So often, we think about artists as having this innate talent that just pours from them like water from a fountain. We think creativity comes easy to people that have these gifts. How many times have you thought, “Oh, I wish I could be a singer, a writer, an artist, an actor my life would be so great!”?
The truth is, most people think of the arts as passions, hobbies – to put it simply, as “fun.” For many artists, this path is the only possible choice – it is simply what they feel born to do. But the path isn’t easy, and it’s not always fun, and there are sacrifices that come in chasing it. Families. Holding down other full- or part-time jobs. Making almost next to no money for leaving a piece of themselves on the stage, vinyl, paper, or canvas. Playing to empty venues. And although we forget it because they are often so poised and confident in their art, they struggle with their own demons: acceptance, validation, self-worth, too.
Matt McCloskey is an artist that I’ve followed for only a little over a year and a half. When I found his music, I felt a very profound connection with the emotions in it. But getting to that music wasn’t easy for Matt. Last year, he and Austin filmmaker Steven Bush filmed a 30 minute mini-documentary that tells the story of the struggle to put out this wonderful 5-song EP. They called it “Reason to Bleed,” and I don’t think it could be more appropriately titled.
There’s more music in the world today than ever before. Not all of it has substance. Much of it that does goes unheard. How do you find the will continue making art that means something when you’re not sure if anyone will listen? Matt’s search for this answer is heart wrenching and inspiring. Steven Bush has elegantly captured Matt’s journey in such an unhewn, genuine, and brilliant way. Whether he’s shooting in Matt’s home or in a venue, he manages to catch these slices of reality that anyone can connect with… A moment where Matt questions his own words, a hastily scrawled note from husband to wife, a conversation with a fan about the new album, a child’s unadulterated love for her parent…
This film is so real, and there’s so much in it that I personally identify with that it’s hard for me to talk objectively about it. I cried at points while watching it; there’s simply no artifice in it. Matt is unabashedly raw and exposes his feelings in ways people just don’t anymore. It is refreshing, and I’m sure it was incredibly scary to put out there.
I hope that you’ll take 30 minutes to watch this film. And I hope that it the next time you go to a concert, watch a movie, pick up a book, look at a painting, you’ll remember it.