Q & A with Matti McLean
This week I caught up with author, artist, clothing designer, podcaster, Eurovision Song Contest superfan (phew), and body painter Matti McLean! Too big for one label, this queer wunderkind was born to create in any form within reach. Between passionate Eurovision coverage and preparing for the upcoming run of his amazing show Bodies at the Orlando Fringe Festival, Matti took some time out to talk about his art, including his newest novel Nicky Faces Catastrophe... and Survives?
Let's start with Nicky Faces Catastrophe... As a movie buff, I love love love this concept. Where did it come from?
The story comes from a combination of nostalgia and years of working at Blockbuster Video, mixing with dry humour and mythology. I love subversion so the idea of creating something that is unexpected and found this concept particularly fun. Growing up I had a love of adventure and magic girl adventures like card captors and Sailor Moon- but always liked the idea of it happening to someone not only unexpected but who would do anything to get out of having to better themselves. While the video store element is a relatively small part of the piece, it evokes a specific place and feeling- much like the way I satirize a Chuck E Cheese franchise or strip clubs.
What's your earliest memory of a video store? Was it a special place for you?
I worked at a Blockbuster for almost a decade. Of course, I have mixed feelings about it but will always miss that unique mix of stale popcorn and analysis paralysis that only a video store could properly fulfill. It was my first "real" job- but not exactly a place I could put on a resume nowadays.
You're also a playwright and a painter specializing in body painting with your own clothing line, podcast and Youtube content. Where does writing fiction fit into your broader creative practice? What made you explore prose?
Writing is probably the one thing that connects much of my art. I consider myself primarily a storyteller and as such, I can approach a lot of what I do from a narrative lens. I might polyglot a little- but I find that having a strong throughline in storytelling helps to add a little bit of depth to things. Even some of my tattoos which at first glance may seem jokish, have deeper meanings, but that doesn't make the jokes any less amusing.
Congrats on your upcoming Orlando Fringe season! What can you tell people about the show?
It explores a lot more depth and nuance than the last time I did it. First off, more naked people on stage is always a good thing. Second, I go more into themes that I couldn't talk about in my previous relationship which had more of an impact on me and my art than I let on in my last show… so that's exciting! It's going to be an exciting combination of live painting, body positivity, and a whole lot of sexual tension (hopefully) - but as of right now- I think I'm the first person to bring body painting to a theatrical performance where the painting itself forms a strong backbone to the performance as a whole.
Who's your second favourite entry at Eurovision this year?
I mean… Tattoo is obviously my favorite (as I discuss at length in my podcast A Canadian in Eurovision) and with Finland forming an expected competitor… I want to say something less typical. I'm going to go with my controversial choice and say either Armenia or Netherlands (because I'm going through some stuff apparently) But yeah- it's a bit of a stacked field out there right now.