The Nashville-based musician talks about the importance of headspace and solitude in the creative process, music as a language and playing home concerts for many a years now. You know what, though?, cross out “based”. If Matt’s based anywhere then it’s definitely on the road. Think Kerouacian road, but leave out the benzedrine and bourbon.
It’s special because it’s something I’ve really grown into; engulfing how I interact with people as opposed to how I sound performing live at a bigger venue.
When did you start doing house concerts?
M I think it was around 3 years ago. I’d already been doing YouTube for a while and I had some fans that booked me. At first it was very difficult, with just you, the audience, and nothing in between. There’s a lot of room for awkwardness and silence. After a while you get really comfortable with using silence as just another instrument. It’s a huge a part of what I do now. Connecting with an audience, having a space where I can actually share music and stories, and not just be background entertainment.
How was your first encounter with music?
M It’s strongly related to my family because music is our second language. My mother’s side is full of very heavy classical music, my grandmother is a violinist, my dad is a jazz guitarist and my uncle is a double bassist, so that was the foundation. I started playing the guitar when I was 8. You know, The Beatles were huge in our house.
What about songwriting?
M I remember writing stuff when I was about 12 because I enjoyed expressing myself that way. In school I used it as a tool because it came naturally to me. I’d write songs about a topic like Hamlet or physics. So school, in a weird way, gave me an opportunity to grow as a songwriter.
How do you come up with lyrics now? How do you feel about the creative process now?
M Very early on I didn’t know much about the craft, so I could write without any filters and not question myself as much. There’s a purity to that and I think I wrote some really good songs back then. Now that I live in Nashville I know so much about songwriting and I think I also have better taste because I can identify quicker if I write something that’s cheesy. But there’s a level where sometimes the mind gets too involved over the heart. I think I approach it now with more knowledge which has its pros and cons so that’s a challenge.
When it comes to making an actual release, how do you experience that?
M I’ve released three full albums and it really varied. Working in the studio can be a struggle in terms of pursuing perfection – which is impossible to achieve. In a studio you have lots of tools at your disposal and the space to really dive in and try to paint this exact picture you have in your head. But you kinda need to let the paint do its job. Or you walk into a studio, you give it all you have, but also learn when to walk away. It’s a very vague answer, I know, but for the last album, for example, me and my co-producer did great work together. We felt it, and we let it go.
If I go too long without writing a song I freak out, I start to get antsy because I just have to create. Usually, when we’re done with an album, my brain starts to go into the next album.
Who’s the first person who listens to your material?
M Sometimes my friends, sometimes my girlfriend, sometimes I debut a song at a concert. But I tend to keep it close to home until I feel it’s good and ready.
What’s your favorite place to be in when you wanna make music?
M My ultimate creative ideal is to be in a white, wide open room where I can let myself flow and feel free. If I could cultivate that room in my brain that’d be great.
What about your own home? What’s your favorite spot in your own house?
M I’m almost living on the road these days. So, to me, it’s not a whole lot about the external space, it’s about my headspace. That being said, I really enjoy creating in places of nature, woods, parks. Writing stuff right next to bodies of water. Those are places where I just feel the expansiveness.
Any memorable, funny or weird moments from touring homes?
M So many, many positive ones. Playing a house concert and then going moonlight kayaking with the host. Touring Germany in 8 days and playing 7 house concerts in front of wonderful audiences.
Just yesterday I played at this winery and I got an email from a lady the day before. She and her husband had seen me playing there last year at their 50th wedding anniversary and since then they’d had a couple of family members die, along with their dog. Seeing them again and hugging felt really special, and for them to see me play live again, I think it was healing.
Why does music matter?
M I ask myself this as well. There are people like doctors, saving lives, or people inventing the newest technology that helps cure diseases, and I’m like.. what am I doing? I don’t know what I do and how it’s really going to impact people, and I can’t think too much about that, but I want to believe that what I create plays a role in people’s lives, in the sense that it helps them push forward, and feel and think deeper about life.
Are you working on something new?
M I just put out a new album a month ago, so cheers to that! I’m really proud of it. It’s called “Luminescence” and it feels like my most mature album. I already have an idea on how the next album should be but I might not record that for another year because I’m mostly on the road touring this one.
Matt will be in Copenhagen in mid-June 2017. Don’t miss out on this opportunity and book him through the Low-Fi platform. You can read more about Matt on the website, and listen to his music on Spotify and YouTube.