Matt Barus

About the Mentor

Matius Putra Suranta Karo-Karo Rumahgalo Richard Barus grew up with a guitar-playing father and a mother whose piano he quietly filled with wooden spoons, which in those days were intended for him. He spent his teen years in Solo, Indonesia, singing with friends at street-side food stalls, listening to gamelan and purchasing copies of American guitars with almost familiar names like 'Jender' and ‘Gabson’. Regardless, he still cried his way out of guitar lessons in order to devote himself to a fanciful dream of playing football for Nottingham Forest.

After seeing Jeremy Taylor of Cinematic covering Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, he ditched his accountancy degree. With his brother Jo, Dukes was formed in the mid 2000’s. They released two albums, had a number of chart hits, won various awards and toured with local luminaries such as Dave Dobbyn and Th’ Dudes and overseas bands such as Gomez, INXS, The Pretenders and Blondie.  At the conclusion of the Blondie tour, Matt was asked to write a few songs for their upcoming album. Thinking they were merely being nice, he sent them two and one ended up on their album Ghosts of the Download. 

In early 2012, as Dukes was winding down, Matt began sharing his Garageband demos. “I'd been playing around with recording directly onto my laptop.  I had a whole bunch of song ideas which I'd played very quietly on so as to not wake up the others in the house.  So I was singing very softly and layering acoustic guitar in my room. I felt housebound due to the earthquakes and we were experiencing aftershocks daily, so it was inevitable that all the songs were about this sudden event and the slow shape of life after it."  Chris Gough, from Native Tongue Music Publishing, encouraged him to record the songs with a hero of Matt's, producer and guitarist David Long from the Muttonbirds in Wellington. Matt’s partner Lauren convinced him the songs would be better if she was involved and so Terrible Sons was born.

The duos’ songs are understated, often with only two intertwined voices and a piano and acoustic guitar. Tears Don’t Fall was picked up by a large playlist and stealthily blew up, currently with over 20 million plays. From this exposure, Terrible Sons were signed to Nettwerk Records in Vancouver. Since then the duo have worked with Ben Edwards at Lyttelton Records, self-produced their second EP and released a third EP with producer and instrumentalist Tom Healey. A full length album, which they hope to release this year, has just been completed and features regular collaborators Jo Barus on bass, Jo McCullum on percussion, Tom Healey on electric and a host of guests. 

In addition, Matt began working with the NZ Music Commission teaching songwriting in schools, which is one of his passions. “Songwriting is often intensely personal, and being allowed into people’s world feels like such a privilege. I often feel more like a counsellor than a tutor.” Matt has really enjoyed the collaboration process and has participated in Native Tongue’s songwriting camps in Byron Bay and the Wairarapa. He’s caught the collab buzz and has actively sought out writing with other musicians and producers around the country. 

“Neptune’ is so light on its feet it almost defies gravity. So softly focused, demure and effortlessly efficient at locating the bullseye on your slowed down beating heart.”

“ The joy of ‘When I Don’t Speak’ comes from those interacting vocals; which delve in heartbreaking but it's never really in doubt that they are as one. Delicate pop for delicate ears the world over”    mp3hugger

Truly ethereal. Everything is melded together so well that it’s dreamlike, the listener is suspended in time.

“...done well, as in Terrible Sons’ newest EP, we come away not just entertained but with a deeper understanding of our own worlds.”

Atwood Magazine