decided to get into film. But I’m hoping when I’m skilled enough that I can really bring the world of Posh Chocolates to life in the cinema realm. I’ve seen a lot of the world this year. The support from everyone around the first single has been great too, which I’m very thankful for!
Clever Weight Champion is out now, follow Posh Chocolates via @poshchocolates
Interviewer Saina Penrake