MATT THE ELECTRICIAN

"It's an amazing feeling to know that you are doing something you love to do"

Once there was a guy called Matt. Matt was an electrician but decided to become a full-time musician, choosing guitar strings instead of electrical wires... because that's what he really wanted to do.

We caught up with Matt to talk about MP3s, his links to Denmark and his latest album.

The accidental thief
The career move resulted in an album that has a warm, playful and organic feel to it – like 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, continuing:

"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.

Once over coffee
As we catch Matt the musician, he's sitting in Once Over Coffee, his favourite coffee house in Austin, Texas, 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 MP3s to his ears, we discover.

It seems that Matt made a very sensible choice, becoming a successful full-time musician. For instance, his catchy folk-rock album, Accidental Thief from 2011, became Album of the Week on Danish National Radio. And he feels content having transitioned 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 Nordic connection
Unlike the stark contrast between Austin's sunny climate and the frigid temperatures of deepest, darkest Denmark, Matt the Electrician does have a common link with the far-away Scandinavian land. Many of the songs on the new album were co-written, an increasing trend in music production, and Matt was involved in The House of Songs, a collaborative songwriting exchange between Denmark and Austin, Texas. Through the exchange, Matt travelled to Denmark to write music at Engelsholm Castle, along with writers from the USA, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and the Faroe Islands. Matt later returned to the States to complete and record the album.

"The first track, All I Know", was co-written with Therese Aune from Norway. 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 explains.

Organic, natural music
As mentioned earlier, 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, including guitars and banjos. Matt seems to be very conscious about expressing the instruments' natural and realistic sounds – and good sound in general:

MP3s tire your ears faster
"I love good sound. But I also have an appreciation of lo-fi. 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 MP3s."

Amazing and terrifying at the same time
It probably comes as no surprise that the music world is changing fast, not least when it comes to new audio 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.

After coffee
Matt is finishing up his coffee in sunny Texas. So, what's next for Matt?

"I'm getting ready for some more touring this year, still working on 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 at www.matttheelectrician.com.

- Rune H. Jensen, rhj@dali.dk.

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