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Check Out Matthew Dowling’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matthew Dowling. 

Hi Matthew, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I’ve been an active musician for the last 15 years in the area. A lot of that time was in DC, playing in several bands that toured and made some cool/notable stuff happen. SWOLL started in 2018 which almost exactly coincided with a move to Baltimore proper for me. It’s been great living here and it’s a great gift to be around so much creativity in this city. I released a couple records and toured here and there before COVID, and then COVID threw a big old wrench in the equation, as it did for all of us. Nonetheless, I have continued working on records and released a single/video in Oct to sync up with some shows for me this fall. 

Outside of music, my life has been one of entrepreneurship, and I’ve started a number of companies focused on developing biomaterials for medical applications. My educational background is in chemical and biomedical engineering. Playing in bands really was the genesis of my entrepreneurial “chops,” as it is a very entrepreneurial activity to create songs in a room, and then decide to attempt to take over the world with those songs. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
For SWOLL, things started out smoothly/impactfully, as I had a lot of experience playing shows and making records, and I had a pretty specific vision for how I wanted the project to roll out. Of course, COVID has presented a major obstacle for me and everyone in music. It has forced us all to re-think how we approach creating and presenting music, with touring being hit so hard. 

But more generally, any project I have done, whether it be in music or in start-up companies, it’s really NEVER a smooth road. A smooth road only exists temporarily, if it ever does. A big key to life is realizing that life is very non-linear in nature. We all want to believe that everything moves in straight lines, but it’s really a dangerous belief, because we over-extrapolate the good times (which causes us to make overly fair-weather decisions), or we over-extrapolate the bad times (which causes us to say “it’s been a bad few months… let’s call it, this is pointless”). 

But yes, I’ve had music projects crash and burn, I’ve dealt with the typical struggles that anyone goes through (mountains of rejection from perceived “gatekeepers”), and I’ve dealt with significant conflict that has resulted in paralysis for given projects at particularly bad times. It’s all “part of the process” as they say, and ultimately those obstacles/challenges are the things that make you who are, and give you an opportunity for greatness. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
My musical history is largely as a bass player. I played for almost 10 years in Deleted Scenes as the bassist, and then went on to play bass in more punk rock stuff like The Effects and Joy Buttons, and then more krauty psychedelic stuff in Paperhaus. With SWOLL, the backbone of it all is still bass and I play bass live, but I also take the lead on all elements of the songwriting and lyrics there. That was a major creative challenge for me when starting things up with SWOLL. I did not see myself as a singer, but I felt like I had something to say. So, I sort of just brute force made it happen but was able to lean on the bass as an element I was very confident in showcasing. 

Ultimately, I think what sets the project apart is how things were established for the live show. I brought in my friend Zak Forrest to do lights from the beginning, and he’s a wizard at his craft, and it makes the stage look super unique. And then what my longtime bandmate Erik Sleight does on his hybrid drum kit is super cool in that it brings raw organic live feel in tandem with staying true to the sound design that goes into the recorded versions of the songs. 

We love surprises, fun facts, and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
I’m an inventor on over 20 patents and have published over 20 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, largely in the field of self-assembling soft materials. 

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Image Credits

William Dowling
Kevin Chambers

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