You might not know his name yet, but you soon will. Windmill – aka 26-year old Matthew Thomas Dillon – is emerging as one of the country’s best singer-songwriters, his music a heady distillation of US indie, early ‘70s melancholia and twisted folk-pop. Born and raised in Newport Pagnell, Dillon’s music has always been his escape. Puddle City Racing Lights may be his first ‘proper’ release, but it follows countless homemade albums recorded on a £140 four track and intended for only him and a few close friends to listen.
‘I used to make demos in my bedroom, my bed covered in keyboards,’ says Dillon. ‘I would imagine what kind of record I would be able to make with an acoustic piano, real strings, real drums and a studio… and earlier this year I got to do it.’
The resulting album is a pivotal part of Windmill’s blossoming. Making his stage debut as recently as 2005, Dillon has made a great leap in a short space of time, producing an astonishingly good debut album within two years of that tentative first step into the public domain. Echoing the greats of US indie – Built To Spill, Guided By Voices, Mercury Rev and Flaming Lips – and the stars of the Canadian scene, Arcade Fire, Puddle City Racing Lights is a record that demands repeat plays. And this accomplished debut is completely the vision of one man.
‘I have such a clear image in my mind about how Windmill songs should be and I had concerns about getting other people involved,” he says. “This was literally the first time that anyone other than myself would be involved in making my music.’
It was, he says, a scary prospect, but one made easier by a crack team of musicians (members of The Earlies’ live band and former Alfie member Ian Smith) and co-producer, Tom Knott. Together, they whipped up a storm of lush strings, clashing percussion and cacophonous vocals.
‘Tom and I built up a lot of creative trust from the beginning, which was really important,’ says Matthew. ‘He also tolerated me when I was bouncing off the walls.’
Dillon himself provides the album’s key instrument, the piano. ‘I was determined to make a piano album,’ he says. `It’s the instrument I have always been connected to. I used to buy records and skip through the tracks until a killer piano riff kicked in. Piano, huge drums and finding a different way of saying things – that’s Windmill to me.’