Newfoundland ex-pat and Baytown frontman Matt Cooke brings the haze and atmosphere with his moody new project Mawzy
The dictionary of Newfoundland English defines mauzy (or spelled mausey or mawzy) as damp and warm, muggy, close or foggy. It’s a term us locals know well, particularly in the sticky, sultry summer months where the clothes sticks to your skin and the air grows ‘tick’ as pea soup.
Old School Meets New
It’s a word that has been adopted by Newfoundland singer-songwriter – operating by way of Toronto, Ontario – Matt Cooke.
Best known as frontman for popular local alternative band Baytown, Mawzy is Cooke’s new passion project that incorporates hazy, atmospheric tones and textures reminiscent with 60s psych rock with a dash of modern trappings favourable to Tame Impala or Leon Bridges. It’s old school meets new, an accessible package that sees the talented multi-instrumentalist operating at full potential.
“I grew up on more of the old school,” Cooke shared with The Herald.
“I definitely listened to a lot of 60s and 70s rock, the Band, Yes, The Beatles, Zeppelin. That was an influence growing up, but also being a music fan in general I like a wide variety of things. It’s also wanting to see what other people like and what other people are into.
“One of my favourite new bands is Tame Impala and bands like that who create an atmosphere and ambient sound but also follow a strong melody and have that pop structuring. I looked at things I had liked and molded it into something that is pretty accessible for people.”
Not linked to his home province through any sonic pathway easy to hear, Cooke wanted his newest musical endeavour to have some thread to Newfoundland and Labrador. Enter the title Mawzy, which also so happens to directly support his own new unique flavour of crafting sound.
“I had been mulling over different names. The music isn’t that tied to traditional Newfoundland music, but I wanted the project to have that connotation. It was important to have some way of relating back,” Cooke explains.
“It’s unique, a memorable name, but also the meaning is sort of like a hazy, ambient sort of day. That’s what it means to me, and that reflects the music as well.”
Cooke moved to Ontario in 2011, but continued to return home and perform actively with Baytown, who had made some serious waves across the province.
“Eventually after some time people in the band, me included, had other things on the go,” Cooke explains of his situation with Baytown that led to a diminished performance schedule. “Although we were doing well in Newfoundland I think we may have plateaued for what the project would allow … We didn’t know where to go from where we were.
“We haven’t broken up, we’re still all close friends and likely will play shows again,” he adds. “We’re just currently on a bit of a hiatus. After that ended that’s when it came in my mind to focus on what was next.”
Having developed the debut EP with the likes of engineer Greg G and fellow Newfoundlanders Josh Banfield and Nick Clarke, as well as teaming with various prominent musicians for releases both here at home and in Ontario, Cooke has laid the groundwork for what he expects to be a productive and artistically satisfying 2019.
“I think the base is there now,” Cooke says. “The focus is going to be on creating content, recording more and then seeing what happens with shows. Shows are important to play, but I’m taking another approach of having fun with the creative process and trying to put out the best material and letting the shows fall into place as they come.”
For more on Mawzy visit his official social medias and download his debut EP on streaming platforms now.