THE ACCIDENTAL THIEF
Once over coffee
As we catch Matt the musician, he’s sitting in his favourite coffee house in Austin, Texas, Once Over Coffee, enjoying, well, a cup of coffee. Here sits Matt the Electrician, it’s 24 degrees Celsius, perfectly sunny, and he’s watching the birds in the trees. Life is hard. So are MP3's to his ears, we discover.
It seems that Matt made a very sensible choice, becoming a full-time, successful musician. For instance, his catchy, folk-rock album, “Accidental Thief” from 2011, became Album of the Week in far-away Denmark on Danish National Radio. And he does feel content having shifted to music:
- I absolutely do, says Matt.
- It’s an amazing feeling to know that you are doing something you love to do, and somehow paying the bills in spite of that choice.
The accidental thief
The choice resulted in an album that has a warm, playful, and organic feel to it – as if was it a good, trustworthy companion. So why this odd, unreliable title, “Accidental Thief”?
- The title track was co-written with John Elliott from Los Angeles, CA. We started writing the song loosely about John’s experience of accidentally stealing a pair of sunglasses from a convenience store after setting them on his head. But once we got into the song a bit, it became more about a character who was constantly taking, unapologetically, from the women in his life, Matt says and explains the song’s artistic development further:
- The song is a statement. Thematically, I believe that it’s easy to go through life a lot of the time, unaware of how your actions are affecting other people. My songs are usually written from MY point of view, which makes them intrinsically selfish, or at least self-involved. So using it as the title of the record, to me, is an acceptance of that theory, but also an awareness, which I think is a step in the right direction.
The Nordic connection
The American now-musician sits in his favourite coffee house in sunny Austin, whereas the DALI office is situated in cold, winter-struck Denmark. There is a non-climatic connection, though. A lot of the songs on the new album were developed from co-writing, which is becoming increasingly normal in music. Matt was involved in The House of Songs, a collaborative song writing exchange between Denmark and Austin, Texas. So he went to Denmark and wrote music at Engelsholm Castle along with writers from USA, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and The Faroe Islands. Later on, back in the states, the album was then completed and recorded.
- The first track, “All I Know”, was co-written with Therese Aune from Norway, and we focused on the theme of family vacations from childhood, and what it feels like to fall in love for the first time. Another song co-written in Denmark with Ida Wenoee Bach, is “Ghost Story”. After being told that Engelsholm Castle was haunted, we figured it was only fitting that we write a song about ghosts, Matt says.
Organic, natural music
As mentioned, the album has a warm, organic feel to it – although it was recorded digitally to Nuendo, a computer based recording program in a studio in Austin:
- I think the organic feel is mostly due to the instruments that we choose to work with, which are mostly acoustic in nature.
True. There are a lot of acoustic instruments on the album such as guitars, banjos, and many more. Matt seems to be very conscious about expressing the instruments’ natural and realistic sound – and good sound in general:
MP3’s tires your ears faster
- I love good sound. But I also have an appreciation of the lo-fi as well. I tend to go back and forth, depending on what I’m listening to. I have a turntable and stereo at home, and frequently listen to vinyl records at home. Although on the road, I’m mostly listening to my iPod with headphones. I think all sound sources (including old cassette tapes) have their good points, but I do find that my ears get tired faster if I’m only listening to mp3’s.
Amazing and terrifying at the same time
It probably comes as no surprise that the music world is changing fast in these years. Not only when it comes to new listening formats:
- In the last 10 years, with the rise of the Internet, the independent music scene has exploded. There are so many bands now, and maybe they were always there to begin with, but the awareness of the sheer amount of people out there playing music because of access to the internet is truly amazing, and terrifying, at the same time. But I think all in all, it is a good thing, and I know that for me, as an independent musician trying to make a living, it has made all the outlets, and interacting much more accessible, Matt explains.
Matt is probably finishing his coffee now in sunny Texas. What’s going to happen next?
- I’m getting ready for some more touring this year, still working this last record, and will be returning to Denmark in May of this year. I’m also doing quite a bit of writing, so hopefully will be going back into the studio by the end of the year, Matt concludes.
Visit Matt the Electrician on www.matttheelectrician.com.
- Rune H. Jensen, firstname.lastname@example.org.