Queer British singer-songwriter Matt Fishel’s latest release, the driving pop-rock song Behind Closed Doors, deals with a particularly insidious brand of homophobia: supposedly tolerant people who’d actually prefer to pretend we gays didn’t exist.
“I think whether you’re gay or belong to any minority group, you often encounter people who like to profess their worldly views and open-mindedness, and then follow up with one of those classic lines like ‘As long as it’s not in front of me’,” Fishel told the Star Observer.
He said the song was inspired by real-life events.
“There was one particular incident at a party where a drunk guy was shouting about how he had no problem with gay people, as long as they didn’t ‘shove it in his face’ — all the while sat
there with his hand up his girlfriend’s top!”
It’s the third single in a row from Fishel to deal with gay themes, after last year’s ode to young love The First Time and 2009’s queer teen lament The Football Song.
But Fishel said he had no qualms about being pigeonholed as ‘just’ a singer of gay songs.
“I think every artist is pigeonholed in one way or another at the start and for me, being seen as a ‘gay’ artist isn’t something I’d ever consider a negative,” he explained.
“I’ve never set out to strategically write ‘gay-themed’ songs. I just happen to be gay, and proud, and I sing about the relationships and experiences that are true to me.”
It means Fishel is grateful for the artistic freedoms afforded him by his status as an independent artist, on boutique record label Young Lust Records.
“I made the decision a long time ago that no good can come from toeing the line and deliberately trying to hide from who I am.
“Many times over the years I’ve had people in major labels tell me I need to change the lyrics to appeal to a mass audience, to cover up my sexuality to ensure universal appeal. Being on an independent label gives me the freedom to do that and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Doing it his way has taken time, but fans of Fishel’s three songs to date will be pleased to know a debut album is in the pipeline, and should be released later this year.
“Some of the tracks are loud and angry, others are celebratory and a bit more fun and tongue-in-cheek, and some are quieter, more reflective.
“The lyrical honesty is definitely there throughout the album, with songs about boyfriends and relationships, coming out, and the places I’ve lived, religion and hypocrisy, sexuality and education.”