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On February 22, I met with the man behind the band Animal Flag, Matthew Politoski, a twenty year old full-time student at Berklee College of Music.
The name Animal Flag originated when Politoski was around fourteen years old, already creating his own music thanks to the guitar lessons his uncle had insisted upon four years earlier. It started as an alias for the “weird” instrumental music he was making, not having gotten into songwriting yet.
“I was in the car with my friend Kevin, and to this day he still thinks he made it up but he didn’t. But we passed this house that had a garden, and they just had a bunch of flags with eagles and puppies and butterflies on them. And I was like, ‘Oh animal flags, that’s really stupid. Why do people have these things?’ and he was like, “Dude that sounds like a cool band name.’ I went home and changed all my music to that name on iTunes, and was like, ‘It looks cool.’ and now it stuck,” Politoski said when he sat down with me before his show. It certainly is memorable. And pronounceable, which is probably why it caught on among his friends.
He draws influence from his music from many artists. Lyrically, he tries to emulate Bright Eyes, one of his favorite artists and “the best lyrical writer ever.” Instrumentally, Sufjan Stevens has had a sway in instrument choices and composition. The music sounds like a version of Mumford and Sons, minus the banjos. During the interview, Politoski also shared some advice for aspiring musicians.
“If you really want to make it, you can’t be an ‘oh, I’d rather hang out with my friends’ type, you’ve really got to put all of yourself into it. Becoming obsessed is the best way to go. Obsession is the key.” He also added, “I don’t understand the whole lazy musician persona. If you’re a lazy musician, you starve to death.”
He also shared a piece of advice has stuck with him over the years and helped shape him in the essence of how he acts and works.
“Do what you can with what you have, right now.”
Wise words, Matthew.