Menton J. Matthews III is an American painter, illustrator, and comic book artist currently living in Atlanta. Matthews is also a multi-instrumentalist who can play a number of diverse instruments such as cello, viola, violin, guitar, drums, piano, and bass.
CVLT: Hello, Menton!
Let’s start with the beginning! What first got you into music and how did you decide to name this act Saltillo?
Menton: I feel like I could write a book about this, so I’ll try to make this as short as possible. The origin of my love for art/music goes back to my childhood for sure, which also correlates to the name of the project, Saltillo was a very small town in Mississippi I grew up in. Let’s just say growing up in Mississippi I didn’t fit into the local tribe, various artists and musicians are the only way I didn’t feel alone. Art/music saved me, truly. A lot of people say that but in my case, I can remember very specific moments I’ve been young, feeling incredibly alone and listening to The Cure and knowing I was not the only person in the world ‘like me’. See at that time going up in that kind of environment, I never saw, talked to anyone ‘like me’. In my teens, the next logical step for me was to try and ‘say’ something of my own with my own music and a brush.
What is your creative process like?
Well with painting and writing music to be honest with you they come from two totally different places inside of me, so the creative process for both of them is quite different. With music I can definitely say that it’s never the same, I’m always recording things on my phone and trying to use them and beads and I guess most of the songs are right begins with a beat, not every time but generally speaking. I think that has something to do with the fact that drums were the first instrument I tried to learn to play. But in the end, up to creating things I call engines, they usually just loop of things stored on my computer, in the case of the two albums I’ve put out with Saltillo, are usually have anywhere from 50 to 100 engines, I eventually go back in and see which ones speak the most to me that are closer to what I’m trying to say and then begin developing those into songs.
What are your main sources of inspiration for your music?
My point of inspiration for painting and music stems from the same I guess, you can call it theology? I make art to externalize the internal, trying to see images and hear ‘it’ in ways one does not normally happen anywhere outside of dreams. I more or less meditate and paint what I see in there.
I desperately try not to be influenced by other music, I think there are enough people out there trying to make music they hope people like, with Saltillo, I’m am truly trying to make the music I want to hear, I mean if other people like it that’s a massive bonus, and it blows me away to hear people making kind comments, but truly for me, art is a way of trying to truly know myself and the world around me. I know that can sound off-putting on a few levels but it’s simply the truth.
What other famous musicians do you admire? There is any band that is your favorite?
So so so many, if I have to pick a favorite band it would be The Cure, but other giants to me: Tom waits, Manchester Orchestra, Peter Gabriel, 16 Horsepower/ woven hand, Julian Baker, Daughter, Ben Howard, Joy Division, I can go on and on with this one.
Besides Saltillo, you are also a painter. What is the hardest part of creating a painting?
Letting it go.
What subjects inspire you when you start painting?
How long have you been painting?
I’ve been a professional painter since 2005, but I painted for a short time when I was a child.
What does your work aim to say?
That’s a really hard one to answer given where it comes from, but I think in the end, I have a dream someone who feels alone like I did and do, will hear it and feel less alone, knowing there are others out there like you.
Tell us about the texture in your paintings, what do you use?
I mainly use oils, and I normally make the oil paints myself. I like the idea of jewelry mash together to make an image, so I use all-natural pigments.
2020 was a hard year for all of us. How did you manage to get through it?
Art. Yeah, I went to where I always go, inside, and trying to bring as much of that out as possible. It was an incredibly difficult year, but in some ways, I was absolutely born for social distancing I’m a bit of a loner or a hermit, always have been.
Thank you for doing this! The last words belong to you!
Thank you so much for having me, it’s a true honor.