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Question Time with
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1. Could you in several words describe what kind of person you are?
Well, I would start with the fact that I am incredibly tall, handsome, funny, strong, well-read, and intelligent; I have perfect teeth, I'm an amazing athlete and smell good even when I first wake up in the morning. Hahaahaha... I think of myself as a true optimist. I believe men and women have the ability to carve the future they want regardless of where their from or what obstacles lay before them. Most things that trouble and daunt us are of our own doing. This is true of individuals, citizenries and our global community. It's important that we need to create a greater equality of opportunity, education and healthcare world-wide so that we can level the playing field and maximize our greatest resource: our humanity. I also believe that we have a responsibility to recognize our gifts and work hard to be sure to fully realize them over our lifetimes.
2. Have you always wanted to be a musician? When did you discover your talent?
I don't know that I always wanted to be a musician, very early on in my life I felt a strong desire to feel connected to people beyond the superficial ways we tend to interact. When I was in 11th grade, about 16 years old, I started writing a lot, and I started to get my first sense of peace that writing brings. It's an indescribable sense of peace when you lean far into your creativity. Once I felt that, I wanted more of it. And so began my journey, being a musician seemed a natural extension of that.
3. When you started making music, did you have an idol, someone to look up to, someone you tried to be like?
I've welcomed so many heroes into my heart and imagination over the years. I believe it's important to avoid narcissism and remain open to the achievements of others to inspire you. But I'd have to say my first hero was Bono. First off, Bono made me feel proud to be Irish when I was a kid. I still admire Bono because he's clearly driven to please something greater than himself. I believe that's a real important factor in the quest for true greatness. Leonard Cohen is another because of his masterful use of language and melody; and his sublime wisdom and humility. Joe Strummer and Bruce Springsteen as well because of how they made people feel.
4. What do you consider to be your greatest success as a musician?
I would say my ability to continue offering pure music and grow my career in such a difficult environment for the arts. My road has been rocky, so many times it seemed my struggles were emboldened by events outside of my hands. And sometimes, it was my own foolishness that lead to some dead end streets. But perseverance is so important in everything that all of us hope to do and accomplish. My goal has always been to make my case over time while retaining my integrity.
5. You play a lot of live gigs. What do you love the most about playing live?
There's no describing what it feels like to fully engage the intimacy available at live shows. It's a mysterious thing. A great live show completely connects an audience and an artist with the very moment their living in. There is no past, there is no future, only that moment. It's something I'm always working towards, and I'm so grateful when it's present.
6. What's your favorite song to play? What's your audience's favorite?
My favorite song to play changes depending on the night, but above all, what I really want to feel is the audience exhale and enjoy themselves. The room gets bigger and warmer when that happens. The songs that tend to do that are probably both my and listeners favorites: American Dirt, Guilty, Cars & History, Dulce Et Decorum Est, Chrome, Drift, Me & My Lover, It Could Have Been Worse and The Wilderness from my newest record seems to be doing that well.
7. Our readers are familiar with your song AMERICAN DIRT. Could you give us a little background to the song? What is it about and what inspired you?
Well, it's a song about rejecting some of the static in American Culture. I love my country, but to be American also means we must be vigilant regarding the shortcomings of our culture, system and politics. Our capitalism has no morality, it's a philosophical choice by the people that run our markets. I personally believe that capitalism without morality is extremely dangerous. The recent financial crash exemplifies what I'm talking about. But American Dirt is more speaking to the relationship between workers and the corporations they work for; and omni-present marketing with the cultural blizzard it creates. With the song, the character in the song finds himself drowning in angst after losing his job. He realizes he's completely expendable in the corporations eyes, and once he loses his job, he realizes that most what he was driven by as a consumer were things that he wanted, and not necessarily what he needed. In the final verse he realizes he has a responsibility as a citizen to be politically active, because his constant pursuit of purchasing the meaningless things were blocking his participation in true democracy and real happiness. I believe it's important stuff in the American and the global story that's currently unfolding. Corporation and workers, governments and citizens; they have to define more equitable relationships.
8. Your songs have appeared on several TV shows such as One Tree Hill, Dawson's Creek or House MD. Did you like the way they used your music? Are you a fan of those shows?
I don't watch much television because I've very busy with my work. But I'm grateful for the television and film placements that I get because they offer a context to viewers and new listeners. I'm not really making easy listening pop music and I'm aware of that. So I welcome the added dimension television and film offer. It's a beautiful thing, I love the relationship between a story, cinema and music; it might be the most immersive trinity of the arts. As far as how the songs are used, of the placements that I've seen, some have been better than others. But I'm so grateful for the placements, they're a big part of my continued ability to reach people and grow my career. So I've concluded that it's not for me to judge the context by which people experience things.
9. Are you working on any new projects right now?
I have new record coming out on February 16th called Dear Lover. It's available world-wide via iTunes and most digital stores. The CD will be distributed world-wide via the independent coalition. I'm also working on another Strays Don't Sleep record with my good friend Neilson Hubbard. And I've also been collaborating with a couple DJs from Europe that have been doing some trance versions of my songs. Which is very exciting. To me it's like folk music on steroids. DJ Preach and I in particular have formed a very strong friendship and creative team.
10. This interview will be read mostly by Czech students of English. Is there something that you would like to tell them?
Well, first of all, if you've read this far, I'd like to say Thank You. It honestly is an honor for me to be able to communicate with you. I'd also want to tell you that anything is possible. I know that sounds like a slogan. But I assure you that as you go forward, you only get one future, so build the world you wish to see.
Matthew, thank you for letting us get to know you a bit better. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your music with us. Good luck with your new record and everything else you do.
Matthew Ryan on helpforenglish.cz:
American Dirt - píseň + cvičení na doplňování chybějících slov do textu, český překlad