Campus Celeb: Matthew Nolan

From academia to sports to the arts, creativity and talent surround us here at the University of Iowa. The artsy scene Iowa City has to offer and the wide range of young students creates the perfect environment for an aspiring artist to thrive in. This week’s Campus Celeb is Matthew Nolan, a musically inclined senior from La Grange, Illinois, with talent worth noting. Matt is a Communications major who likes creative writing, listening to music and riding his bike (before it was stolen: if found, please return :)). He is also a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. To learn more about Matthew and his love for music, check out an interview with him below.

When did you begin playing music?

It all started in second grade when I had a crush on a girl in my class. She liked a kid who could play electric guitar, so I was like, "I’m going to learn how to play electric guitar and be a huge stud." I learned how to play guitar, but didn’t turn into a stud. I’ve been playing music ever since.

Do you write your own music?

That’s actually part of the reason I transferred to Iowa after my freshmen year at Marquette. The Creative Writing program here is amazing. I’ve just been taking poetry classes on poetry classes and trying to get better at writing. I have tons of lyrics written down and have about four completed songs so far.

What instruments do you play?

Guitar, piano, drums and a little bit of ukulele.

Do you prefer electric or acoustic guitar?

I started out on electric mostly. My guitar teachers and my dad were really into Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendricks. I didn’t have a good acoustic guitar until high school, but now I’d say I’m about 60% acoustic and 40% electric.

What is your favorite song to cover?

The first songs I ever played were covers. I started doing them when Justin Bieber first came out, and I thought that was the way to get famous. I love doing "Wagon Wheel"; it’s such a crowd pleaser. People really like "Mr. Brightside," too.

What are your greatest musical influences?

I would say Led Zepplin and the Beatles are my roots. I grew up on them. Now I listen to a lot of M83, Vampire Weekend and Chet Faker.

In what genre would you classify your music?

I submitted one of my songs to a blog, and I think I called it "alternative electro pop." It’s definitely pop-y. Hopefully you’d hear it on the radio.

Do you produce your own songs?

I recently got into producing. My friend helped me download some software, and I’ve been experimenting with that lately.

If you could do a duet with anyone, who would you choose?

I love Childish Gambino. He’s my idol and all-around favorite artist. I’d definitely want to sing the hook for one of his songs.

What are you currently working on?

I have a song I’m probably going to release within the next two weeks. I just got the album art for that, and I’m pretty excited about it. I’m planning on releasing a five or six song EP  that will hopefully be released by December. I’d like to have a full set of originals.

Will you be playing live anywhere soon?

I just opened for the Shwayze concert my fraternity put on last weekend, but other than that I’m waiting to build up a few more originals before I play live. I don’t want to be known as just a cover artist.

What is your favorite memory from performing?

In high school, we had a concert called Brownstock, which was a play on Woodstock. I performed with a few other guys, and it was the first time I’ve ever had a band behind me. In that moment, I realized performing and creating new music every day of my life would make me the happiest person ever.

Where can people listen to your music?

Right now, I only have one song released. It's called "Run," and you can find it on Sound Cloud, Spotify, iTunes, YouTube and 8Tracks.

Do you get a lot of support in the area?

All of Phi Delt has been amazing. I walk into the house, and the guys are just listening to my song. I get Snapchats of them in the car listening to it all the time, too. The support has been kind of crazy both in the Iowa City area and from my family back at home.

What are your goals for the next few years?

I just want to keep getting better at what I do. I will always have more to learn. I want to put out a lot of music and start doing more shows. I’d like to find a way to keep playing music no matter what my future holds.


Hopefully the future holds incredible things. Keep an eye out for Matthew’s new songs and performance dates, Hawks. Don’t miss out on his first original recording, “Run,” either. Listen here and be sure to follow him on Spotify, Sound Cloud and iTunes for updates on new releases.