Life happens, and it lives on in music.
As such, The Franklin Electric reflect formative personal moments on a canvas of indie, folk, and alternative. The Montreal based collective founded and fronted by Jon Matte transforms experiences into anthems and has done so since emerging on the 2014 debut, This Is How I Let You Down.
Logging nearly 400 shows, they canvased the world alongside everyone from Mumford & Sons and Ben Howard to Edward Sharpe and City and Colour. Along the way, 2017’s Blue Ceilings marked a major milestone. Not only did the record produce favorites such as “I Know The Feeling” and “Someone Just Like You,” but it also led to a nomination at the 2018 JUNO® awards in the category of “Breakthrough Group of the Year.” The latter experience set the stage for his next evolution.
In Vancouver for the ceremony, Jon identified an endless wellspring of inspiration from the mountains and landscapes of the Canadian West Coast. So, he holed up in Vancouver to write what would become the 2019 EP, In Your Head [NETTWERK] -- and more forthcoming tunes.
“Each song has a very particular image or memory tied to the whole process of living on the West Coast in Canada for a month-and-a-half,” he states. “I know what the songs remind me of. I’d go exploring the forests and mountains and went snowboarding in Whistler for the first time, which was mind-blowing. I was getting as much air as possible outside. It was really beautiful. Listening back, I can vividly picture the places where I was again.”
During 2019, he took those ideas and images to several Vancouver studios such as Monarch Studios and the old Mushroom studios (famous for playing host to Diana Ross and the Supremes and Led Zeppelin) – and cut the five tracks comprising In Your Head. As a producer, Jon added electronics and programming from his home studio. Given the personal nature of his journey, he tried to translate normal and honest everyday feelings to songwriting.
“The lyrics are so personal it’s almost embarrassing,” he smiles. “I simplified everything and embraced those singer-songwriter elements. I let it happen. The more you are trying, the less you are obtaining spiritually. The point was to stop trying and just go inside. I didn’t have to search on the exterior.”
Fittingly, he introduces this chapter with the single “Made It Up In My Head.” Backed by a sparse, yet steady beat, hummable clean guitar entwines with his dusky delivery and catchy cadences as he asks, “Can you see what I’m thinking?”
“It’s a special one,” he continues. “I picked up the guitar and pumped it out in one day. The message is raw. It’s about protecting conceits you made up in your head and asking if it’s working out, or if these things haunt you. It’s similar to the concept of living in a glass house. Every day you try to justify the glass house, but you hate it. Can you get out of the rules you made up about yourself, career, family, and relationships? It’s a spiral of anxiety. You find the best way to get out is to learn to love yourself.”
On the other end of the spectrum, “I’ve Been Here Before” unfurls as a deliberate “slow burn.” His gently fingerpicked guitar resounds underneath faint circular loops as the frontman plaintively and pointedly urges, “Give me five more minutes till I fall apart.”
Elsewhere, “I Know You, You Know Me” pairs lush orchestration with emotional intonation as “My Home” sends a love letter to his hometown of ‘Montreal’ carried by organ swells, lush strings, and cinematic lyrics.
“The theme of the EP is the balance between vulnerability and holding on,” he elaborates. “You can’t be so openminded you never stand up for anything. This theme sets the stage for a beautiful realization to happen.”
As Jon keeps living, The Franklin Electric’s music ultimately continues to connect on a deeper and deeper level.
“I hope audiences feel this,” he leaves off. “I just make honest music for everyday ordinary people. This is what I’m feeling and going through. This is how I explore universal truths we all go through. I always want the art to reflect what’s going on with me.”