Actor, personal trainer and Broadway star Matt Doyle has had quite the career so far.
With his impressive CV listing the likes of Spring Awakening, The Book of Mormon and even starring alongside Betty Buckley — Matt’s one of New York’s brightest stars. And now, he’s added his first full length album to the list.
We caught up with Matt as he launched new album Uncontrolled today to talk life on Broadway, working on Gossip Girl, sexuality in the arts, THAT body and what it was like working with icon, Betty Buckley.
Hello, Matt! Where did the inspiration for your new album Uncontrolled come from? Uncontrolled came from a place of needing to take my life back after some bad times. I’ve always wanted to do a full-length album, and it seemed like the perfect moment to do so. I had a lot to write about. There’s a great deal of heartbreak and honesty on this album, but it’s also about letting go and allowing myself to live. The album explores the theme of losing control in both positive and negative ways; the fun and sexy romance that can come with it, but also the pain and loss of self that it can cause.
Were you ever tempted to release an album full of musical theatre covers? When I was approached to do an album originally, it was to do a musical theatre album. I almost went ahead with it but halted production right before it started. It just didn’t feel genuine. I’m thrilled to be a part of the musical theatre world, but it wasn’t how I wanted to represent myself as a recording artist. I love pop music. I love soul. I wanted to give songwriting a real shot.
I brought together a great team of people for that first EP and I’m so glad I made that decision. I think the music we continue to create together is really special and most importantly, honest.
— Matt Doyle (@MattfDoyle) February 26, 2016
Your first EP Daylight also broke into the top 40 on iTunes. Was the pressure on to deliver with this album even more than before? Absolutely! Both my EPs Daylight and Constant were surprise successes for me. I didn’t promote them at all. They were more of an experiment to see what worked and what didn’t. Looking back, I’m so proud of them. I wanted to carry over a lot of the sounds that we established on those EPs, while bringing a new polish to the production.
I think most people will notice how much the new material highlights the vocals. I am, first and foremost, a singer, and we wanted to celebrate that on this album. I also wanted to give my co-writer, Will Van Dyke, the opportunity to run wild with his arrangements. He’s brilliant. His work really shines on this album. He and my producer, Derik Lee, were the perfect collaborators. They know my voice so well at this point and always get the best out of me.
Your video Moment also features a same-sex couple. Was this a conscious decision? Not really. I’m gay and I’m telling my own story in that song. I wanted to reflect that in the video. I also wanted to create something sleek, sexy, and mature. The most conscious decision made in making the video, was making sure we didn’t cut anything out that would have been perfectly acceptable had it been a straight couple.
Do you think this could ever have a negative affect? If being openly gay and truthful in my music prevents me from working on certain projects, then I certainly wouldn’t want to work on those projects in the first place. I don’t see that as negative at all. Yes, silly stigmas still exist and I’d be niave to think it hasn’t already affected me, but I couldn’t care less. I’d rather be happy and honest.
As an actor, I pride myself on being able to play different characters. If they happen to be straight, then great. It’s hardly a stretch to find great chemistry with my female counterparts. I’ve worked with some incredibly sexy and amazing women. As a musician and recording artist, I’m representing myself. I’m not going to lie about who I am. Life is too damn short.
With your experience, do you think the world of Broadway and music is now as open as it possibly could be to those from the LGBT community? I think the progress we’ve made over the past ten years is remarkable. Broadway has always been good to the LGBT community, so I don’t think much has changed there. [Laughs]
It’s amazing to see so much growth in the music and film industry though. It’s honestly night and day compared to when I started my career 10 years ago. We’ve got a long way to go, though.
In a perfect world, the sentence ‘openly gay actor’ would look as strange as ‘openly straight actor’. Everyone needs to stop giving a fuck!
You’re also a certified personal trainer. How do you stay in such good shape? I am! [Laughs] I love fitness. It keeps me happy. I usually turn to fitness during tough times. It’s the best [and healthiest] stress reliever. I work out about 6 days a week with heavy cardio and weight lifting.
Because I was so passionate about fitness, I wanted to do more with it. I got certified and became a trainer for Barry’s Bootcamp! As a client, I was a huge fan of the workout. It’s no joke. The people that go to Barry’s are phenomenally committed to working out. I love being able to teach there now and broaden that side of my life a bit more. I hope to train in the London locations if I’m out there! [Laughs]
Do you think looking great is the secret to success in both theatre and music? Well, looking great is pretty subjective. So I think confidence is the key to success. It’s about being happy with what you’ve got. When I work out and eat right, I feel great and I’m happy with the way I look. As a result, I am far more confident. For me, that’s always payed off.
Do you find your body gets a lot of attention from fans? Lately, yes, because I’ve been shameless as all hell! [Laughs] I’m just having fun. I’m certainly not going to look this way forever. I feel good and work my ass off in the gym, so why not? I try to do it with taste and humor, but of course I know what I’m doing.
Honestly, I don’t have a problem with being objectified. I’m flattered. It’s been fun to reveal this other side of myself.
When I was a kid, I was the boy that was afraid to take his shirt off in the pool. I had a hard time shaking that over the years. Working out and feeling sexier has been a really empowering journey for me.
Your time as an actor in New York has seen you appear in shows such as War Horse, Spring Awakening and The Book of Mormon. What’s it like being apart of shows that have such a global reach? I’m so lucky to have been involved with the three shows you just named. They were all phenomenal works, and all had such a major impact on theatre. I also have the most incredible base of fans as a result of working on them.
My career has really shaped me as an artist. I wouldn’t have the guts to be myself without my time in Spring Awakening. I was 19 and it broke down every barrier I had. I wouldn’t appreciate the power of an ensemble without War Horse. That show came to life as a team. I took life and myself far too seriously before The Book of Mormon. It showed me humor and honesty is the best way to communicate and make a point.
Do you have a show or role you’d still like to play? Find me a production of Hair willing to cast me as Claude somewhere and I’ll be so ridiculously happy. [Laughs]
We can’t not ask about working opposite Betty Buckley. We want all the gossip. What was that like? Tell. Betty, Betty, Betty. Can I just say, I think she’s the love of my life? Or at least my soul sister? [Laughs]
Betty and I became very close during Grey Gardens. She is brilliant. She’s one of the strongest women I’ve ever met. So phenomenally talented and so generous. I had the best summer with her. She doesn’t take shit, says what’s on her mind, but ultimately cares so deeply about the company around her. She is so committed to her craft. I love her and I’m excited to work with her again this summer in LA.
You’ve also worked in TV, too. What’s it like working on a show like Gossip Girl that has such a global reach? Gossip Girl was a great experience. I loved that cast. Every time I was there, they were incredibly supportive and kind. Most importantly, I was really honored to play an openly gay teen on a hit TV show. I couldn’t think of a better gig for my first TV experience.
And finally, how would you describe what they get to anyone thinking of buying your new album, Uncontrolled? You’re going to get a mix of pop, soul, blues, and a little bit of Nashville. I would [dare to] compare it to Adele and Sam Smith in style, but I think there’s a jazzier element that’s mixed into the album as well. I love Jamie Cullum and we listened to a lot of his work when we were arranging the music. I am so proud of the work we did on this album and I can’t wait to share it.